Work Area Ideas?

I moved into a new house and have the chance to build up a workarea for my robotics hobby. I'm looking for ideas or tips on what I should
consider in my workbench and workarea design. I'm brand new to robotics but am an avid computer hobbyist and programmer.
My only thoughts so far is to build a corner L-shape wall-mounted desktop area. I wonder how big? Maybe 2-3 feet on the short leg, 6 feet long and a couple feet deep? I want overhead shelves or cabinets, overhead lighting, a magnifying glass/light on a swivel arm, a computer monitor on a swivel arm, a linux server, power strip, soldering kit.
What am I missing? What would you inlcude in this indoor workarea and what should stay in the garage (drill press, vice grip, etc.?) Anybody want to share info about their indoor workarea? Maybe it's more common to have a shop in the garage with everything including the machine tools, but I live in Phoenix and there's no way I can be in the garage in the summer months!
Thanks, Dan
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U shaped works for me. Against the wall I've got a table/workbench where my scope, signal generator, power supplies, bench multimeter, and logic analyzer sit on a shelf just over 12" above the surface. The surface is covered with a 3M anti-static pad that is about 30" x 30" and is grounded. Above the test gear are adjustable shelves with my parts bins, data books, and reference manuals. Attached to one of the shelves is my wire spinner (basically a dowel mounted to the front of the shelf on L-brackets that has hookup wire spools on it). To the left of this I've got a 6' cabinet with doors on the top for bigger things (steppers etc) a tool drawer just below chest height, and then two deep drawers with more stuff (larger wire, chassis boxes, switch assortments, etc). To the right of that table/workbench and forming the bottom of the U I've got a 3' wide desk with under mount PC's and the LCD monitor on top. There is a keyboard drawer underneath, and a 4-way KVM switch. I keep a FreeBSD box, a Windoze box (for free software like the Parallax tools and FPGA tools) and a spare system. Everything is connected to the UPS under there. To the right of that and forming the corner/other leg of the U is my desktop workstation. The corner unit is the O'Sullivan Industries model 66955 "Cockpit corner work center". On the top of this is my printer and below that is my main screen. USB hubs and com/LPT ports come up through the back to let me run chip programmers, etc. To the right of the work center is a matching O'Sullivan two drawer file cabinet. It holds the docking station for my laptop on top (plugs into the KVM switch too) and underneath I keep most of the various robotics docs I've collected but aren't online. One side of one drawer are office supplies (paper, pencils, staples etc). The whole thing is probably 9 x 9 x 8 looking down from the top.
Here's a couple of snaps : (sorry its the maid's day off :-)
http://www.mcmanis.com/chuck/Robotics/images/lab-left.jpg
http://www.mcmanis.com/chuck/Robotics/images/lab-right.jpg

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Thanks for the great description and the pics Chuck! I appreciate all the ideas. Especially your creative use of diet Dr. Pepper bottles. ;) Seriously, there's tons of stuff you have set up that I never thought about.
Anybody else want to share what their setup is? I think this is a good discussion, especially for us newbies who are trying to get set up and running. Thanks everyone.
-Dan
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On 25 May 2004 09:13:19 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Dan Hartshorn) wrote:

Most important of all! Wife proof lock. My wife is always bitching at my damn work area....
For the love of god woman, shut up!
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: Most important of all! Wife proof lock. My wife is always bitching : at my damn work area....     --Dog-proofing is a nice touch, too. I'm building a low railing and gate around *my* workstation...
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : Just another fart in the
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : big Elevator of Life...
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What has worked for me is to have 3 seperate benches, each for a seperate function. The first bench for your "clean" construction work (soldering, final assembly and small parts work), with soldering iron, parts bins, etc. A second bench for your "dirty" work (metal cutting, drilling, plastic cutting, etc.) with big tools, drill press, etc. A third bench is the "test bench" with all your meters, scope, etc for doing testing and adjustment of your bot. Bench size depends on the space available, but shelves and such reduce the bench size needed.
With this setup, your messy stuff doesn't get in your clean areas, and you just unhook a part of the bot and carry it to the clean or dirty bench for modification, instead of having to clean off the bench and move everything before you can get at your tools.
And face it, you will occasionally use these tools for lamp repairs and other mundane tasks, and it's nice to have the "assembly" benches always available without having to move the robot being tested.
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On 25 May 2004 09:57:41 -0700, the renowned snipped-for-privacy@att.net (Arthur Ross) wrote:

Keep grinding and sanding separate from "dirty" machining- abrasive is much harder than the ways of machine tools and will destroy them over time and with use (especially when it gets into the lubricants).
And keep PCB assembly (with lead cutting) away from final assembly. You don't want to ping a component lead onto an H-bridge PCB.
Best regards, Spehro Pefhany
--
"it's the network..." "The Journey is the reward"
snipped-for-privacy@interlog.com Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
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And I forgot, the Sherline Mill and my "machine making" devices are in the garage. I made the mistake once of drilling a chassis on the table where I do assembly and some of the metal chips eventually found their way underneath something I was testing. Not good.
--Chuck
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Right now I am in the process of moving my metalworking machines into the garage to seperate them from the woodworking equipment. My 3-in-1 milling machine was just too heavy to move down into the basement and I didn't want splatter from my welder landing in a pile of sawdust. My little Sherline CNC mill is still in the basement, but I will likely move that up as well. I am in the process of finishing part of the basement for cleaner work like drafting and electronics, so I will have three distinct work areas.
My best advice would be to make things as flexible as possbile. I have moved shops a couple of times and it is almost impossible to decide where thing need to be in advance. Just take a guess at where things go, but don't bolt anything to the wall or floor until you have done a project or two. If you use any sort of central dust collection or plumbed in compressed air you may want to use temproary drops until you are really sure about where things go. Now, this part may sound wierd, but after you take a stab at a setup - put a chair up on a work bench and sit there looking down at your arrangement to help think about how to improve it.
- James B

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    --Head on over to rec.crafts.metalworking and you'll see lots of ideas for tight shop plans. There's a "drop box" for photos too, at http://www.metalworking.com/dropbox/
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : Just another fart in the
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : big Elevator of Life...
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On 24 May 2004 22:26:24 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Dan Hartshorn) wrote:

Just wanted to comment on table tops.
I got this tip off of either DIY or new yankee.
The top is made like so: 1/4" hardboard [no nails or glue here] 3/4" plywood 2x4 framework constructed in such a way that the overall height of the frame and 3/4 plywood sandwhich is 2 1/2 inches high
When you construct your bench, screw 1 x 3 oak or other hardwood around the outer edge, bringing it up 1/4 " above the actual 3/4 plywood top.
Now, the hardboard / fiberboard should be cut to just drop inside this recesed top and come flush with the hardwood outer edge. Dont nail, screw or glue it! You want it removable. This makes replacing the top a simple affair, just pop out the old hardboard top, and pop in the new one. The hardwood oak outer rail provides a strong edge resistant to tool gouging and such. A good not-less pine would work too.
Since the whole thing is about 3 inches thick, its easy to get clamps on it.
You want whatever substructure, legs, etc, recessed behind the inside edge of the 2x4 top frame piece. This provides a comfortable ledge around the top for clamps and such.
Good luck! Mark
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