I already wrote about how space-conscious my home office setup is, and here are some additions to it. After I went through troubles with my old laptop screen, I purchased a new HP laptop, and the old one never got fixed. The new one runs Windows Vista, so testing in IE6 is out of the option unless I run some sort of a virtual machine, which would be just another resource-drain.
Anyhow, the solution was to run both my laptops, connected to a big monitor while I’m at home. This had a few loops to jump :
- How do I set it up so I can easily switch between the two computers on just 1 monitor? Having 2 monitors on my desk is completely out of the option due to lateral space limitations.
- How do I set up space for 2 laptops to be stacked up, while at least one of them can be set up and removed on a constant basis? The old broken one can stay, but the new one has to come with me all the time. Also, once again, space was a factor.
- It has to be easy for me to connect USB ports and what not easily.
So I started looking for options. I went to some stores to look for a shelving system that can help me out, but none of them fit the profile. Most of them were too big, too tall, and after stacking 2 of them the monitor on top ended up sitting too high.
I custom-designed the following shelves by going to Home Depot, having the wood pieces cut to my trim, and then using my hand-drill and some wood screws, I crafted these 17″ X 10″ X 1.75″ shelves. These shelves worked out perfectly – it gave less than 1/4″ room on the sides from my laptops, and in terms of height they had about 1/4″ of room on top of the laptops, which is perfect.
For the panel shelving I used some sort of compacted chip-board thingy, so it’s thin yet durable. Actual plywood was too thick – it would have added an extra 3/4 inch to the total height, raising the 22″ monitor too high.
So that took care of the space problem of having 2 laptops stacked with a monitor on top. This doesn’t take up any more space than it did when I opened my laptop and put it on my desk.
To enable switching between the 2 computers with a snap, I purchased a Belkin Flip. It’s a Y junction circuitry unit that couples 2 USB ports, 1 RGB Monitor output, and a speaker output to 1 input towards the devices.
By gently tapping on this switch, which is right in front of my monitor, the monitor view/mouse/keyboard switches over between the 2 computers in a snap.
As you can see in the following photo, the shelves I designed are wide open on all fronts, so that I can plug in the USB ports, use the CD/DVD ROMs.
The one thing I’d do differently next time is to add another inch in depth, because some of the components need me to push the laptops back and forth to fit it in, which isn’t so bad after all.