Studio In a Box

So this is a project I’ve been working away on designing for a while now, as a way to solve a lack of accessible studio space, and the need to stay at home during Covid social-distancing.

It’s a trifold-door cabinet, with internal power supply, that will be installed in my carport, between the secondary entrance (left) and laundry (right) doors of my home. It’s designed so that all the equipment stacks inside it – at the rear is workbench space, including a drill-press station, then the UV-blocking welding screens go in front of that, and finally the welders on a trolley, and a fold-up welding table.

All the equipment within is on wheels, so it can be rolled out and the space configured, with no lifting required. All it requires me to do is move my car forward a couple of metres, but the cabinet is narrow enough that my car can fit beside it when closed.

There’s a long, narrow workbench for my drill-press and bench-grinder, as well as storage, and a table for my metal-cutting bandsaw (a quiet alternative to a drop-grinder), that sits over the Air-Compressor. The compressor is an interesting piece of kit – it’s a silenced model, that uses two small motors, rather than one large one. You can easily hold a conversation at normal speaking volume, while standing next to it.

The power supply, which will sit roughly in the middle of the cabinet, is already installed – a pair of 15 amp, and a pair of 10 amp plugs, on a 32 amp line, so I can drive both the air compressor (10) and the welder’s plasma cutter (15) at the same time. Or, I can keep both my TIG and MIG welders powered up at the same time, and alternate between them, using  MIG to tack things in place, then TIG for the finished welds.

All in all, it should be a super adaptable, and quick setup / packdown low-effort workspace.

2020 – Week 48

I picked up the UPS, and installed it.

The setup could be better in terms of the device’s UI. Part of the configuration wizard involves setting the service-start date for the battery, but whereas most devices with a date function ask for day, month, year as separate values to be input and locked, this device is just a long continuous scroll through dates – you go through all the days in a month, then on to the next month etc.

The result is I set the day correctly, then hit enter, and that locked the date as April, and from then on, not even a restore to factory defaults would give me the option to reset the battery date.

So, a long call to the manufacturer’s support line, where the tech hadn’t actually used this model, because they’ve been working from home for 8 months and haven’t had access to their labs, and we figured out we had to open the unit, remove the battery (while it was still running – it’s designed to do this, but it’s still unsettling when you’re on your own), disconnect the battery leads, reconnect them, and then tell the UPS that this was a new battery. Then, it re-enabled the wizard to set a battery date.

So both I, and the UPS support guy learned something from the experience.

2020 – Week 46

Moved my steel stockpile over to my storage facility, the sheet cladding is already starting to rust from the air.

I’ve registered a Fastspring account to move sales of my eBooks away from the Apple Books store, and in a major shot of good news, found that the cross-platform eBook reader Thorium has now adopted fixed-layout EPUB, and it renders them really well.

So, now the wheel of leaving Apple Books begins turning.

2020 – Week 44

Thunderstorms all week, which has made it difficult to get over to storage to continue with the cleanup work, but I managed by Thursday.

There was some success in solving a bunch of little problems with working out how I’d redo all my comics for self-publishing. I think I can move ahead with that.

We were belted by storms, and lost power again or a few minutes. A major priority next weeks needs to be to bring a UPS online to protect my gear.

2020 – Week 43

Monday, picked up my new air-grinders. Wednesday had a fun diversion as the Noosa Temple of Satan (a secular organisation trying to make a point about the privilege enjoyed by religious organisations, by availing themselves of said privileges) flew a banner around the town.

The rest of the week was spent on admin stuff, doing a bit of tidying up around my storage space, and futzing around with my computer.

2020 – Week 42

Ordered a couple of Air-grinders, and the new tyres for my bike arrived.

Finally managed to solve a problem with my new display refusing to play nicely with my other displays – plugging it in via HDMI instead of Displayport.

We had an overnight power outage at one point, which made my workstation think it had lost a RAM socket. Lots of troubleshooting followed, including disassembling and swapping RAM chips about.

But, I managed to solve it, with a Realtime Clock reset.

Kinda tempted to try to buy another one (or two) stock original versions of this machine to provide donor organs.

2020 – Week 41

It’s been a quiet week – most of it spent on research trying to figure out ideas for some custom applications I want to have developed.

2020 – Week 40

Quiet start to the week, dealing with some of the washup of my twitter issues, and replying to emails related to it.

Ended up returning the Air Grinder, as I couldn’t get the cap for the air line undone, and then I realised the activation switch has no safety catch, to prevent it firing up if it falls on the ground, which is very dangerous.


2020 – Week 39

First trial of the new welding helmet, just doing grinding, and it’s fantastic. The cooling air supply keeps you focussed, and the huge bubble grinding shiels provides a view of work that safety goggles can’t approach.

Problematically, the tarp I had over my steel stockpile in the courtyard seems to have trapped moisture under it, so my steel got saturated and has suffered some surface rust. So, I moved it all under an awning, so it would be out of the weather. That was a whole day process – picking up each piece of steel, towel-drying , then cooking the moisture out with a heat gun, before placing it in the new location.

…But it wasn’t out of the weather, the weather came in under the awning, so Wednesday was spent moving the steel a second time – indoors. Now my steel stockpile sits in the loungeroom, on the tile floor. Another day spent towelling down each piece, then heat drying.

Thursday, the org handling my Arts Qld grant got in touch, to say they wanted me to acquit my grant now, rather than waiting for the project to be finished.

Friday, I acquitted my grant, but woke up to a tweet storm, after something I had written a couple of nights earlier reached a critical audience, and suddenly had been retweeted 700+ times.

The weekend was spent working through the washup of all the twitter stuff, and generally taking things easy.