Shop Improvments #5: Weekend Tech Update

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Blog entry by sansoo22 posted 01-05-2020 03:29 PM 355 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: More organization Part 5 of Shop Improvments series Part 6: New Table Saw!!! »

This weekend I set out a task to update some of the aging tech in the shop. I had been using an old Lenovo laptop that was stored in the top of a tool chest. At one point it was hooked to a 32” TV but it had bad resolution and terrible sound. So i hit up FB marketplace for a used Samsung 42” 1080p display and decided to build an enclosure for an Lenovo ThinkCenter I had in the bone yard.

The goal was to fit the PC, some fans for intake/exhaust, a google mini, and do as clean of wiring job as possible. Here is a pile of stuff I started out with.

You can see how big and ugly the old laptop is

Next step was a quick test fit to determine orientation. I wanted to have the PC face outward and take up less space but that was a no go. So settled on sideways with the fan on the left for intake and the other for exhaust.

After taking lots and lots of measurements and then taking them again the build out could begin. I won’t bore you with all of that part but here is a quick shot of my carcass assembly. Gotta make sure it all stays square!

And the crucial first test fit…Like a glove!

The holes for the fans ended up a bit bigger than necessary but I used the hole saw I had on hand. After all the Milwaukee hole dozers or whatever they are called aren’t cheap and I was on a budget

Skipping the boring clamp, glue, brad nail phase here is the version 1.0

I could have stopped there. Many would say I should have stopped there. But i got to thinking what if i need to upload a file or video to this box? Might be a pain to open the lid and fiddle around for a USB port. So version 2.0 the lid shrank and a USB hub was added

I came up with what I felt was a pretty neat idea to just use a capture mechanism for holding the USB hub. After all it was a cheap Amazon hub so it may need replaced. I used a fixed L bracket with nut-serts on one side and the 2 bolts hold the front and back of the hub.

If you can’t tell yet I’m pretty OCD about a lot things. One of those things is i hate looking at messy cords. So I built a small cabinet under my peg board with a couple flip up lids that can hide all of that mess for me.

I will fully admit to this being overkill but I’m very happy with the end result. My workbench that goes in front of that is on wheels so if I need to mess with anything just roll it out of the way.

Next up was mounting the TV. That was a pain in and of itself. Most likely because I hate ugly cables. Nothing like climbing a ladder with a 42” TV in your hands 4 or 5 times to make for a fun day. But here it is all up and running.

But wait…theres more!
That soundbar under the TV holds a little surprise…

TADA…its also a Roku!

The only thing I didn’t get done yet is the Google Mini. Couldn’t find a nice safe place to keep it that allowed the mic to pick up my voice where ever I was in the shop without yelling. I think I’m going to replace the outlet for the garage door opener with something that can power USB devices as well. Then get a recessed ceiling mount for the mini. That is just about centrally located in my shop.

The only disappointing thing in the whole build out was once the TV was mounted I learned it doesn’t tilt as far as I would like. Not a huge deal since I don’t plan to stand directly in front of it and binge watch an entire show but it does feel like you were late to a movie and ended up in the very first row when watching it.

5 comments so far

View BlueRidgeDog's profile


703 posts in 580 days

#1 posted 01-05-2020 03:46 PM

What distro? I have been using Linux for a long long long time, but am frustrated at the fact that SketchUp is Win/OSX only…and I use SketchUp A LOT. I spent a week of my life trying to get it to work in wine and even with a pretty beefy system it just struggled.

View sansoo22's profile


996 posts in 455 days

#2 posted 01-05-2020 03:54 PM

I’m running Ubuntu 18.0.4 “screamin beaver” right now. Its an older i7 4770 with 16GB of DDR3 so not a beast per say but once was. I havent used SketchUp for quite awhile. Been learning to do everything in Fusion 360 since a co-worker runs a maker space and uses it exclusively. If i need anything 3D printed or laser cut I can just send him the file.

View BlueRidgeDog's profile


703 posts in 580 days

#3 posted 01-05-2020 03:58 PM

I have been learning fusion, but it too lacks a version for Linux (unless something has happened). Either way it is a virtual machine or similar, and complex models just seem to hammer a virtual machine and I have yet to get a virtual machine that will run SketchUp at all.

View sansoo22's profile


996 posts in 455 days

#4 posted 01-05-2020 04:13 PM

I will ask the uber nerds on my team Monday what they are using. I know Chuck, the maker space owner, only uses Linux on all his machines. He may have some insight. If he gives me any good advice I will PM you. I’m still new to the Linux desktop world. Been building, deploying, and managing RedHat and Ubuntu servers for over a decade but just now got into linux desktop distros.

My main PC at home is still Win10 because we develop in C# and need Visual Studio.

View BlueRidgeDog's profile


703 posts in 580 days

#5 posted 01-05-2020 06:01 PM

Interested to see what you find out. I was a sysadmin back in the day, when you loaded Linux on 3.5” disks. Still code a bit (C, coco, perl and mostly bash).

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