Software and Computer Engineering

My Worktable Setup

I've been using my computer on this setup for many months now:

Front of the worktable

Here's the back side:

Back of the worktable

The table finish is maybe rough as I have been experimenting with it and using power tools on top of it.

The size is just right: it fits through doors when sideways, the height is good for both sliding in an office chair beneath it or putting it in the front of the sofa.

The wheels makes it easy to put it away or to bring it in when needed.


Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard

The keyboard is a Logitech K380 Bluetooth keyboard. I've been using this keyboard for some years now and I found it reliable and really nice to use.

The F1, F2 and F3 keys allow you to pair it to and switch between controlling three distinct devices -- but unfortunately it also means that if you hit any of those by accident, you end up switching away from the device you're currently using.


Microsoft Surface Book on a monitor arm

The computer is a Microsoft Surface Book -- the first model launched in 2015 -- on top of a monitor arm.

This machine has been with me since before I've graduated college in 2019, and I'm still quite happy with using it.

The screen is amazing, it is a high-DPI display with 3000 by 2000 pixels, which is almost 3K in resolution, meaning that any text is always very crisp and I never see aliasing or individual pixes. The 3:2 aspect ratio is also very convenient, as it closely matches an A4 piece of paper.

The touchscreen, has grown unreliable and I had to disable it completely in software.

The hinge has a mating mechanism which allows you to detach the keyboard. It has also grown unreliable, so I just keep it always attached and rely on an external keyboard.

Even with all that, the screen more than makes up for it and I haven't been able to find an affordable notebook with as good as screen if I ever decide to replace it.

As a side note, I tried running Linux on it, but the ad-hoc first-party Microsoft hardware makes it often require additional work to get things working. On Windows, it “just works” out of the box, so Windows it is.

Now, for the back side:

Microsoft Surface Book on a monitor arm -- back side

The monitor arm is designed to hold a monitor, so holding notebook -- which is much lighter -- is way within it's capacity.

The setup fells rigid and being able to adjust the height and inclination of the screen is very nice.

Recently I've been using the computer mostly in the portrait position, which is specially useful when opening PDF files and seeing full pages at a time.

Attachment Mechanism

The Surface Book is not permanently screwed in to the monitor arm, as I'd like to retain the ability to take it out and about.

Detached Surface Book

Here's a close up of the receiving end. I cut it from from MDF and with a manual circular saw.

Receiving end of the attachment mechanism

This is attached to the monitor arm with screws on the VESA mount, as seen below:

Receiving end of the attachment mechanism -- back side

On the other end, I've attached the mating structure also made up of MDF, which is fixed to the computer with 3M double-sided tape.

Mating end of the attachment mechanism

I made this end round to be able to swivel between landscape and portrait positions, which has been useful.

I had the intetion to make more instances of the receiving end so I could attach the computer to other places, but I haven't got around to doing that.

Possible Improvements

I'd complain that it ended up being a bit heavy, but it's not too bad I can still carry it by myself if I need to take it up or down stairs.

For improvements, the legs could be stiffer and I'd add some reinforcement. For instance, when typing with the keyboard on top of the table (instead of in my lap), the vibration is often amplified through the monitor arm and shakes the screen, which is quite annoying.

One other possibility I though about is adding a small sliding table below the top surface to house a keyboard, but it would make the whole table even heavier.

Finally, the wheels could be replaced with rolling casters that can go in any direction, which are way more convenient and less likely to scratch the floor if pushing sideways.