Portable Computer Stand

Standard

Computer Stand that does it all.

Untitled

Several years ago my tool belt became so heavy with tools that it started to hurt my back and hips and I didn’t like carrying my computer around or leaving it sitting someplace in the home. I needed something better to carry tools and my computer and something I could keep with me during home inspections.

On a flight to Mexico I was looking through a Sky Mall catalog and noticed a roll around podium. It kind of looked like a music stand with wheels. Instantly the wheels in my head started turning and within a few minutes, about 150 miles at 500 miles an hour, I designed a computer-stand/tool-carrier I could use on my inspections.

For the next 75 miles I put together a materials list from items I might have in my shop or would have to purchase. The list included:

  • A five gallon bucket with a lid.
  • One 3’x3/4” pipe.
  • One floor flange that would screw to the top of the pipe.
  • A plastic gun case that my computer would fit in.
  • Some foam rubber for the computer to sit on in the case.
  • Some fine chain to attach the case base to the lid and keep it from opening too far.
  • Some miscellaneous nuts, bolts and screws.
  • A used office chair base with wheels.

When I returned home from vacation I rummaged through my shop and put together the parts. I ended up buying the 3’x3/4” iron pipe and, the chair. I picked up the pipe at our local ACE and stopped by the thrift store to pick up a small office chair for a couple of bucks.

Starting with the bottom, I removed the base from the chair. It was ideal because it had five feet with little plastic wheels. Some chair bases have four feet, which might work fine, but I figured five would give the stand more stability.

The 3/4’” pipe fit loosely into the center of the base neck, so I used some electric tape to take up the gap and make the pipe fit snug. I also drilled a hole through the base neck and the pipe and put a bolt through with a nut on the end to make sure the base would not fall off when I carried it up stairs.

The bucket lid would have worked fine, but my wife had one of those seat lids that you put on a five gallon bucket so when you are gardening you can sit comfortably on the bucket to pull weeds or whatever. The lid also came with an apron that goes around the outside of the bucket to put your tools in. I had never seen her use them, so I stole them out of the garden shed.  I drilled a ¾” hole  exactly in the middle of the bucket bottom and lid.  The bucket was pretty stable, but to stabilize it more I cut a round ½” piece of plywood, OSB, and drilled a ¾” hole in the middle to match the bottom of the bucket. With short 5/8” screws, I screwed down through the bottom of the bucket into the round piece of plywood. The bucket and lid slide down the pipe to the chair base neck. As a final touch, I sprayed the bucket with black spray in bed-liner.

OSB plywood attached to the bottom of the bucket.

OSB plywood attached to the bottom of the bucket.

The tool apron seemed ideal for my purposes, but it needed to be on the inside of the bucket, so I reversed it, attaching  it with some small screws, and removed the excess material at the top. The apron fit nicely on the inside of the bucket and now I had pockets for my tools.

Tool apron on inside the bucket.

Tool apron on inside the bucket.

For the plastic computer/gun case, I cut a piece of 1/4” plywood panel to fit into the case to make it more ridged and to give me something to attach the floor flange to.

Showing floor flange attache to the bottom of the case.

Showing floor flange attache to the bottom of the case.

I screwed through the bottom of the case up into the ply wood and mounted the floor flange to the bottom of the case with nuts and bolts. I cut the piece of foam rubber to the shape of the case and laid it in the bottom of the case, covering the screws and bolts. The foam protects the computer and elevates it in the case it to a nice height for typing.

Showing 1" thick foam used in bottom of case to cover plywood and hardware.

Showing 1″ thick foam used in bottom of case to cover plywood and hardware.

To keep the lid of the computer case from opening too far, I added two pieces of light chain, bolting them to the lid and the base with very small nuts and bolts. I thought it would be nice to have a pocket attached to the lid to keep pens, pads paper and some small tools in. I had salvaged the material off a camping chair which included a netted pouch that hung on the back of the chair. Cutting a piece of 1/8″ panel the shape of the lid to back the pouch, I attached the pouch to the panel with some hot glue. To hold the pouch in place place I stretch a small bungee cord across the lid, attaching it to the chains on both sides.

Showing pouch in lid for storage.

Showing pouch in lid for storage.

My new computer has a real sensitive touch pad and will jump the curser all over the screen if the pad is even lightly touched even after I made adjustments to the pad’s sensitivity. My solution was to add a small platform made of 1/4″ hardboard and two mouse pads cut to fit and glued to the hardboard. The platform fits across the front  of the case and there is a small cutout attached to the bottom that fits snugly in the the handle to keep the platform in place.

Showing stand with computer and mouse pad platform.

Showing stand with computer and mouse pad platform.

Showing bottom of platform with cutout attached.

Showing bottom of platform with cutout attached.

I have been using the computer stand for several years now and love it. My clients are continually telling me that I should patent the idea. They usually ask me whats in the bucket. I tell them, “beer and ice,” and then show them the tools. Occasionally I have to touch up the black spray in bed-liner and oil the wheels, but it is holding together very well. The stand is incredibily stable and has never tipped over.

Anyway…for what it’s worth.

Advertisements

ATTIC INSULATION MATTERS!

Standard

IS YOURS  DAMAGED AND DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH?

attic1

I’m a home inspector, WIN Home Inspection of Salem Oregon. Part of my job is to inspect the attic area of homes for possible issues: roof leaks, electrical dangers, proper venting, ducting, chimney leaks, animals, mold, insulation, anything that may negatively affect the home or the people living in the home. Over the last fifteen years I have seen it all.

A couple of years ago I inspected a nearly new home for a lady. Three months later I got a call from her telling me that her master bedroom was cold, much cooler than the rest of the home. We scheduled a time for me to go over the see if I could figure out why. When I got there I could clearly feel what she meant, the room was much cooler than the rest of the home. I checked the airflow from the heat duct and it was good and after checking windows and doors I found no visual reason for the cooler temperature. Fortunately I have an infrared camera that I use to inspect homes, so I got it out of the toolbox and fired it up. As I scanned the walls and ceiling I discovered a large area of the ceiling that was showing a cooler surface than the rest of the ceiling. This was a little disturbing because when I inspected the attic during her full home inspection the insulation in the attic was perfect.

I asked her if anyone had been in the attic since I had inspected the home. At first she told me that no one had, but when I showered her through the camera the cooler area, she then remembered that the cable guy had been up there to install a cable for her wall mounted TV.

When I went up into the attic to investigate I found an area, about one hundred square feet, where the insulation had been disturbed. There was even a small area where I could see the top of the ceiling’s sheet rock. The cable guy had moved insulation to try and find the top of the wall so he could drill a hole to run the cable for the wall mounted TV.

Some time ago I was inspecting a home where the seller was at the inspection. As I got ready to go into the attic, the seller told me proudly that they had two years earlier, spent a lot of money to have the attic completely re-insulated to a R-38, about sixteen inches of blown-in insulation. Unfortunately, since that time they had a home security system installed, the phone company had added phone lines into two of the bedrooms from the attic and the cable company had added cable to all of the bedrooms from the attic. The new insulation in all areas of the attic was completely destroyed.

damaged insul

A couple of weeks ago I inspected an older home with a newly remodeled kitchen. When I did my infrared scan of the home I knew what I was going to find when I went into the attic. There was no insulation over the kitchen. The contractor had pulled it out of the area to install new light fixtures and add more outlets in the kitchen.

Recently I inspected a home out in the country. It was only ten years old, so it had been insulated to an R-38. When I inspected the attic if found that squirrels and raccoons had found their way into the attic and for ten years they had been making it their home. The insulation in the attic had been completely destroyed. The animals had trampled down the insulation throughout the attic. The insulation was still there, it hadn’t been moved out of place, but it was compressed, eliminating all the small air pockets in the insulation. The fluffiness of the insulation is a big factor in its insulating properties.

images raccoon

On a more personal and embarrassing note, I had done some minor work in our attic over one of our bedrooms. That next winter I noticed the room was much cooler than the other bedrooms. I looked in the attic and found that I had forgotten to repair a four square foot area of the insulation when I was done with my work.

If I had to put a percentage number to it, I would have to say that at a minimum, 75% of attics I inspect have damaged insulation. The issue ranges from major damage to as minor as someone forgot to put the insulation back over the ceiling access panel. To whatever degree the insulation is damaged in your attic, it does make a difference in the comfort of the home and the cost of heating it.

Just because the temperature throughout your home is relatively even doesn’t  that you don’t have damaged insulation, it all might all be damaged equally throughout.

A couple of summers ago I inspected a home for my daughter Rondi and son-in-law, Mark. When the weather got cold I got a text message from my daughter saying that her house was freezing and she wanted to know why. I text back, “Read your inspection report”. The home only had about three inches of insulation in the attic. I had told her this when I had done the inspection and clearly stated in the report that the home needed more attic insulation. Of course, me being her dad, she didn’t pay attention to what I told her and they hadn’t read the report. Being a loving and caring dad, I helped Mark, insulated the attic up to the standard of a R-38.

Best-Attic-Insulation-with-sprying

If you haven’t got my point yet…ATTIC INSULATION MATTERS! If someone goes into your attic, make sure they agree to fix any insulation they damage. If you look in your attic and see that the insulation is damaged or that you don’t have enough insulation, do something about it. If you’re not comfortable going into your attic to fix the insulation or add insulation, hire a professional. Good attic insulation will pay for it’s self fairly quickly, but more importantly, your home will be more comfortable, you’ll spend less money heating it, you’ll be using less energy and you’ll be helping to save the environment.

Anyway…for what it’s worth.