Standing Desk + Very Manly Computer Interface

My standing desk and the stock and modified adaptive switches on and around it are presented in this video. Those prone to cubital tunnel syndrome (like me), carpal tunnel syndrome, or other RSIs might find some useful ideas. The same goes for those who just get uncomfortable with extended use of mouse, keyboard, or other interface devices that demand a lot of precise little movements.

I won’t repeat info in the video here. There’s a transcript in the description section of the YouTube page.

Brief reviews of and links to devices seen in the video are provided below, partly to assist those wanting to adopt some part of my setup, partly to support companies making products I like, and partly to see if I can make a little cash for myself. I make a 4% commission on any purchase you make after following one of my links to Amazon. Those links are indicated by (A). Links with (E) go to EnableMart.com, from whom I get no commissions, but with whom my purchasing experiences have always been good. For products sold by both stores I provide both links, lowest price first. (Prices compared in May 2013.) All items were purchased; no freebies. Disclaimer over.

Adaptive switches

The big round buttons are 5 inch Joggle Buttons (E), also available in 2.5 inch. Adjustable pressure sensitivity is a nice feature. I’ve been using them without problems for a couple of years now. Actually, one started sticking recently, but that was easily fixed by slightly increasing the pressure setting. I like the PLONK these make when you hit them, but I’m guessing that in a cubicle environment such PLONKs would quickly turn neighbors against you. Probably best in a home office. Or a private corner office with a view.

The little switches on the underside of the platform are Ultra Light 1 Sensitive Touch Ability Switches (E). I love these. They’re cheap and durable (no failures after a couple years), and they make a nice little cricket sound. And the beauty part is they can be easily converted into string-pull switches, which can then be used for things like the big levers seen in the video. The grip switches (a.k.a. squeeze switches) seen there are also just Ultra Light switches with FloTex (a.k.a. Airex) foam wrapped around them. I’ll be showing how to do these conversions in an upcoming video. In the meantime, you can probably figure it out for yourself. A couple tips: For the grip switch, don’t wrap the foam too tightly; leave a little air pocket. For the string pull switch, enlarge the little hole in the top part of the switch with a nail then thread an elastic string (A) through both that hole and the mounting-screw hole in the base of the switch.

The pull-down bar activates an Ablenet String Switch (E) (A) via a piece of elastic string. It works well, but I wouldn’t buy it again. As mentioned above, Ultra Light switches are easy to convert into string-pull switches, and they sell for less than half the price of the Ablenet device.

All my switches are plugged into a 12-input X-Keys USB Switch Interface. It works perfectly for me, but apparently there’s a new version coming out soon, so perhaps it’s worth waiting.

Other desk stuff

I’m quite fond of my XTrac Pads Zoom Hard Surface Mouse Pad (A) with its very slippery surface. In my setup it’s backed by 1/4 inch plywood. Beneath the plywood there’s a piece of 3/4 inch pine, which lifts the pad enough to put it’s surface level with the top of the Joggle Buttons. The pine is recessed so the plywood and mouse pad can overhang the base of the Joggle Buttons, thus allowing the pad to abut the button surface.

The attachment on top of the mouse is just a folded up piece of paper, about three quarters of an 8.5 x 11 sheet. It's attached with masking tape.

The little touchpad is the Adesso Smart Cat 4-Button Touchpad. I got a piece of 3/4 inch EVA foam taped onto the back of it to make it more comfortable to hold in both hands while controlling the cursor with a thumb. This hasn't worked out terribly well for me. I use it now and then for a few minutes at a time, but longer use brings on either cubital tunnel problems or thumb pain of one sort or another. But that's probably just me. I'm a freak.

Scotch Exterior Mounting Tape holds the joggle buttons, mouse pad, and Ultra Light switches in place on the wooden platform and holds the platform together. I also used it to hold the Ultra Light switches in place inside of the grip switches, but I don’t think it’s really necessary there. The package says “permanent”, but it’s pretty easy to pry things apart with a screwdriver when you want to rearrange.

The microphone I use with Dragon NaturallySpeaking (A) is the Olympus 145062 ME-31 Compact Gun Microphone (A). In a quiet room, it works well for me. Accuracy is similar to headset mics I’ve used in the past. With background noise beyond very low music from the other side of the room, it’s a disaster. As for NaturallySpeaking, sometimes you feel like Jean-Luc Picard ordering Earl Grey hot, sometimes you feel like a piece of dirt. [[More evocative analogy needed. What’s a well-known situation where someone deals with an exasperatingly literal-minded assistant?]] The bottom line: I don’t know of anything better and would be lost without it.

The little light over my keyboard is the horribly named Energizer LED Book Light. I like it for occasional, brief illumination of the keyboard and as a handy flashlight when plugging in cables, etc. Use it as a book light and battery purchases will quickly land you in debtor’s prison.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I may eventually install a comment thingy, but for now, if you think your comment would be of general interest, and I agree, I'll be happy to post it here manually.

Or…you could post it on Limpencraft's eerily vacant Facebook page.

Kurt Edward Robinson

kurt.robinson.kr@gmail.com