This is a journal of our retirement move and life in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island's ruggedly beautiful west coast. The town's motto is "Enjoy life on the edge".

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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Musico Diminuendo

As we get closer to our moving day, where we will leave our current 2600 sq ft and shoehorn ourselves into a modest 600 sq ft space, the downsizing activity is becoming frantic. Furniture and other sundry goods are disappearing out the door at a pleasing rate, and we have a trip to Port coming up to supply the Thrift Shop there with odds and sods that we will be left with and no longer need. Well, the dreaded day finally arrived where I had to tackle downsizing my computer/music setup.

In the picture above, you will see the old system, based around a Fatar 88-key piano-action MIDI controller keyboard, the tubular, modular 'A-frame' stand stretched to 60" in width, presenting a formidable footprint, especially as the 'A-frame' legs splayed out quite a distance at the floor. A half shelf above it all, on the top crosspiece, held my backup drive array etc. In fact, we simply had no space for something this big in the new condo. Surgery was called for!


As may be seen here, this tubular construction set (from Ultimate Support Stands) is completely modular and with a bit of imagination, you can build almost any type of supporting structure. In fact, I've been dragging this stuff around with me for years, and used it for all manner of modifications to the base stand.

Because the 88-key Fatar was really the limiting factor here, my dear, patient, loving, and all-around incredible wife told me to go ahead and buy a new, smaller keyboard. I lucked out and found that Tom Lee Music had a special on the M-Audio Axiom Air with 61 keys. The 61-keys are just about perfect for the stretch between bass and treble notes I play, and it's easy to reach past at either end to additional octaves with the tap of a button. The Axiom is also hugely lighter than the heavy Fatar, which also helps things out. So, to work...


The first thing was obviously to clear all the equipment off the stand so I could dismantle it and start modifying and building my new design. My design goals were:

  1. Reduce the width
  2. Reduce the height
  3. Reduce the front-back depth
  4. Increase the available shelf space

While goals 1,2 and 3 are fairly easy, incorporating number 4 was a challenge, especially as I was shrinking the entire structure! Before I actually solved the shelving issue, here is what the basic redesigned stand looked like:

As may be seen, it is essentially a rectangular two-tiered bench that is only as high as the top-rear shelf for the monitors needs to be. The top-rear crosspiece holds the shelf for the monitors, while the lower-front crosspiece holds the MIDI controller and the computer keyboard and mouse etc.


Well, here's the finished piece. And if you're wondering where the additional shelf is, it is mounted on a crosspiece below the top-rear one and is thus not visible in this picture. This works out really well, as it keeps the clutter of hard drives, audio/MIDI interface and USB hub out of sight, and makes cable management a lot easier. When we get settled, I'll properly dress the cables with Ty-wraps to keep everything clean and as noise-free as possible. (This means keeping AC lines away from audio lines, or if not possible, have them cross at 90 degrees to minimize crosstalk.)

The whole cost, excluding the new controller and almost a full day's labour, was $27 for some new shelving to properly fit the stand. I was able to reduce the size by 12" in width, 20" in height and about 12" in depth. And, I have double the storage shelf space.

All-in-all, a banner project day here on the edge!


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