Recently went hunting for suitable equipment to mount my stick and throttle (for Elite Dangerous) on my desk. The most appropriate I found was a set called the JoyLoc Clamp Master. Unfortunately they were $180 a pair back before they went out of business 3 years ago. So, I set about making my own. Made some designs involving wood and or steel, and settled on trying to make the wooden ones. Some 1/4″ plywood, time with a table saw, and a few McMaster Carr fasteners later… viola! Drilled and glued threaded inserts into the bottom of my Ikea desk.
The slots in the upper deck along with some thumb screws allow removal and storage when not in use.
While cleaning the back yard of my father in-law’s house, we stumbled upon this Tonka Jeepster that my wife and her brother used to play with. After some careful disassembly, I straightened, sand blasted, and painted the body, painted the faded white plastic bits, and replaced the axles with fresh threaded shafts and fasteners. Now I just have to keep the “kids” from playing with it!
Maybe it was my play of Space Engineers, or watching the trailer for the new Homeworld video game, but the other night I had the irresistible itch to build a land, carrier, rover, tank… thing. So, here is – Phobos.
When I was a kid, in addition to a small bucket of legos, I had a pile of Construx. A couple years ago I had the itch to hunt down some of them on eBay, you know “for my future kids” ;-). Well, while I work on the kids, there’s no sense in not having a little fun. So here was my first build – Taildragger.
This is the final installment of my PC Seat build. You can find the related posts here.
After a week of using my new chair, a couple of things became apparent…
1) It’s as comfortable, robust, and ergonomic as I had hoped (score!)
2) Realizing that I have a love hate relationship with paint (sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t) and that the chair doesn’t look half bad as is, I’m going to postpone making it colorful, indefinitely.
3) The power adjustments are awesome. That said, the power supply I found has a small fan making it undesirable to leave powered at all times. Plugging and unplugging the chair each time I want to make an adjustment is equally obnoctious.
Now the chair can remain plugged in, and I turn the power off on a whim.
Lastly, I drilled a 2” whole in the upper plate of the base so the power chord routes nicely to the shelf below.
So, what did all this set me back? Here’s the rundown:
$100 – Jaguar S Type passenger seat (scrap yard)
$43 – Power supply and power chord (Amazon)
$42 – Plywood (Home Depot)
$60 – Wheels and Hardware (McMaster)
$5 – Power switch (Amazon)
Now, before you’re pocket book hangs it’s head in shame, keep in mind that I could have spent a little more time and probably saved ~$50 in materials. Also, a leather office chair at Office Max will cost between $180 and $400. And as previously mentioned, I have yet to meet one that fit me, was comfortable, and lasted more than 6 months before the mechanics gave out. So all in, I still think I came out ahead.
That wraps up the build. Feel free to check out the pictures here. Now… on to the games!
This is installment four of my PC game chair build, started here. Interested? Follow along here.
Step 4: Building the Base
Having set my design to drawings I collected my tools…
packed up my jeep…
and went to my friend’s shop to get building.
The first steps were to cut the ¾” and ½” plywood sheets to the part sizes needed. Note that each “x” (side support) is made of 2 parts sandwiched together, so there are four plates for them, in addition to 4 wheel rails, a top plate, and two parts for the “bookshelf” underneath…
I started with the wheel rails, shaping them and drilling 3/8″ holes at the ends for the wheel shafts and 5 circular holes along the length. the latter process was made easier by bolting the 4 rails together with the wheel axle bolts to make drilling them all together possible. That said, drilling the holes became quite the endeavor as the hole saw I had could only cut through one rail at a time and prying the plug out after each cut was quite painful. But I soldiered through… (anyone need about 50 small wooden wheels?)
Next, I laid out the X shaped side members and stacked the plates for them in pairs. Similarly, this allowed me to cut all four to shape and drill their holes together.
With the sides complete, I attached the wheel rails and attached them to the base plate. Note, up to this point I had only used drywall screws to join the pieces. However, the leg to base joint was critical to the chairs stability and strength, so I used wood glue in addition to screws.
Similarly, I fit, glued, and screwed the “bookshelf” components in between the leg supports.
Finally, the upper standoffs were added and holes drilled to accommodate the bolt locations and pins that extend from the base of the chair’s rails. Note that these holes were not in the drawings as I had not yet measured their placement. This ended up being a bit of a mistake as I was quite tired at this point and missed a measurement by ~ ¼”. Hence, if you look closely, you’ll see that I had to use a router to turn the holes into slots. Fortunately, these errors would be hidden under the chair and not visible upon completion.
I had intended to paint the base at this point, but as mentioned previously, was beginning to make mistakes. Instead, I packed everything home and had a pleasant dinner with my wife and father in law. Later that night, I made the first full up assembly of the chair and.. voila!
Everything fits as planned, all the motors work, and its really comfortable! (for me at least, if you’re not 6’1″ you might want to knock an inch or so off the base’s height) Both my wife and a friend I sent a picture to suggested that the wood looks great next to my desk, and I have to agree. That said, the exposed screws, pencil marks from construction, and couple of burn marks from the dull band saw blade are a turn off for me, so I still plan to paint it. But its raining (in LA?! Crazy, I know!) and it will have to wait for another opportunity.
This is installment three of my PC game chair build, started here. Interested? Follow along here.
Step 3: Power and Plans
Having made my seat of choice less explosive and sorted out it’s power needs, I set about installing the power supply and planning the base design. As discussed in the previous post, I had ordered a 360 watt power supply and AC power cord from Amazon. Installing the power supply was straight forward. It’s three 12V output lines matched well with the 3 power input lines of the seat (2 gross motion lines and 1 line for the lumbar support) and with a little trimming, fitting, and a few zip ties, it fit nicely in the plastic tray at the base of the chair.
I’d post a video of the chair working, but given its slow motion, all you would get is a whirring sound in the background and a video of me with a satisfied grin on my face 😉
Knowing that the chair now worked, I set about figuring out dimensions for the base. As shown in the picture above, a milk crate made a suitable first test, though at 12.5 inches tall it proved to be at least 1.5 inches too tall for me to comfortably place my heals on the ground. With the chair able to go up about another two inches, I settled on a floor to chair height of closer to 10 inches.
From there it was figuring out what kind of shape looked good that I could build relatively easily with some power tools (borrowed from a good friend) and simple lumber. I downloaded a seat model, picked out some 5″ rubber wheels, and settled on the shape below.
The color and hole pattern are still TBD, but you get the drift.
The wheels and hardware are on the way (McMaster, the Amazon of industrial stuff) Next step is to make some drawings, get the plywood, wood screws, and paint, and get building!
This is installment two of my PC game chair build, started here. Interested? Follow along here.
Step 2: Playing with Explosives
Having gotten my prize home and found it free of freeloading mice etc., I set about making it safe to use as a piece of home furniture.
Choosing a seat from a high end luxury car presents as many challenges as it does benefits. According to the electrical diagram (and assuming they are still functional), my lovely seat has 8-way adjust-ability (including lumbar support! oooooh, ahhhhh), seat heating, and a passenger restraint and seat mounted airbag! While the adjustment features would be way cool to maintain, the heat and the two small explosive devices (seat belt and airbag systems) had to go. Nothing like fire and an actual explosion going off during a video game! So, I turned the chair over, got out the tools, pulled up the schematic and started digging.
Disassembling the wiring harness (that harness tape is a sticky mess!) and following the diagram, I quickly identified that I could keep the adjustment buttons and functions while ditching the heater control, seat weight sensor, and a myriad of other junk. Removing the seat belt safety restraint (explosive #1 and the belt on the far side) was a simple matter of unbolting the components, while getting the air bag out (explosive #2) was a little more involved. I located it’s lead wire, snipping it at the base of the seat, for safety. Then, I gently (crowbar) pulled the back panel of the seat off, removed some of the upholstery clips, and removed the airbag from the right side of the seat.
After putting the remaining seat back together, I went back to the schematic and looked up the fuses for each of the remaining seat systems. Determining that the seat motors run off of 12V (duh) and pull a maximum of 30A (yowza!) I went to trusty Amazon to find a 360W power supply and a suitable AC chord (Prime membership can be dangerous! and useful ;-)).
So, after much activity, I have an explosive free seat and a power supply en route to get it running. Will it work? Will the magic smoke escape? Can I design a base for it that doesn’t look like the cubist exhibit at the LA County Museum of Art? Stay tuned…