Improvements to the “Man Lab”

I’m usually struggling with the fact that my computer is on a different desk to where I do soldering and generally put bits together. Yes, I can create “dead tree” versions of datasheets quite easily but I do find paper to be, mostly, a pain in the arse – especially when I print on A5 to save space and then can’t read the bloody things because they’re too small πŸ™

A while ago, I backed HDMIPI on Kickstarter – this is an excellent project to produce a 9″ HD screen for the Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be ready for a couple of months and, to be honest, I’ll probably not use it for what I bought it for. The plan was to use it as a screen on my work bench that I could display PDFs on. It’s probably too small for that but it’s a nice screen so I’m sure I’ll find something to do with it.

Meanwhile, we’re upgrading our desktops at work and I’ve been clearing out the buildup of crap obsolete IT equipment that you inevitably get. Since I look after hardware selection, purchasing etc. etc. then I tend to make a point of offering any unwanted kit to anyone in the office and I also tend to make myself last in the queue – it wouldn’t feel right if I just cherry-picked all the best bits before the others got a look in.

This time, there were 3 old monitors that I decided were no use any more (a blurry 21″ and two OK but only 19″). One of the 19″ ones went immediately, followed by the 21″ a few minutes later. I’d started to think I might like one of the 19″ ones but didn’t hold out much hope…

A couple of days later, it was still there! So, how did that turn out…

A Subtle Modification

A Subtle Modification

I wanted the monitor on its side to give me a better view of an A4 format page and also because it makes better use of the space.

Fits in nicely!

Fits in nicely!

Another view...

Another view…

 

I’ve got the Pi powered from a USB Hub with a 2A PSU. There’s also the dongle for a Kingston wireless mouse, a Rii Mini “Elegance” wireless keyboard and plenty of scope for expansion. I’m driving the monitor through a cheap HDMI to VGA adaptor – a few changes to the config.txt file were necessary to get this to work:

# This is for 1024x768 19" TFT Monitor, placed on its side
hdmi_group=2
hdmi_mode=35
display_rotate=1

That takes care of setting the resolution to 1280×1024 (native for the TFT panel) and then rotating the display through 270ΒΊ to get the orientation I need.

Datasheet

Datasheet

 

Electrickery!!!

So that gives me a lot more flexibility on accessing information when I’m working at that desk – it will certainly save a lot of twisting around to look at stuff on a screen behind me and no more need to keep shuffling bits of dead tree.

I’ve also got the Pi on my desk with a camera on a USB Snake Light mount – well the light was pissing me off but a bit of insulation tape on the USB contacts soon sorted that out πŸ˜‰

I should be able to take pictures of whatever I’m building and even do movies and time-lapse quite easily now.

It looks fairly cool too! 😎 πŸ˜›

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