Building an Uber Power Supply for an Uber Desk

I’m in the process of building the best desk ever, and my first step is managing power and metering for my AC computer and DC project systems.

Summary

After hundreds and hundreds of hours at my current desk, I have a few ideas of how I can make it better. Step one: Make it easy to power systems on and off, and make it easy to see how much energy each piece of equipment is consuming.

My old desk, anchored at the left and right with Ikea Moppe storage drawers made of birch ply.

In the next few months, I’ll also be documenting my other desk upgrades: raising it to standing height, and adding lots of new integrated storage and cable management.

This is the beginning step in my pursuit of a completely custom, highly engineered desk.

I tackled something similar a few years back when I made a dual voltage power supply from an old hard drive power supply.

As a sneak-peek: here’s how it turned out:



The symmetry of my desk has allowed great flexibility in a variety of configurations. Moving forward, it’s important this electrical upgrade be highly funtional, highly modular, and reasonably future-proof.

My top four priorities include:

  • Must be compatible with existing desk.
  • Must be compatible with standing configuration.
  • Must incorporate switching of several discrete subsystems.
  • Must incorporate voltage and current metering of AC and DC systems.


The final as-built unit deviated a bit from this initial AutoCAD mockup, but the intent remained intact.

This project has electrical, wood, and acrylic components, and the project came together quickly after a little on-the-fly tweaking of my design.

Keep reading below to see how I built each of the Wood, Acrylic, and Electrical bits.

Wood Parts

The main structure for this project came from a 1×12″ common paint-grade pine board.

Using a circular skillsaw, I cut channels in the front and back equal to the thickness of my acrylic.

I used scrap 2″x1″ pine for the smaller pieces that hold the acrylic panels in place.

Acrylic Parts

Using my $366 Chinese K40 laser cutter and scrap acrylic I bought for $1.70/lb, I cut several pieces to hold the electronic guts of the device. The material here is all 1/8″ (3mm) cast acrylic.

Electrical Parts

WARNING

Electricity is hazardous and this project requires expertise. Know your limits—don’t be a dummy.

I used 16ga twisted wire for almost all of the connections. The most power-hungry segments draw around 200watts at a time, and with all items running 100% the whole rig tops out around 5.4 amps.

Basic current flow through the device is very straightforward: 120VAC in, metered and switched across four AC circuits + a 12VDC system + a 0-48VDC variable voltage bench power supply.

Front View

Bottom View

Everything View

References

DC Power Supply Instructions

Cost Breakdown

Tracing all components from power input, and thru the device, total material / component costs include:

ITEM COST SOURCE/NOTES
IEC Power Input $0 Reclaimed from other project pullaparts
15A Master Fuse $8
Magnetic Master Power Switch $11.50
Master Voltmeter & Ammeter $15
48VDC Power Supply $35
Variable Voltage Regulator $36
12VDC 100W Power Supply $13.5
Illuminated Rocker Switches (x5) $6
Edison Power Receptacle (x4) $2.5
Duplex Edison Receptacle $2
2.1mmx5.5mm DC Power Connector (x4) $3
Binding Post Banana Jacks $1.5
Scrap Acrylics $5-ish
1″x12″x60″ Board $16
$155 Minus Time & Tools

Full Disclosure This page links to products I’ve bought at full price & use myself. Buying from a link on this page earns me a few pennies to help pay for my cheap-and-completely-okay web hosting.


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