Carey and Debbie above Yellowstone's Grand Prismatic Spring
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(click on photos to enlarge)


 

"Bedroom Office Conversion"

    Austin, TX

    October 2003

Story by Carey 

 

Even with the houses finally sold, I had one last big project to complete before we could hit the road, which was to rebuild the RV's bedroom to do double-duty as my office on the road. 

I first worked out a scheme on the computer of how to make the bed flip up and have a desk appear from underneath.  The extra foot of interior height of the Alfa makes this possible.  Once the basic idea was "working in CAD," as they say, I set about the job of making it work "in metal and wood," which is naturally considerably more difficult.  The first step was to prototype the desk out of scraps of wood and decide how big it needed to be and how high and so on.  As you can see below, the design was "perfect" once it could accommodate a Code Red Mountain Dew, a Trailer Life magazine, and a little framed picture of Debbie.

Prototype office desk with non-functional but cool-looking flat screen monitor

 

Then it was time to rip down the over-bed TV (which we never liked anyway) and bust out the original bed mechanism that allowed it to flip up for access to the engine.

Overhead TV removal   Original bed frame box with engine cover underneath  High ceilings help

 

The first big test of all my CAD measurements and layouts came when I drilled holes in the factory bed base where the main pivot point was calculated to go.  Much to my delight, that key location turned out to be exactly right, and the bed swung up and down smoothly, missing all the various obstructions by an inch or so just like it did on the computer screen.  "Yes!  This is really gonna work!"

Testing the key pivot point   It works!  View in from the living room

 

For the final design, I ended up ripping out the original wooden bed frame and re-building almost everything in metal.  The mechanism includes four counterbalanced gas springs that fold over each other in a mildly mind-boggling fashion as the bed pivots open and the desk rises up, its motion governed by a series of cables and pulleys.

Finished mechanism   Finished mechanism

 

The finished setup includes triple 17-inch NEC LCD monitors, full-size desktop PC, wireless mini-keyboard, a cool little wireless gyroscopic/optical mouse, and an optional clamp-on steering wheel.  To put this all away for the night, you just have to fold the office chair's arms up and store it under the bed next to the night stand, and fold down the LCD monitors in a similar fashion to closing a laptop computer.  Takes less than a minute going up or down. 

Everything else on the desk, up to 10.5" high, can just stay where it is on the available 54" wide x 44" deep desktop.  One day I'll figure out how to post an animation or maybe a movie clip of the thing in action, but for now here's a few pictures.  Really need a super-wide angle lens for this purpose.

 Bed in sleeping position, with desk and chair underneath   Chair and monitors in stowed position

Desk and chair in working configuration   Triple monitors permit doing simulator software development on the road

Finally, we were ready to start living (and working) on the road.

 

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