I did not have the place up and running in a week or so.

In my last post, way back in March, I briefly relayed the story of the basement flood that destroyed a bunch of stuff in my old work room, most notably a few significant pieces of gear like my computer’s UPS and my air compressor. I floated the rather optimistic projection that I could have the place “up and running in a week or so” – instead the process of recovering from that incident has dragged on for most of a year. But a lot has changed, too. I’ll talk a bit about where my 2018 went and then delve into my most recent efforts at setting up my new workspace.

The flood was a really miserable experience for me. The power outage started as a curious inconvenience but that turned to horror when I ventured into the basement for something: Splash! Ankle-deep in freezing cold water. Horrified at the thought of my hobby stuff getting destroyed in the flood, over the next couple of days I frantically salvaged as much stuff as I could out of the water, and out of positions where the water might reach. Some decal sheets floated around, their markings floating away and attaching themselves to whatever surfaces they encountered. I removed my computer from the room before the water could reach it but my UPS was sitting on the floor waterlogged. My space tended to be kind of a mess so a lot of stuff had been on the floor, loose or in boxes. A lot of my old hobby magazines were destroyed, a lot of metal tools wound up filthy and corroded. Basically the whole thing sucked. Before the flood I was already feeling a bit low with regard to the hobby, being fresh off a failed Halloween project and a SCGMC trip without much of anything to show – afterward it was worse.

Once the power was back and the sump pump drained the basement water, the immediate crisis was over but I had loads of my stuff that had been soaked, and was either in imminent danger of being destroyed (by mold, etc.) or destroyed already. I hired a guy to come dry out the room, hoping to avoid a serious mold issue there, and tried to deal with all the stuff – but I kind of hit my limit, I couldn’t keep dealing with the stuff non-stop. Somewhere around that point, I swore off using basement space for my hobby stuff and started working on actually moving my workspace to the attic.

The attic space was smaller than the basement space I’d been using as my hobby area: about 20′ x 10′, rather than the roughly 18′ x 13′ of the basement – but most critically it had low, sloped ceilings, meaning the wall space was mostly unusable. The space had also been earmarked long ago as a playroom for my daughter, so it was still completely full of toys. Despite the challenges of the space I spent a considerable amount of time coming up with a plan for how I could use it – tables wedged under the low ceilings, custom bookshelves to fit into the irregular space, etc.

Despite it all I think the space maybe could have worked, but those plans were more or less derailed when, needing more family space, we moved to a new house. I laid claim to one of the new house’s bedrooms for use as a workspace. This space was another step back in terms of floor space: about 12′ x 13′, but with much higher ceilings than the spaces I’d been working with previously.

However a fresh start with a new spae also meant starting from square 1 for a lot of fairly basic needs. The first problem was light: the room had no light fixtures built in, so I had to use a floor lamp. The floor lamp didn’t really provide enough light, so the space was constantly too dark. I found some compact LED lighting fixtures and set them up. For me this was a challenging project, and it dragged on for some time.

The lighting issue held up virtually all other work on the space. I just couldn’t do anything if I couldn’t see what I was doing. But with that solved, moving in my peg-board became a pretty urgent requirement. I store a lot of my tools and supplies on the peg-board, so having it in place was very important as it provided me a way to bring those supplies over from the old house without them totally overwhelming the new place with clutter.

The next project I started was to run a wired ethernet line from the workroom to our router. I’m a big believer in using wired networking where possible: it’s generally faster, and fundamentally more reliable than wireless. Also, my desktop PC actually doesn’t have a wireless card, so without wired ethernet, it’s off the network. This machine has been off the network for most of the past year, since the flood, so I’m anxious to get it back online again. This project has been a bit tougher in some ways than the lighting work, because the port I’m installing will be on an exterior wall, and the site in the attic where I can access this area of the wall is very cramped under the slope of the roof. This job isn’t done yet, but I have got my wire from the work room up into the attic. From there it needs to be threaded through the ceiling to a point where it can get a fairly straight shot down to the basement and garage.

Finally, I’ve decided to incorporate a new feature into this work room – a small computer console at the work table. This could be used for various purposes like viewing instructions or reference photos, watching videos, or possibly for livestreaming. The plan for now is to use a Raspberry Pi, however, so its computing resources will be somewhat modest. I have other plans for this thing as well – I’ll go into more detail on those plans as they start to materialize. For now, I’m starting with a dirt-cheap monitor arm: I want the display and input devices to be accessible from either the painting station or the building station, so it was important to choose an install location that would have that kind of access, but also be mostly out of the way of the tools and storage at those stations.

Finally, here’s a quick look around the room as it is now:

It’s been a tough couple of years for me in the hobby, sometimes feeling like I’d totally lost my mojo or that my lofty goals might really just be out of my reach, and last year’s setbacks didn’t help. However I’m starting to feel that it’s time I broke out of that rut, let those goals get a bit lofty again and make some interesting things happen.

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