ICA Think Station - Mobile Office #2

Monday, February 14th, 2005
I've received some fun feedback on my ICA Think Station and the gear that I use. It looks like there is considerable interest out there, so I guess I'll add this to my "potential topics to blog about" list.  I'll try to blog about this from time to time.

One reader wrote me this week to ask who made the desk. That's a long story in and of itself, but it's a good place for me to begin. The short answer is that I designed it and my brother-in-law built it.

The long answer is that this desk is the most recent iteration of 8 different personal think stations -- 2 mobile offices and 6 fixed -- that I have designed over the years. I'm not into the furniture design business, I just have this habit of thinking out loud "wouldn't it be cool if ..." and before long, I have a prototype -- usually out of refrigerator boxes and gaffer's tape -- which eventually leads to a new workspace.  My current think station is the result of over 20 years of experimentation, mostly to learn what does not work for me.

Each think station that I have designed has been unique in purpose and functionality. One of my most challenging designs was my second mobile office, which I built in 1990. I designed a complete mobile office that was hidden inside of a Ford Aerostar. I designed it to be easily concealed. I was consulting at the Air Force Fight Test Center at the time, and I was tired of being "randomly selected" to have my vehicle searched each time I drove on base. (I knew the real reason for my random selection was the MPs just wanted to see the latest gadgets. I did not mind having my vehicle searched and I loved the chance to show off but it made me late for work ...)

Image:ICA Think Station - Mobile Office #2

The mobile office featured a self-contained power system, Novell file server and workstation, cellular phones, ventilation, small copier and a fax machine. I used a WaveLan wireless link to sync data with my office whenever I was parked at the office and a 1200/2400 baud modem for "high-speed" cellular wireless on the road. I used cc:Mail and eventually migrated to Notes 2.0 to take advantage of the disconnected work mode. The neatest part of this mobile office was that the desk was designed to raise and lower electrically; in the stowed position no one could see any of the equipment in my van.

Image:ICA Think Station - Mobile Office #2

Several people assisted me with the implementation: A retired aerospace worker and dear friend, Pat Patriquin, Tig-welded the chassis for me. Another friend completed the oak cabinetry. I designed the electronics and put it all together. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the custom stealth antenna array that was mounted on the roof of the van. Basically, with a push of a button, I could instantly stow the 6 antennas on the roof of my van inside the luggage rack. (It was very cool, or so I've been told.)

Image:ICA Think Station - Mobile Office #2

That mobile office served me well for many years as I commuted between Burbank and Edwards AFB. Sometimes I miss not having a complete office for long trips.

Of course, I now carry all of that functionality under my arm in my IBM ThinkPad.

Discussion/Comments (2):

ICA Think Station - Mobile Office #2

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is 404. You must have changed CMS'es recently and not run through your articles ;-)

Posted at 05/02/2005 6:23:53 by Ben

ICA Think Station - Mobile Office #2

Eric, your ICA station link is not working.

Posted at 05/02/2005 6:53:44 by James Kendrick

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