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The Wyvern's Haunt

The main bench and work area.

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Background

Our group had been planning to find a house large enough for everyone come August of 2013. While the search went on for more than 6 months, we discovered that finding a house large enough for all the people we wanted and in a location central enough for everyone that we could rent just wasn't going to happen. What we did end up with was a fantastic second option when we found Elmwood Park in Middleton, Wisconsin. Moving was poorly executed, and I didn't have nearly as much planning time as I had hoped. However, I knew how I wanted the general setup and went about making that happen.

Name

The Wyvern's Haunt is dedicated to the wind dragon 5th unit from 1992 Koei game Gemfire (known in Japan as Royal Blood). This powerful unit has it's own theme song and always offered a great advantage.

Design

Layout of the Wyvern's Haunt.

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Primary console, March, 2014.

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The finished setup.

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The floor plan follows my classic G-shape bench layout. The basement of Elmwood Park covers almost 700 sq. ft. (28½'x24½'). The king beam splits the basement in half, with one finished bedroom, installed appliances, and the stairs taking one side. The other side is mostly a wide open area measuring 28½'x11'. I chose a work area of 16'x11' giving me 176 sq. ft—my largest area yet.

As a rental, permanent modification can not be made to the house. However, over the years and several rentals I have developed methods allowing me to have a custom area that completely disappears when I move out. Basements with open ceilings are the best because you can screw into floor joists, and I make a lot of use of this fact.

Backdrop

The setup begins with the backdrop. The walls of this basement are a dull white coat of paint over concrete. I like my area to be dark as a black back drop helps create the perception of non-existence behind the materiel—like the walls continue onward forever and there isn't an actual boundary. In previous setups I have used black plastic. While this is quick to install, it is too shinny and the shine takes away from the effect.

My favorite construction supply store happened to be having a sale on painters canvas normally used to cover areas when painting. It's fairly inexpensive to cover a large area with this canvas, so I thought I might try painting it back. Painting the canvas turned out to be quite the paint consuming task, but the results were exactly what I wanted—a solid black background with no reflection.

Hanging the canvas from the ceiling joists was fairly easy. I used a combination of small nails and staples. At the time, I couldn't find the staples for my staple gun, so I had to use what was left selectively.

Bench surfaces

With the backdrop installed, I could continue with major items. Since I did not have time to plan much, most of the layout was translated from my previous setup in the Kobold's Cave. I was pleased with most aspects of this setup. The designed called for my main bench/sleeping quarters to extend out from a wall. From there an 8' long bench extends along the well east, and at the end of that an 11' bench north. Shelves are installed along the entire run of the benches, a 16” shelve on the bottom and a 12” shelve above it. Above the main bench is a shelve that hangs from the ceiling (detailed latter).

Since much of the parts to this setup had already been built for the Kobold's Cave, only assembly was required. I had a working mockup in just a couple of days. All that was needed were some 2”x4”x7' board to run floor to ceiling to hold bench tops and shelves up.

Painting had consumed a good amount of time when I initially constructed much this setup. Luckily that was now complete. However, the straight black coat of paint had been turning slowly gray over time with the accumulation of dust. After after washing the surfaces off I never seemed to be able to get to the original black like I had after first painting. So I decided to try and experiment that should have had obvious result. After a fresh coat of paint, I varnished one of the bench tops to see if it would clean up any better. The results were exactly what I had hoped. A fresh coat of black paint with three coats of varnish, and all my bench and shelve surfaces much easier to clean.

Benches sit at my historical 33” from the floor. This is the height of 3 milk crates. Even though I do not use milk crates to hold the shelves, it is too useful when setting up to consider an other number.

First level shelves

90 degree view.

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View of under bench lighting.

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The first level shelve is 2' above the bench surfaces. With my last setup, I found the LED strip lighting that worked great under the shelve. I created a ridge using aluminum foil to keep the light focused down, and that worked to keep the light from shinning into my face. With the new setup, I wanted to keep the aluminum foil (because it worked as a reflector) but cover it up. So I added a 1x4” board along the shelves' edge on that does this task.

The first level of shelves are 16” deep. One of these I had already made, and one more had to be constructed. These are made of 1/2” OSB on two 2”x4”x8'. They are supported by a large shelving bracket that can take a load of something like 500 lbs (226 kg). These brackets are mounted to 2x4” studs that run from the floor to ceiling, and for mounting I used some screws with very large threads. So they should be able to hold whatever I decide to place on them. Since some of these shelves are used for book, and run a distance of eight feet I didn't want to have to worry about weak brackets.

The first level shelves meet up with the hanging shelve over the main work bench and they all line up from a continuous surface. There is a gap of about 2 ½' between the first shelve and the hanging shelve for which I had to cut an additional extension. This extension is connected with a some L-brackets on the hanging shelve side, and a metal plate on the shelve side. This was one of the few shelving cuts I had to make as everything listed before this had already been assembled for the Kobold's Cave.

Hanging shelve

Above the main bench/sleeping quarters is a hanging shelve. My original thought was to have a 6'x8' bench space free of obstructions, although this never ended up being the case. It also offered isolation between the sleeping quarter's ventilation fan and the sleeping quarters itself. Even though the blower fan is very quiet, it does vibrate. The wood construction only acts to amplify this. With the blower mounted to the hanging shelve, there is only a cardboard duct connecting the blower to the sleeping quarters. The cardboard is a poor conductor of sound. This has the result that with the blower on low and medium it is inaudible from inside the sleeping quarters.

Hanging the shelve is accomplished from four 2”x4” studs secured to ceiling joists. The hanging shelve is made of 1/2” OSB with 2”x4” studs on the bottom for support. The hanging studs are screwed to the support studs using L-brackets. This seems sufficient as this shelve does not have to bear much load.

Remaining shelves

Entrence as viewed from the stairs.

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Above the first shelve is the slightly smaller 12” wide shelve. One of these is 1/2” OSB mounted to 2”x4”x8', and one is a 2”x12”x8'. Again, both are mounted to be able to handle a lot of weight. The upper shelve contains my books.

I plan to add a center shelve of about 6” under the first shelve in some areas. For now, however, I don't have a use for this.

A small area of around 3' exists on the north-east end of the setup. Here the shelves change to being mounted every 12”. This area is used for clothing storage, and one of the last areas to be assembled. There is a bench extension (24”), and three 16” shelves.

Electrical

The hanging shelve already had two double-wide gang boxes with four outlets each (total of 8 outlets). These in turn fed 8 power strips that were mounted on the front for a total of 40 outlets. I found that I didn't need this many outlets in this location because often power usually runs to a near-by location. So removed all but two power strips so they could be redistributed.

Both lower shelves have two double-wide gang boxes with outlets for a total of 16 outlets under them, or 24 total. I also mounted a power strip next to each one, and this should hopefully fulfill my power needs. Like the hanging bench, the outlets are fed from two feeds, so each outlet can be on a separate circuit. My initial setup does not include a dedicated power feed from the breaker box, but I will likely add this in the future. The main reason behind separating power is that living in a basement usually requires a space heater in the winter. A 1,600 watt space heater consumes pretty much all the energy available from a single 15-amp circuit.

Computer

Display area.

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The location of my main computer and monitors is different with this setup. I found it was not very convenient to have my main computer trapped in a corner behind monitors. Upgrades and maintenance were always a pain because of how much needed to be moved. In the Dragon's Den my main computer sat at the end of my sleeping quarters and had very easy access because of this. In fact, this was the primary reason I decided not to place the sleeping quarters directly against a wall—it allow accessed to the cabling behind the setup. In my new setup, the computer is placed on the north-west corner. This allows access to the computer from the other side.

One area that each of my setups has had in the past is a display area of various keepsakes. The hanging shelve has about half this collection as it did in the Kobold's Cave. The other half was mostly on a shelve that hung below the 16” shelves. With the placement of my computer, I ended up with some odd space unusable behind the monitors. This is primarily where cables travel. Covering this unused area with shelving would allow me to make better use of the space, so I decided to install two shelves. One is a 4 foot by 10” shelve, which holds the rest of my collection. The other is a triangle shelve that sits just above my main monitor.

As of this writing my primary computer, the Blue Dragon, has four monitors. Three are LCD and one is a CRT. The CRT is slated to be replaced at some point in the future. The LCD monitors are placed in a semi-circle. My main monitor sits at a 45 degree angle between my primary bench and extension connected to it. The space behind it contains my computer, the sub-woofer speaker, and the many cables to connect everything. The monitor right of the main has the computer and a printer behind it. The monitor to the right has empty space behind it and is in the way of otherwise usable bench space. For this reason, I am looking into getting a monitor arm that should allow the third monitor to be moved up and out of the way when access to the bench space is desired.

Three other computer are located on my main bench: the Red, Black, and White Dragons. In addition, there are 3 more CRT that sit under the hanging shelve for these computers. I haven't made a great deal of use of these system, but they are completely functional.

Lighting

View of under bench lighting.

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View of benche's lighting.

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The basement of Elmwood Park has several florescent light fixtures installed, two of which are above the Wyvern's Haunt. This is good work and cleaning light, but too harsh for normal light. The Dragon's Den had one of my favorite lighting feels, and I worked to try and reproduce with the Kobold's Cave.

Lighting begins with a perimeter of red LED rope light. Then several color compact florescent bulbs in a clam light fixture are placed throughout the work area. The colors I use are reds, oranges and yellows for a warm fill. In the past I've tried blues, but the light does not offer a comfortable wash like the warmer colors.

Rope light and main wash lights are controllable from 3 locations: the entrance to the area on the north side, and on both sides of the sleeping quarters. This allows the lights to be controlled when entering/exiting the area, and switchable from bed.

The second set of lighting consists of four white LED light bulbs controlled by a dimmer. Two of these lights are arm lamps. And the other two are used to illuminate my collection. I've preferred dimmable lights when I can get them. Back when I had the Dragon's Den, incandescent lights were about the only choice. I then found dimmable compact florescent bulbs, but they have terrible dimming characteristics. Not long ago I found dimmable LED lights, and those dim pretty much like incontinence. So I have been using those ever since.

In the Kobold's Cave I tried warm white LEDs under the shelves and they worked great. For this setup I ordered a set of RGB LED strips. The RGB LEDs should give more color options as I found even the 2,700 K color temperature still not warm enough. With the RGB I should be able to create a white-orange more to my liking.

The controller that drives the LEDs is not to my liking and introduces too much flicker. I tried reducing the flicker adding a capacitor to the output. However the duty cycle times used for dimming does not allow a largest enough capacitor to be used to reduce flicker and still provide dimming.

An almost full circle of just inside.

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