[CQ-Contest] Rig placement and ergonomics

Jim Smith jimsmith at shaw.ca
Thu Mar 11 15:55:01 PST 2010

Maybe I should have said "quite a few days"

Anyway, a couple of pix at

They're pretty high resolution so you can zoom in on items of particular 

Fig 1 seems to be lying on its side.  I rotated the original and ftp'd 
it to the site but still see the one on its side.  Maybe it takes a 
while for the ISP to change things.

73, Jim	VE7FO

Jim Smith wrote:
> Several people have requested a photo of my layout.  It'll be a few days 
> before I can oblige.  I'll put it on a website somewhere and announce 
> the URL here.
> Hmm..  Maybe Pete would be OK with putting it on his Contesting 
> Compendium Wiki under the heading of ergonomics.  Seems a little cheeky 
> of me though, given my little pistol status.
> Uh-oh... this is rapidly escalating from a simple photo to a lengthy 
> writeup on what everything is for.
> I'll do the simple photo first because at least that much will get done.
> 73, Jim Smith	VE7FO
> Gary K9GS wrote:
>> Hi Jim,
>> How about a picture??
>> 73,
>> Gary K9GS
>> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>> K9GS
>> Gary Schwartz           email: k9gs (at) arrl.net
>> Check out K9NS on the web: http://www.k9ns.com
>> Society of Midwest Contesters (SMC)     http://www.w9smc.com/
>> GMDXA http://www.eng.mu.edu/gmdxa/
>> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Jim Smith" <jimsmith at shaw.ca>
>> To: "cq-contest reflector" <cq-contest at contesting.com>
>> Sent: Sunday, December 13, 2009 2:41 AM
>> Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Rig placement and ergonomics
>>> Hi John,
>>> I see lots of stations with:
>>> Keyboard on the desk
>>> Radio behind the keyboard
>>> Monitor on top of the radio.
>>> To tune the radio, as I often have to do, being a little pistol, you
>>> have to lean forward, reach over the keyboard and fiddle the knobs.  As
>>> you have discovered, this can be a real pain.  i.e. poor ergonomics.
>>> Probably not much of an issue, though, if all you do is run.
>>> To look at the monitor you have to take your eyes off the keyboard
>>> (that's right, I don't touch type but I can log 3-4 cw Qs per minute,
>>> sometimes 5) and tilt your head back a bit, thus putting a strain on
>>> your neck - another pain.
>>> My station:
>>> The op position is an L-shaped secretarial desk as was common in the
>>> days of typewriters.  One part of the L is the main desk surface with a
>>> height of 28-1/2".  The other part is called the "return".  It is 1-1/2"
>>> below the main desk surface.  This is where the typewriter used to be
>>> placed.
>>> So, my keyboard sits on the return which puts it at a better height for
>>> typing than the typical desk height.  The main desk surface is to my 
>>> right.
>>> The radio sits on the main desk surface to my right and is positioned in
>>> such a way that the radio is pretty well facing me and when I rest my
>>> right forearm on the main desk surface the tuning knob is about 3" away
>>> from my hand.   So all I have to do to reach it is pivot my arm slightly
>>> to the right using my elbow as the pivot point.  I don't even have to
>>> look at the radio to do this.
>>> The monitor, and to me this is really important, sits BEHIND (not on)
>>> the return and the bottom edge of the screen is about 2-3" BELOW the
>>> surface of the return.  This means that I never have to move my head to
>>> view either the keyboard or the monitor.  In addition, I find that this
>>> placement of the monitor results in a very comfortable position for my 
>>> body.
>>> I can op for 12 or more hours continuously and NEVER get a stiff neck or
>>> other discomfort, other than the normal stiffness for my age due to
>>> sitting for long periods.
>>> "And what age is that, pray tell?"  Well, I'm getting sensitive about it
>>> but I got my ticket in 1953.
>>> I have a second monitor mounted above the first on which I display
>>> things like DXAtlas, HamCAP, etc.  Looking at it does require raising
>>> the head but I'm not doing it all the time.
>>> Above the 2nd monitor I have a little scope, a phone patch, an AC VTVM
>>> and a frequency counter.  Above that I have an audio patch bay.
>>> Here's how this is all supported.
>>> The L shaped desk is shoved right up against two adjoining walls in the
>>> shack so the outside corner of the desk fits snugly into the inside
>>> corner of the two walls.
>>> I built an alcove (just like a closet but no door) right behind the
>>> keyboard.  It's about 22" wide and 36" deep and juts out into the
>>> basement.  It has adjustable shelves on which I can put all this gear
>>> (and a place at the bottom for power supplies and big battery) and it
>>> has a door at the back which gives me access to the back of the monitors
>>> etc. and makes it easy to move things in and out.  It also provides a
>>> convenient location for my Rig Runner DC distribution block and PWRGate
>>> auto switchover between AC and battery operation.
>>> The intent was that the door would normally be closed.  However, I found
>>> that, as one of the monitors is a CRT type, it got warmer than I liked
>>> in there so the door is normally open and, in summer time, I add a fan.
>>> I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how I wanted to set up the op
>>> position and I'm VERY happy with the result.  The only thing I would
>>> change would be to make the alcove a little wider to accommodate bigger
>>> monitors.
>>> Regarding your comment about clutter, remember the old design maxim,
>>> "Form follows function."
>>> Anyway, I don't for a moment suppose that you're going to tear your
>>> station apart and duplicate this.  I do hope that you found it to be of
>>> some interest.
>>> 73, Jim Smith VE7FO
>>> John Geiger wrote:
>>>> You can tell that the 10 meter contest has no propagation if I am 
>>>> sending out an email during it.
>>>> Let me preface this question by saying that I don't want to computer 
>>>> control the rig.  I have tried that before with a TS-B2000 and didn't 
>>>> like it.  I say this because I am sure that it would be the answer 
>>>> many would reply with.
>>>> Here is my situation.  On Thanksgiving day I hurt my right shoulder 
>>>> (I am right handed) and as it was getting better I reinjured it last 
>>>> weekend in the 160 contest by excessive tuning of the VFO dial.  The 
>>>> shack is set up on a computer center, and the rig is on the second 
>>>> shelf, right at eye level. This means I have to raise my arm to tune 
>>>> the VFO dial, and the excessive raising last weekend reirritated my 
>>>> shoulder.  This past week I would just use my left hand to tune the 
>>>> VFO and push buttons instead, but that was getting awkward, 
>>>> especially with the 10 meter contest coming up.
>>>> Today I broke down and moved the rig to the desktop instead, so I 
>>>> don't have to raise my arm to turn the dial.  I really don't like it 
>>>> here as it looks a little more cluttered now with the rig, laptop, 
>>>> keyer paddles, and rotor control.  Plus is it closer to the line of 
>>>> fire when my 6 year old daughter is throwing things around the 
>>>> house.  However, this will have to do for now.
>>>> Now here is my question:  Have others found that having the rig 
>>>> slightly lower than you is easier on the arms or shoulders over the 
>>>> long run than having to raise your arm to tune the rig?  I was hoping 
>>>> to eventually move it back to its original place, but if I run the 
>>>> risk of straining the shoulder more having it there, I might have to 
>>>> learn to live with it where it is.
>>>> What has your experience taught you about rig placement?  Maybe there 
>>>> is a doctor or orthopeadist on the list who knows something about 
>>>> ergonomics and injury prevention.  I am using a Yaesu FT857D so I 
>>>> guess I could eventually remote mount the faceplate at a lower level 
>>>> and put the body of the rig where it used to be.
>>>> Talk about a bummer way to start the 10 meter contest weekend.
>>>> 73s John AA5JG
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