This page describes another one of those situations where you end up feeling lucky, as if some extra ball bounced your way. For the last 20 years my HF radio has sat on the same place of the same desk. First, there was a Kenwood TS-440, then a Yaesu FT-920, an ICOM 756, and finally, an ICOM 756 PRO for the last 10 years. The desk I mentioned is really an elevated shelf that is part of the desk system. It put the radio up nearly at eye level while sitting. I've enjoyed having the radio at that level, since all of the controls and labels are visible and accessible. If there is a problem with an elevated radio it is that it's much harder to ride a knob. By that I mean keep your hand on a knob for an extended time period while making constant adjustments. The problem is that your arm is hanging in the breeze.
Here is a picture of my old setup taken back in the days of glass monitors. My cat, Misha, is enjoying the heat from the radio. Please click on the picture for a larger view.
It finally became time for me to rearrange the desk, and move the radio down to the actual desk top (under the shelf). Since this is not an uncommon operating position, most all radios come with adjustable front feet that allow the face to be tilted up towards the operator. My experiences have been that the radio feet are never as tall as you would like them to be. So, I had the problem of coming up with new feet or a stand for the radio. I wanted something that would give me more tilt/elevation than the factory feet, get the radio above the computer keyboard, and, if possible, not be unstable or ugly.
Around the same time, I was interested in keeping my nearly 10 year old Dell Inspiron 8000 laptop working. One of the big problems with laptop computers is getting rid of heat. This has lead to a large aftermarket with many forms of laptop coolers. For some time it had been on my mind that adding a laptop cooler might help increase the life of the computer. One day, while shopping at my favorite computer store, MicroCenter, I saw a laptop stand on sale that seemed a little different. Rather than being a somewhat flat plastic platter with a few fans, this was an open aluminum wedge with two fans mounted on the bottom of the ramp. It seemed as if the open design would really improve air circulation, and keep the fans from becoming noisy due to being in a duct.
Since it was only around $13, I picked one up. The particular model is the Cooler Master Notepal U2 (fan edition). When I got back, I put the computer on the cooler, and plugged in the fans to the USB port. I immediately had one of those why didn't I do this years ago moments.
My laptop on the stand looks just like this:
As I looked at the laptop configuration, it hit me that my radio configuration is the same problem, but backwards. That is, the radio wants to point going up the wedge, and the laptop points going down the wedge. I grabbed a tape measure and set out to see how well the radio feet would match up to the laptop cooler dimensions. What's funny is that I had this initial sense that the radio was going to be so much bigger than the laptop. In reality, they are pretty much the same footprint, although the radio is obviously much taller. Of course I'm taking about the ICOM 756 PRO radio I had here.
It looked as if the radio would fit quite nicely on the laptop cooler stand, with the radio feet aligning with the rubber pads on the stand. I would not be able, however, to really evaluate the tilt height without trying it out. Another trip to the store provided a second stand.
Here is a picture of the radio on the stand at its new location on the desk.
The fit seemed perfect, as if this was made to be a radio stand, not a laptop stand. The black aluminum matched the radio, and the tilt was just about right (the front bottom edge of the radio case is 2.75" off of the desk). We all have computers next to our radios these days, so plugging in the fans was no problem. I now not only had air circulation under the radio, but forced air circulation from the two fans.
Here is a picture showing the fans.
This particular laptop cooler mounts the fans to a perforated aluminum sheet with adjustable spring clips. This means that the fans can be independently moved under the laptop, or radio, as the case may be. This allows you to direct the air circulation to the most effective cooling position.
So, for around $13, I had a very functional radio stand with bonus fans. It's been in use for several weeks as I write this, and it's been working out well. The radio is much heavier than a laptop. If you put the weight of the radio on the center of the stand, I'm sure it would bend downward. But, the radio is supported by 4 feet in the corners and those line up with the stand near its corners, where there is additional support.
As I was thinking about how much I liked this stand, I realized that I was very lucky that my particular radio happened to fit on it. Not all radios have the same footprint, although the ICOM 756, PRO series, and even the 7600, are the same size. So, this might be a rather common footprint. Because computer hardware changes from moment to moment, I wanted to buy a third stand so that I would have one years into the future. While picking up my third unit, I happened to notice that the same line of products came in different sizes. From the computer perspective, this is to support small laptops, such as netbooks, normal size laptops, and then the large laptops that around here we call aircraft carriers. Here's a picture of what I used in the wrapper. The fans can be placed at any location on the aluminum grid.
I checked the Cooler Master web site, and at this point in time (December, 2010), they have a number of stands, large to small, that use this same approach. Sadly for us radio operators, the whole product line could be changed in a few months. But, if you are looking for a radio stand, my suggestion is that you check out laptop stands.
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