Thursday, July 12, 2018

Table: Final Assembly!

(warning: image heavy!)

While technically not 100% done, the pieces are all in place. I just need to fine tune the cable management under the table and screw down the top panel.

First off, I attached the legs to the base:

Next up, I put in the outlets, Chromebox, and the TV screen:

The screen had to be raised up a little in the frame, but that wasn't too hard to do. I just used some piece of spare wood as blocks under the TV. I was disconcerted to find that the frame that's holding the screen is slightly off level (not sure how/when that happened) but the screen itself is flat.

The audio speakers are just held face up via a quick & dirty cardboard frame that steadies them in that position. I didn't want to fasten them down permanently in case they needed troubleshooting or replacing.

Once the outlet plates were screwed in, I installed the power strip on the underside of the base and plugged stuff in. When I was sure all the plugs worked, I fired up the TV and Chromebox for a test.

I swear I "dry-fitted" the wood panel that covers the screen opening, but it didn't want to drop in all the way. So a little sanding of the edges later and it was passable. I'll need to re-stain those parts, though.

You can see the grills I installed above the speakers. They are just cosmetic. I'm using the speakers down at the DM end of the table instead of the TV's audio so that the output is far enough from the far end's microphone so as to avoid feedback. 

Finally I placed the top panel on. I also re-cut the old sheet of Plexiglas from the tabletop frame to size. It's not perfect, but it fits. It cracked at the corners when I screwed it down (even with starter holes), so I may end up replacing it. Cupholders were dropped into place and you can see what the final product looks like. 

(the little 'dot' in front of the TV panel is the microphone)

Lessons learned:

The main thing is that I am not a master builder! There are a half dozen or so small-to-large errors in the construction that bug me. Most are minor cosmetics and/or fixable, but I'm sure they could have been avoided with more care or skill. There are things like minor gaps or poor fits or edges that are not quite true that irk me. I tend to get overenthusiastic about projects and rush things.

One thing I plan to change is that the table seems a little low. It is usable, but I am going to get some large casters for the table legs to make it easier to move and raise it up an inch or so. On paper the dimension seemed ample, but looking at it assembled, I worry it may be a little small. Of course, that's why I added the "cubbies" for people's books, to save tabletop space. Another is that the magnets that are supposed to secure the panel that covers the Chromebox. It's okay the way it is, but not as stable as I hoped. I think I just need to use slightly bigger magnets.

Once the top is screwed in place, I'm going to test the Roll20 maps and maybe have someone log in remotely while someone else sits at the table with me. We'll try out the sound pickup and the whole virtual tabletop/face to face hybrid gaming and see if that works as well as I think it should.

There are a few things in the gaming area of the basement that are non-table related that still need to get dealt with before people can come over and really game, but it's highly satisfying to have this done(ish), warts and all.