D. I. Y. Desk

By John Woodhams

Originally published in EUG #11

Thanks for EUG #9, the first ever on disk!

Teething troubles must be expected, of course. I couldn't get the game Mornington Crescent to load, run or even list. Never mind though, I'm sure all the Elk users appreciate your Herculean efforts!

Yesterday I went out in search of a proper computer desk. I had been making do for a long time with an old bar table - too high and narrow by far - and needed something better. The trouble is that most computer furniture is designed for office use and tends to be expensive. Also, desks tend to be designed with PCs in mind, not messy Electrons. I eventually found what I was looking for in our local branch of MFI. Their 'Pronto' range of self-assembly kits include several computer desks, and the one I considered best suited to my setup, the 'Hobby' desk, had been reduced in price to just a penny under fifteen quid!

This desk might have been designed with the Electron in mind, because it has a very wide work surfac, easily accomodating the Elk and data recorder. The top shelf supports the monitor and a printer, and there is a very generous gap between the main shelf and the top shelf, so that swopping cartridges should be fairly straightforward. I have just tried it with the larger size of cartridge, a ROMPLUS-144, and there is a good half inch or so clearance, but you have to slide the Elk out in order to push the cartridge into the slot. (I have my computer and its interfaces on a sheet of plywood so I can slide it easily back and forward.)

The desk isn't made of wood of course but it has a black ash 'finish'. With some of MFI's desks, you get a choice of finish, but not with this one. There is a bottom shelf a foot or so off the floor which will house bits and pieces, manuals and so on. I have an Apollo plug block and this sits tidily away on the lower shelf.

I managed the assembly OK but a word of advice is, if you possibly can, get someone to help. It's a lot easier if you have someone handy with the bits and pieces, especially when you get the thing partly put together. Whenever I assemble one of these MFI kits, I carefully put all the screws, dowels, etc into little bowls so I know exactly where the different items are.

There you are. If any Elk users are looking for a cheap, sturdy desk, have a look at this one whilst it is a 'sale' item!

John Woodhams
Audenshaw, Manchester

Mornington Crescent was a BBC game converted to run on the Electron by Chris Chadwick. Being such a large program, it only works on machines with a second processor (for example, Slogger's MRB) which increases memory to 64K.

After receiving this letter way back in July (It narrowly avoided being included in EUG #10), the MFI desk sounded like just the thing to put our own Elk system in order, so the ever-helpful Alison took it upon herself to drive to our local megastore and buy one. On her return, it took both of us to carry the box upstairs so how she got it into the car by herself, I'll never know.

When it came to putting the thing together, I went through the usual macho routine of ignoring the instructions/diagrams, declaring that they never made sense anyway and quickly built a rather fetching Z-shaped construction suitable for hiding in a secluded garden shed and denying all knowledge of! We tried again with Alison as Director of Operations this time and the job was done in about fifteen minutes!

Like John, we paid the 'Sale' price of £15 for the desk but six weeks later we discovered that the price had dropped even lower! It might mean that the 'Pronto Hobby' is about to be discontinued (though maybe now) so if you want one, get down to your nearest MFI store soon! (Dear MFI, please can I have my advertising fee now?)

Will Watts, EUG #11