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I'm building a computer desk and I had the idea to hide some speakers in a compartment towards the back. I'd like the speakers to pop up out of the desk on some kind of mechanism that rises up, kind of like an old top loading VCR, maybe something hinged at the back. I'm fairly mechanically minded, but I'm struggling to imagine a way to make something like this that doesn't need visible handles and I'd love it if I could open the compartments by pressing on the top and having it open at least a small amount. I know this is a long shot, but are there any products out there that could help me achieve this? I genuinely have no idea what search terms to use.

Top loading VCR

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    If you don't want to use linear actuators, you will probably have to get creative with some springs and magnetic latches. – Ron Beyer Nov 5 '20 at 1:36
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    There are some cars that have this - i wonder if you could find these mechanisms (possibly including the speakers) at a junkyard or on ebay? – PhilippNagel Nov 5 '20 at 2:13
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    Just find a couple of old top-load VCRs and scavenge the lift mechanisms out of them. Can't beat the retro-futuristic look of that! – FreeMan Nov 5 '20 at 12:58
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    This general mechanism uses what is called a four-bar linkage - googling that should help you if you decide to build your own. – IronEagle Nov 6 '20 at 1:02
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    Just a thought -- do you really need to lift the speakers? If they're mounted so they're pointing up, and the doors open to 45 degrees, it should reflect the sound out 90 degrees. That should simplify the design significantly, as you just need to move a flat panel, no electronics. – Joe Nov 6 '20 at 1:27
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Search for "Lift up" hinges. These will let you lift up a section of desk to reveal something underneath, but won't let you click in the desk to lift it up. For that, you'll want push latches.

I'm not quite sure how well those will work in combination. As a fallback, consider some kind of recessed handle. (There's a bunch of options out there.)

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    I think lift up hinges and push latches are exactly what I was trying to imagine, but didn't have the words for – Phill Nov 5 '20 at 2:38
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To hold it up there are cupboard door stays used in motorhomes/caravans (RVs etc.). Here (eBay) are some I've used. They're just a spring in a tube, and aren't all that string, but should do this job. They're often used together with push latches.

If it's very heavy, look for small gas struts (a smaller version of those used in car boots/trunks). You'll want a good idea of the weight and geometry when you select them - so perhaps get the cheap spring ones first even if they up up being a prototype.

Another effective latch can use magnets, specifically rare earth magnets, and easiest to use the sort with a counterusnk hole. You'd need and arrangement such that the magnet pair, or magnet plus steel bracket came into contact when fully open. Note though that it may be prone to slamming shut once the magnet force is overcome.

These both assume a hinged arrangement, rather than a vertical lift. For the latter I'd look to a scissors mechanism but getting the parts could be hard (Meccano?). Latching down would be easy - gravity, but up would require something customised. If I went that far I'd motorise the scissor lift on a leadscrew made from M6 studding, under computer control of course - but I do a lot of hardware interfacing for home and work.

A further variation, inspired by some pop-up headlights on old sports cars, is for the section of desktop to hinge at the back (or lift vertically, but I think that lack of a flat top is a good thing because I'd put stuff on it) and for the speaker to hinge at the front, set slightly lower. A leadscrew or servo would tilt the speaker up, and that would push the lid up.

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  • OK, you get a +10 from me (if I could) for "Meccano" and a computer-controlled lead screw mechanism! – FreeMan Nov 5 '20 at 12:58
  • @FreeMan I want this myself TBH, but my desk is never tidy enough (home and work desks both covered with electronics projects, meters, scopes, sketches, calipers...) so I settled on a simple shelf – Chris H Nov 5 '20 at 13:05
  • For up, I kind of want to say use some kind of counterweight arrangement with a latch at the top to make it stable at the top. Low tech, easy to understand, easy to maintain/adjust. – user3067860 Nov 5 '20 at 13:42
  • @user3067860 I've done that before - a rise/fall monitor stand counterweighted to within about 100g using plastic pipe filled with sand via a pulley. The latch was a magnet. But this can be bulky. If the OP has dead space behind drawers there's room. The counterweight could be chosen to be a little more than enough, then you could use a push latch at the bottom. However you latched it you'd need decent runners, or the friction would be too much. Did you have something in mind? Decent quality drawer runners mounted vertically might work, such as the all-metal Ikea ones with bearings. – Chris H Nov 5 '20 at 14:05
  • @ChrisH They have specific "push to open" drawer slides that should (probably) work OK with a counterweight. I was thinking you would want a hard latch at the top to keep it from wobbling/sinking back down in case you accidentally set a cup on top of your speaker or something. I would want something more than a magnet there--but you could use a normal (visible) latch there and still have the cool perfectly-smooth look when down. – user3067860 Nov 5 '20 at 15:36
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There are purpose-built products out there that are designed to do this.

Hard to show an example without it coming across as a recommendation, but you may want to explore something like this:

Table Top Fitting, Swing Up, Tavoflex

Table Top Fitting, Swing Up, Tavoflex

To stress, this is merely an example and not a product recommendation.

For my money, I think I'd save myself the frustration of trying to get something acceptable from a combination of push latches and lift-up hinges. Something purpose built is much more likely to "just work".

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Nice idea. How about making a tilt-top cubby at the back of the desk?

  • Cut the top across the width of the speakers (perhaps two compartments., for stereo, leaving the center as flat space even when open).
  • Hinge the back of the top to the back edge of the desk.
  • Mount speakers under that flap (or flaps).
  • Use either a drop-down support rod or springs to hold it open.
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  • That sounds like a good approach! I like the idea of using springs to hold it open, but I can't quite visualise how it would work. Are there specialised brackets/hinges with springs that are available? I don't know what to search for – Phill Nov 5 '20 at 2:34
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Threaded rods turned by a toothed belt pushing up two speakers - the speakers are prevented from rotating and the rods act on bearings.

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  • This has the advantage over most of the other suggestions that it can lift speakers (etc.) up as high as required, and while needing motors would appear to be a disadvantage the speakers won't be much use during a powercut. However I think using rod (including threaded, and those irrespective of thread form) will be too flimsy to prevent the whole thing being wrecked by a hard shove from the side: far better to use slides as found in filing or server cabinets. – Mark Morgan Lloyd Nov 5 '20 at 15:47
  • For an opposing view point, I'd think that a round rod would be significantly more resistant to bending from an accidental push in the wrong direction than the flat metal of a drawer slide that's normally held flat against the drawer case and drawer body, and not exposed to any real lateral movements. – FreeMan Nov 5 '20 at 16:09
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There are ready made desk items search Google for "pop up desk cable hidden". You could either modify one or may be able to buy an empty one.

Images from Amazon:Hinge type

Lift type

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    Please include the source for your images. – FreeMan Nov 5 '20 at 19:21
  • These look like they'd do exactly what I want, but I think they're a bit too small for my application... unless there are larger versions of the same thing out there – Phill Nov 5 '20 at 23:41
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Look for "push latches" - often used for loft/attic-hatches, or for kitchen cabinets. The latter is relatively common - cupboard doors with no handles.

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