Cloud architect builds man shed to beat all man sheds [Setups]

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This man shed sports multiple screens.
This man shed sports multiple screens.
Photo: CourseEcstatic6202@Reddit

Sometimes a setup promoted on social media stops you dead in your tracks, and it’s not because you’re excited about the hardware. Sometimes it’s the amazing, hand-built “man shed” where the setup lives that stuns you.

Such is the case with CourseEcstatic6202’s offering on Reddit. The cloud architect — let’s just call him “CE” — works in Amazon Web Services on California’s central coast. He designed and built a beautiful little house for his MacBook Pro-based setup in his back yard.

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It's not only a highly functionl home office, it's cute, too.
It’s not only a highly functionl home office, it’s cute, too.
Photo: CourseEcstatic6202@Reddit

Talk about ‘handy’

The shed, approximately 13 feet by x 9 feet in size, has 119 square feet of space inside and cost $15,000 to build.

It features a MacBook Pro workstation, a guest Windows-based workstation, a TV monitor, sophisticated audio, a Google Nest security system, a mini fridge, an air purifier and a portable air conditioner — all powered from the main house via a dedicated 20-amp circuit.

“A few weeks in AutoCad and a few months of construction. Everything including cabinet work, roofing, etc. all hand done,” CE commented in his post. “My kids are grown up so I replaced the rotting play structure with the shed. Put it in 18 months before Covid. Turned out to be a wise investment.”

Hardcore audio with an Apple connection

A distinctive-looking Harmon Kardon Soundsticks III Speaker System flanks the main monitor.
A distinctive-looking Harmon Kardon Soundsticks III Speaker System flanks the main monitor.
Photo: CourseEcstatic6202@Reddit

CE fielded some admiring comments about his distinctive-looking audio rig, a Harmon Kardon Soundsticks III Speaker System. He has it Bluetooth-paired to an Amazon Echo Show 8 Display, on which he listens to Spotify in addition to watching his Nest security camera footage.

He also hard wired the Soundsticks to his trusty CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock, which serves as a network hub for the shed.

One complaint

His “one complaint” about the Soundsticks? The cables are a bit short and have proprietary connectors, which keeps him from running extension cables through the wall so he can put his woofer further away.

But as far as how the Soundsticks look and sound, he’s delighted.

“Aren’t we as Mac users obligated to like everything designed by Jony Ive?” he asked in a comment. The speaker system was originally developed with Apple and first released in July 2000.

“Not only did Ive design them but when they first came out they were an Apple exclusive item,” CE wrote. “Another fun fact, the workstation in the background on the set of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ also rocks the Soundsticks. Not until they are a couple seasons in but they remain there for the rest of the series.”

Easy connectivity, secure backup

A CalDigit TS3 Dock and an encrypted 2 TB external drive are key to the setup.
A CalDigit TS3 Dock and an encrypted 2 TB external drive are key to the setup.
Photo: CourseEcstatic6202@Reddit

CE called his CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock the best dock he’s ever used.

“It is a bit pricey but it allows single cable connection to my MBP,” he said. “Everything on the desk and everything on the media wall are all connected through that single point.”

CE uses an Apricorn 2 TB Aegis Padlock 3 Encrypted External Hard Drive for Time Machine backups. He likes its security features.

“If someone were to steal the device, it cannot be read until you punch in the code. 10 attempts and the HDD erases itself,” he said.

Great cable management

CE noted that fully half of the cable management going on in the shed is not even visible in the photos.

“Every shelf on the media wall has two CAT 6 drops, 2 USB ports back to the CalDigit TS3+, and two 120V outlets just in case I get some more gear that I do not want to put inside a cabinet or on the desk.”

In addition, a couple of the room’s shelves have an HDMI connection back to the TV just on case CE ends up getting more video sources, he said, adding he’d like to add an Xbox.

If you like this cable management, you should see what he has going on inside the walls and the attic.
If you like this cable management, you should see what he has going on inside the walls and the attic.
Photo: CourseEcstatic6202@Reddit

As a function of wanting almost everything wired and not dependent upon wireless connectivity, CE has “HDMI and USB cables running all over the place.” And yet you can’s see many of them.

He explained that the HDMI output of the CalDigit TS3 Plus goes enters the wall, which has 4 inches of space behind it, behind the side table cabinet. The HDMI cable then runs across the attic and down the wall behind the TV, feeding it via a low-voltage wall plate.

CE uses a similar cable setup for the “guest desk,” which has a Windows workstation under a drop leaf tabletop. Its screen view can appear on all three displays in the office. The MacBook Pro can be on the main desk or the TV.

“And finally, the entire video wall is 9 inches off the exterior wall so that you can run new cables from the inside of the lower cabinets just in case you need future expansion,” he said.

CE pointed out that he has four UPS (uninterruptible power supply) devices in the small room. They run everything in it except the TV, he noted.

All his wife’s idea

In reply to a commenter who said if he lived in a house and had a back yard, his wife would build him such a shed to get rid of him, CE said the shed was, indeed, his wife’s idea. And moving permanently to WFH just happened to fit in perfectly with the new reality when the pandemic struck.

“The great part is that when Covid happened and the shutdowns hit, very little changed for me other than worrying about toilet paper supplies,” he said.

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