Today I’m starting a new behind the scenes series, “Inside Insights,” that takes a look at what’s going on here at Insights In Automation.

In this first article of the series, I want to share with you the project that has been consuming most of my days over the past few weeks: my home studio renovation.

After wrapping up the first edition of my ViewSE course this summer, I knew I needed to do something about the state of my home studio before I embarked on another course.

Back in 2013 I thought I’d use a green screen background, but I had to stand so close to it I ended up with a green halo.

I actually built my garage studio over five years ago, back before I launchedmy Kickstarter project to produce my first training video, “Micro Programmable Controller Basics,” (later re-released as “PLC Core Basics.“)

Being limited to a single bay in my garage meant that space was at a premium, but when I started out I only had a couple of lights, a camera, a desk, and a workbench.

I also thought having “white board” walls would be really cool, and they are, except they made the room very echo-y.

But over the last five years, I added so much more equipment that I was literally climbing over things just to get to the recording area.

This is a day into the tear down, and you can see the studio is still pretty full of stuff!

Part of the problem was, I originally thought the camera needed to be several feet from my workbench in order to get everything into the shot. In reality, all of my HD camera’s work find even just four feet from my workbench.

That meant I could shoot across the room in stead of lengthwise. And that in turn freed up a lot of floor space since equipment that use to use tripods could now be mounted on the walls.

Here’s another shot with most everything removed.

Another issue I ran into over the years was the time it took to setup the stage for a particular course.

As you can imagine, setting up and wiring a workbench full of hardware takes time. And once it’s setup, you really don’t want to disturb it until you’re done using it, and that can be several months.

For example, when the studio was setup for recording ControlLogix lessons, I didn’t have the ability to quickly record lessons or videos on other subjects without disassembling the ControlLogix hardware currently in use.

Off comes the white board. Took awhile as I was trying to save a few pieces to reuse in the garage.

To address this, another goal of the renovation is to add a second workbench and filming area so I’ll be able to film ad-hoc lessons and videos without disturbing the main filming area.

In addition to a second workbench and recording area, I also wanted to add live running equipment on the wall behind each workbench.

After removing what felt like hundreds of nails and screws, I then plastered and corked every crack, hole, nook, and cranny before putting up the new brick paneling.

Even though most of the equipment I own has been purchased second hand, it’s still cost me small fortune. And because of that, it just seems like a waste of money to just stick it in a box when it’s not being used.

Plus, most of my courses include lessons on how to communicate with a full range of Allen-Bradley controllers, from the PLC-5, SLC-500, and MicroLogix, to the Compact and ControlLogix.

In this view you can see the planned placement of the tables and shelves. I brought a camera in to make sure everything worked.

So having these controllers already on the wall and running will help reduce the setup needed to create new communications lessons.

The final renovation goal I’ll talk about today is bringing some sanity to my studio wiring.

Over the course of five years I’d tried several different configurations, resulting in multiple HDMI, USB, Audio, and power cables literally running everywhere.

Almost done! No hardware mounted on the backboard yet, and still a lot of wiring needs to be done, but it’s very close to being a workable space.

These cables actually became so intertwined that sometimes it was easier to lay down new cables rather than reroute existing ones.

So for all those reasons (and more,) I’ve dedicated a good portion of the last few weeks to renovating the studio in preparation for my next course on the CompactLogix (available for pre-order right now at a huge discount.)

In this reverse look you can see I still have to install the new door, as well as cut a hole in the wall and run all the HDMI, USB, and Network cables to the PC which is just outside the studio due to the fan noises it makes. You may also notice all the paper documentation is gone and I’m now using the shelves to store the hardware used in my courses.

And with the renovation nearly finished, I can’t wait to start producing new videos, the first of which I hope to make later this week with the launch of a new weekly livestream, The Automation Show.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this inside look at what’s going on here at Insights In Automation!

If you did, please let me know by leaving a comment for me by clicking on the link below.

Until next time, Peace ✌️ 

Shawn M Tierney
Technology Enthusiast & Content Creator

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Shawn Tierney



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