[Nixie] was tired of using whatever happens to be around to hold things in place while soldering and testing. It was high time to obtain a helping hands of some kind, but [Nixie] was dismayed by commercial offerings — the plain old alligator clips and cast metal type leave a lot to be desired, and the cooling tube cephalopod type usually have the alligator clips just jammed into the standard tube ends with no thought given to fine control or the possibility of reducing cable count.
[Nixie] happened to have some unneeded cooling tube lying around and started designing a new type of helping hands from the ground plane up. Taking advantage of the fact that cooling tubes are hollow, [Nixie] routed silicone-jacketed wires through them for power and low speed signals. These are soldered to five banana jacks that are evenly spaced around an alligator clip.
Even if you don’t need power, all those extra alligators would come in quite handy for circuit sculpture or anything else that requires a lot of hands. [Nixie] put the files up on Thingiverse if you want to make your own.
We’ve seen plenty of helping hands over the years, but this concrete-based helper ought to cement your decision to make your own.
Although it’s possible to buy a soldering setup out of the box, the one that works for you will likely develop over time. Honestly, it may never stop evolving. Sure, you can start with el-cheapo helping hands or a nice hobby vise, but it probably won’t end there. Why? Because no one of these tools will be right for all applications, unless you plan to solder the same thing over and over again. Sometimes it’s just easier to alligator clip a board in place than to slowly manipulate the jaws of a vise, but those helping hands have such a limited range of motion.
Have you been meaning to build a soldering squid out of coolant hose because that stuff just looks so dang cool and bendy? Well, then let Hackaday alum [JeremySCook] show you how it can be done. A few years ago he built a similar squid with a wooden base, but it just isn’t heavy enough, so he redesigned it with a concrete base. He took the opportunity to make some nice tweaks, like zip-tying a small PC fan and 9 V to make an endlessly repositionable ventilation system, and adding a big clip in the back for extra stability while soldering. And of course, threading the solder spool on to one of the hoses is genius.
If you follow [Jeremy] at all, you know he’s been playing around with concrete for a while now, and it’s neat to see him cement his devotion to the stuff by using it in the pursuit of better tools. He’s got the files for the printed mold up on GitHub, and the build video after the break should be all set up by now.
Not custom enough for you? Fire up that printer and make your own ball and socket arms.
Continue reading “Concrete Solder Squid Is A Solid Solution”
Everyone needs a helping hand in the shop once in a while, and most of us have gone the traditional route and bought one of those little doohickies with the cast iron base and adjustable arms terminated in alligator clips. They’re cheap, they’re readily available, and they’re “Meh,” at best.
In the quest for better hands, [Jeremy S. Cook] came up with this custom design for a benchtop aid, and we’re pretty impressed. There are commercial designs out there that use the same flexible coolant hoses, called Loc-Line, which are often seen spewing coolant on metalworking machines like mills and lathes. But the stuff is cheap, and with a little work, you can build something that fits your needs rather than working around a commercial design. [Jeremy] cut the base for his out of standard dimensional lumber with a CNC router, but the same thing could be done with simple hand tools. A 3D-printed base would be easy enough, too, although it might require some ballast to keep it from wiggling on the bench. The Loc-Line hoses were easily modded to hold alligator clips, and we can imagine other accessories too, like lights and a magnifier — or even a 3D-printed scoop to suction soldering fumes through the hose.
It’s a simple project, to be sure, but a useful one, and we like the design. But don’t think [Jeremy] isn’t thinking big, too — remember his magnificent lighted polycarbonate Strandbeest?
Continue reading “Coolant Hoses Retasked To Lend A Helping Hand”
[Shen] wanted an extra monitor at his desk, but not just any monitor. He wanted something particularly special and unquestionably refined. Like any super-power-possessing engineer he set out to scratch his hacking itch and was sucked into a multi-year extravaganza. For the love of everything hardware we’re glad this one came in on the weekend. If we had spent all that time drooling during a weekday we’d be so far behind.
The final product is a desktop monitor on an articulated arm. It features a Chromebook Pixel’s IPS display in a custom-crafted
case everything. The journey started out with two different LCD units, the first from a Dell L502x replacement display using a generic LVDS board. The results were meh; washed out colors and obvious pixellation, with display adjustments that left [Shen] with a grimace on his mug. Installment two was an iPad Retina display. This iteration required spinning his own boards (resulting in [Shen’s] discovery of OSH Park). Alas, 9.7″ was too small coupled with short-cable-requirements making this version a no-go.
And so we arrive at the meat and potatoes of this one. [Shen] identified the IPS LCD display on Google’s first Chromebook Pixel laptop as the object of his desire. The hack takes him through sourcing custom display cables, spinning rev after rev of his own board, and following Alice down the rabbit hole of mechanical design. Nothing marginal is good enough for [Shen], we discovered this with his project to get real audio out of a computer. He grinds away at the driver board, the case design, the control presentation, and everything else in the project until perfection was reached. This work of art will stand the test of time as a life fixture and not just an unappreciated workhorse.
This one is not to me missed. Head over to [Shen’s] project entry on Hackaday.io (don’t forget to give him a skull for this) and his blog linked at the top. We need to celebrate not only the people who can pull off such amazing work. But also the ones who do such a great job of sharing the story both for our enjoyment, and to inspire us.
[Patenomics] has had some trouble finding a suitable place to work on projects in his tiny apartment. Lately he’s taken to using the stove top as a soldering platform and was looking for ways to protect the stove while adding functionality. He built this soldering platform from a couple chunks of pegboard and some hardware store parts. He’s in for under $15 and has a really functional platform that may be worth adding to your solder station.
The two pegboard pieces are held in place by threaded rod and some nuts. This hardware also lends itself to adjustable feet so that you can make the platform level and stable. The holes in the top and bottom sheets line up to receive and securely position some additional tools. Here you can see that bendable copper pipe keeps some alligator clips right where they’re needed, but future plans include adding lights, clamps, and lasers.
This makes a nice work platform to go along with your other portable electronic bench tools. But if you’ve really got the itch, you’ll eventually outgrow all of this and then it might be time to find yourself a hackerspace to join.