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”
[Sverd Industries] have created a pretty cool bench power supply integrating soldering helping hands into the build. This helps free up some much-needed bench space along with adding that wow factor and having something that looks unique.
The build is made from a custom 3D printed enclosure (Thingiverse files here), however if you have no access to a 3D printer you could always just re-purpose or roll your own instrument enclosure. Once the enclosure is taken care of, they go on to install the electronics. These are pretty basic, using a laptop PSU with its output attached to the input of a boost/buck module. They did have to change the potentiometers from those small PCB mounted pots to full size ones of the same value though. From there they attach 4 mm banana sockets to the output along with a cheap voltmeter/ammeter LCD module. Another buck converter is attached to the laptop PSU’s output to provide 5 V for a USB socket, along with a power switch for the whole system.
Where this project really shines is the integrated helping hands. These are made from CNC cooling tubes with alligator clips super glued to the end, then heat shrink tubing is placed over the jaws to stop any accidental short circuiting while using them.
This isn’t a life changing hack but it is quite a clever idea if space is a hot commodity where you do your tinkering, plus a DIY bench power supply is almost a rite of passage for the budding hacker.
Continue reading “Give Your Bench Power Supply A Helping Hand”
Helping hands are a common soldering aid. These inexpensive devices usually have a substantial base, a pair of alligator clips to hold a workpiece, and sometimes a magnifying glass. [Yonatan24] (who happens to be 13 years old) built his own set using a siren horn as a base. Lately, however, he decided to enhance it quite a bit to use Gorillapod arms and incorporate a solder cleaning and a variety of other features. Of course, there is a magnifier along with a solder waste collection bin.
The build is well-detailed, although since [Yonatan24] salvaged some of the parts, you might have to make adjustments to match the parts you use. The Gorillapod arms are from a cheap tripod, but a lot of the material was left over or stripped from junk (like the lead weight).
We’ve seen workbench PCB holders before (including a 3D printed one), of course, but you have to admire the look of this one, as well as the overboard set of features.
Whether you have shaky hands when working on tiny components, or just need more control and flexibility, we think this “third hand” gripper using coolant hose is an ingenious solution compared to the little metal ones you can buy.
Not surprisingly this isn’t an original idea. In fact, Sparkfun actually sells it as a kit. That being said… it’s rather expensive — especially when you can build [Frank Zhao’s] version for less than $15.
He’s using a cutting board, three machinery style coolant hoses, and a handful of fasteners from the hardware store. You can use the accessories from a regular metal third hand, but [Frank] also shows us how to recreate them using a few washers, some steel strapping, and a wing nut and bolt.
[Mr. Zhao] is no stranger to Hack a Day either — we’d almost call him an inadvertent contributor we’ve shared so many of his hacks! Just take a look at his tiny USB business card, his awesome LED pocket watch, a detailed reflow oven build, or even his IR based augmented reality setup.