It doesn’t take much chasing things around the bench with a soldering iron to appreciate the value of good work holding. And don’t get us started on those cheap “helping hands” alligator clip thingies; they’re somehow worse than no work holding. Isn’t there a better way?
Maybe, judging by [Paul Bryson]’s idea for a dirt cheap PCB vise. It’s a pretty clever design that’ll have you heading to Harbor Freight, or whatever the moral equivalent is in your location, where you’ll pick up a small ratcheting bar clamp. [Paul] used a 4″ (10 cm) clamp; that which looks fine for a wide range of boards, but we suppose you could go bigger if you like. You could also stop there and just clamp your PCBs in the plastic jaws, but [Paul] adorned the jaws with swiveling arms made from LEGO Technic pieces, of all things. Rubber grommets slipped onto Technic pegs go into the holes on the beam to hold the PCB edges firmly, while the swiveling action adapts to odd-shaped boards.
To our mind, the biggest advantage to this design other than cost is how low it holds the PCB — a decided advantage while working under the microscope. Don’t have any Technics parts close to hand? No worries, 3D printed parts could easily stand in, and maybe even improve the design. [Paul] also shows off a substitute for the Technics beam rendered in PCB material, which would reduce the height of the workpiece over the bench even more.