Most of us have bent a length of solder into a more convenient shape and angle when soldering, and just sort of pushed the soldering iron and work piece into the hanging solder instead of breaking out a third hand. Well, [yukseltemiz] seems to have decided that a solder dispenser and a miniature 3D printer model can have a lot in common, and created a 1/5 scale Ender 3 printer model that acts as a solder stand and dispenser. The solder spool hangs where the filament roll would go, and the solder itself is dispensed through the “print head”.
It’s cute, and we do like the way that [yukseltemiz] incorporated a few Lego pieces into the build. A swivel and eyelet guides the solder off the roll and a small Lego ball and socket gives the dispenser its articulation, an important feature for bending solder to a more convenient angle for working. It makes us think that using Lego pieces right alongside more traditional hardware like M3 nuts and bolts might be an under-explored technique. You can see the unit in action in the brief assembly video, embedded below.
We probably don’t have to promote the benefits of a third hand or PCB holders in general, such is their obvious utility. While you can arrange some boxes and pile up tools on your bench to get a similar result, a good grip and flexibility to move the PCB around during soldering or performing any other work on it makes life just so much easier. Thanks to 3D printing there have been plenty of inspiring designs that go beyond the usual clumsy-yet-cheap croc clip version of it, and [SunShine] adds one on to the list with his spring-loaded print-in-place PCB gripper, demonstrated in this video and available on Thingiverse.
The gripping part’s design is based on a spring-loaded box [SunShine] created a little while back — which you can read more about in his Instructable. The holder itself comes in two varieties: one that brings its own stand, and one that has a GoPro mount. The first one is really more to show off the design, and while the gripping part is fully functional, it might not perform too well with heavier boards and easily tip over. Sure, a bigger bottom or mounting it to something more sturdy will fix that, but so will the GoPro-mount version, which also adds the whole flexibility aspect.
The days of the third hand’s dominance of workshops the world over is soon coming to an end. For those moments when only a third hand is not enough, a fourth is there to save the day.
Dubbed MetaLimbs and developed by a team from the [Inami Hiyama Laboratory] at the University of Tokyo and the [Graduate School of Media Design] at Keio University, the device is designed to be worn while sitting — strapped to your back like a knapsack — but use while standing stationary is possible, if perhaps a little un-intuitive. Basic motion is controlled by the position of the leg — specifically, sensors attached to the foot and knee — and flexing one’s toes actuates the robotic hand’s fingers. There’s even some haptic feedback built-in to assist anyone who isn’t used to using their legs as arms.
The team touts the option of customizeable hands, though a soldering iron attachment may not be as precise as needed at this stage. Still, it would be nice to be able to chug your coffee without interrupting your work.
We think of helping hands as those little alligator clips on a metal stand. They are cheap and fall over, so we tend to buy them and don’t use them. However, if you are willing to put $35 or $40 into it, you can get the newer kind that have–well–tentacles–on a heavy base. [Archie_slap] didn’t want that kind of investment, so he made his own for about $10. We think that’s Australian dollars, so that’s even less in the United States.
What’s better is he documented every step in meticulous detail and with great pictures. You probably won’t directly duplicate his project because you will probably pick up a slightly different base, but that’s not hard to figure out. The arms are actually coolant hose, [Archie_slap] picked up almost everything but the base plate on eBay.
It’s obvious [Archie] is a frugal guy, based on his drill press. It gets the job done, though. The build is attractive and looks like a much more expensive commercial product. Some of us around the Hackaday lab are old enough to wish there was a magnifying glass attached, but maybe that’s version two.
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.
Why, oh god why? Well, the guys at Shackspace got their hands on a laser cutter that can only be driven with a Windows program. Their solution was to run Win7 on RPi as a virtual machine.
Twin-servos for your third hand
After growing tired of constantly flipping over the substrate being held with a third hand [Nidal] came up with a better way. He mounted his third hand on two servo motors so that it can be positioned with a joystick.
Depopulating SMD resistors
If you’ve ever tried to remove small surface mount resistors or capacitors with an iron you know it can be tricky. Take a look at the technique that [Scott] uses to remove the components.
Photographing the die of MSP430, Z80, PIC, and several other chips
Admittedly this post is flirting with flamebait, but we think the concept of using a spring clamp as an iPhone tripod mount has a lot of hacking potential. Hear us out, and if we havn’t made our case you can rant about it in the comments.
[Joe] wanted an easy way to mount his iPhone on a standard tripod. We’ve seen some creative solutions for this, like using Sugru to make a removable bracket. But he went a different route, using a cheap spring clamp to grip the phone body. These plastic clamps are like over-powered clothespins, and use a screw as the pivot point. [Joe] replaced the stock screw with a longer one, then used a coupling nut which will attach to the tripod. A bit of foam on the pads of the clamp protect your device from the plastic teeth.
It’s a fine solution (if you don’t mind putting that pressure on your smart phone). But we think this would be a great way to build your own heavy-duty third hand. It would be right at home with this modular solder platform. See [Joe’s] how-to video embedded after the break.