Introduction: Helping Hands

Picture of Helping Hands

Helping Hands are the best friend you can have when working with little parts.

This tool was designed for a short electronics workshop but asking every participant to buy their own would get costly. This can be built in a matter of minutes by people of all skill levels. Gathering tools and parts will take some people longer than the assembly.

Parts

  • Alligator clips with #4 bolt post. Very common
  • Clipboard with flat clip
  • 16-14AWG ring terminals for #4-#6 bolts
  • Galvanized steel wire


Tools

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Wire cutter
  • Crimper
    • A pliers may work in a pinch (pun intended)

There are no modifications to the clipboard so you really have two tools and a good clipboard is invaluable. Not to mention it can protect your work surface.

Step 1: Cut the Wire

Picture of Cut the Wire

Cut 12" of galvanized steel wire. 12" is roughly the length of the long edge on a clipboard. The wire shown in the pictures is 24" long and 12" too long.

Step 2: Crimp Ring Terminals Onto Wire

Picture of Crimp Ring Terminals Onto Wire

Crimp a ring terminal onto each end of the steel galvanized wire.

If the terminals have a seam, possibly under insulating plastic, be sure the seam is nestled in the rounded end of the crimper.

Step 3: Bend Wire Into Shapee

Picture of Bend Wire Into Shapee

Bend the wire into a squared off W like shown in the picture. Ruler shown for size reference.

Step 4: Attach Clips to Wires

Picture of Attach Clips to Wires

Remove the bolts from the alligator clips. Put the bolts through the ring terminals and back into the alligator clips. Tighten firmly.

Step 5: Clamp Wire

Picture of Clamp Wire

Clamp the W shape of the wire under the clipboard clip. This will make the surface of the clipboard into a wide base to keep things from shifting about better than a heavy base which is prone to tipping. Position the arms as necessary, like a regular Helping Hands, but without having to tighten and loosen bolts.

It is possible to use heavier gauge steel wire for a firmer hold.

Step 6: About Me

Picture of About Me

This idea came to me in a flash. Collecting everything took a single trip to the hardware store, which is rare for me, and according to the timestamps on my photos I built this in 20 minutes which included taking photos. Nothing should be expensive or hard to find and this is a really useful tool.

I run a blog where I talk incessantly about the things I build, including more photos of this project. There are other neat things there like a device that can improve brainpower and a smart pocket watch in the works.

Comments

corporatelab (author)2014-12-07

24Eng,

This Instructable is well-presented. And beyond that:

1. Using the ring terminals to put the support wires at *right angles* to the alligator clips is nothing less than inspired. Almost everyone fixes the support wire to the clips at the hollow (tube) end. One advantage of *your* way, is that we could get a bit more stability or holding power or whatever by making a (maybe) 6 to 10 inch wire with a banana plug at each end, and just pushing each end into the hollow tube section(s). Those hollow tube ends are sized for mating with banana plugs.

2. On top of that, using (stiff) steel wire as the support instead of the usual (shaky) copper wire gives, I suspect, more of a solid feel.

3. Finally, using *galvanized* steel wire will let us solder directly to the steel wire if we should need a bit less resistance.

Very impressed. Thank you for sharing.

24Eng (author)corporatelab2014-12-07

Thank you. I'm glad you noticed the little details in this build.

corporatelab (author)2014-12-07

tomatoskins,

I really like your workstation board. You think of everything. If I make one or two of these, I think I can get more stuff done. Thank you and good luck.

tomatoskins (author)2014-10-27

This is virtually the setup that I have. Except I used copper from a piece of romex, and I bolted four "hands" to a piece of sheet metal along with a few soldering iron holders, and a power strip. I use it all the time and it's way cheaper and easier to use than any store bought version.

24Eng (author)tomatoskins2014-10-27

An integrated iron holder would be an amazing addition! Do you use all four hands often? I've got the commercial model with the steel base and I never use more than two hands at once.

Sounds like your version is a portable workspace.

tomatoskins (author)24Eng2014-10-27

The only time that I use more than two hands at a time is if I'm working on something that is on the bigger side. I wish that I used a heavier gauge wire because sometimes it's a little shakier than I'd like.

But I love that this thing folds flat. It usually props up behind my door because it's a little on the bigger side of things at 17" x 20".

24Eng (author)tomatoskins2014-10-28

Those LED stalks are ingenious! I'm surprised I didn't see a laptop fan being used as a fume extractor. That is a really nice soldering rig and work space.

tomatoskins (author)24Eng2014-10-28

Oh yeah, it would be super easy to hook up any 5vdc motor to that power supply as well. It's a great little soldering station and I'm glad I finally got an excuse to share it with someone.

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