Introduction: Helping Hands for Cheap

Picture of Helping Hands for Cheap

Us technicians working on the bench sometimes we needs a helping hand.
We gotta solder this and that or the other thing at the same time or it just won't work.

This helping hands tool is for all the poor hobby techs like me.

Step 1: The Find

Picture of The Find

At Goodwill (go figure) I found one of them suction cup phone holders that yuppies attach to the dash of their BMWs. Had an interesting ball joint. Bought it for a dollar. 

By the time I got home I knew what my next project would be.

Step 2: Lose the Junk

Picture of Lose the Junk

Drive out the pin and remove the suction cup hardware. Save the parts for another project.
The tabs on the ball mount must be cut off and smoothed.

Step 3: Pieces

Picture of Pieces

The alligator clips are whatever you might have in your box. The copper wire I used is 14g from a length of romex. The plate is copper clad PCB material.

Brass or tin would be better for the plate (probably .032) but I used what I had.

Match drill the ball mount and plate for #6x1/4in sheet metal screws.

Tin both ends of each wire, then bend a hard 90 onto one end for the alligator clip connection. Tin the board and solder it up like the picture shows.

Step 4: Parts

Picture of Parts

Drill mounting holes in the base and attach to a suitable piece of wood or ?. Allow enough length for a clamp.

Reassemble and check out the useful mobility of the assembly.

Yes, it IS flexible and compliant. Just like my women.
(In my dreams...Ahhhh).



adam.verner.790 (author)2015-09-13

what abou putting a mirror on top of copper board? you would see everything

dantistus (author)2012-07-29

Love your idea with the alligator clips! Don't call yourself "poor hobby tech", man, your head is pure gold!

acoleman3 (author)dantistus2012-07-29

i totally agree that his mind is pure gold, but i think he was referring to the fact that he has to do his projects on a small budget. when you're poor, you come up with interesting and creative ways to get done what you need to.

nvmismatico (author)acoleman32015-08-18

Amen Brother

dantistus (author)acoleman32012-07-30

Yep, I know what he meant, I myself go around scrapyards and scavenge for stuff, once I found ~30 CD-drives with working motors, I was so happy that day :)

binary01 (author)acoleman32012-07-29

Necessity is the mother of invention!

badams2 (author)dantistus2012-07-29

I've done this before... Protip: solder on banana plugs instead of alligator clips. then you can slip clips ONTO the plugs, giving you more flexibility on the clips and making them easily replacable if they wear out or break!

wotboa (author)badams22012-07-31

I think your Protip just doubled the cost of the project. Or maybe I'm the only one without a stash of banana plugs and socket style test clips.
It's a good idea. The others reading may want to try it.

iq201 (author)2014-01-19

This is a great helping hands. I like to see the projects I can do with stuff I already have.

xtreemmughal (author)2014-01-16

nice man

Serega_Canada (author)2013-10-06

Good idea, thx !

criggie (author)2012-07-29

Copper looks good - did you consider earthing it? Or would that be worse than not earthing it?

wotboa (author)criggie2012-07-30

I never thought about grounding (or earthing) the clips. Mostly I use this for wiring connectors and soldering larger components.
If you use it to hold static-sensitive devices, you might consider adding a grounding clip.

PS My little house was built n 1931. I don't HAVE grounded outlets!

blounsb999 (author)wotboa2012-07-30

Back at the panel, neg and ground are the same. Go to a friend's house that has newer wiring to see what I mean. If you are truly concerned, plumbing is often grounded.

wotboa (author)blounsb9992012-07-30

Thanks for the advice.
I'm not too concerned because I just lease the place. Plus I don't use a blow drier in the shower.
It's an old 1br frame house, built so close to the ground that there is no access to the wiring or the plumbing. To add grounded outlets would require a total rewire from the attic. $$$$$$!!!

badams2 (author)wotboa2012-07-31

Many older houses have grounding to the older standards, meaning the metal outlet box WAS the ground. Simply replacing the old 2 prong outlets with 3 prong ones works a great deal of the time. If you do this, make sure you use an outlet tester to ensure that you have good ground.

Of course, as with any time you're working on mains voltage, if you don't know what you're doing or looking at, get someone who does! 110VAC does NOT feel good coursing through your body!

wotboa (author)badams22012-07-31

I see you've worked as an electrician.
After aerospace died in the 90's, I worked several years as an industrial maintenance electrician in a factory. With the big dogs up to 660v 3ph. Some of the power panels pushed 600kw. Safety first.
I've been bit a few times. This is just me, but 110v house current barely gets my attention. 277vac 3ph surely does. I was bit by 480vac only ONCE (is enough). Knocked me on my ass. My arm was numb for a week.
So you're preaching to the choir, my friend. I've been there.

hondatech739 (author)2012-07-30

This project is a great idea, especially for those of us on a budget.
Next step: attach a magnifying glass for us old people who can't see.

wotboa (author)hondatech7392012-07-30

Old, POOR people who can't see, like us.
That sounds like a great mod. I'm going to do it.
I'll attach it to the wooden base. Make it removable. Maybe mounted on a piece of heavy wire (10 or 12g) for adjustment.
Thanks for the idea.

zawy (author)2012-07-29

Soldering the flexible copper wires to a copper clad board was a great idea.

wotboa (author)zawy2012-07-30

Thanks zawy
The 14g wire works great. It's flexible enough to position easily, but stiff enough to hold the parts steady.
I think the wire may become brittle from being bent back and forth. But, if any part fails, it's an easy fix.

sudarsun (author)2012-07-30

Beautiful. This should be very useful for avoiding boils on the fingertip. Thanks very much.

aniltvmin (author)2012-07-29

I was about to order a "helping hand"....!!

You saved me a couple of hundreds rupees....!!
thanks for sharing such a nice idea....

lafnbear (author)2012-07-25

Wait... "helping hands": that's why I had kids!

wotboa (author)lafnbear2012-07-25

Don't burn your fingers, little Billy!
Just kidding.

badams2 (author)wotboa2012-07-29

Thanks for the warni- OW THAT FREAKING HURT!!!

darman12 (author)lafnbear2012-07-29


mariobaracus (author)2012-07-29

good idea man...

darman12 (author)2012-07-29

Wow! Thank you so much for this instructable! I've found myself in many situations trying to lean my project against something to get the right angle, or have somebody else hold it so it won't move (stupid idea). I don't have the money to buy a helping hand.

This will work perfectly!

f5mando (author)2012-07-29

Excellent! Well done, and thanks for sharing.

Ismegordo (author)2012-07-26

What a great idea, I wish I had seen this a week earlier then I wouldn't of ordered one from eBay, well at least it was only $9 aud.
Although I think yours has mor flexibility in it, Great job and Thanks for sharing.

About This Instructable




Bio: I ain't no physicist, but I knows what matters.
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