By making a tool kit, the students will have their own tools well stored and organised in a portable pouch. Once they have their own tools they will be able to start tinkering at home or even doing the experiments and all the practical work that unfortunately is not encouraged by some professors. Theory is necessary to learn some things but the only real way of learning electronics is to make experiments and learn from them. This small project opens that door to that process of learning in the sense that the students will not be dependent on the university's laboratories nor have the feeling that they will get in trouble if they burn any electronic components. As a student I learned a lot at the university, but most of my useful knowledge in electronics was learned at home, making the experiments that my curiosity led me to do. The main idea is to equip students with their own tools without having to spend much money. Moreover, while making the tool kit they will learn that some things may be built from things we see everyday and will also have to learn some extra skills like sewing, cutting and gluing on different materials.
When I was still a 2nd year electronics engineering student and I had lectures at the labs each work group had a pouch containing some small pliers, side cutters, tweezers and screwdrivers from ProsKit which was very handy. However, at the time I couldn’t buy it at an acceptable price because it was hard to find in the shops and when found, it was too expensive. I always found it very useful because it has the essential tools for an electronics student or hobbyist and it could be carried around or easily placed inside a backpack. Another advantage is that you always have your tools organised and never lose them. As far as I can tell, right now in europe it costs about 31€ which isn’t that much. However, the one I’ve made is two thirds of the price and has more tools! Here is the list of the tools and materials, with the corresponding prices:
- Pliers (1€ – bought in some chinese shop);
- Side cutters (1€ – bought in some chinese shop);
- CD wallet (don’t know the price of the one I’ve used but you can buy similar ones for 1,5€);
- Elastic (0,5€ bought in some fabrics shop);
- Precision screwdriver set (actually it’s just a pen with 9 precision bits and costs 2€ – bought in some chinese shop);
- Plastic box (1€ – bought in some chinese shop);
- UNI-T UT10A digital multimeter (10,5€ – bought from ebay);
- 400 contacts breadboard (2,5€- bought from ebay).
The plastic box has the purpose of storing some electronic components or even very small development boards since the spacers inside can be removed to get larger partitions. If you’re a student you may find it useful to have several boxes, maybe one for each lecture, and you just have to change the box when you go to a different lecture. There is also the option of fitting two boxes inside instead of one box and one multimeter.
I still had to buy an exercise carpet which cost 3€ but since I only used a very small part of it and I still have all the rest for other projects that may come, I’m not counting it for the total price. To make a similar tool kit you will need:
- Wire and needles;
- Hot glue gun;
- Craft knife.
Now I’ll describe the process:
- First of all you’ll have to remove the cd holders inside the pouch;
- Next you will have to sew the elastic on the middle of each of the cd wallet covers;
- Using paper or some other material make a sketch of how you want to place the tools in a shape that fits inside the pouch and cut it with the craft knife;
- Cut a part of the fitness carpet and using the sketch as a mold cut out the shapes of the tools with the craft knife;
- Glue the result of the previous step inside the pouch using the hot glue gun;
- Place all the tools in their places and that’s it!
Don’t be fooled by the reduced number of steps. If you want it to look good you’ll have to take your time with the sewing and cutting.
After making the tool kit I verified that it’s possible to fit in some more tools. I’ve added a craft knife, that can be seen in the pictures, to the kit by placing it below the digital multimeter.
I hope you like it and if you make your own feel free to share the link for a photo of it in the comments below. I’d love to see the variations and some new ideas! Cheers! ( For better resolution pics see: http://thebitbangtheory.blogspot.pt/2012/05/inexpensive-cd-wallet-electronics-tool.html