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Inexpensive CD Wallet Electronics Tool Kit

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Hi! Maybe you’re an electronics student, maybe you’re an electronics hobbyist, maybe you just had the misfortune of finding yourself reading this instructable :P Anyway, you might find it useful. I’m going to describe how to make an inexpensive (20€), small and portable tool kit with the essential tools for some electronics experimenting or some practical lectures at the university’s labs.
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://www.thebitbangtheory.com/2012/05/inexpensive-cd-wallet-electronics-tool-kit/
pfred22 years ago
To store parts in your CD wallet kit you could use a CD case. Just sort of you know, to go along with the theme ...
msaleiro (author)  pfred22 years ago
wow, hadn't seen that option yet :) That's a great idea! I went with the plastic box beacause I already had some at home and they fit perfectly inside. The idea of the boxes is that students can just change the box and they're ready for a different lecture :) That CD case is a great idea too though! :) Thanks for the suggestion :)
pfred2 msaleiro2 years ago
I wanted jeweled cases for my parts but have you ever priced jewel parts boxes? Crazy! So I was thinking jeweled cases, jeweled cases, then it dawned on me I have hundreds! Sometimes I have to capitalize on the economies of scale.
msaleiro (author)  pfred22 years ago
And another good thing with CD cases is that if you have a large collection of electronic components (like I do :x) you can organize them and store them easily, maybe by alphanumeric order and without taking to much space :) Maybe I'll use that idea when we organize all the parts at the local hackerspace :) 
pfred2 msaleiro2 years ago
The best part about CD case storage boxes is CD cases as raw materials are items we're conditioned to re-purpose anyways. The CD in a jeweled case is sort of a dead medium today too. But I know I have hundreds of the old things still kicking around. So this gives a valuable new life to something just about dead now.

I don't even feel bad when I break them up. Good in fact, that I'm putting them to a better use than they were ever made for. I mean really, what is more important than keeping electronics components in jeweled cases? CDs sit fine in paper sleeves, or on blank spindles. I don't even want to think about all the CDs I have now that aren't good for much more than drink coasters.

Unlike a fine wine a lot of media on CDs doesn't age well.
msaleiro (author)  pfred22 years ago
That's the word that fits in most of the projects I do "re-purpose". It's a shame to see some things thrown away when there are lots of things that could be done. For example I've already built two CNCs and most of the parts were repurposed from old photocopiers or printers. Why to spend money buying new stuff when we can get them for free and learn a lot by disassembling stuff? :)
pfred2 msaleiro2 years ago
When can I expect to see an article about your CNC machines? I've put up a few articles related to me building one, but I haven't finished mine yet. Not even close.
msaleiro (author)  pfred22 years ago
A small article about the first CNC machine can be seen here. I didn't make an instructable on it because I'm new in instructables and the purpose of that CNC was only to make the parts for the new CNC, which is 4 times bigger :) (work area of approximately 500x600 mm). I already have the new CNC machine working but I'm using steppers from HP printers and they have low torque on higher frequencies. Since the construction quality is as I wanted it to be, I decided that it was time to spend some money on 3 NEMA 23 stepper motors which have about 10 times the torque of the ones I have. The motors alone were more expensive than the rest of the CNC :P I'm working right now to remove the old motors and mount the new ones, so I hope it won't take too long to write an article on it :) I took photos of the whole construction process :) I'll put the article here on instructables and also in my blog :) I'm going to check your articles about CNC right now :)
pfred2 msaleiro2 years ago
Thanks for the link to your CNC project. Impressive stuff! You're running more than twice as fast as I can reliably. You must be using better lead screws than I am. I've concluded that is what is slowing me down so much. I'm running mine 600 RPM but that only gets me about 25.4mm/s

Oh well, mine is my first machine so I am learning a lot in the process myself. Next time better lead screws.

I don't know if any of my articles are of practical value really. I guess bits and pieces of them can be useful in some applications. Here is a video of a lot of what I've made so far running:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHPKaHLzXes

The motor driving that is a 300 oz/in twin stack NEMA 23. But I don't think I am running it full power.
msaleiro (author)  pfred22 years ago
oops I just noticed an error in my post, now that you mentioned it :P It was supposed to be 60mm/min, not 60mm/sec :P I would be happy if I was getting 60mm/sec :P
pfred2 msaleiro2 years ago
Now I feel better. I was like how in the heck is he running that well with those little pancake motors? I thought you were just really good and even more demanding. You're still running and that is good at any speed.

That thing in the video is inside this now:

http://i.imgur.com/PHZCW.jpg

When it runs up and down the inner box slides in and out. I picked those melamine shelves up at a thrift store for 50 cents a piece so my whole Z axis linear cost me $4. The stuff slides on itself really nicely. It is all very sturdy too. Nothing fiddly going on there.
msaleiro (author)  pfred22 years ago
I wish I was that good to make it run with that speed with those motors :P Unfortunately, I'm not :P It seems that your CNC is going to be quite different from the usual designs. And a lot cheaper, too :) Can't wait to see the whle thing working :) I just finished installing the motors in my new CNC TheMaker2 :) An article on it will be coming soon :) If you want to check some construction pics you can see them in a post I made here (there are two sets of pics in the link). From my first tests I think I'll be able to cut at 300mm/minute :) If I raise the supply voltage to 12V (I'm only using 5V) I think I can raise the speed a little, but 300mm/minute is good enough for me :)
pfred2 msaleiro2 years ago
Your new machine looks very nice, and like you say it should be 10 times faster than your old machine is. That is a big improvement.

I can wait to see the whole thing working. I'm very patient. I'm not even working on my CNC project right now at all.
msaleiro (author)  pfred22 years ago
You could also use the yoga mat/ fitness carpet material that I used in my tool case in your cd cases. You could put it inside the CD cases to store PDIP components :)
pfred2 msaleiro2 years ago
I have one of those mats right next to me now and I just measured it with calipers it is almost 3/8s of an inch thick 0.357. CD cases are 0.275 deep so it'd be a tight squeeze. In my article I think I mentioned the best thing I've found is air conditioner filter foam. I just measured a piece of stiff anti-static foam and it is 0.240 thick, soft anti-static foam might be nice. Even the pink foam PC motherboards come in sometimes might not be a bad CD case liner. Sometimes if I want anti-static foam I wrap regular foam in aluminum foil. It's so so. It doesn't last forever but it is good for a poke.
msaleiro (author)  pfred22 years ago
I see you have been checking everything you find to complement your great use (that Ill surely use too, someday) for "useless cd cases" :)
Great idea !!!
Ah, you could brown bag it to save money too I suppose. I have 4 tool pallets in my portable electronics bag and sometimes I don't think it is enough.
msaleiro (author)  pfred22 years ago
True, the tools we most need are always the ones that are missing :P Even if we could carry a truck around, there would still be tools missing :P However, for some experiments and prototyping in breadboards I think it has the minimum required tools :) I'm thinking about making another one with two times the size of this one and then maybe I'll be able to fit some soldering equipment inside too :)
tareko2 years ago
Useful instructable. Thanks for sharing.
Reading the materials list, got me raising an eyebrow... so many chinese shop materials, you'd think this is a local member.
I followed the link, and sure enought, there it was... Universidade do Algarve.

Um abraço.
msaleiro (author)  tareko2 years ago
Eheh Chinese shops are everywhere! Their tools are not the best, but they're good enough for most electronics jobs.

Abraço! :)
bitza20092 years ago
nice...
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