Picture of Make An Ultimate Helping Hand Jig
Here is a helping hand jig that is useful for soldering, gluing, painting and macro photography. It is highly configurable to hold various small objects in many positions.

While this version is 3d printed, it could also be made using traditional hand methods.
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Step 1: How It Works

Picture of How It Works
While this may not be the ultimate jig for everyone, I have found it very useful for soldering and gluing small projects. It can be adapted with different grippers for different kinds of projects.

I was experimenting with various ways of 3d printing self-assembling hinges for future use in robot arms and legs. Making some hinges that can lock in place seemed like a good way to test the strength of the structures.

The helping hand has six configurable, lock in place, arms with interchangeable grippers. While this version was 3d printed, a similar jig could be made using acrylic or other plastic sheet material. It could even be made out of thin plywood. Three layers could be laminated together to make the arms.

Step 1 pic shows it set up for soldering with flashlight and magnifier. Pic 2 shows it folded up.

Step 2: Tools And Materials

Picture of Tools And Materials
I used a Makerbot Replicator 2 to print the parts in PLA plastic. If you do not have access to a 3d printer you could make the jig by laminating hand cut sheet plastic or plywood.

100% silicone caulk and corn starch to make Oogoo. Details on making Oogoo can be found here:

sheet metal

24   4-40 x 1" round head screws and nuts
6     4-40 x 3/4" round head screws and nuts

2     1/2" diameter x 3/8" long neodymium magnets
rlogiacco made it!4 months ago

A friend of mine and I have managed to print this wonderful rig and the color choice produced a just amazing result! We encountered a few issues here and there we wish to solve in a second print: would you be so nice to provide the the files in a modifiable format? The current format doesn't allow easy modification... we will be happy to share back our modifications for your approval and re-use.

Anyway, I want to compliment once again for this amazing model: many solutions you adopted are just so simple and robust!

rlogiacco5 months ago

Just an idea for a little improvement: wouldn't be the arm grip improve by using hexagonal bolts and nuts on the knobs? Obviously that would imply the knobs should have an hexagonal hole instead of a rounded one which might imply a slightly greater knob size, but I believe this would greatly improve the amount of force you can put on each joint and achieve great stiffness when required.

What do you think? May be it's a design you have already tried and found as failing...

mikey77 (author)  rlogiacco5 months ago

Hexagonal head bolts would certainly work. I used the pan head screws because they are cheaper and I had some of them on hand.

It turns out that the pan heads provide plenty of force to lock the arms solidly in any position.

rlogiacco6 months ago

When you say it is printed as one piece, are you saying you actually printed it already assembled? How does it work, you leave a tiny amount of support PLA which you break at first use?

mikey77 (author)  rlogiacco6 months ago

The hinged arms are printed one at a time as one piece, flat without supports. The grippers and base are printed separately.

rlogiacco mikey776 months ago

And the parts are printed "glued" and then broken apart by hand?

So far the best quote I got from 3D print services is 72€... quite pricy :-(

mikey77 (author)  rlogiacco6 months ago

The hinged parts are printed with a gap that allows the hinges to move. Depending on the precision of the filament printer used, they may be slightly sticky, which a little force will overcome, resulting in a smooth rotating hinge.

Sadly, most print services are useless for anything but very small prints or very expensive prints.

If your want to pursue this method of fabrication, your best bet is to find a friend or a maker space with a filament printer.

maddavo8 months ago

I have tried printing the arms in PLA in two orientations and they remain stuck together and break when I try to unstick them. I am printing at 0.2mm layer height and perimeter width of 0.4mm. You mention 0.2mm layer - do you know what extrusion width your slicer uses?

mikey77 (author)  maddavo7 months ago

I am using Makerbot software which does not provide info like extrusion width.

Whenever I have trouble with printed hinges sticking, I enlarge the print by 1% or more until the gap between the moving parts is enough.

You may have to enlarge the base by the same amount.

BCtech11 months ago

Great project! This is a really great design!

Msquared9411 months ago
You should add this to thingiverse. I'm sure it'll be very popular!
what are the dimensions
mikey77 (author)  charliesyvertsen11 months ago

The base at its widest points is 4.77" and it is .66" thick.

If you download the stl files, you can load them into a free program like Netfabb or Meshmixer and get the dimensions that way.

shazni11 months ago

just WOW! Also. ...I WANT ONE!!!!!!