Introduction: World's Most Over-Engineered 14-in-1 Soldering Station!
This is a project that took me about 2 months to make, Not because it's very complicated, But if you look at the list below, You'll probably understand why... I don't know why, But for some reason, It's sort of addicting to think of more features to add!
This project is based on, And is a huge upgrade for one of my previous Instructables: Magnetic Helping Hands for Soldering. This gadget will basically make any small soldering task turn in to Soldering Heaven!
Here's what it contains:
2X Gorillapod Helping Hands
2X Magnetic Helping Hands
Magnifying Glass "Microscope"
2X Soldering Iron Cleaner (Sponge & Brass Wire)
Solder Collection Container
Tiny C-Clamp Helping Hands
Heat-Sink (This is used to cool down dangerously hot components after un-soldering)
Flashlight Mount for More Light
Protecting Shield (The Magnifying Glass also stops Electrolytic Capacitors from exploding in my face!)
Fire Starter (Sun+Magnifying Glass= This magnifying glass Is really big so it starts a fire easily)
Step 1: Before We Start...
This project is based on, And is a huge upgrade for one of my previous Instructables: Magnetic Helping Hands for Soldering. But instead of being only some magnetic helping hands, I've improved it and upgraded it in to a project that has (way too many!) different functions and uses, And I'll show how how to make it. Step-by-Step!
The big clip now also serves as a flashlight mount: Extra light for soldering, Or as a regular flashlight mount, It isn't as good as my Gorillapod Flashlight Mount, But it's definitely a nice thing to have since this is always on my table
I used a horn of a (really old) siren as the casing that holds all of the parts. If you don't have one, Which you probably don't, You can use any plastic container and fill it with sand to weight it down* :)
*This might not be a bad idea, Instructable about that coming soon! (Probably in a month or so)
Ok, Enough! Let's get to work!
Step 2: What You Need: Materials & Tools
I had to buy only 2 parts (I marked them with an *Asterisk*), All of the other parts (95.23% to be exact) were either salvaged, or left-overs from other projects. If you're wondering, The total cost of this project was only $2.50!
Tiny 1" (2.5cm) C-Clamp
2- Component Metal Epoxy
Super-Glue (CA / Cyanoacrylate)
Metal Speaker Shield/Cup for the Magnet (salvaged)
Metal Pipe/Tube (salvaged)
Lead Weight ~1KG / ~35 oz. (Salvaged from an old stabilized halogen desk lamp)
Small Metal Tray (You can use a lid of an old mason jar as an improvisation)
Large Alligator Clips* (You'll be using two, This link is for 10 because I know I'll use them for more projects)
A Hand-Full of Zip-Ties
Duck Tape (Duct Tape will work too)
Brass Wire (Kitchen Pot Scrubber, I bought a big pack at the grocery store for $1.50)
1 Small Screw (From my leftover screws pile)
Small Transistor Heat-Sink (salvaged)- If you don't have one, Buy this
5" (12.5cm) Magnifying Glass (salvaged, I'll explain more about this in another step)
Casing to hold everything (Salvaged from a siren that was made in 1984!)
Small Pill Box/Container (You probably have one of these lying around the house)
Black Permanent Marker
10mm Drill Bit (I used a Spur Point Bit. Spade, Forstner, And Twist Bits will work too)
Drill (Corded or Cordless)
Small Flat-Head Screwdriver (for mixing epoxy)
Big Flat-Head Screwdriver
If you think that I might have missed something, This makes sense to me, And I'll explain why:
This project started out as a small project, All I wanted to do was add some flexible helping hands to my Magnetic Helping Hands tool that I use for soldering. So I ordered a cheap gorillapod tripod from eBay and Alligator Clips.
To my luck, I was walking back home from a friend, And on the sidewalk, Right in front of me, There was an interesting electronic device that I'd never taken apart before, It was some kind of magnifying glass light, I thought it might be a device for people with poorer eyesight. So I took it apart. (I'll explain more about this in a different step)
So you might ask, "Why did you take it apart?" "This could be a great addition for you table/work-space!"- Well, the arm and the magnifying glass holder were broken, And the 22W fluorescent light-bulb flickered (If it had LED's then I would fix it, Not take it apart)
So back to why I might miss something:
This project started only as "Magnifying Gorillapod Helping Hands", And after finishing the whole project, And letting it sit on my table for over a week (while using it), The idea came to me: Make it a "trillion-in-1" tool, So not everything was written down, But even though I don't think I missed something, Please let me know if I did :)
Step 3: Taking Apart the Gorillapod Tripod
I used a flat screwdriver to pry and remove the tripod head, And next, I removed the rubber pads from the feet.
You should be left with the three resistive leg sections
If you're not sure about the parts of the tripod, Your answers are here (Parts of a tripod- Google Images)
Step 4: Mark, Drill, and Glue the Gorillapod Arms
Here, I used a permanent marker to mark the place that I wanted the arms to be, I recommend choosing a place that is slightly higher than the middle, But it depends on what you're using.
After that, I drilled a hole with a 10mm drill bit, You need a drill bit that is EXACTLY 10mm, Because there is a ring with a slightly larger circumference than 10 millimeters. If you look closely at the second picture in step #3, You might be able to see it
After drilling, I inserted the tripod legs in to the hole and covered it with Epoxy Putty, And let it harden for an hour. If your epoxy putty isn't a kind that hardens quickly, I recommend putting several drops of Super-Glue, Letting the Super-Glue harden, And then covering everything with epoxy putty
Step 5: Attaching the Alligator Clips
There are small holes in the gorillapod, Which I inserted the alligator clips and covered them with epoxy putty. If you use a different kind of gorillapod, You can hold the alligator clips with small hose clamps
Step 6: Adding a Lead Weight
The whole structure of this tool is built to be very strong, And meant to be capable of holding a lot of weight. But with the weight of the magnifying glass (next step), And a big PCB, It can fall over.
To fix this problem I used an old lead weight that I salvaged from an old stabilized halogen lamp, And Duck-Taped to the body (of the previously called siren). I didn't weigh this weight before attaching it but I can estimate that it weighs between 500-1000 grams (~ 1-2.2 lbs.)
I'm sorry for the quality of the lamp picture, It was taken as a "just-in-case I would need it" while dismantling the lamp (this happened during the summer, Around 5 months ago)
Step 7: Taking Apart the Adjustable Magnifying Lamp
As I mentioned earlier, I found a 22W Fluorescent Magnifying Lamp outside on the sidewalk. The pictures above show how I took it apart.
I salvaged the 5" (12.5cm) Magnifying glass from this device using only a Philips Screwdriver
By the way, I found this EXACT Lamp on eBay (here), And it costs over $100!
Step 8: Mark, Drill, and Glue the Magnifying Glass
I marked the place that I wanted the Magnifying Glass to be, Drilled a hole (again with a 10mm drill bit), And covered the arm with Epoxy Putty, The same as I did in step #4.
After that, I connected the Magnifying Glass to the end of the Gorillapod's leg with Epoxy Putty. There are probably better ways to do this, But it was the easiest way for me. Also, Because the epoxy still hadn't fully cured, I used a zip-tie to hold the arm in place
Step 9: Through the Glass- Magnifying Glass Pictures
Here are a couple pictures that I took through the Magnifying Glass, But for some reason when I look through the camera, It breaks the color "white" in to "RGB".
I don't know why this happens because it's like this only through the camera, I was using a Nikon D3000 Camera with SpectrumLED LED lighting with only the Cool Led's on.
But this doesn't bother me too much since it is meant for soldering purposes, And not for photography (I don't take a lot of close-ups since I'm not in to SMD's)
Step 10: Soldering Iron Tip Cleaning Station
I thought it could be pretty nice to have a "cleaning station" for the soldering iron tip, So I Super-Glued a Speaker Shield (the part that covers the magnet) on to the lead weight, And filled it with brass wire. This serves as a metal cup that holds the brass wire which cleans the soldering iron tip.
Because it's not recommended to use only brass wire to clean the soldering iron tip, I also added a small sponge: I had a small metal tray from an old soldering iron stand that melted, Because some manufacturers probably don't know that a soldering iron stand has to be made of heat-proof material! You can use a lid from a mason jar, It's about the same size.
I connected the metal tray to the body of the tool by screwing it in to a hole that already existed, And added some Super-Glue so it wouldn't wiggle in place.
Step 11: Making the Solder Dispenser
A soldering project is no fun without a solder dispenser! Trust me...
I decided to make a new dispenser as a replacement for my old one that I built a couple months ago:
I used a metal rod that was salvaged from a broken umbrella*, Cut it to a length of 10cm (4 inches), And folded it in half using Needle-Nose Pliers.
After that, I drilled a hole (With a 10mm drill bit, Again...), Glued the rod in place with Super-Glue, And inserted the solder reel/spool in place. I recommend licking "Show More" to see all of the pictures
*I used this same metal rod in my magnetic stick project, But this is a better use for it
And if you're wondering, This is my favorite part of the project. It looks so easy but it took me weeks and weeks to come up with this idea!
Step 12: Leftover Solder: Collection Container
For some reason, I like collecting all of the left-over solder that drops on my desk.
I also like collecting all sorts of containers (any size is good) for storing electronic components and as project enclosures, So I Super-Glued a small pill box to the cleaning station, And clamped it with teeny-tiny C-Clamps
And if you're wondering, When the solder drops on something It turns into a super thin flake which makes it cool down in an instant, This way, It doesn't melt the container
Step 13: Mini C-Clamp Helping Hands | Magnifying Glass Holder When Not in Use
Since this gadget has ***only 4 different helping hands*** (sarcasm), I decided to use a tiny 1" C-Clamp as another one. This is similar to my other project Retractable Helping Hands, But is connected firmly, And doesn't work on a flexible arm.
First, I sanded down the blue paint from the C-Clamp using a file, And then I glued it to the surrounding of the magnet, This was pretty nice as I didn't have to hold it in place until the Metal Epoxy hardened because the C-Clamp got magnetized to the magnet, Which held it in place
This also serves as the magnifying glass arm holder when I want to solder without the magnifying glass, I just wrap a zip-tie around the gorillapod arm, And insert it in to the C-Clamp
Step 14: Transistor Cooler
This might sound like a slightly silly thing, But it's a pretty useful addition for un-soldering:
I glued a small heat-sink using some Metal Epoxy (I had some left-over from the previous step).
This serves as a cooler for Transistors (or any other component) that are dangerously hot after being unsoldered from a PCB, I press the component on the heatsink to not allow it to over-heat and burn out
Step 15: Future Upgrades
Soldering Fume Extractor: I can attach a small 12V fan that will blow away all of the fumes, I'm thinking of doing this soon
Third Hand for my Multi-Meter: Inspired by This Instructable, All I have to do is make a sturdy attachment for the probes, And it'll work
PVC Soldering Iron Holder: Sometimes I have to solder while not needing to hold the soldering iron, I can't find the Instructable about this that I saw earlier, But all I have to do is connect the PVC somehow to the alligator clips and then slide the soldering iron in to the PVC tube...
Metal Plate as a Base: So solder won't drip and ruin something if I don't work on my table
Soldering Iron Stand (rest position): The only place that I can mount it is under the sponge, But that would make all of the water evaporate... Nope :(
Do you have any more ideas for improvements? Let me know in the comments below!
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