I was looking at buying one of these Helping Hands type devices to hold stuff while I am soldering etc. Then I thought I would have a look at Instructables to see what other people are creating. I make no secret that this quick project is not my own idea, but more a blend of other similar ideas.
It took less than an hour to put together and I would say the skill level required is; beginner. If you can use small hand tools and a drill, you should be fine.
Several lengths of 2 core domestic wire - rescued for free from a barn rewire
A small piece of plywood - rescued for free from a skip (with permission)
4 crocodile clips
4 Ring terminals
4 small wood screws
4 small washers
1 magnifying lens with LED's - one I already had
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Step 1: Get Your Twist On...
I rescued some lengths of wire locally from a barn that was being rewired. The contractor happily gave me pick of the scrap and I took about 6 lengths of 2 core lighting wire each about 600mm.
I stripped off the outer grey sheathing and released the inner cores. I left the coloured insulation on as I preferred the look over bare copper.
I grouped the wire into 3's and cut them to about 300mm. Push a group of 3 wires into the drill chuck about 25mm and tighten it up. Straighten the wires the best you can and hold the opposite end with a pair of pliers, allowing about 25mm through the jaws. The 25mm at each end will be where you connect the ring terminal and crocodile clip.
My drill has a slow start and speed-sensitive trigger switch. I set it on Screwdriver mode and on slow speed. Slowly activate the drill so the wire slowly twists up whilst you hold the other end steady with the pliers. I went for a fairly compact twist.
Step 2: Terminate...
Once the 4 groups of wire were nicely twisted together I stripped the insulation off one end so the ring terminal could be fitted. I trimmed off the ends nice and square I have a ratcheting crimp tool so I used that with insulated ring terminals. You could use non insulated terminals, and you could solder them (if you have some way of holding them!) on.
At the opposite end of the wire, I added a small crocodile clip. Again I crimped these on and the fit is secure and solid, but you could solder them.
Step 3: Mount the Arms
As I wanted to maximise the area I had available to work in, I mounted the twisted wire arms close to the corners of my piece of ply. I measured in 25mm (yes I do like 25mm - it's a good measurement) from the edges and screwed the arms in place. I used a wood screw, short enough not to go right through the plywood board, but long enough to get a reasonable grip. I placed a washer between the screw head and the ring terminal to help prevent the screw head pulling through the ring and angled the arms in towards the centre of the board.
Step 4: Finish It Off
I then added some heat shrink to the jaws of the crocodile clips to stop them from damaging the boards they may hold or scratching components etc.
As my eyesight is not as good as it used to be, and because it was lying around, I added a magnifier and LED lamp, which is removable from the plastic base. There is room around the outer edge of the board to fix the board down with small quick clamps for extra security.
I opted for 3 strands of wire as the items I will generally hold with this are quite light. I also went with 300mm of wire length - which once twisted gives a length of about 200mm between the clamp and ring terminal - so my work is closer to my eye when the "Helping Hands" is attached to my work surface. You may want to make the arms thicker (stiffer) and of a different length to suit your needs.
I hope you find the above of some use to you.
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