Helping Hands for Cheap





Introduction: Helping Hands for Cheap

About: I ain't no physicist, but I knows what matters.

Us technicians working on the bench sometimes we needs a helping hand.
We gotta solder this and that or the other thing at the same time or it just won't work.

This helping hands tool is for all the poor hobby techs like me.

Step 1: The Find

At Goodwill (go figure) I found one of them suction cup phone holders that yuppies attach to the dash of their BMWs. Had an interesting ball joint. Bought it for a dollar. 

By the time I got home I knew what my next project would be.

Step 2: Lose the Junk

Drive out the pin and remove the suction cup hardware. Save the parts for another project.
The tabs on the ball mount must be cut off and smoothed.

Step 3: Pieces

The alligator clips are whatever you might have in your box. The copper wire I used is 14g from a length of romex. The plate is copper clad PCB material.

Brass or tin would be better for the plate (probably .032) but I used what I had.

Match drill the ball mount and plate for #6x1/4in sheet metal screws.

Tin both ends of each wire, then bend a hard 90 onto one end for the alligator clip connection. Tin the board and solder it up like the picture shows.

Step 4: Parts

Drill mounting holes in the base and attach to a suitable piece of wood or ?. Allow enough length for a clamp.

Reassemble and check out the useful mobility of the assembly.

Yes, it IS flexible and compliant. Just like my women.
(In my dreams...Ahhhh).




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    31 Discussions

    Love your idea with the alligator clips! Don't call yourself "poor hobby tech", man, your head is pure gold!

    6 replies

    i totally agree that his mind is pure gold, but i think he was referring to the fact that he has to do his projects on a small budget. when you're poor, you come up with interesting and creative ways to get done what you need to.

    Yep, I know what he meant, I myself go around scrapyards and scavenge for stuff, once I found ~30 CD-drives with working motors, I was so happy that day :)

    I've done this before... Protip: solder on banana plugs instead of alligator clips. then you can slip clips ONTO the plugs, giving you more flexibility on the clips and making them easily replacable if they wear out or break!

    I think your Protip just doubled the cost of the project. Or maybe I'm the only one without a stash of banana plugs and socket style test clips.
    It's a good idea. The others reading may want to try it.


    4 years ago

    This is a great helping hands. I like to see the projects I can do with stuff I already have.

    Copper looks good - did you consider earthing it? Or would that be worse than not earthing it?

    5 replies

    I never thought about grounding (or earthing) the clips. Mostly I use this for wiring connectors and soldering larger components.
    If you use it to hold static-sensitive devices, you might consider adding a grounding clip.

    PS My little house was built n 1931. I don't HAVE grounded outlets!

    Back at the panel, neg and ground are the same. Go to a friend's house that has newer wiring to see what I mean. If you are truly concerned, plumbing is often grounded.

    Thanks for the advice.
    I'm not too concerned because I just lease the place. Plus I don't use a blow drier in the shower.
    It's an old 1br frame house, built so close to the ground that there is no access to the wiring or the plumbing. To add grounded outlets would require a total rewire from the attic. $$$$$$!!!

    Many older houses have grounding to the older standards, meaning the metal outlet box WAS the ground. Simply replacing the old 2 prong outlets with 3 prong ones works a great deal of the time. If you do this, make sure you use an outlet tester to ensure that you have good ground.

    Of course, as with any time you're working on mains voltage, if you don't know what you're doing or looking at, get someone who does! 110VAC does NOT feel good coursing through your body!

    I see you've worked as an electrician.
    After aerospace died in the 90's, I worked several years as an industrial maintenance electrician in a factory. With the big dogs up to 660v 3ph. Some of the power panels pushed 600kw. Safety first.
    I've been bit a few times. This is just me, but 110v house current barely gets my attention. 277vac 3ph surely does. I was bit by 480vac only ONCE (is enough). Knocked me on my ass. My arm was numb for a week.
    So you're preaching to the choir, my friend. I've been there.

    This project is a great idea, especially for those of us on a budget.
    Next step: attach a magnifying glass for us old people who can't see.

    1 reply

    Old, POOR people who can't see, like us.
    That sounds like a great mod. I'm going to do it.
    I'll attach it to the wooden base. Make it removable. Maybe mounted on a piece of heavy wire (10 or 12g) for adjustment.
    Thanks for the idea.

    Soldering the flexible copper wires to a copper clad board was a great idea.