Easy PCB Holder (prototype)




About: I love creating almost anything. I am a professional magician and guitarist/singer - so much to do so little time! Follow me on Twitter: @bricabracwizard

Are you fed up with crocodile clips holding your PCB and moving at the critical moment you need to solder a component or that to turn the board over you have to unclip and then reclip the board?  Well hopefully this instructable will be of benefit to you.  This device is capable of holding your board and once you have placed the components in their correct place will hold them all in!  Turning the board over is as simple as loosening the wing nuts and flipping the board over!

All parts for this project I already had lying around my workshop, so it cost me nothing to make.

Step 1: Skills Required

Construction of this device is relatively simple, if you can use a drill, dremel (mini drill)+attachments and sander you pretty much have all the skills you need.

Although I have used aluminium for this project you can use wood, steel, plastic or any reasonably sturdy material to make this device.

Below is a picture of some of the components I used:

Step 2: Some Parts

The base is a drill bits box, it had cheap chinese drills which have now been used!

Step 3: Making the Frame

Cut your alumininium channels to the size you want your frame to be, mine was approximately 30cm by 20cm, the top and bottom channels have a slot cut into them, you'll see why later.  The corners are cut to 45% and screwed to the scrap aluminium corners I made, this step is fairly straight forward.

Step 4: PCB Holder

Once your frame is assembled you need to make the PCB holder attachments.  Taking two tubes that fit snuggly into the channels of the frame cut a groove into each tube to hold the PCB and sand the ends at right angles to the groove so the when the tubes are in place they won't rotate. (The pictures should help you) At the corners of the frame are protruding screws and also screws are protruding from the tubes. Loop the elastic band around the screws so that the tubes meet in the middle of the frame - the tubes can then be pulled apart to insert your PCB.

Step 5: Adding the Frame Holder to the Base

The base was a case that held a variety of drill bits, I didn't like the original grey colour so I painted it purple.  Onto the case I screwed the shelf brackets and inserted the upright tubes.  Then insert frame into uprights and tighten up wing nuts.

Step 6: Components Holder

Here I have used 5 ply for the base and cut to 30 x 20cm (the size of the frame).  The sponges are a bit overkill, I couldn't find one the right size in my box so I cut these up with a bread knife.  The board was covered with a look-a-like aluminium tread board, this you can buy from K-Mart.

Step 7: Attaching Component Holder to Frame

Two clips were made out of a coat hanger and attached to frame - two holes were drilled into the frame near the wing nuts and clips were attached.

Step 8: Adding an LED Lamp

I found an old LED lamp that I had, dismantled it and rewired it to fit my PCB holder.

Step 9: Using the PCB Holder

Step 10: Concluding Remarks

This tool has been very handy for all of my projects, (the case is handy for keeping the latest project I am working on in one place, please take a look at my iPhonograph) you can even do two or three boards at once, your first board may even be the example.  When you are soldering all your components this way first make doubly sure they are in the correct way and I usually work from top to bottom from left to right then I check the board through a magnifying glass to make sure all connections are solid.  You will know if the sponge has not held the components properly when you trim the wire the component will feel loose, in this case you can pull and bend the wire at 45% to secure it, this rarely happens unless you have an unusually large component next to a very small one.

here are some guides to help you with electronics: How to Amplify,How to Electronics: Easy, How to Electronics: Intermediate/Advanced, How to Power Supply, How to Arduino.

Things to add - Magnifying glass, power rail(s) and horizontal rotation. As I mentioned in the title this is my prototype, I am now working on a much improved one using copper and brass - it looks very steampunkish!

This idea is not original with me, I saw something similar about 30 years ago.  I'm sorry this instuctable is a little bit sketchy but I hope it gives you enough ideas to create your own.  Enjoy!



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    15 Discussions

    This is a truly excellent instructable !

    Commercial units similar in size & capability to this sell for AUS$561 for the smallest unit. Google IDEAL-TEK pcsa-1 pcb assembly jig for a laugh !

    Great job !!

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome idea! I never would have thought so something like this - yet at the same time so obvious! Brilliant!

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Cool idea. You sure know how to tug at the old heart strings with your intro message. ;)

    Good Luck in the contest!

    2 replies

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great concept to help with the annoyance of your PCB moving. And the fact it cost you nothing to make only adds to the perks :-)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    The "Component Holder" is a very good concept. It would prevent the components from falling off when we reverse the board for soldering. Great Idea !

    1 reply

    Thanks! I enjoyed both of your instructables, you've given me great ideas for creating more presentable enclosures with your magic tape idea.