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DIY the BEST HELPING HANDS for electronics, soldering, PCB work, jewelry

- PART 1 -

 

I’m going to show you the easiest way to make the best helping hands that you can’t buy.


For all of my past life, I’ve put up with using the terrible helping hands that I’m certain you’ve also been tortured with. I tried the flex arm solutions that are a little better, but still not great. These super simple helping hands made using off-the-shelf parts are amazing. I can’t believe that I didn’t do this sooner. I use a mini dial indicator arm with a magnetic base and an alligator clip. The best part is that you can make as many as you need of these. Let’s get into it and see how it’s made.


 

- PART 2 -

BETTER WAY TO ADD CLIPS

 


The tightening screw at the tip of the dial indicator arm is M5, which is very similar OD to #10 screw. Using a large gauge ring terminal with a #10 clearance screw hole that is approximately 3/16in will slip into the gap in the dial indicator arm head. The tightening screw passes through the ring terminal and locks it into place. 25 Pieces THOMAS & BETTS STA-KON D8-10 RING TERMINALS #10 Bolt #8 AWG (Amazon https://amzn.to/3ZZwzkf )

The stem of an alligator clip can be wrapped a little tighter and fits into the 8 gauge hole of the ring terminal and can be soldered in place. (much easier with a torch). The alligator clip is now held more securely than the first method, and can also swivel for an extra axis of adjustability.


Dial Indicator Arms -

  • Magnetic Metal Base Holder Stand, Adjustable Universal Holder for Digital Dial Test Indicator for Machine Manufacturing https://amzn.to/3Zu4ZM8

  • Yosoo Adjustable Universal Magnetic Metal Alloy Base Holder Flexible Stand for Digital Dial Test Indicator https://amzn.to/3ZeHy9j 


  • Flex arm style - Universal Flexible Magnetic Metal Base Holder Stand Dial Test Indicator Tool https://amzn.to/3kRIKRa


Steel Base Plates (or magnetic Stainless)


Silicone mat (12x15.9)


Clips

  • Insulated alligator clips

    • Pomona 6041B All.Clip, Ex-Large Iec1010 Kit (Pack of 2) https://a.co/d/ir3GTkL

    • 10Pcs Red and Black Insulated Safety Multimeter Test Leads Alligator Clips Electrical Mini Test Crocodile Clamp Clips with 2mm Banana Jack for 2mm Test Probe & 2mm Banana Plug Connectors https://a.co/d/6Wj1in9

    • Goupchn Insulated Alligator Clips Electrical 10PCS Five Colors Crocodile Clamps for 2mm Test Probes, 2mm Banana Plugs https://a.co/d/7WzFOHa

    • 10Pcs 1000V 32A Heavy Duty Full Insulated Automotive Car Battery Alligator Clips Electrical Test Clips with 4mm Banana Jack Socket for Multimeter Test Leads https://a.co/d/8cexWha

    • 5 Colors 10Pcs 1000V 32A Heavy Duty Full Insulated Automotive Car Battery Alligator Clips Electrical Test Clips with 4mm Banana Jack Socket Terminals for Multimeter Test Leads https://a.co/d/hLph3EX

    • Greenlee Insulated Alligator Clips #TMA-3 - These are like the POMONA ones that I already have

  • Wire holder assembly - Lisle 55000 Wire Holder Assembly https://amzn.to/3ZCZeLC



Ring Terminal for attaching clips


Banana Clip Accessories


 

- Part 3a -

Add bearing to the tightening knob

 

One of the main differences between high-end dial indicator holders, like NOGA, and inexpensive ones, is that the nice ones don't loosen or tighten when you move the arm. The NOGA has a thrust bearing in the tightening knob, which prevents the knob from tightening or loosening the arm when the arm is moved. So the arm tightness can be set and the arm can be repositioned without losing that setting. The inexpensive dial indicator holders do not have a thrust bearing in the tightening knob. I don't find that to be a problem when setting up a dial indicator, since I usually leave the arm loose, move the indicator into position, and tighten the knob to lock the arm. However, for the purpose of using these for helping hands, it's nice to leave the arms just loose enough so you can move them around easily. If there's no thrust bearing like with the inexpensive arms, then the arm tightness changes as you move it, which is annoying. It's not a deal breaker, it's just inconvenient. But why leave good enough alone? I must make this perfect!

 

- PART 3b -

An Easier Way To Add Thrust Bearings

 

The skate bearing mod shown above was cool, but it does require a large to make it. Since then I have found some thrust bearings that fit over the M5 screw and work perfectly. No machining required. Watch the video to see how to use them.


Thrust bearings

 

- PART 4 -

MODULAR PROBE AND CLIP HOLDER

 

Using a double Banana Clip connector and the 8 gauge ring terminal, I was able to make a modular attachment head. The banana clip connector opens up the possibility too use any clip or probe that has a banana jack on it.






 

- PART 5 -

How To DIY HELPING HANDS for Jewelry Soldering

 

The common jewelry soldering stations use horrible adjustable arms. If you've used one before, you know how bad they are. They cost a lot more, but are only slightly better than the cheap electronics helping hands.


I replaced them with the same dial indicator arms used in the previous best helping hands designs. Watch this video too see how to DIY it:



▼ WHERE TO BUY PARTS:

▶ Mini dial indicator arm without base - https://amzn.to/47HgWSm

▶ Jewelry helping hands to modify - https://amzn.to/46vUg6A

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