6 Slick Tools You Can Make for Your Electronics Workbench

Technology Workshop

Workbenches are a highly personal thing. Certainly no two (non-industrial) benches are set up the same way.

Off-the-shelf tools, such as a vise or soldering station are great to have, but what if you want something truly unique? The six DIY bench accessories shown below will allow you to customize your workspace in ways you may not have thought of!


Soldering Helping Hands

Soldering can sometimes be difficult. If only you had four arms! It might not be quite as good, but this post will at least show you how to make the handy “assistance arm” that you see above. On the other hand, if you need to hold, say, five tools at once, check out this super size clamp!



Altoids Tin Fume Extractor

I personally avoid soldering if I can. For those that enjoy the activity, one thing we can all agree on is that fumes can be annoying. This little extractor pictured above can take care of those fumes for you at a price of around $10. According to the article, hobby extractors cost around $100, while, in my experience, industrial versions can run more than 10 times that amount. For something more powerful, why not repurpose a power supply.



Battery Clip Transistor Tester

If you do any significant amount of prototyping, you may have a drawer full of components that you’re not sure about. LEDs are pretty easy to test, but if you have a bunch of three-lead transistors, testing can be somewhat cumbersome. Fortunately, Make: has the answer with this battery clip transistor tester. The circuit can also be constructed on a breadboard, although, I suppose, you get fewer style points.



Sound Card Oscilloscope

If you’ve played with a computer voice recorder, you’ve probably thought passingly about how your microphone is turning your voice into electrical signals. Taking this one step further (or backwards), what is to keep your computer from recording and analyzing electrical signals directly? With a little custom circuitry shown here, the answer is “nothing,” potentially saving you hundreds of dollars on a ‘scope!



Curtain Rod Wire Rack

Sure, a custom oscilloscope might get you a lot of “Maker cred” with visitors to your garage, but having wire rolls scattered around might change people’s minds. Here’s a simple solution using a humble curtain rod bracket. Effective, inexpensive, and easy to set up. Nice.



Manual Pick and Place Assembly

If you need to assemble surface mount devices (SMDs) onto a circuit board, this can be done with tweezers and a soldering iron. If you need to do more than a few though, this can be quite tedious. Fortunately, we have your answer with this manual vacuum-powered pick and place device. As for a fully-automatic device, you may still need to pay many thousands of dollars for one!

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Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!

View more articles by Jeremy S Cook


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