3D Printed Helping Hands V1


1. Introduction

     Hi! In this blog I will go over designing and making my version of the helping hands for soldering. There are various different options to get, from the simple ones that hold the board and have a magnifying glass, or besides that additional things like soldering iron holder and solder holder to the octopus ones. The one I'm interested in is the octopus looking one. If you don't what I mean, you can see that here:

This is a generic one I found by searching on Google Images. The concept is really simple, a heavy metal plate with couple of goosenecks going around with small alligator clips on the top for holding on to boards or other components. I love this option because of it flexibility where I can add as many new tools as I want to it, something I will get into later. To make this, I will design and print most of the parts, while using some old goosenecks I found as well as a solid steel plate piece as a base. Before I get into that though, here are a few pictures of something similar I made without using a 3D printed 3 years ago or so.

I really wanted to try making something like the octopus since it was either too expensive or had a too long of a shipping time. So I went through the shed and my own primitive versions out of the things I found around and bought some cheap tools. The whole construction is made out of copper piping used for heating, this was a scrap piece I found laying around and also found a lot of those holders for the pipes which you can see in the pictures. I wanted to make a modular system, so each of the modules attached to the main construction with those white pipe holders. Here is a close up picture of a module.

To make the module, at the end I used a small clip I found in a hardware store (great for sewing) and I twisted a pair of solid core copper wire instead of a goose neck. I then attached everything to a piece of wood I had cut up. There were 2 modules at that time, the one with the small clips and the one with the magnifying glass.

I was thrilled how it turned out at that point and even used it for a while, but of course there were a lot of drawbacks. The wire just wasn't thick enough, so the whole thing was extra springy or not strong enough and so on. But nevertheless, I am proud of how that first attempt came out considering I did it in a day. Now, let's take a look at the new version.


2. Design

     To design this version, I used Fusion360 and printed everything on my Creality Ender3 Pro at some rougher settings at 0.25mm layer height with 3 walls and around 10% infill. You can find all of the files both in STL and STP here: https://github.com/MilosRasic98/3D-Models/tree/main/Helping%20Hands%20V1. You are free to do with those files and modify them however you want, they come as they are with no guarantee, but I hope someone finds them useful or they at least give you an idea for your own version. To begin this design, let's take a look at the center piece of it all, the steel plate.


This is around what I will design and build the whole thing. It's a really heavy steel plate which I plan to pretty much incase in plastic. The plastic housing around will be made out of 2 similar pieces with the only difference being the screw hole where one is round for the screw head and the other has a hexagonal shape for the nut.

Here is how one of the halves looks looking at it from the inside. You can see that the blocks around the threads in the back are a different color, that's because I printed a few tests threads until I got it to work properly with my goosenecks. This is designed to be printed without any supports, the maximum overhang your printer will need to do is around 20mm. On the second picture, you can see some holes I left for the rubber I feet I planned on putting on this thing so it doesn't slide around.

These parts needed a bit of time to print. I printed them not as strong as I usually do things like this, but it took over 4 hours on my printer for each of them. Besides these two pieces, there is another thing that needs to be printed and that's the end adapter.

This is a really simple piece as you can see from the technical drawings. I left a hole in the top into which I tapped a M4 thread and just glued it with some super glue onto the last piece of the gooseneck. This way, I can make any tool I want that has a M4 screw for mounting and just screw it into this thing. With that, all of the design is finished. Let's see how the real thing turned out.


3. Finished Product

     After around 10 hours of printing later, I ended up with all of the parts that I needed to assemble this version. The assembly was pretty straightforward, I already explained on how I attached the end adapter to the goosenecks, the gooseneck themselves just screwed into the plastic pieces and there are just two screws holding the whole thing together. The tolerances for the M4 nuts are a bit too tight on how my printer printed them in this orientation, so be wary of that.

I love how it turned out! There are a few adjustments needed for the dimensions as I've already mentioned. I only had 3 goosenecks (3 of the parts with the thread at the bottom) so I printed out this version which holds only 4. I plan on getting more gooseneck and making it have 6 legs or more, there are some ideas I would like to try out. But for what it is now, I'm thrilled how it turned out and will be using it on the regular basis for sure! I made the clips from standard alligator clips and just put some heats shrink tubing at the top of them.


4. Future Ideas

     As for the future ideas for this thing, first of all, more gooseneck, having 6 arms or more. I plan on designing arms which will have a fan for blowing away (towards the fume extractor I have) all of the soldering fumes, magnifying glass, LED light and so on. Another thing I want to try making are different probe holders for both my PC oscilloscope and my multimeter. This was a short blog for a simple tool I designed, I'm aware that probably nobody will be able to find a steel plate of exactly those dimensions easily, but I hope it maybe gave someone an idea for how they can make their own version of this. Thanks for reading this short blog, hope you found it interesting!