I just finished a build that took me about 30 hours. While I am working on things I always try to be mindful of the flow of the work and whether there are things that are inconvenient in the shop environment. This could be related to the placement or organization of parts as well as tools. Inconvenience and trouble can mean there is an opportunity to improve. It is easy to accept things the way they are presently and soldier on but this leaves one with a situation that will frustrate over and over again.


This build involved quite a few wire splices and situations where I wanted to use heat shrink tubing. My heat gun sits on the top shelf in front of the solder area. When I need it I must stand up, grab it, remove the twist tie that keeps the power cord together, and plug it in. If I leave it out on the bench it is in the way as I work. Tonight as I reflected on the build I realized that the utility of the heat gun was great enough and my frustration with the way it was presently being used was an opportunity to make an improvement.


I decided to hang it from the ceiling over a weighted pulley system that would allow me to reach up and grab it any time it is needed and then just put it back into the sky over the bench when not needed. Here is a picture of the heat gun after the upgrade.



In this position it is at the limit of my reach as I sit at the soldering bench. It is far enough back from the edge of the bench that I can stand and do the other things that must be done without it hitting my head or getting in the way. I found some highly flexible wire used on dental equipment to extend the wire of the heat gun. The original cord is just long enough now to reach the first pulley and as such it is not required to bend. The rubberized high flex wire is the only one that travels over the pulley system. I started looking for pulleys at the hardware store but the prices quickly made me walk away and look for other possibilities. I remembered that there was an old shopping cart, the kind elderly people use to fetch groceries, in a corner of the basement. It had been my Mom's but it is no longer needed. I decided that the wheels would make good pulleys if I removed the hard rubber tires. Here is a picture of one of the wheels mounted up near the ceiling.



You will note that there is a board immediately above the pulley. This board serves two purposes. First of all it is close enough to the pulley that there is no room for the wire to get off the pulley. Secondly there is just enough room so that I can wedge the wire between the rim of the pulley and the board if I want to trap the wire in a down position. This allows me to work with the heat gun with out fighting with the cord recoil. After I am done a slight pull on the cord puts it fully back on the pulley and the unit retracts to its parking position.


Here is the heat gun with the cord locked in a partial down position. Now I am eager for the next build and an opportunity to test the new convenience of the heat gun under real conditions.