Archive for March, 2013

Tool hack: free “helping hands”

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

I discovered this hack a while back–I don’t recall what project I was working on, but I’ve used this a lot ever since I discovered it.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present:

It’s great when tinning wires, soldering free-hand, and when you just need a little bit of help holding something steady. And it didn’t cost me a cent.

Last-minute road trip hack

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

The family is about to head out on a trip. Somehow, the cigarette-lighter-power-adapter-plug thing has lost its tip, and I don’t have enough time to order a new one.

On the plus side, I have a cell phone charger with plenty of extra space inside. So I added an auxiliary power jack to the side. Now the kids can watch movies and the cell phone can charge at the same time.

I had to squeeze in a few tricks along the way:

1) The fuse in the cell phone charger is only 500mA. The DVD player takes a bunch more than that. I don’t have a higher-rated fuse of that physical size, so I bypassed it and soldered in a 5A fuse in its place.
2) It’s easier to have the DC jack point out the side, so that’s how I did it. Turns out the jack fits perfectly inside the case. It’s held in place with super glue and melted plastic.
3) Speaking of melted plastic, I used my soldering iron set on a low heat to melt a hole exactly where I need it. I then enlarged it with the knife off my Leatherman.
4) I cut the DVD player’s cable off its PCB and spliced a 5.5×2.1mm barrel plug onto the end. So if we don’t want the cable clutter, I can unplug it and it goes back to being a regular cell phone charger.