Member Project: Soldering Station

The first thing we make at the Makerspace… “do.”

So a few issues came up while working on that volume extension cable. Basically, our entire ‘working on electronics’ area has been neglected for about as long as I’ve been a member. No one’s put any love or care into the space, and it’s rarely used as a soldering or testing station. (I think it’s mostly been used as a place for people to use laptops and stay warm)

The other day, when I was trying to do some soldering, I realized two important things.

1. Our “Third Hand” soldering assistant tool had been completely dismantled and parts were missing.

2. We had literally zero ventilation for soldering. (also, soldering fumes were poison to my asthma, so this had to be resolved.

I put the call out to the group, and Ben volunteered to 3D print out parts for a fume extractor that I found on Thingiverse.

So Friday, I began assembling it. I found a suitably sized PC fan in the bins in Pick-a-part, and a 12v power supply to run it. I also located a small swingarm lamp that we’d spent the last 6 months shuttling back and forth across the shop. Another member, Bruce, helped get a piece of wood drilled out and cut out a pocket for the power supply and a switch.

So it’s now assembled, and it works. Still needs a bit of dryer hose on the end, but it will suck up solder fumes nicely now.

I went through the various bins of random at the shop and used my improvisation superpowers to reassemble a sort of Frankenstein’s Monster version of a third hand.

There’s a few small magnets in key places, as well as a loose piece of an old pencil compass that I used as an arm extension, and the alligator clips were liberated from one of the many testing wires that we had laying around. Sacrificing one of these so that soldering could be done reasonably again, seemed like a fair enough trade.

I didn’t get to do any actual work on my arcade project that night, but both of these projects will make moving forward on my project much easier and safer.

I’ve found a couple of Thingiverse designs for third-hand builds, so I’ll put out a call for one of the 3d folks to maybe make that happen. I know my jerry-rigged solution isn’t going to be a ‘good longterm’ solution.. but it was ‘something for now’.

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