Tricks and Tips Y2022

Thread Starter

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
22,841
This is the fourth thread with this name I have indexed the first 2 in my personal index, Wendy's Index . To keep it from being closed prematurely, I am setting the following rules:

1. Do not comment just for the sake of posting. Only posts containing a trick or tip will be allowed. This thread will be heavily moderated, anything posted here that do not meet this criteria in the opinion of the moderators will be deleted. If you have a question start your own thread. If you really like the idea use the like tag (button).

2. Any repeats of someone else's ideas from this or the previous tricks and tips threads will also be deleted.

3. At the end of this year This thread will be locked and a new one started next year.

Be aware of my comment about being heavily moderated. This thread is not meant to be a dumping ground as has happened in the past.
Electronics Tips and Tricks Thread #1 - July 8, 2008
Electronics Tips and Tricks Thread #2 - Nov. 13, 2012
Electronics Tricks and Tips Thread - Y2021
 
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MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
25,211
This week I had the need to attempt to remove a 20pin DIP IC (programmed micro) and keep it intact incase it was not the problem.
I put together a 'iron' made from some 15mm x 4mm copper buss bar, cut a 26mm length and brazed a small handle to it.
Used a gas torch to heat it and apply it to the length of the IC and worked great.
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
6,886
My dad had a soldering iron like that - you heated it up in a fire or by a torch, then touched it to the item to be soldered and add solder. Oh, and the flux was basically acid.
 

panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
2,133
i recall getting help from someone young and enthusiastic. ;)
he started slow then threw caution away and ended melting bunch of parts and boards.

so my tip is to always think things through, always plan, before doing the work.

if doing something for the first time, research how others have done it. for example soldering of low profile components first is usually the best so that taller ones are not in the way. if just need to practice soldering, practice on something sacrificial.

consider some tests of parts of circuit before entire assembly is complete or it may be much harder to repair or narrow down the issue. for example test that power distribution section before soldering in the more expensive and harder to replace component. soldering 80 pin part is easier than removing it.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
11,880
I have used a high power hot-air tool to strip relays off of boards with many on the board. It works but you must have adequate venting because it does blister the board and make a stink. but it worked to salvage several dozen relays in just a few minutes.
 

Dave Lowther

Joined Sep 8, 2016
140
I was thinking someone must have posted this tip before, but a search of the forums for "blu tack" didn't find it.
I find this tool useful when trying to fit nuts to the ends of bolts that are not easily accessible with big hands.
1642507388639.png
It's just a nail with a blob of blu tack on the head. I use it like a nut driver to just get it started, then pull it off the nut and use a regular nut driver to finish the job. I rarely get problems with blu tack sticking to the nut.
I also use blu tack for holding screws to the end of a screwdriver when trying to fit screws in awkward to access places.
 

Alec_t

Joined Sep 17, 2013
12,808
I too use the blu-tack trick for awkwardly located screws, to get them started. Also handy for those tiny screws in watches and other small devices.
And you can't have too many wire clothes-hangers. They're invaluable for making custom hooks and clips.
 

LesJones

Joined Jan 8, 2017
3,707
Alec's comments made me think of two other things I find useful. The first is the stainless steel strips from old windscreen wiper blades. I have used them for making tools to pulling ICs out from their sockets, making a U shaped blade for cutting channels in polystyrene foam powered with a few turns of wire through a toroidal transformer. I have also made very small tweezes by silver soldering the ends of two lengths together. I have also used them for other purposes that I can't remember. The other item is stainless steel wall ties. (Used for tying the inner and outer courses of brickwork together. I had quit a lot of them left over after building my workshop.)

Les.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,660
Super glue (cyanoacrylate cement) cures on contact with air, that's why you often find solid glue when you go to use an older tube or dropper. Some brands have well designed containers that keep air out reasonably well, but all brands can benefit from storing the glue in a zip lock bag.

It should be just big enough to hold the glue bottle, or as small as practical. Squeezing out the excess air before sealing is also helpful. Better, thicker bags are less likely to have small holes that allow air in.

As an extra measure, I use a straw from a canned air bottle to suck the air out of the almost completely sealed bag, then while still lightly sucking on it, pull the straw out while closing the small remaining opening.

Another thing that can make cyanoacrylate cement much more successful is to use an accelerator. The chemistry of the cement-accelerator pair is complicated so it is best to buy a set from a manufacturer in a kit. With an accelerator or activator the bond is much better. As always the surfaces should be as clean of dirt and grease as you can make them.

With cyanoacrylates, more is not better. A film between the surfaces to be joined is the ideal application. When done correctly the bond is amazingly strong but poorly applied it is very disappointing.

One more thing: mixing corn starch and a slow cure cyanoacrylate cement is a great way to fill gaps. It is strong, hard, and can be sanded and painted. It makes an excellent permanent repair even in relatively large gaps.
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
6,886
the stainless steel strips from old windscreen wiper blades
Awe geez! Just threw out four of them. "(
"blu tack"
Excellent tip.

Few years back I changed the radio in the wife's car. The screws were very difficult to put into place. Blu Tack would have been useful. So would a magnetic socket have been. However, what I ended up doing was to take a thin but rigid piece of plastic cut into a square then drilled a hole in it about the size of the threaded bolts (inside thread diameter) and then cut a slot from one side into that hole. The result was a thin plastic nut that I could put the mounting screws onto the radio bracket without dropping them down inside the dash. Once in place tightening them was easy as long as I got all six of them started before bottoming out the bracket. Thought I was a genius that afternoon.
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
8,324
I often use a dime sized rare earth magnet attached to the shaft of a screwdriver or nutdriver which holds the screw (nut) in place while I start it.

Caution: May not work with all screws.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,097
I like Dave's "blu-tack" solution for holding inaccessible screws, nuts and bolts.
I usually use a small piece of masking tape.
It just occurred to me that heat shrink tubing will also work. I have not tried it.
 

Thread Starter

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
22,841
Something I find handy is a set of drill/ taps I bought from Amazon. Just wish they had the #4/40 size. Yes I made back when I was not disabled I made a kludge using a standoff that happened to be the same size is a power screwdriver tool like so:
0.jpg
since I generally use these for 3D printed jobs, and all they cut is plastic, they should last a very very long time. Generally when I make a 3D hole that will be printed I printed just under size of the tap size that I will require.
 
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KeithWalker

Joined Jul 10, 2017
2,354
I have a small circular rare-earfh magnet attached to the end of a telescopic antenna. It is great for finding and retrieving small metal parts and screws that fall on the floor. I don't need to get up off my seat.
 
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