Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder that actually works? Answer: Yes !!!

LuxLuthor

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Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder that actually works? Answer: Yes !!!

These typical "Helping Hands" have been around a long time, but I find for doing things like soldering or holding onto small parts that this is of limited usefulness. It seems like the better invention would be to get a weighted base that anchors 2 or 3 flexible metal hoses with a better gripper than aligator clips. I'm thinking the hoses would need to be more substantial than the one in this link holding the LED.

I'm betting that no one has invented something like this yet, but maybe they have, and someone has seen one. I have almost stopped using my Helping Hands with the lame aligator clips, the range of motion and proximity of clips is too limited.

It could be used for working on electronics, crafts, making fish lures, holding small objects for painting, etc etc. Huge opportunity if not invented yet. Here's an example of a flexible tube strong enough to hold a magnifying lens in place....

producttm1.jpg
 
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jch79

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

Lux,
If everything goes right (waiting for one more part to be delivered), I'll have finished a project that might just fit the bill of what you're looking for, by this weekend. :whistle: I hear you about those cheap third hands - they leave a LOT to be desired. :)
john
 

LuxLuthor

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

Isn't it shocking that no one has invented something like this? If they have....it is being kept secret, as I have searched for a couple hours on several occasions, stopped by stores and searched under various hobby, models, crafts, fish lures, electronics, EBay....google anyway I could figure out....nothing!

I have seen the flexible tubing used in plumbing, and plenty of flexible lights that can apparently hold decent amount of weight....but the number of projects these would be useful for--boggles my mind. You should get a patent quick! I can imagine them being used to hold models & small parts for glueing and painting, plastic/wood pieces, jewelry, electronics, crafts, fishing lures/ties, needlework, sewing, etc. etc.
 

jch79

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

I should have been more clear :duck: - I'm not creaing anything new.. just combining/improving (IMHO) existing parts. :) I was fed up with my cheapo third hands set after the first time I've used them, and went on a quest for a better solution!

The problem I see with flexible tubing is that it might not be able to withstand force - that of a soldering tip, etc., which is why it's ideal for a magnifying glass, which isn't touched after it's positioned where you want it to be. :shrug: However, who knows!

:) john
 

dom

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

Agree on the third hand - i've stopped using mine too for the most part -have been thinking of using a couple of these type things which we use as indicator holders at work

http://www.baitella.com/de/doc/produkt.php?ID=2〈=en

Just have to mod some cheap springloaded pointy pliers to fit in the hole on the end of the arm.

Would be a bit expensive -but if you have other uses for it -it would pay itself off in all the frustration of parts moving when you don't want them to.

I think you can also get them without the magnetic base -so they could just screw into some hardwood or Al plate.Make them much cheaper as well.

Fairly cheap on ebay -search "dial indicator base"

Also interested to see what you come up with JCH

Cheers
Dom
 
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Meduza

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

I have thought about building my own out of LocLine flexible tubing, i think that it would be quite useful...
 

macforsale

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

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McGizmo

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

Hi guys,

I am a firm believer in the proper tool..... I am also a tool nut.

I have built a couple third hand set up for my own use and was in discussions a few years ago with Noga about bringing a "real" tool to market. The president of the company was interested but he ended up in the hospital with some health issues and the project died.

In the cluttered bench pic below, you might be able to make out a thick chromed jewler's block that has 4 ea. magnetic Noga dial indicator holders on it. They in turn hold a couple styles of self closing tweezers and a turned delrin holder I used for holding 1" OD heads as well as a micro vise.

NogaHand-2.jpg


The third hand below is one I made for my other work bench. I took a hunk of iron that was part of a Bearing Press rig as the base and drilled and tapped it for the Noga holders.

NogaHand-1.jpg


The insulated handled tweezers at the top were modified to hold a Luxeon for ease of adding lead wires to it. Also on the bottom side of these tweezer's mounting post where the Noga clamps to them, you can see a 1/4"x20 thread stud which allows me to mount a light or other tool at this point.

I have not seen any commercially available third hands that I felt were worth a damn. There are some jeweler's rigs that are getting there but still fall short from my needs and expectations.

I could have gone on a one man crusade and attempted to bring such a tool to market but I don't want to pitch and sell the tool! I just wanted to design it, make one and then use the bloody thing!

I am convinced that there are any number of applications where someone is stuck at a bench and could really use a good helping hand and the price be damned!!

EDIT: I should add that I use these third hand set ups daily and I wouldn't consider my bench acceptable without them!
 
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macforsale

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

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LuxLuthor

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

Of all the things I have seen in this thread so far, the Loc Line looks like the most promising type of infinitely adjustable tubing...but I don't know what its strength would be...then you have to figure out various gripping ends that would mount onto it. Aligator clips are nearly worthless for most functions I need.

All those variations of helping hands still have a fundamental flaw of needing to have quick, fine adjusting without having to loosen a wingnut/locking ring, move position, and re-tighten.....not to mention how expensive some of them might be.

I just talked with Rick at Loc-Line in Oregon, and made my suggestion of them making the kind of product we are talking about available, and he appreciated the input. In the meantime, he did mention that they sold some to Black & Decker who used the smaller 1/4" I.D. in this soldering station, which is EXACTLY the kind of flexible idea I had in mind. The next size up is 1/2" I.D. which is a lot stronger. Of course the aligator clips would have to go in the circular file cabinet.

CI500S_1.jpg


My suggestions to Rick was to make a weighted base, and have possibly 2, 3, or 4 arms coming out...or possibly a universal threaded joint so you could decide which strength size of tubing you wanted to use that would then anchor into the base. Then have a decent length of tubing, and a selection of gripping tips that would be interchangeable for various purposes. He said you can order some of their tubing from http://www.modularhose.com which I may do and see what kind of gripping tips could be added on ends. Hell for the price of that B&D unit, I'll buy one just to see what works/doesn't work with it.
 
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GMoney

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

Luxluthor, I actually own the black and decker iron and station you have in the photo ($15 at a black and decker outlet). I found that the hands in this unit are serviceable, but nothing great. IMO, It is still difficult to get everything precisely in place for good soldering.
 

McGizmo

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

I agree with GMoney. I have been using Loc-Line stuff for years and have used it in third hand type applications. It will work but it has enough memory in repositioning that it can be a challenge in setting it where you want it; especially in fine adjustments.

As already stated, the part that you will use to hold your piece is critical and the aligator clips leave much to be desired. I have found the self closing tweezers to be very versatile but when you consider how long they are, a slight change in angle of postioning them at the mount point displaces the tip quite significantly.

With the quality holder arms of the Noga (VS some inexpensive clones) you can set the tension screw such that the arms can be moved without readjusting the tension and yet are stiff enough to remain where you have set them. Or, you can loosen the tension screw and the whole hand and arm assembly become completely lose and you can position the hand exactly where you want it and then tighten the screw without any change in the new position of the hand.

A Noga type system could easily cost 20x -30x what a cheap alligator third hand might run but you surely get what you pay for.
 

LuxLuthor

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

I agree with GMoney. I have been using Loc-Line stuff for years and have used it in third hand type applications. It will work but it has enough memory in repositioning that it can be a challenge in setting it where you want it; especially in fine adjustments.

As already stated, the part that you will use to hold your piece is critical and the aligator clips leave much to be desired. I have found the self closing tweezers to be very versatile but when you consider how long they are, a slight change in angle of postioning them at the mount point displaces the tip quite significantly.

With the quality holder arms of the Noga (VS some inexpensive clones) you can set the tension screw such that the arms can be moved without readjusting the tension and yet are stiff enough to remain where you have set them. Or, you can loosen the tension screw and the whole hand and arm assembly become completely lose and you can position the hand exactly where you want it and then tighten the screw without any change in the new position of the hand.

A Noga type system could easily cost 20x -30x what a cheap alligator third hand might run but you surely get what you pay for.

OK, good to know you can make those fine adjustments like you said without readjusting tension screw frequently. Let me look into that Noga setup. If you have the links for any of what you have there, it would be appreciated...and what I will probably end up getting. I was hoping the loc-line 1/2" might have been more workable....and a better gripper needed for any scenario.
 

McGizmo

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

Luxluthor,
The rub is that you have to make your own set up, unfortunately. The 1/2 locline is quite rigid but I think it would drive you nuts in this application. I would stick with the 1/4".

Most of the tools supply companies have the Noga or Noga copy type indicator holders.
 

LuxLuthor

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

McGizmo, would you mind taking a few detailed pix from a couple angles of your setups, because it would give more details of how things are connected together, and what functions your setups allow. Thank you again for your experience. I'm still shocked at how no one has ever developed quality platforms for all the hobbyists out there.

Which of the many Noga holders are you using?
 
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dom

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

Hi Don
I use similar type as yours -was wondering if you had used this type before
2052462248_6c0e672f05_o.jpg


It is called a "Flexbar" 16"
Can hold round from 1/16" to 1/2" dia.

Cheers
Dom
 

beetleguise

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

I just used a soldering station with a heavy base, 2 flexible fingers, and a magnifying lens. It has a soldering iron holder and a sponge at the base. The alligator clips for fingers were way too aggressive for my PCB and moving things while looking through the lens takes talent.
 

McGizmo

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Re: Anyone seen flexible "Helping Hands" holder?

Luxluthor,
What I have the most of is a US "standard" NF10433. I would like to find the NF60003 by itself so I can just build out as needed.

However, I recommend you first identify what tools you plan to actually hold your work, be it tweezers, clamps, mini vise or what have you. You then need to decide how you plan to attach these tools to the Noga. The simple and most available solution is to some how utilize the 3/8" bore in the dial indicator clamp on the Noga. And finally is your base. You want rigidity in the base and heavy iron is the simplest method if you want it portable. I built one third hand assembly using a 5lb dumbbell weight that I drilled and tapped to take the Noga arms. You can also get a block of iron or steel and use the magnetic bases available with the Noga. On one work bench, I screwed down a 1/8" thick rectangle of steel plate and then could place magnetic bases on it where I wished. Most of the Noga components are metric but I have run across inch as well. When I was in communication direct with Noga, they were willing to supply me with an inch version of the NF60003 and we were in discussion on an end clamp that would be a generic solution for the self closing tweezers.

I just wasn't ready to commit the time and resources which I didn't have to becoming an importer/distributor for a new product which would require a lot of leg work and cold sales calls! I came up with what I thought was a clean, simple system but I hoped Noga would make it happen.

I think there is a real need for a good third hand and at times when I felt like bailing out of flashlights I would think of this as an alternative endeavor but I visualized coming up with an obvious solution and in no time seeing it made at a fraction of my cost and offered up from offshore like all of the other tools out there. This is kind of a classic, off topic, example where if inovation can't be effectively brought to market by those inovating it might never make it to market.

It's too bad that PK isn't active here anymore because a few of us put together a chrome based Noga third hand assembly for him for his birthday a few years back and you would get a kick out of it! Talk about the ultimate third hand! :D

You comment on being shocked that someone hasn't addressed the need of the hobbyists. Heck! How about all of the professionals who sit at work benches all day long!!

Somewhat off topic but in the realm of holding a part, one vice/ part holder I came across in my exposure to jewelers tools was a gravers block. I don't use it that often but when you want to securely hold a part and be able to access it from many angles, this thing is a dream!!

Work holding in general is a key to getting the job done and yet most work is automated today if not from distant shores and it is difficult to find easy solutions for one inclined to do it them self! :shrug:

Dom,

I used one of those holders for years on an old lathe. I used it to hold my mister nozzel. It worked OK but does not have near the articulation as these Noga type holders. I will add that there are some good copies of the Noga but I have also run into some real crap! You have one tension knob that has to act on a number of joints and this requires some attention to surface finish, part dimension tolerances and probably specific design. These are not all created equal!!!

EDIT: Luxluthor, this is your thread so it's your call but I think if this thread were in the Materials, Mechanical, Machining Forum, you might get some other ideas from some of the guys who contribute in that forum. :shrug:
 
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