I have been getting rather busy with assembling avionics units being sold through the store and my alligator clip ‘helping hands’ were getting fairly hopeless holding the boards for soldering. I decided to have a look around to find something better to do the job and saw this online:

 

 

Very nice but expensive.  I don’t have a 3D printer available yet and there is a great design on Thingiverse that certainly would have done the job:

 

 

I decided to raid the scrap bin and see if I could quickly come up with a workable solution.  After a couple of hours in the workshop, here is what I came up with:

 

 

It is made of scrap MDF, plywood and cedar deck planking offcuts.  The hardware is t-bolt hardware and channel from Lee Valley that I have had for a while and used on various jigs and projects.  All dimensions are in inches just because I couldn’t find my metric measuring tape….  ~:-)

 

 

The base is a 12″ x 6″ x 5/8″ piece of scrap MDF.  Anything can be used, I just happened to have an off-cut big enough.  The two pieces of scrap plywood at the back are for clamping lights onto.  The t-channel is screwed onto the board 2″ from the front.  It is off-set from center to allow room for the light clamps.

 

 

The towers are scrap cedar deck board off-cuts that are screwed and glued together.  The base is 3″ wide x 1 3/4″ and the back part is 3″ x 5 1/2″ high.  The back part has been taper cut into a triangle with the top flat part 1″ wide.  The hole for the bolt that screws into the slotted PCB holder part is about 3/4″ down from the top.  None of these measurements are critical, just whatever does the job.  The slot on the bottom was done on a table saw and is 3/4″ wide so that it can fit over the t-channel.

 

 

A scrap piece of the cedar was used for the PCB holder itself.  A shallow slot was cut using the table saw and then it was shaped on a belt sander and disk.

 

 

A threaded insert was put in the back of the tower wood to allow for tightening and a small insert for the PCB holder wood so that it could screw onto the bolt.

 

 

Here is a picture of the unit holding a completed IL-12 lamp controller that I soldered using the unit.  It worked well.  I need to put some sort of finish onto the wood so that it can withstand the knocks and dings.

 

 

The boards rotate very easily and by tightening the bolts, doesn’t move around when soldering or placing parts.  I will modify it to have a piece of foam or sponge that can be clamped to the component side once they are placed so that they can be held in place while rotating the unit and they don’t fall out.  I bend the leads to hold them, but that might work better.

 

 

I made a specific jig to hold the d-sub connectors for the audio mixers and tone annunciator projects as well.

 

 

Here is the PCB holder with some cheap clamp LED lights I bought from IKEA.

 

The project probably cost less than $5 in parts for the hardware and the lights were $9.99 each from IKEA.  The lights were originally purchased for the MakerPlane stand at Oshkosh last year and will be re-used again for that purpose.   It still needs tweaking, but I am happy at the end result after only 2 hours in the shop for something that I really needed.  Hope that you have enjoyed this diversion!