Maker Update

Maker Update #32: Heat Shrink Tubing

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A weekly roundup of the best DIY projects and tools for makers

Here’s this week’s Maker Update, featuring the best DIY projects of the week. (Show notes here.) As usual, I have a Cool Tool review included. This time, it’s heat shrink! Of all the things I have in my electronics toolbox, nothing gets my kid more excited than seeing me use heat shrink on a project. The stuff is like magic, plus there’s usually fire involved — so that’s a bonus for him.

If you’re unfamiliar, these are plastic tubes you slip over connections that shrink tight when heat is applied. It’s a pro way to keep wires and components from shorting into each other. It’s a real life saver when you’re splicing two wires together and you want that splice to be sealed up like the rest of the wire. You just cut the length you need, slip it on before you solder, and then heat it in place when you’re done, either with a heat gun, a mini butane torch, or even a lighter or soldering iron if you’re in a pinch.

Heat shrink is one of those tools that I totally take for granted until I show it to someone who’s never seen it before and it blows their mind. This 200-piece multipack is a great introduction. I’ve used it to enclose small microcontroller boards like the Adafruit Trinket. It’s also great for waterproofing components and connections, or wrangling a bunch of stray cables into a tight bundle.

-- Donal Bell 05/3/17