Gareth's Tips

A Portable Soldering Station

Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales - Issue #124

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A Portable Soldering Station
Becky Stern 3D printed some wings for her Aven soldering stand. These fold up onto the sides of the otherwise hollow stand and allow her to store a TS80P USB-powered soldering iron, a spool of solder, and solder wick. The whole thing sits comfortably on top of her Tripp Lite high-capacity USB-C battery pack, making this a very handy and portable soldering station.

Identifying Counterfeit Electronic Components
In this excellent GreatScott! videoScott looks at ways to examine your discrete electronic components to determine if they’re cheap knock-offs or real as-marked. In the video, Scott examines and tests a collection of MOSFETs and OpAmps to determine their authenticity and performance. What he finds is that some counterfeits work within the specs of the original, some do not, and some are totally fake with nothing but an empty package.

Vacuum Forming Bubble Wrap
By way of Donald Bell’s Maker Update comes this unexpectedly cool use of bubble wrap — as material for vacuum forming. The resulting pattern/texture is very interesting and not exactly what you might expect.

Turn Your Phone Upside Down in Your Pocket
This might be one for the D’uh Dept files, but I thought it might be worth sharing. Recently, on a trip, my phone stopped charging. I noticed the power connector was not seating properly inside the jack on the phone. I figured it was dust inside and tried blowing it out, to no avail. After getting a paper clip from the front desk of the hotel, I was shocked to hog out a huge deposit of impacted pocket lint from the jack. Phone saved! For any of us carrying our phones in our pants pocket, this is bound to happen. Since then, I make sure my phone is upside down in my pocket.

Handy Chart for Volume Conversions
From the highly-recommend Reddit sub, CoolGuides.

Maker’s Muse
“Every tool that exists today, from hammers to particle accelerators, has been constructed with others tools, and those, with other tools, and so on, and eventually all tools where fabricated with rocks.” – From Wait But Why‘s Twitter feed.

Shop Talk
“Hi Gareth. I liked the video about knives. Seeing that it was part 2, I went and watched part 1 first––Best knife brand? Benchmade ($220), Buck ($60), Zero Tolerance ($196), Spyderco ($62), Cold Steel ($130)Kershaw ($81), SOG ($55), CRKT ($53), Ontario ($35). I’m glad I did. I have to say that the best cheap knife from that video is MUCH better than the one from the 2nd video.”

In the end, Todd recommends the extremely affordable Smith & Wesson, at only $13.

Makes an Excellent Gift!

Father’s Day is coming up next weekend. You know what would make the perfect last-minute gift for that DIY Dad? A bundle of both volumes of my tips books. You can get them on Amazon here: Volume 1Volume 2.


(Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales is published by Cool Tools Lab. To receive the newsletter a week early, sign up here. — editors)

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