Assorted notes on supplies for ‘making’

Created on Thursday, June 30, 2016. I last modified it on Saturday, October 7, 2017.

Every time I make something, I come up with ideas for where to get new materials and what to use those materials on.


1. Tools

  • A 3D printer is like a second pair of hands! What I often do is get an idea and start printing some of the most basic parts for test-fitting while I’m still designing everything else. When I designed the Kettle-Pod, for example, the first thing I made was the basic three-hole coupler so that I could start envisioning all of the other components that would fit onto the assembled arm.
  • Speaking of second hands, get a ball-head Panavise or similar. Great for electronics work.
  • My soldering station is the Atten 937b. It’s dirt cheap and I like it. New tips are cheap from eBay too.
  • You need two hot glue guns: A weak, cold one and a beefy, hot one.
    • The cold gun is for cardboard prototyping and gluing to 3D-printed objects. It sets quickly so you don’t have to hold cardboard panels together for five minutes, and the low heat means less warping of plastics.
    • The hot gun is for everything else.
  • Cheap tweezers are always bad.

2. Prototyping

  • Cardboard boxes for carrying purchased items are free at Bunnings (hardware store), but it is worthwhile to buy fresh boxes from them anyway. The cardboard is pristine and consistent, so it’s much easier to work with and the results look better.
  • Hot glue for cardboard prototyping. Don’t bother with anything else.

3. Adhesives

  • Scotch Restickable Strips make great retentive surfaces. I use them on lab mixers to provide a tacky surface that stops bottles from vibrating off.
  • Buy super glue in packs of small tubes so that you’ve always got some.
    • Never super glue a nut into a hole and then screw something into it. The screw will get stuck, of course. Super glue is not Loctite but it’s pretty close.
  • Loctite is a really good thing to have. Get Loctite 263 for permanent bonds and 243 for temporary vibration-resistant bonds. You can turn a near-useless grub screw into a very handy custom screw just by bonding a nut or thumbwheel to it with 263.

4. Electronic components

  • When it comes to blower fans, I have had some good experiences with ones labelled, “Gdt brushless DC fan, Bearing: Sleeve, DC 12V 0.12A” manufactured by Shenzhen Gdstime Technology Co. Ltd. Other brands and models that I’ve tried are not as powerful as these. This blower fan produces enough thrust to slowly walk itself across the table.
  • Following closely, though, is the AV-5015S 12V 0.10A blower fan.
  • ‘Penga Technology’ brand 12V-DC blower fans (they don’t even label the amperage) are the weakest I’ve tried.

5. Jank and jank-related hacks

  • A common trick in consumer electronics is to add weights to a product to make it feel more substantial than it really is. You can do the same thing by adding fishing weights to yours, just hot-glue them in. They also sell adhesive lead weights for balancing golf clubs, but those are very light compared to a single fishing weight.

6. Fasteners

  • Bunnings sells M3 screws, but does not sell M3 nuts :/ Furthermore, Bunnings does not sell hex or posidrive metric screws! Only bolt heads and Phillips drive.
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© Desi Quintans, 2002 – 2018.