Soldering wires without getting burnt
TAD the Cheapskate
This is an unusual article that 'perhaps' belongs in an electronics magazine more than a scene magazine, but some coders out there might find it useful when attempting to make up a cable.
If you have ever given yourself 3rd degree burns while trying to hold a wire, a D-type connector and use a soldering iron then read on...
So you want to make up a serial cable (null modem) or some other bunch of wires with a tiny plug at each end? The main problem is trying to hold a tiny wire next to the back of the tiny plug pins and use a soldering iron. Most of the time the plug will run across the table chased by you, the wire and the iron. You need something (or someone) to hold the plug while you get the first few wires safely attached to it. As most plugs are almost entirely metal (especially the surrounding part) the heat travels through it faster than a laxative through a hurricane victim.
The cheap solution
You need some kind of vice (no, not that kinda vice ;)). The sort which holds small things while 'you do what you've got to do' (hmm.. perhaps it is like that other kinda vice after all, *grin*).
First you will need two everyday objects, a pair of pliers (or 'grips' or 'pinchers' or whatever you call 'em) and a thick elastic (rubber) band.
Now, the technical bit. Take the elastic band and wrap it doubled around the handles of the pliers, like this:
Right, now stand back and marvel at this wonderful (and very cheap) creation that sits on your desk like, like... a pair of pliers with an elastic band around its handles. ;)
Now, insert your plug in the pliers and cheer as they hold it in place. You can now safely solder the wires without getting a single little pinkie on your piano-playing hand burnt.. Yippee!!!
Next week I will show you how to create a nuclear bunker using nothing more than empty cereal packets and a roll of sticky tape.
Happy (painless) soldering