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Skills

Description: Are you frustrated with the lack of dexterity from most third hands? The SparkFun Third Hand gives you the ability to hold a board between two alligator clips on two flexible arms with multiple points of articulation. The arm's wide range of articulation gives you access to any angle of the board that you are currently working on, making soldering that much easier. The SparkFun Third Hand also won't move around while you work thanks to a heavy aluminum base supporting the arms.

Even though we give you two alligator clips for the flex arms, that shouldn't restrict their functionality to just holding a PCB. Add an LED for better lighting, a fan to keep solder fumes out of your face, or a magnifying glass to get an up close and personal look at what you are working on.

Note: For assembly instructions watch the product video below.

Note: A portion of this sale is given to Ryan for inspiring the design with his Instructable.

Kit Includes:

  • 1x Aluminum Base Plate
  • 2x Flex Arms
  • 2x Alligator Clips
  • 2x Alligator Clip Covers
  • 2x 1" 6-32 Phillips Screws
  • 4x Silicon Bumpers

Documents:

Comments 59 comments

  • I like the idea of getting rid of the center three holes and machining a recess to act as a small parts tray. Maybe even another 4 smaller areas between the threaded arm holes.

    • Indeed, I was about to suggest some shallow bowl-shaped areas!

      Oddly enough, I started thinking about that when seeing the thumbnail for the product, where I initially mistook the silicone sheet sitting on the base to be a wedge-shaped depression to place loose parts in.

      • Great idea! I’ll keep that in mind for the next bulk order. Hopefully it wouldn’t add too much cost.

      • What about a hole for a soldering iron holder like what the Third Hand (TOL-09317) has?

        And someone said “What about a LED for light?” That’s also a great Idea.

        @AustinSpafford - shallow bowl-shaped - Great Idea !!! One bowl to hold your solder sponge. A second to hold parts and what ever.

        I also really like the comment by @Pauld001, down below, the for a good magnifying glass.

        But then you also will need a spool holder for your solder too.

        Sparkfun could sell all these other things as additions to this.

  • I really wish they’d made more, or I’d checked the site earlier in the day on Friday. I would love one of these. I’m teaching electronics to a couple of ten year-olds and they find using a regular 3rd hand even more frustrating than I do. When I get mine, I plan on adding a magnifying glass and a light source.

    As for other people’s comments about it being too much like an ordinary 3rd hand: are you kidding? Yes, it performs the same function, but it looks like you can get it in position far faster, plus it has greater overall range. I think this is well worth the price. Apparently a lot of other people do, too, since it sold out within hours. :)

  • Is there a Magnifying glass that attaches to the arms to help with us sight challenged individuals?

  • Looking through the dimensional drawings, I’m 95% sure this product actually uses 6061 aircraft aluminum, not 6160.

  • Add a valve and air to either cool off parts or blow away solder fumes….

  • http://www.loc-line.com/index.html: There so many useful applications for this it’s crazy. “Where have you been all my life”, that’s all I thought when I discovered this product line. I built a fume extractor out of their anti-static 2.5" vacuum hose, anti-static 4.5" round nozzle, 120 mm case fan, and 12v power supply. In addition, you can add an optional speed control if you want (e.g. PWM). Then I just made a mount for one end of the hose to fit in a partially open window pane ( basically a tall rectangle, at least for my window, that seals the opening). Since it’s flexible you can position to your working area! Thank you spark fun. It’s only because of this site I discovered this product :) .

  • you should link to the pipes https://www.sparkfun.com/products/12054 from this page.

  • Why is this in hand tools? It is not like you hold it in your hand while using it. Just wondering.

  • It would be nice to have bigger alligator clips as an option. I have had problems holding onto pcb’s securely with the heat shrink tubing applied. I still think it’s a great product, though!

    • i put the part number for some larger & stronger clips in my review here: http://theksmith.com/consumerism/sparkfun-third-hand-review/

  • Wonderfull!! What a great idea! I bought one and use it everyday at my workbench. FAR FAR FAR superior to the old Radio Shack 3rd hand. I now have 5 hands when assembling, wiring, soldering my small robots.

    I recomment buying an extra arm to go with the 2 that ship with the base.

    Yes, screwing the plastic arm into to the aluminum base can be a little tricky. Take your time. You only need to do it once.

  • These are so insanely useful. I love mine! :)

  • Now you’ve got me thinking about using a Noga-style arm like this: http://www.shars.com/products/view/1456/Test_Indicator_Holder_Arm_Only

    I don’t know how well the no-name clones compare to an actual Noga, but it’s something to think about.

  • Well I got this as a gift for Christmas and there is obviously no quality checks at sparkfun since the screws that came with it are the wrong size and don’t even screw into the alligator clips. Thank you for taking the wind out of my sails ….

    • that’s very strange. we’ll look into it. in the meantime, can you email customer service and let them know? they can take care of you and get the correct product for you. sorry about that.

      • FWIW, this happened to me, too (also a Christmas gift). I’m emailing customer support as well and will probably see if I can get the right screws at the hardware store.

        • I just received mine yesterday and guess what? I’ve got the same problem too, but only on one of the arms. Fraction annoying, but I guess that is what the hardware store is for.

          Apart from that it’s a really good product and it should be really useful. I’m planning on using some aralditie to glue the magnifying glass from the other third hand (TOL-09317) to this one. Hopefully it will work ok.

  • Instead of a somewhat fixed custom aluminum base plate you can also use fitting pipe T-pieces (3xfemale) and straights (male-male) to form an easily extendable base as needed.

  • I bought one based on the video. It’s just as they claim, FAR superior to my old 3rd hand from Radio Shack. I thought the guy in the video was a bit theatrical when he tossed his old 3rd hand model in the trash. Nope, he was right. I just deposited my old one in the same receptacle.

  • How are you supposed to put this together? One of the pieces I was given doesn’t even fit the base board (I’m guessing it’s one of those “oversized” ones that keeps getting mentioned), and there is no way that I can tell for attaching the alligator clips to it. I also did not recieve any of these 4x silicon bumpers.

    Between the missing pieces, the wrong pieces, and the lack of instructions I’m very disappointed in this product. It looked really cool, but the version I got at least seems completely unusable.

    Edit: Figured out that you have to snap the end pieces off. I was really worried about breaking something, especially since there were no instructions. It may not be a bad idea to ship these with the nozzle tubes off.

    Further Edit: Okay, this thing is impossible. I don’t know if I just got a really messed up hose or what, but I’m about to put this damn thing through a window. It’s next to impossible to put the nozzles back on the house once you take them off, but that’s the only way to screw the alligator clips in. Multiple people in my house have tried, but the thing will not go back together. Between the lack of quality control (missing parts, wrong parts) and difficult assembly I would strongly push people away from this product, despite how cool it looks in principle.

    • Yea, 100% agree with this.

      I ordered the kit and neither of the two arms fit into the base. In addition, one of the ball joints cracked when installing the end piece (the clip holder) exactly as per the video instructions.

      I was sent two replacement arms, one of which fit and one of which did not. On the one that fit, the ball joint at the base was so loose as to make this completely useless.

      Basically, it seems that SF should have just used Loc-Line instead of messing around with cheap, poor-tolerance, brittle knock-offs. This product is not ready for prime-time and in my opinion should not be sold until the issues are fixed.

      Having said all that, SF gave me a refund so pretty good customer service despite the poor product.

    • I got one of the first versions of this and had better success with it. All of the parts were included but I found that the included alligator clips weren’t as long or well made as those in my cheapie helping hand from Harbor Freight. I ended up using my better HF clips and just crimped them onto similar sized screws as those included in the kit.

      The nozzle is hard to get back onto the hose, I had the most success when I put the tip of the nozzle into the base (hang part of the base off the edge of a table to get full clearance for the tip) and snapped the hoses on that way. It’s a tough fit for sure.

      One this is for certain, they aren’t going to fall of by themselves.

  • Please make more

  • Please make more of those. Unfortunately it’s impossible to get the 1/8" snap flow/loc-line hoses in the EU. If anyone knows an online shop that sells the SMALL 1/8" hoses please let me know. Elsewise I rely on you guys at sparkfun to sell the kit again!

  • who long are the fles arms?????

  • dam this thing needs a peltier beer cooler as well….and a…..and a….and,,, coasters would be great so i can slide from one side of the desk to the other…..

    got mine in the male to day i found a great led with power supply at ikea’s scratch bin for $3 it works great….

  • I just received mine and it seems the holes in the base are just slightly too large for the arms. They just slide right in and out and won’t secure at all.

    • Mine too. I have a call/email in to customer service but the floods are obviously slowing things down. I’m a little bummed.

    • Use a bit of paper towel to fill in the gap. It should allow the threads to fit snugly.

      The fit and finish on these are pretty poor. Wrong thread size, sharp edges, and a lot of cutting lube on the aluminim block.

      That being said, it works pretty well. Having the parts held high off the workbench while soldering is surprisingly easier on the eyes and neck.

  • Huh! Interesting use of coolant hose! I like it!

    For people who really want to get jiggy with this, you can get sets of coolant hoses from people that actually expect you to use them for coolant. Here’s a set of similar ¼ inch hoses:

    http://www.grizzly.com/products/1-4-Adjustable-Coolant-Hose-Set-with-Pliers/T25180

    Note that the “hose” itself is a series of plugged together sections, so there should be nothing stopping you from connecting several into a longer hose, or removing links to make it shorter. Note that the kit comes with the tool needed.

    They also have ½ inch hoses in a similar set, for when you REALLY need it.

  • About fell out of my seat when I saw the price for these. I’ll pass.

  • How many were originally ordered? They went fast!

  • Anyone knows about an EU distributor carrying this? I could use one of these, but the shipping from US to France is crazy :(

    • Give it a while. We don’t release upcoming products to our distributors before the rest of the world, so the distributors just found out about it today.

  • Doesn’t this infringe upon the Creative Commons “Non-commercial Share Alike” license of this project? http://www.instructables.com/id/Third-Hand-A-multi-use-helping-hand-for-electro/

    • The instructions for making the project would fall under copyright law and the CC license, but the object would likely have to be patented to receive protection.

    • Only if they copied the text verbatim. That guide is not a specific design (e.g. a schematic) or a patent. It contains a parts list, and a set of instructions for how they may be used. That same information is provided here too, only the parts themselves are for sale.

    • Lots of people have built these over the years, myself included (http://shiftycow.net/diy-3rd-hand/). I was inspired by rstraugh, but I’ll bet that many people have thought of this independently.

    • This product is fair game. After one year of an invention not being patented it becomes fair game in the US and it can never be panted and can be made by any body! Also I don’t think this can be panted as it is two similar to helping hands which is clearly not panted as many people make them.

      Also why would spark fun give money to rstraugh? Unless somebody owns the right to a product there is no point in giving them money!

      I could be wrong, but thats the way I see it.

      • Improvement patents do exist, IIRC sewing machines went through at least a couple of patent iterations to get up to where they Today.

        That said, they did mention they got the idea from a third-party, Don’t Be A Dick law says they should give the guy a cut or a maybe couple of According to Pete stickers and a hug.

        • “Improvement patents do exist” Well that is obvious, however, there must be a noticeable improvement. I don’t see much of a difference between this and the regular helping hands. They both grasp the object the same way. The only difference is this one flexes a little more. I don’t think it’s patent worthy, but thats just my opinion. Even if it could have gotten patented It is not eligible any more as the one year time frame expired years ago (assuming it was never patented). If that is the case spark fun does not owe rstraugh a cent or a few stickers! Giving him money would be like giving the person who made spoon money for every S.H.O.V.E.L. the sell. Unless you own the rights you have no clam to the $$$. That is they way the world works. Get on board or get over it!

          I will be buying one soon (assuming they get them back in stock) and I hope spark fun keeps EVERY CENT!

          • Not even the According to Pete stickers? man you are heartless…

            I was about to buy one, but the only thing that stopped me was the tube colors… they will look “ridonculous” in my bench.

    • I’m going to guess that SparkFun was granted permission, possibly giving a portion of the sales to rstraugh.


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