This totally makes sense. I think I went…actually I can’t even count how many years I went before finally investing in a vice (PanaVise Junior 201 & 350 work center fyi) but even they feel like overkill sometimes, especially for smaller PCBs (and they’re only getting smaller all the time). I just want/need/wish-i-had-3d-printed a smaller solution. Alas, this may be it!
To be honest though I hate rubber bands. Or rather, I loathe (not hate) cheap rubber bands. I save the rubber bands used on produce because I consider them high-quality (usually) so I’ll have to modify this design to accommodate those slightly thicker bands, but this is definitely a solution to consider for my – and your! – makerbench.
If you’ve ever worked on a small PCB, you know how much of a hassle it can be to hold on to the thing. It’s almost as if they weren’t designed to be held in the grubby mitts of a human. As designs have become miniaturized over time, PCBs are often so fragile and festooned with components that tossing them into the alligator clips of the classic soldering “third hand” can damage them. The proper tool for this job is a dedicated PCB vise, which is like a normal bench vise except it doesn’t crank down very hard and usually has plastic pads on the jaws to protect the board.
Only problem with a PCB vise is, like many cool tools and gadgets out there, not everybody owns one. Unless you’re doing regular PCB fabrication, you might not take the plunge and buy one either. So what’s a hacker on a budget to do when they’ve got fiddly little PCBs that need attention?
Functionally the vise works, and the rubber band actuation is great when you find the proper sized one, but I was a bit disappointed by the jaws. The face of the jaw is printed flat on the bed, which means it has a fairly smooth finish (more or less so, depending on your build surface). With such a smooth finish it’s just a bit too easy for the PCB to slip down in the vise, which defeats the purpose somewhat.