I have been doing some flashlight repair recently and was tired of getting burned hand holding or propping up very small wires, on very small drivers and springs. I was looking at “Helping Hands” solutions on Amazon and just didn’t want to pay some of the higher prices for the quality flexible systems from the industry vendors like Panavise and I didn’t want something light and flimsy. I reached out to Quadhands to see if they would be interested in sending me one to take a look at and they agreed. Thanks to Mark at Quadhands for the support, I think he might be interested in the flashlight hobby now after talking too.
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Packaging is plain but functional on my Quadhands Deluxe. It’s a sturdy cardboard box and all of the individual pieces were wrapped up in bubble wrap to prevent any scratching or rubbing during transport. No assembly or manual was required.
The heart of this work holding is the 5lbs, 5mm thick steel plate that’s powder coated bright yellow. On the Deluxe kid like I have it’s 8.5” x 11” base, this is really a great size for smaller flashlight project and most larger electronics type projects as well. It gives you plenty of space to work around, and allows you to space out the 5 arms to get things positioned just right. On the bottom you have 4 fairly large rubber feet that keep it in place, on a variety of surfaces. The powder coating is a great choice here over paint because it’s more durable and can better tolerate heat if your soldering iron makes contact or a blob of solder falls onto it.
The deluxe kit came with 5 of the all metal magnetic arms. You get two 8” arms measured tip to tip, one 12” arm, and two 16” arms. The arms are black in color and are made of flexible metal painted a matt black. They are capable of bending in all directions, up, down and all 360 degrees. Each have an alligator style stainless steel clip to hold your wires, components and circuit boards. In addition to that each has a small knurled wheel made from a black nylon behind the clip that allows you to loosen the clip, to rotate it to the exact angle you need and then tighten it down. For me this was a 2 handed operation to get it just right. There is a little bit of spring back on more extreme bends, this can be a little annoying if you are holding a wire to a small pad to solder but I found moving the arm further away to make less of an extreme bend fixes this most of the time.
The arms have made an improvement over previous generations with exposed magnets. Now they are using a thin slick piece of slick plastic on the bottom to allow the arms to slide around with no visible scratching while still holding strong. These are very strong rare earth N57 magnets. One of the arms can easily pick up the entire 5lb steel plate, and more.
How it works in practice
I used this most recently to replace some wires on a flashlight driver that had come off due to an impact it suffered. I found the shorter arms for me worked better to hold the circuit board. I held the small board with 2 short arms and then used a third to hold the wire and then held the iron and solder in my two hands. I have done this job before without the Quadhands helping hands system and the result often times was slightly burnt fingers.
I can think of a few improvements that they could implement as addons or different kits. Different size alligator clips could come in handy, even better if they were swapped on and off, I could also see maybe a multi head design to allow you to hold a clip and an electronics or multimeter probe. Maybe offer a heavier duty arm that was threaded with a ¼ 20 thread the popular size for camera tripods and flashlights would open up some cool ideas too for testing or filming with a gopro during testing etc.
The Quadhands workholding helping hands system is a really great option to hold your small PCB’s while soldering or doing other fine work. For a flashlight enthusiast and electronics builders this is a really nice option. I love that it’s made in the USA, and has makers that are easy to get a hold of. It really does work well for small soldering work, and foresee this meeting my needs for a long time. I think this is something that would fall into that buy it for life category and it’s all at an affordable price.
Quadhands Website https://www.quadhands.com/
Quadhands Deluxe on Amazon https://amzn.to/2JAaZQJ