Help! Shakey hands hard to solder

I'm suffering from unsteady hands, its getting more difficult for me told hold soldering iron as my projects seem to get smaller and smaller. I've been soldering for over 20 years, I have the experience - but some days less steady then others lately in my age.

If anyone else suffers from hand tremors or simular condition, can you give me some advice? I think I am actually looking for a 3rd hand device I might actually be able to use mechanical robot style.


I sometimes suffer from this, I find the best bet is to steady my hands against something solid. However I do have a big "paper clip like" thing that holds the circuit board, so it is only my hand that needs steadying. I use the holder to rest my wrists on leaving a much shorter distance between iron and hand.

Well, at this point - I have alot of jigs to hold the boards, wires and everything else in place. Just when I try to concentration my hand starts shaking with the soldering iron! When I was young? I could hold 3 wires in place with fingers and do this, but not any more - whatever isn't held down - will fall or shake off. Its a real drag when I have to solder something real quick in the truck, where I can't bring the harnesses on my bench. oh well.

Whats the NICE mini x,y,z drill press? is that a cnc too?

Yes it is this

Ask your GP if a spot of propranolol might be compatible with your other medications - relatively short acting and may help as long as you do not want to do electronics work and nookie on the same day. :D

as you do not want to do electronics work and nookie on the same day.

You mean that people do these things separately? :roll_eyes:

I guess I could add that to the stack of other things that could possible cause a dysfunction - like breathing unventilated solder fumes while chain smoking cigarettes.

Did you say SPOT or SHOT? If he has to stick me with a needle somewhere ESPECIALLY MY HANDS then no thanks. I can handle being burnt by soldering iron, occasionally drilling into my finger, and all the other hazards of whatever else I do - but when a doctor breaks out a needle and points it at me, I feel like I need to prepare for that with a pint of whiskey and a painkiller.

Anway. the proxxon machine looks neat. Its small enough and looks like it does the trick. looks like going for $500..... I'm in the middle of assembling something just like this, but it takes up alot more desk space.

For the shakey hands... I thought I remember seeing some jigs people used for placing smd parts on circuit boards, like arms with vacuume suction cups on it to pick up and hold the parts in place. I can't remember what it's called.

It is called a pick and place machine.

It's a tablet.

Not to be confused with the somewhat uncomfortable (but effective) injection that used to be offered to treat the side effect I alluded to, now a quite rare approach since the advent of Viagra.

The pick and place machines for $5,000 on ebay look like a simple gantry CNC with suction cup head. The jig I saw, had the suction cup heads - and something like a small robot arm, except without the motors. Looks like the popular round magnifying light that sits on a desk only a whole lot smaller.

couple of suggestions.

first the pick and place are really nothing more than CNC with a little vacuum you can easily use a air brush compressor to get the vacuum. or a breathing ventilator. you have the skills to make one. the programming for automated is the pain.

read up on toaster oven conversions.

then go to surface mount devices. all the soldering done at one time while you sit back and chain smoke.

the neat part about the toaster oven soldering is that the solder actually moves the chips onto the center of the pads. will help you see the chips to move them around.

the hardest part will be not sneezing when you put it in the oven.

if you are making hundreds or thousands, get someone to do the boards for you.

I can not handle the tiny leads of smd when I do prototyping, and am not looking to buy another desk full of tools to handle components that jump off my desk and get caught in the floor. I use thru-hole dip prototyping, so I actually have a chance to bend a lead around the board to clamp it in place for soldering.

The technology is interesting, I do understand it. I have watch alot of production videos on "how it's made" and seen the big versions where the circuit board takes a nice ride on a conveyor belt and dips down into a molten solder bath and then rises back up again. And of course there are plenty of ways to do whatever - except I am not interested in anything that small.

I have a large array of magnifying lens - that get fogged up or in the way of my hands in one form or another. So now I am trying to work on a simple digital camera mount with a 20" vga screen - to resolve fogging and the getting-in-of-the-way problems. I'd like to see some servo-operated helping hand clamps would be a real help.

I am building small desktop cnc machine to help me make circuit boards, which could just double up to do anything else I wanted - really. Clamp the part, hold the camera, steady - etc... Seems like the 3d printer heads already have an extruder - I wonder if solder spool can just fit thru that thing if I turned the heat up all the way? And I could actually use the abs extrusion to print traces on copper for an etch bath (hopefully).

I know they have shops that produce circuit boards on any level, but all I am doing is prototyping, testing, and possibly making up to 5 copies.