Some New Tools and Construction Aids

I’ve added a few new tools and construction aids to the shack here recently and would like to pass the info on to you, in case it is of any help. The first is nothing out of the ordinary, but I’ll include it here, if for no other reason than the excellent instructions that were included. Daiso Japan recently opened a store close by. They are, as you might guess, a Japanese chain. The best way I can think of to describe them, if you’re not already familiar, is as a cheap and cheerful general goods store – a kind of Japanese version of a dollar or 99 cents store, or if you’re a Brit, a pound store. Most, if not all, of the merchandise does cost more than a dollar, though the prices are low. The lowest common price point I saw was $1.50, which is what I paid for this set of 6 jewelers screwdrivers (2 Phillips, and 4 slotted), packaged in a nice plastic case, complete with the essential instructions on how to use them, with a diagram and the directions to “hold” and “turn by finger” 🙂 I already have 2 sets of screwdrivers like this, purchased from Radio Shack years ago but for $1.50, I couldn’t pass this set up –

Here’s a set of 8 ceramic-tipped alignment tools that have been doing the rounds recently. Being ceramic, the tips are brittle, but they allow you to adjust trimmer capacitors and inductor slugs without affecting the resonant frequency of the circuit which they are a part of. I got mine from eBay for $11.99 inc free shipping (try doing a search for “ceramic screwdriver set”), but KB6QVI got a set from Banggood for $6.90 inc shipping. He used the Chinese version of the site, as opposed to a version for any other country, in order to get this low price, by the way. I look forward to getting much use from these –

As packed. There were 4 on the other side too.
As packed. There were 4 on the other side too.
The ceramic tips mean that you can adjust trimmer capacitors and inductor slugs without affecting the resonant frequency of the tuned circuit. The set contains 6 tools with slotted tips of widths ranging from 0.9mm to 2.5mm, and 2 tools with Phillips tips.

The next tool is something that I have wanted for a while. The knurled nuts that hold 3.5mm phone jacks to panels can be a bit awkward to tighten effectively, without damaging the nut and/or the panel. Online research indicated that there have been tools for this purpose in the past, but I was unable to locate a current source. However, I did find one that was very close in size, except that the 2 prongs were just a little too wide. 20 minutes of gentle and careful work with a fine file, and it fits like a champ. The tool is manufactured by Xicon, and is known as a Knurled Nut Driver. The Xicon part # is 382-0006. The Mouser part # is the same, which is where I got mine from –

After some careful work with a file, the tool fitted the nut on a standard 3.5mm phone jack perfectly. It is going to be very useful –

Finally, W1REX, Rex, of QRPMe fame, has come out with a variant on his Manhattan pads that I now consider indispensable, the MeSQUARES. Rex’s MeSQUARES and MePADS are the pre-made pads that I have used for most of the construction projects on this blog that haven’t employed a PCB. A few of the users of these very useful Manhattan pads voiced a desire for some pads that were smaller, for construction in tighter spaces, and for use with SMD. Reg obliged, and produced STIX. They are like his MeSQUARES, only smaller. The first folk to get a glimpse of them were those who attended the G-QRP Rishworth convention this year, and my small packet from Rex turned up a week or so after their debut at Rishworth. These photos show a panel of STIX squares alongside some regular MeSQUARES (not a full sheet), and a ruler for scale –

One of these days, I’ll probably try some scratch-building using SMD, and these little squares will be perfect. In the meantime, they will also be very useful for achieving higher component density with regular leaded parts –

Thank you Rex!




9 thoughts on “Some New Tools and Construction Aids

  1. One other tip, I have used plastic knitting needles for frequency adjusting of cores, just file the ends flat. 73 G1KQH

  2. Steve,

    Another informative posting.

    As to your knurled nut driver, you may also find similar tools that are referred to as a slotted nut driver. Wiha makes such tools, see:

    a bit pricey but they do provide top quality and a selection of sizes. None however have the centering piece in the middle. Your Xicon model would work for the 3.5mm audio jacks but wouldn’t work for tightening a nut on something like a switch.

    I had never seen anything like the Xicon tool but had witnessed many service techs using needle nose pliers or whatever to tighten and loosen these sorts of fasteners. I was never happy following suit so I made a couple of similar tools to suit out of some steel rod.

    cheers, Graham ve3gtc

    1. Thanks for that link Graham. Yes, a bit pricey, but if it does the job well, then worth the investment, in my opinion.


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