Holiday Gifts for the DIY Tinkerer Engineer – Machine Design (blog)


December 14, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ DIY Project


Most engineers like to think of themselves as “fix-it” types of people. We see something that is broken or something that just is not operating, and we tend to rely on our skills rather than bring it back to the store. As a result, most engineers have an assorted array of tools stacked up in the garage somewhere just waiting to be used. However, as products have gotten more complicated, so have the tools that are required to serve them. Machine Design is currently running a contest for your best engineering do-it-yourself stories. Here is a list of do-it-yourself (DIY) tools that make home repair a little easier in the modern age.

iFixit’s Pro Tech Toolkit

iFixit is famous for its electronic teardowns. They will often break open and disassemble popular commercial electronics like iPhones, MacBooks, Microsoft Surface tables, PlayStation, and even Nerf Guns. Once they have completed a teardown, they will rate each product with a reparability score. The site also hosts several guides for DIY repairs so that the adventurous person can attempt to fix their tablets, PCs, car, or camera. To help in those efforts, iFixit sells the Pro Tech Toolkit, specially designed to help in the disassembly of electronics. The kit includes specialty tools like a metal spudger to help pry off glued down electronic boards, a Jimmy blade to help crack open sealed electronic devices, and even a small suction cup to lift up screens on smartphones and tablets. The full of list tools in the kit is below.

  • 64-Bit Driver Kit
  • Anti-Static Wrist Strap
  • Small Suction Cup
  • 3x iFixit Opening Tool
  • iFixit Opening Picks x6
  • Nylon Tipped Reverse Tweezers
  • Angled ESD Tweezers
  • Blunt ESD Tweezers
  • 2x Spudger
  • Metal Spudger
  • Jimmy
  • Magnetic Pad
  • Tool Roll

Watch the brief video below for more information about the kit: 

Makita 18V LXT Cordless Flashlight

Makita has a whole line of cordless tools that are handy for mobile work. Its LXT line uses lithium-ion batteries and today is the largest 18 volt cordless tool line up. The motors used to charge the batteries are engineered to offer efficient power and long life. The rapid charges communicate with the batteries as they charge offering a long worktime and faster charging. Part of the cordless line is the 18V LXT Cordless LED Flashlight. At the full brightness of 12 LED, it provides 240 lumens of light for 12 hours. The half brightness allows for longer battery life, a full 22 hours. The battery reaches a full charge in just 30 minutes. The flashlight can even operate in extreme temperatures of -4°F/-20°C. The cordless flashlight is a great benefit for anyone working in dark spaces like under a car hood or in a tight corner of the house.

SKILSAW Portable Worm Drive Table Saw

For builders, a worm-drive saw is a go-to-tool for performance cutting. The SKILSAW has long been a staple for worm-driven hand saws and now they are offering a portable version for on the road jobs. The 10-inch table saw is delivered power via a worm drive gear that allows the motor to run cooler while providing more torque and cutting speeds. The table saw is powerful enough to handle full cuts of plywood. It has a cutting capacity of 25 inches and a cut depth of 3.5 inches. The table saw only weighs 49 pounds, which makes it easy to transport from site to site. Click here to watch the video explaining how the worm drive gear works.

RYOBI Module Garage Door Opener

Most DIY projects start in the garage. Depending on the size of the project, you may find yourself out of reach from your workbench. But if you have RYOBI Module Garage Door Opener (GDO), you could finish your work in the middle of the room. The GDO has your basic functions including multiple remotes and control panels with passcode functionality, obstacle detection, a belt drive system that is 20% quieter, a rechargeable battery to operate the GDO during power outages, and connectivity to a smartphone app so you can operate the door while away from home. The GDO also has a built-in LED light that helps keep the garage illuminated. What makes the RYOBI GDO so DIY-friendly is the added modular features. The sides of the GDO have empty slots for separate attachments. You can attach a Bluetooth Speaker, a laser parking assist sensor, a garage fan to help clear out fumes, a retractable cord reel for power extension, and finally a sensor that can measure temperature, carbon dioxide, and humidity. 

Shaper Origin

For those of us who love wood work but do not want to invest in a CNC machine, comes a tool from Shaper that uses augmented reality to help cut out complicated patterns. When you place the device on the surface, it takes a picture of its surroundings including any drawn pattern you have made into the wood; the drawn pattern is converted into a digital shape. The tool uses the photo as a reference as it moves around the pattern and the cutter keeps track of its location using the built-in sensors. The cutter device will help cancel out any vibration input the operator may apply to keep a level and steady cut. The drill bit will also turn off the second it detects that it has veered away from the pattern. For those inexperienced with cutting complex shapes, this tool helps level the playing field. The video below helps explain how it works. 

Enerpac’s Hydraulic Toolbox

Sometimes an object is too heavy to lift and get into position. To help get some much needed power, a hydraulic lift can be used to help create large forces. The Hydraulic Toolbox from Enerpac is a great portable tool that allows you to setup a hydraulic lift quick and easy. The storage box contains a hydraulic cylinder, a lightweight hand pump with angled gauge adaptor assembly, and hose. The storage box helps protect the hydraulic tool from dust, water, and other environmental contaminants that contribute to the short operating life of most hydraulic tools. A series of cylinders from Enerpac can be used in conjunction with the hydraulic lift. They vary in stroke from 0.44 to10.13 inches and have a capacity of 5 to 50 tons. 

Walabot 

The problem with construction is the lack of seeing what is behind your walls. Stud finders and flexible camera lens can provide some clarity but not a full picture. The engineers at Vayyar are trying to eliminate the guess work with the 3D imaging system called Walabot. The sensor attaches to your smartphone and can see through objects, liquids, and materials to detect studs, electrical wiring, and metal and PVC pipes. The 3D imaging uses RF to see through solid objects. The built-in antennas in the Walabot pick up the reflections to create the images. The 15-anetenna array in Walabot can track movement, people, measure distance, and depth. The device can see through 7 to 10 cm of concrete.

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