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VMat 30th January 2013 02:49 PM

Alignment tool
 
Hello,

I'd like to buy an alignment tool for trimpots and such, and I've noticed there are some that are "static-free", which I suppose means "conductive". Apart from the danger of putting them close to high voltages, is there any practical difference between a "static-free" and a "regular" one?

I might just get both because they are cheap. But if someone could give me a reason not to buy one or another, I may buy a few leds instead, or something more useful. Like a glass of wine... ;)

My main purpose is to calibrate low-voltage audio equipment - amplifiers, cassette decks, maybe tuners in the future (if I dare). No TV's. I rarely do it, actually, but when I do, I hate to use those tiny metal screwdrivers that often interfere in the audio signal.

Thanks!

Enzo 30th January 2013 04:13 PM

Static free is not the same as conductive. Some plastics or other substances can build up static charges, other things don;t. Rub a balloon on a wool sweater and it gets a charge, rub a balloon on a cotton sweater, and it doesn't. That doesn't mean cotton is conductive.

And if you are looking at different brnds of tool, sometimes the difference between static free or not is that one company decided to use it as a marketing point while the other did not. But there are static sensitive circuits, and so they make specialk tools for that. Just as they make brass screwdrives and other tools for use in circuits that must be non-magnetic. The plastic will not be conductive and shock you. Plastics that can conduct electricity would be labelled conductive, rather than static free.

The plastic hex sided tools - usually come in various colors and sizes - are all plastic and safe to use, even in TVs. There are also little plastic robs with tiny flat metal tips to use a small screwdrivers for trim pots. The plastic shaft is insulated, only the little tip is metal.

In my experience, the metal screwdriver interact with tuned circuits, like the RF and IF cans in an okl TV, but I never recalled a time when it upset a trimpot. The plastic tools can be put down into a tuning coil without fear.

VMat 30th January 2013 05:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Enzo (Post 3348786)
Static free is not the same as conductive.

Of course... what was I thinking?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Enzo (Post 3348786)
In my experience, the metal screwdriver interact with tuned circuits, like the RF and IF cans in an okl TV, but I never recalled a time when it upset a trimpot. The plastic tools can be put down into a tuning coil without fear.

Last time I used the screwdriver to set the bias in an integrated amp, it caused a buzzing sound (and a few clicks) just by touching the trimpot. Not loud, but a bit annoying. Then I used a wooden "thing" that I made from a toothpick, it didn't make any noises, but it didn't survive two or three uses either. So I decided to buy a proper tool for that.

Bottom line, if I got you right, is that the static-free version should do no harm to the amp (or to me while using it), correct?

Thanks,

macboy 30th January 2013 05:36 PM

How about a ceramic screwdriver?

VMat 31st January 2013 09:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by macboy (Post 3348890)
How about a ceramic screwdriver?

I have considered those too, but I prefer the slimmer profile of the "alignment tools".

Thanks for the tip, anyway.

s3tup 31st January 2013 09:37 AM

I like these
VISHAY SPECTROL 'PEN STYLE' TRIMMING TOOL | eBay

They won't slip, they are 2-sided, one side is the same as regular screwdriver - the other side is a screwdriver recessed in the tube.

oz7aff 31st January 2013 09:44 AM

In the production we use Ceramic Screwdrivers like this

270 Ceramic Slotted / Screwdrivers / Onlineshop / Wiha.com / Premium Tools for Professionals

VMat 31st January 2013 09:58 AM

Wow, many replies! Thanks, guys!

Quote:

Originally Posted by s3tup (Post 3349770)
I like these
VISHAY SPECTROL 'PEN STYLE' TRIMMING TOOL | eBay

They won't slip, they are 2-sided, one side is the same as regular screwdriver - the other side is a screwdriver recessed in the tube.

That's the one I was about to buy at first.

Quote:

Originally Posted by oz7aff (Post 3349776)

Those look great, but are a bit expensive considering I'm not going to use them very often. And again, the thick handle sometimes will prevent me from reaching some oddly-placed pots without disassembling a lot more than I want...

I'm going to get that pen-style thing, and maybe an anti-static version as well.

Thanks again!

Enzo 31st January 2013 11:20 PM

That Vishay tool is one of the things I tried to describe, though I did it poorly. They work great, I have one.


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