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Does anyone know what this tool is called, and more importantly: where can I get a new one?

It’s a simple yet super useful tool for poking around while soldering things. Made out of some high-heat plastic, not sure what kind.

It says “Harris - Dracon Division” and “Camarillo, California” on it, but nothing else.

So it would seem that the mystery has been (mostly) solved… the tool is a "telecom spudger"!

It would appear I am probably misusing the poor thing, since it's really designed more for tracing and manipulating wires in punchdown blocks. But that doesn't mean I'm going to stop using it as a soldering assistant.

For those who are curious how I typically use it, this is the general idea—here I'm using it to hold down a loose bit of wire before coming in with the soldering iron to attach it.

The item being soldered, incidentally, is a Wyse Indoor/Outdoor WiFi "Smart Plug", basically an ESP32 and a couple of buttons and relays in a box. Costs $18 at Home Depot.

While the Wyse firmware isn't *terrible* (on the scale of "smart" devices), I reflash all my WiFi plugs/switches with the Tasmota cloud-free firmware so I can control it over for my system.
github.com/arendst/Tasmota

@steve Wow, that was quick. I didn’t know it originally had caps on the pointy end, although that makes sense.

@kadin I've never seen anything like it before, looks like a useful tool though.

@kadin

I have one like this, but yellow rather than orange, and it came to me in a batch of telephone-installing tools.

@publius That tracks. I’m not 100% sure where I got this one, but I think it came from a box of ham radio stuff that came from the estate of a guy who worked for the Bell System at one point.

The hook end would be about right for pulling wires out of punchdown blocks and stuff.

@kadin

washingtontechnology.com/2004/

So, it sounds like Dracon is the brand, the Fluke connection was probably an OEM deal for Fluke, and the company is now owned by Danaher Corp.

I think its likely they don't make that particular tool anymore. So if you can get one....maybe get two.

Sorry for the infodump.

@kadin Looks an awful lot like one piece of a "hook and pick set". Although those are normally metal, not plastic.

@psf Yeah—actually I had my hook and pick set out for the same project (had to pull little rubber seals out of the screw holes on the bottom of the thing I was disassembling)—but this item seems to be a one-off tool.

Definitely seems to have served some sort of telecom maintenance/repair function originally, but it sure is handy for holding down wires to a board for soldering leads.

@kadin to me it looks a bit like a weeding tool for vinyl crafts. I don't recognize any of the branding on this one and there are pelnty out there not heat resistant. But that might be a place to start searching. Or some dentist tool 🤷‍♀️

@kadin Seems like searching for things like "probe spudger" and "pick spudger" makes them show up. The former also brings up a bunch of nylon ones with a straight end as well but the latter turns up something closer in shape to that image. Few other designs too.

I'm guessing you can take it from there but for safety here's an amazon seller of the common yellow variant:

amazon.com/Yellow-Terminal-Tel

@kadin What is the useful part about it?
It looks like it could be rather easily 3d-printed (and the metal hook embedded with glue or heat).

@Jo @kadin Sure. Makers usually like to help out. Me for example (albeit not in the proper country to actually help...)

@lakoja Might be able to 3D print something like it, although the plastic it's made from is pretty heat-tolerant.

It's made the acquaintance of the tip of my soldering iron more than a few times, and hasn't melted at all.

@kadin Something like www.ifixit.com/Store/Tools/Pro… ?

I think any shops that sells electronics bothering¹ tools such as soldering stations and accessories would have something like that

¹ ok, I don't think this is how they are called / a term they can be searched with :D

@valhalla Sort of. I have a set like that (well, mine are the cheap Harbor Freight variety, but similar) and they're quite handy—I was using them on the same project actually—but none have quite the same shape as the orange Harris tool (which I am now told is a "telecom spudger").

It would probably be quite possible to bend and/or grind a similar shape into a piece of metal or wood, if someone was so inclined, though.

@kadin That kind of tool is called a spudger or black stick or just soldering aid and is genrally made out of nylon and/or fibreglass.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spudger

Can't find that exact model, I think.

Maybe this: store.phonetx.com/28210000.htm
amazon.com/Fluke-Networks-4460

@kurt Interesting! I'm aware of the term "spudger" but thought it only applied to prying / gap-opening tools.

I have a whole set of the things from iFixit, although my favorite is actually an old guitar pick with one corner sharpened using a nail file.

@kadin Yeah, I think it's a special subset of a spudger for telecom stuff? I wasn't sure until I saw one that had the same kind of hook on top. It's maybe also to help with prodding wires

@kadin Now you have me wondering if the Tuya based smart plugs can take alternate firmware.

Don’t really want it cloud connected and it’s just a Chinese company with US based cloud services. Ended up replacing them with Hue plugs.

@ne1for23 If you still have them around, the older Tuya plugs are actually somewhat coveted by DIY home automation folks.

Apparently they had an undocumented feature used to load them at the factory, which lets you reflash the firmware without any soldering or opening the case.

"tuya-convert" runs on a Raspberry Pi (using it as an AP) and will load the Tasmota firmware. I've used it—works great.

Unfortunately newer Tuya plugs aren't ESP82xx-based, and won't work.
tasmota.github.io/docs/Tuya-Co

@kadin

Spent a little bit of time reading up on this and the requirements because I genuinely didn't know this was an option.

Leaning towards I have the right chip, but already firmware upgraded to block the custom flash. I'll find out eventually. Still in the process of moving into a new computer and catching up on all that I couldn't do because of the move and a busy week of appointments.

@ne1for23 The round one on the left looks like one of mine (OTA reflashable), but I think you're right that the two rectangular ones are newer. So some surgery probably required.

It is somewhat addicting, once you get one or two of the things, to go prowling around the house to see what else could be automated.

*gazes at ceiling fan* you're next, bucko

@kadin

Home automation is addictive. Ceiling fan has been on my todo list too. I just worry about cost involved and complications because it has a speed setting. Still it would be nice to use Siri to control all the ceiling fans in the house and an automation to turn off the living room fan after everyone in the living room is in bed.

Reminds me that I need to eventually rebuild or re-design my mailbox alarm. Haven't done anything in that project since someone stole it out of my mailbox.

@ne1for23 @kadin some rebranded Tuya-based stuff is sold in Aus as Grid Connect through major hardware chain Bunnings. For the moment I haven't bothered reflashing anything, but I have had good success buying Tuya-based stuff from overseas and just adding them to the Grid Connect app. Pleased to see Tuya will support upcoming Matter standard.

@ne1for23 Yeah the ceiling fans are going to be interesting. I did some research and for mine—which are powered by a single circuit, and then have pull-chains for light and speed control—I think what I'm going to use is this thing:
itead.cc/product/sonoff-ifan03

You wire it into the fan (that'll be the interesting part) and then leave the pull chains set to 'on' and 'high' speed, and it supposedly does the speed control and light on/off.

Should know in a week or two whether it works!

@kadin Finally tried my luck with Tuya Convert.

The good news is I have the right chips. The bad news is that my Tuya firmware is too new and blocks tuya-convert from completing successfully.

Guess I'll keep the plugs around should I feel adventurous and want to try my luck at re-flashing via serial, but for the amount of effort and likeliness I'll break it or it will be unsafe to use, I'll probably end up buying more Phillips plugs instead.

At least it was fun trying. 🤓

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