This is something I’ve almost bought quite a few times over the last few years. Almost, bought but didn’t. A Dremel like multi- tool. The one I got was the Apollo 135W Multi Purpose Rotary Multi-Tool & 120 Piece Mixed Accessory Kit.. Having owned one now for a couple of weeks I wish I had bought it years ago.
In my hobby of electronic construction it’s one of those things that you just keep finding a use for.
First thing that attracted me to this device is the price. It’s pretty clear that if you look at all the accessories that come with it they are not going to be of the highest quality. I mean look how much decent drill bits cost. Considering you get over a hundred accessories work out how much each would cost even if you didn’t get the multi-tool with them.
Apollo-multi-purpose-rotary-combitool-multi-tool, the tool itself.
I basically thought of the accessories as a bonus.
The actual tool is quite impressive with a nice feel to it, not too big and not too small for a hobby device. The bits get tightened into to chuck by pressing a button while tightening with the included wrench. I’ve so far got by finger tightening and not needed the tool. Maybe my fingers are strong. It has and on off switch and a speed controller. One thing I noticed straight away is that the spin is very accurate. I’m not sure how else to describe it. You notice when it’s not as I have a small PCB drill and when its spinning you can see the vibration where it’s revolving.
This gives me confidence when it comes to drilling pcbs as you don’t want the drill bit moving around.
I just bought a set of punches from amazon, the Toolzone 5Pc Hollow Hole Punches 3-8mm Leather, Rubber, Card, Gaskets, Plastic, Paper Etc. I wasn’t expecting much considering the price so I wasn’t too upset to say the first try with the 8mm punch wasn’t up to much. I did read that someone had commented that the punches were useless as they were supplied blunt but if you sharpened them they were usable.
The set of punches from Amazon.
The newly sharpened punch.
So first job was to see if I could sharpen the 8mm punch. The instructions supplied with the Apollo multi-tool are pretty useless when it comes to what the tools are and how they should be used. As I considered anything useful in there a bonus anyway. I picked up the tool shown below. It looked like some sort of grinding tool and the shape looked like it would be good for sharpening the punch, shaped for inside the punch and for the outside edge.
One of the included accessories, this worked very well for sharpening.
I gave it a few seconds working around the inside barrel and then did it round the outside edge then tried the punch again. The difference was apparent straight the way. Neat clean holes punched through plastic and card. I was immediately impressed by how I’d sharpened it in a few seconds and by how good the punch worked when sharp. So first job was a complete success and not something I’d even considered using it for.
One of the jobs I had bought it for was to attempt to cut the metal shafts of some variable resisters. There didn’t appear to be anything in the supplied accessories that looked like a cutting device so a quick look on Amazon and I had located KING DO WAY 10pcs Diamond Cutting Discs Cut-off Wheel Set For Dremel Rotary Tool reasonably priced. I say reasonably as you can pay huge prices for some accessories.
One thing I would definitely recommend with something like this is goggles like theses I don’t want to get all boring with health and safety but you really don’t want to damage your eyes, end of lecture.
So second job was to cut the shafts of the variable resistors, they are too long by about a centimetre. So with the medium cutting wheel inserted into the Apollo and with goggles on, I held the shaft of the potentiometer with pliers and started to cut. It was best not to force the cutter and to just let it go through slowly. It wasn’t as quick as I’d hoped it to be but theses weren’t the most expense cutting discs and they did actually cut the shaft off. It did save me having to hacksaw them. I tried this but got bored after a couple.
The medium sized cutting tool.
In hindsight I would have used a cardboard box to cut them in using it as a screen because after I had finished cutting a few I noticed that a lot of metal dust had been spread around where I was using the tool.
So the second job was also a success if more time consuming than I had thought. Maybe better cutting discs would have been the answer.
Next job was to drill some small (about 3mm) mounting holes through some plastic angles. The supplied drills worked fine but it was only plastic that I drilled. You get different size chucks included in the accessories to hold different size drills. The gripping mechanism isn’t like that of a “normal” drill where the chuck alters over the range of about 1 millimetre up to about 10 mm. With this the chuck only changes slightly hence the interchangeable chucks.
Next job, I’d made a front panel out of white coated aluminium dibond board but I wanted it to touch bear aluminium to make an electrical screening connection. I lightly sanded the area with a small piece of sandpaper but because of the confined area of it being surrounded by wires components and circuit boards I couldn’t really get much purchase or pressure on it to make any impression. I should have done it before I built stuff onto it I know but I didn’t know I wanted a screening connection at that point so I thought I’d try the the multi-tool. Instead of a grinding bit I tried a sanding cylinder to see if that was sufficient. You may read that the cylinders don’t fit properly and are loose. People have even resorted to putting elastic bands around the inside, none of this is necessary. You just slide the loose sanding cylinder on and then tighten the screw at the end. This compresses the rubber and grips the cylinder. Just literally touching the revolving sanding cylinder on the surface had the desired effect and exposed bear aluminium and job done.
You can see from the picture below and this was literally done in one touch.
To conclude this review I’d say that I was very pleased with this purchase. I think it’s going to come in useful for many more jobs that I just wouldn’t have expected. The more you use it the more you wonder how you got by before. While writing this conclusion I’ve just had some PCB’s manufactured (see here for details of PCB manufacture) The pre-sets I’ve got to go on the board have wide flat legs that are too big for the holes. I didn’t want to enlarge the holes by drilling as they are platted through so I thought I’d put in a grinding bit and see if I could file down the flat of the pre-set legs. It was a simple task and in seconds the pre-set fitted perfectly on the board. I could probably done most of these jobs some other way but this tool certainly made it easier.
Below are some alternatives that I carefully considered that may suit your price requirements better.