Swapper3D Instructions

Assembly primer, tools and miscellaneous

Identifying screws

Small metric fine thread screws are a common type of fastener used in various technical devices, known for their fine threading which allows for precise adjustments and a stronger grip in thin materials. Identifying them correctly is crucial for ensuring the integrity of the assembly and the functionality of the device.

Download and then print this sheet ‘Screw Identification – Real life actual sizes‘ on an 8.5×11 inch standard paper. Then use it to identify a screw by placing it on the image that matches, that will tell you the name of the screw, the screw driver required, and where in the kit you can find it. If you still have difficulty identifying screws then follow the instructions “Using calipers to identify screws”.

Selecting and Using Screwdrivers

Selecting Screwdrivers: Screwdrivers are essential for assembling technical devices. The most common types include Phillips (cross-shaped), flat-head, hex, and Allen keys. The key to selecting the right screwdriver is to match the tool’s tip with the screw’s head. This ensures a snug fit, preventing damage to both the screw and the tool.

  • Phillips: Ideal for cross-shaped screw heads. These provide good grip and torque, making them suitable for a variety of tasks.
  • Hex and Allen Keys: Used for screws with a hexagonal recess. These are often used in machinery and electronic devices. Allen keys are L-shaped tools, while hex screwdrivers have a similar tip but a handle like traditional screwdrivers.
  • Some different screwdrivers that will be used during Swapper3D assembly, Phillips, Flat, 1.3mm Hex drive, 1.5mm Hex drive,  2.5mm Hex drive, 3mm Hex drive. Your screwdrivers may be different colors, brands, or lengths, but the most important thing is that they have the same drive tip shape and size.

Using Calipers to Identify Screws

Digital calipers are precision tools for measuring dimensions with high accuracy. They can measure internal and external dimensions, depths, and step distances. (See image: ‘Parts of a digital caliper’)

Using Calipers:

  • Turn on the caliper and ensure it’s set to zero.
  • For external measurements, use the larger jaws to clamp around the object.
  • For internal measurements, use the smaller jaws.
  • The depth blade can measure depths or holes.
  • The digital display will show the measurement. Always ensure the caliper is perpendicular to the object for accurate measurements.

Understanding Metric Screw Dimensions: Metric screws are measured using two key dimensions: diameter and length. The Screws are listed like “M3x10mm Socket Cap Screw”. “M3” refers to the diameter.  “10mm” refers to the Length. “Socket Cap” refers to the shape of the head of the screw.

  • Diameter refers to the outer diameter of the screw’s thread in millimeters (mm). (See image)
  • Length refers to the total length as measured from under the head to the end of the screw in the case of a socket cap or button head screw, and the overall length from end to end in the case of a flat head screw. (See image)

Identification Steps:

  1. Measure the Diameter: Use digital calipers to measure the outer diameter of the screw’s thread. Place the calipers around the thread, ensuring not to include the screw head, and read the measurement in millimeters. The measured diameter will be less than the name suggests, for instance an “M3” screw should have a diameter of approximately 2.9mm.

  2. Measure the Length: Use the outer diameter measuring jaws of the Digital calipers to measure the length of “Flat Head” screws (see image).  Or use the Inner Diameter blades to measure the Length of a “Socket Cap” screws (see image).
    The measured length will be approximately the length specified in the name of the Screw, but may be slightly less. For instance “x10mm” length screws may measure 9.9mm.

Tightening Screws

Using Screwdrivers: When using a screwdriver, ensure the tip fits securely into the screw head. Apply gentle pressure downwards while turning the tool. For tight screws, it’s crucial not to apply excessive force, as this can strip the screw head. Instead, apply gradual torque until the screw loosens.

Into Metal:

  1. Use the correct screwdriver and
  2. Turn the screw COUNTER-Clockwise first, until you hear a ‘Click!’ sound. Yes, this is loosening the screw and it’s already completely loosened, but it will allow you to align the start of both threads to avoid cross-threading. The ‘click’ sound will let you know that the threads are aligned and ready to be tightened.
  3. turn the screw clockwise until it’s snug. Avoid over-tightening to prevent stripping the thread.

Into Plastic:  You may need to push down hard at first so that the screw threads grip into the plastic, but once they do you need to apply gentle pressure to avoid over-tightening the screw in the softer material. Tighten until the screw is secure but not so tight that it might crack the plastic or strip the threads out. You will learn over time to “feel” the right amount of tightness.

The "Too Long Screw" method for inserting nuts into plastic parts

  1. gather the nut, a screw that is slightly too long, and the part the nut is going into
  2. insert the too-long-screw into the hole
  3. thread the nut onto the end of the too-long-screw, a screwdriver may help to turn the screw a little bit
  4. using a screwdriver, turn  the screw clockwise until the nut is pulled into the part and fully seated. Pro tip: make sure to keep the nut aligned with the orientation of the hole, in other words make sure the hex shape of the hole is aligned with the hex shape of the nut.
  5. finally,using the screwdriver, unscrew the too-long-screw from the nut by turning the screwdriver counter-clockwise. This will leave the nut in place in the hole.

Sockets, Ratchets, and Wrenches

Socket and ratchet sets are used for tightening and loosening nuts and bolts. Select the correct socket size that fits snugly over the nut or bolt. Attach it to the ratchet, and adjust the ratchet’s direction (tightening or loosening). Hold the socket in place while turning the ratchet handle. This tool allows for more leverage and torque, making it ideal for tougher fastenings.

Watch this video on YouTube to learn about sockets, ratchets, and how to use them:

Torque Settings

Torque refers to the force applied when tightening a screw, nut, or bolt. Using the correct torque ensures that the component is securely fastened without being over-tightened.

  • Adjustable Torque Screwdrivers/Wrenches: These tools can be set to a specific torque level. When the set torque is reached, the tool will typically click or disengage, preventing further tightening. This is crucial for delicate or critical components where specific torque levels are required.

Key Tips:

  • Always refer to the manufacturer’s specifications for the correct torque settings.
  • For precision tasks, use a torque screwdriver or wrench to ensure you apply the correct amount of force.

Screw Terminals

### Basic Primer on Screw Terminals and Their Usage

A screw terminal is a type of electrical connector where a wire is held by the tightening of a screw. Widely used in electronics and electrical engineering, screw terminals provide a simple, flexible, and reusable method to connect wires to electrical devices, power supplies, and printed circuit boards.

#### What is a Screw Terminal?

Screw terminals consist of a metal plate or bus bar that is designed to conduct electricity, with screws to fasten or clamp the electrical wires. These terminals can accommodate a range of wire sizes for various applications, from light electrical work to heavy-duty power connections. They are favored for their ease of use, requiring only a screwdriver to connect or disconnect wires without the need for soldering.

#### How to Use a Screw Terminal

1. **Strip the Wire:** Begin by stripping approximately 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch (6 to 9 mm) of insulation from the end of the wire to expose the bare conductor. Use a wire stripper for a clean and accurate strip. The ends of all the Swapper3D wires are already stripped, but there may be a short piece of plastic stuck on the end of the wire, just pull that off to expose the bare stripped wire end.

2. **Inspect the Screw Terminal:** Ensure the terminals(blue arrows) are in good condition, and the screws (pink arrows) are loosened enough to insert the wire but not completely removed.

3. **Insert the Wire:** Insert the stripped end of the wire into the terminal hole beneath the screw head. Ensure that all the strands of a stranded wire are neatly contained within the terminal and none are splayed outside. Make sure that the Red wire goes in the positive(+) terminal and the black wire goes in the negative terminal(-), sometime the + and – symbols are molded into the plastic(red and black arrows) and sometimes they are printed on the surface of the PCB electronic board.

4. **Tighten the Screw:** Using a suitable screwdriver, tighten the screw until the wire is securely held. The connection should be firm and the wire should not pull out with a gentle tug. However, be careful not to overtighten, as this could damage the terminal.

5. **Check the Connection:** Gently pull on the wire to ensure it is securely connected. A properly inserted wire will not move or come loose.

6. **Final Inspection:** Look over all connections in your project to ensure they are tight and secure. Loose connections can lead to poor performance or safety hazards.

#### Tips for Using Screw Terminals

– **No Bare Wire:** Ensure no bare wire is visible outside the terminal, as this could lead to shorts or electrical hazards.
– **Regular Checks:** Over time, connections may become loose due to vibration or thermal expansion. Periodically check and retighten the screws if necessary.

Screw terminals are a fundamental component in many electrical projects, offering a reliable and easy-to-use method for making wire connections. By following the correct procedures and safety precautions, you can ensure a secure and efficient electrical connection for your projects.

Arduino expansion shields

  1. The Arduino has connection headers that allow expansion shields to be “stacked” onto it (pink arrows).
  2. The expansion shield has pins on the backside of the board (Red arrows) that match the position and spacing of the connection headers on the Arduino.
  3. If the pins are not perpendicular to the board, or any don’t stick straight out, then gently bend them into the correct orientation.
  4. When attaching an expansion board, it helps to only insert the bottom row of pins first (orange arrow), but ONLY HALF WAY INSERTED
  5. double check that every pin along the bottom row is inserted into the correct connection header on the Arduino
  6. rotate the board to bring the top row of pins toward the top row of connectors
  7. press the top pins(blue arrow) into the top connectors HALF WAY
  8. Double check the alignment of the pins, make sure every pin is inserted into the correct connector
  9. Press the boards together completely
  10. Check again that every single pin from the top and bottom is inserted into it’s corresponding connector. Look from the top/bottom/side to make sure!

Side cutters

Primer on Side Cutters

Side cutters, also known as diagonal cutters or wire cutters, are a staple tool in electrical work, electronics, jewelry making, and various forms of crafting. Characterized by their angled cutting edges, they are designed for cutting wires, removing excess component leads, or trimming plastic and soft metals. Unlike standard wire cutters that cut straight down, the diagonal blade arrangement of side cutters allows for precision work in tight spaces.

Design and Features

Side cutters feature two sharp, hardened steel blades that meet at an angle, enabling them to cut through materials with a shearing action. This design provides a cleaner cut than scissors or snips, making them ideal for detailed work. The handles are typically insulated with rubber or plastic for a comfortable grip and may offer protection against electrical shock when working with live wires, though this is not universal.

How to Use Side Cutters

  1. Safety: Always cut at a comfortable angle to avoid the risk of the cut material flying off. Wearing safety glasses is recommended to protect your eyes from potential flying debris.
  3. Positioning: Hold the side cutters with the flat side of the blades facing the part you want to keep. This allows for a flush cut, minimizing the amount of material left protruding.

  4. Cutting: Grip the handles firmly and bring the blades around the material to be cut. Apply even pressure until the cut is made. For thicker wires or materials, apply a rocking motion with the cutters to ease the cutting process.

Maintenance Tips

  • Keep Clean: After use, wipe your side cutters clean of any debris or adhesive to keep the cutting action smooth.
  • Lubricate: Periodically apply a drop of oil to the pivot joint to ensure smooth operation.
  • Sharpness: While side cutters are durable, over time, the blades may dull, especially if used on hard materials. When they no longer provide clean cuts, consider having them sharpened or replaced.


Side cutters are versatile and find applications beyond simple wire cutting. They are used in crafting for cutting and shaping wire art, in electronics for trimming leads on components, and in jewelry making for cutting and manipulating wire. Their ability to provide a close cut makes them indispensable for creating clean, professional finishes in workpieces.

Arduino Firmware

    Arduino is a popular open-source platform used for building electronic projects. Firmware in the context of Arduino refers to the specific software uploaded to an Arduino board’s microcontroller to define its behavior. This software can be developed using the Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment), where you write code, compile it, and upload it to your Arduino board.

#### Understanding Arduino Firmware

Arduino firmware is typically written in C or C++. It directly interacts with the hardware, controlling the board’s inputs and outputs based on the logic defined by the programmer. The Arduino IDE compiles this code into a binary file (*.hex) that the microcontroller can execute.

#### What is Xloader?

Xloader is a simple Windows application that uploads (or “Flashes”) precompiled hex files to an Arduino board without needing the full Arduino IDE. It’s particularly useful for deploying the same firmware across multiple devices or for users who want to distribute software without sharing the source code.

#### How to Install Firmware Using Xloader

To install firmware on an Arduino board using Xloader, follow these steps:

1. **Download and Install Xloader:**
– You can download Xloader from its official website or a trusted repository. Once downloaded, unzip the file and run the executable.

2. **Prepare the Firmware:**
– Ensure you have the compiled hex file of the Arduino firmware you wish to upload. This file is typically generated by the Arduino IDE after you compile your code.

3. **Connect Your Arduino Board:**
– Connect your Arduino board to your computer using a USB cable. Make sure that the board is powered on.

4. **Configure Xloader Settings:**
– Open Xloader, and you’ll see fields for Device, Hex file, COM port, and Baud rate:
– **Hex file:** Click on the browse button (…) to locate and select your hex file.
– **Device:** Choose your Arduino board from the dropdown list. Each Arduino model might have different bootloader specifications, so it’s essential to choose the right one.
– **COM port:** Select the COM port to which your Arduino is connected. You can find this in the Device Manager of your Windows system under “Ports (COM & LPT)”. It’s usually named as “USB Serial Port (COMx)”.
– **Baud rate:** Set according to your Arduino board’s specifications. Common rates include 115200 (often for Arduino Uno) or 57600.

5. **Upload Firmware:**
– Once all settings are correct, click the “Upload” button in Xloader. The status bar at the bottom will show progress, and upon successful upload, it will display the size of the uploaded file in bytes.

6. **Verify and Test:**
– After uploading, the Arduino board should automatically restart running the new firmware. You can now verify its functionality by checking if the Arduino performs as expected based on the uploaded program.

#### Tips for Successful Firmware Installation

– **Check Board and Port:** Always double-check that you’ve selected the correct board and COM port before uploading.
– **Use Updated Drivers:** Ensure that your USB drivers are up-to-date, especially if you are using a clone Arduino board.
– **Backup Old Firmware:** If possible, backup existing firmware before flashing new firmware, in case you need to revert to the original setup.
– **Error Handling:** If Xloader fails to upload the firmware, check your connections, port settings, and ensure no other application is using the COM port.

Using Xloader to upload Arduino firmware provides a streamlined, efficient way to manage firmware deployment across multiple devices or for end-users. This tool simplifies the process, making it accessible even for those less familiar with the full Arduino development environment.

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