Here at oomlout we believe that the best tool is the one you design and build yourself, and it's a theme we see recurring again and again in the maker community. Ben Pirt is currently completing fulfilment of his Kickstarter-funded educational robot, Mirobot, and has shared some of the custom tools - made from laser-cut wood and low-cost electronics - which have made that process easier. From a bulk programmer which can upload code to five Arduino Pro Minis to a bag-packing stand, each cost very little to build but makes Ben's job so much easier. The robot itself is worthy of attention, too: aimed at children, its body is laser-cut wood and its brains are, unsurprisingly, Arduino-based, while the whole kit and caboodle is released under a permissive licence on Ben's GitHub repository.
One of the things I've found really interesting about production has been the devices that I've ended up making to speed up the process and I thought I'd share a few of these with you here.