Off season: Roboteers learn to solder

Just got back from our learn how to solder day. Passed out 17 kits, only 15 stayed to build. Youngest was 10, oldest early 20’s but the average age was 14. Almost every builder had a parent to help.

Final goal was to build this kit: Minimatrix 8*8 LED scrolling display

We spread the parts on the table (pick up a 1 gal re-closeable zip lock storage bag, pick up and put into the bag: practice resistors, practice capacitors, practice boards, 3 batteries, remote, Minimatrix kit, pliers, iron, length of solder, clippers, instructions, and a paper towel). Take all to table, take paper towel fold it into 1/8’s and get it damp.

Opened up with standard safety lecture on how hot the irons get, how hot solder really really hurts, etc. Then a quick demo on how to solder. (Heat the joint, then feed solder into it). Roboteers then practiced with resistors on a single sided protoboard. With 6 good connections they got promoted to a double sided board, 4 good connections they were on to the Minimatrix kits.

Most roboteers finished the test runs in 30 mins, and got the kit done in 20-35 mins. Three fails, one on not soldering the (-) connection on the battery, two with bent battery connectors. Easy fixes. All 15 roboteers left with working systems that they had programmed to spell out their names.

And only two other minor issues, one kid burned the table with an iron and one Mom got a minor burn by not thinking that the metal shaft also gets hot.

So all in all a successful day, roboteers were excited and had leaned a new skill. Thanks to parents that stayed to monitor/cheer on their roboteers and to Scott for supplying practice components and boards.

Total cost for items was $21 per kit, but shipping adds another $6 per kit if you decide to reproduce our event.

It was a great class. The Eureka moments by some of the kids was pretty amazing. Many kids had no idea they could do this kind of item and were much more confident by the end of the short class.

Just a few quick pics from the class…

Vexmen soldering class - August 17

Vexmen soldering class - August 17

Vexmen soldering class - August 17

100% success rate by the end of class! Good bonding between parents and kids too.