Well, the weather has pretty much let us down this August Bank Holiday. Saturday brought fine enough weather for hula hooping and lawn mowing – but Sunday and today have been pretty dismal.
As tempting as it may be to disappear into the sofa watching Doctor Who or Xena or whatever made for tv disaster movie happens to be on the ‘Horror’ network – I’ve gotten crafty instead. I did a lot of needle felting this weekend with mixed results. After watching a youtube video about needle felting pumpkins with faces, I determined to have a go using up some wool I’d accidentally semi-felted while trying to dye pink last year. A pink pumpkin, how cute? No. As I began to felt the face it took on a life of it’s own and became a rather terrifying little old man head that I will not picture here.
When I got up today I realized I’d much rather tackle my fear of the soldering iron and have a go at the Kitronik Colour Changing USB Lamp kit I bought earlier this year.
I discovered Kitronik at the beginning of the year after I got a load of RaspberryPi stuff for Christmas, along with the Kitronik LED-eye cat project. They’re based Nottingham and have heaps of fantastic Maker stuff for sale so after you read this go check them out!
Anyhoo, one summer 19 years ago I worked in a components factory as a coil winder & polisher. I’d have to wind some coils, strip the ends, dip them in flux, and tin them. The tin would jump up out of the container and form little balls on my finger hairs – ouch! Then I’d have to test them with some electrical equipment that would occasionally shock me. Perhaps these early traumas are why I have been a little bit chicken about soldering.
But all that ended today! I practiced by building a little wobbly cube out of wire by soldering the joints. Then I soldered some wire to a bit of old bit of board and tested out my solder-sucker tool. Having passed these gruelling tests, I was finally ready for the Kitronik kit.
Listen, it took something like 5 minutes – maybe 10, I wasn’t counting. It was so easy, I don’t know what I was afraid of. It was so much easier than soldering a floppy wire cube together. Here it is in all it’s glory: my first soldered electronics project.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get it right the first time. When I plugged it in nothing happened. My better half fired up his multimeter and tested the volts on the different joints and we figured out that I hadn’t gotten good contact on the power switch prongs. So I applied a little more heat, sucked the bad solder out, and globbed some more on. Bingo!
That did the trick, and my USB lamp was glowing and changing colour beautifully.
Now all I need to do is devise a clever case for it! Good work on a rainy bank holiday afternoon.