Learning to Solder Better

Gen 4 Interface kit

I’ve owned a soldering iron for as long as I can remember. But I’ve never felt I’ve been very good at using it. Lately I’ve been needing to do more and more soldering (thanks to my 3d printer building among other things) so I thought I should probably get better at it.

Thing-O-Matic build

One thing I’ve heard over and over again is to practice with a simple electronics kit. So I’ve been buying a few kits here and there and have recently been forcing myself to put one together whenever I have a little time.

Aside from being fun little gadgets to have once complete, these truly are a great way to get better at soldering. It is simple through-hole soldering but it’s something I’ve always felt sloppy at.

My soldering ‘night school’ started last week with this custom name badge from Analog Machines which I picked up recently from the MakerShed:


It’s big and bright! Perfect for wearing in a lanyard badge holder.

Next up was the TV-B-Gone kit from Adafruit Industries – one of my favorite places to order from.


I promise to not be too evil with such great power.

The latest kit I assembled is the Solder Time kit I bought from SparkFun.com (another favorite store) which is quite possibly the geekiest watch of all time.
Solder Time aka the geekiest watch ever

The kit comes with a red LED segment display but I ordered a separate green one and swapped it in which is another fun thing about these kits is that you can modify them to make them your own. I had originally planned to use this ‘watch’ in my MakerBot as a visible timer (minus the acrylic case and wristband of course) for time lapse videos but I think it’s too big to fit where I wanted to use it.

It’s amazing to see the difference in my soldering abilities after the practice from putting together these extremely well documented kits. It really gives you a good idea of what the end result is supposed to look like, as well as extra tips for soldering different types of electronic components.

There is also a comic book (in PDF form) called Soldering is Easy that is a great resource for getting started with soldering.

My next project will be the Minty Boost kit that I got from the vending machine at Metrix Create Space during a recent trip to Seattle.

I think I’ve finally earned my soldering skill badge.

Update: Here’s my completed Minty Boost Kit – ready to charge up my iPhone:
Minty Boost

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