50before50: #15 construct something with electricity | #33 solder something

I like to make things, so why not expand into dangerous-making-things-territory? 

I didn’t really have anything particular in mind when I decided on these separate projects. The soldering could have actually been part of jewellery or something else unrelated, I just knew I was keen to give it a go. Fortunately both came together in a neat little package!

I was initially really keen to make a nixie clock kit, but they are quite expensive – and the tubes burn out quickly and replacements are difficult to find. I really wasn’t enthusiastic to make something that wouldn’t be useful, so I sat on this for a while and idly searched for beginners electronics kits on and off – though the idea of sirens and animated bells and electronic dice didn’t really do it for me.

I can’t remember when it was (maybe August/September) when I happened upon the elenco fm radio kit – but, genius! I like to listen to the radio and don’t actually possess one outside the one in Panzo-the-car. I found the kit on amazon and I think it cost me about AU$30 (including shipping).

I’d been dithering since about getting started for a while, but time’s running out – and as I worked most of yesterday (pah!), I decided I needed a fun diversion.

Don helped out initially by giving complicated technical explanations of what each component did, providing moral support and handing me things (oh and saving us all when I carelessly soldered a capacitor in the wrong place – oops). Then he left me to it and went off to hit golf balls.

I hadn’t actually soldered before (though I had observed on occasion) – it all happens very fast things can go wrong pretty quickly. It requires a steady hand and rather brings to mind terminator 2 with all of that runny silver liquid.

Behold – my very first solder join (a bit too fat but did the job):

Passed the first test – the on light works! That IC at U2 was probably the most difficult – the pins were very small and very close together – and you can’t let one blob of solder connect with another blob – else Bad Things happen.

It was all extremely fiddly, but actually very enjoyable (definitely needed the reading glasses) – all that sewing seems to have held me in good stead for fine, close-up work.

There wasn’t much time for progress shots, but after a couple of hours – behold:


And it works – I could receive many stations, including ones I’ll actually listen to. Great quick and fun project. I feel quite the sense of achievement afterward.

Will I build something electrical again? Possibly! Maybe even a clock.

2 thoughts on “50before50: #15 construct something with electricity | #33 solder something

  1. Wow, good for you! I’ve never done any soldering, and my husband is a DIY computer master with all sorts of fancy equipment at my disposal at home. You inspire me to try it myself, only now I’ll have to figure out what to make.

    • Oh you definitely should – I’m sure you’d both love it and be very good at it!

      It’s interesting – I feel like there is quite a bit of similarity between this and crafting – need for a steady hand and eye for detail; and the bringing together of disparate “bits” to make something functional.

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