Soldering Lab recap


With childlike euphoria I rushed home to show my wife and son what I made, I MADE! With the smell of flux fumes still in my nostrils I hooked the thumb sized circuit board up to a set of batteries and gleefully displayed the two blinking LEDs.


It certainly isn’t the prettiest little contraption (my soldering skills have a long way to develop), but thanks to the knowledge and patience of Make:Princeton leader Nick Johnson, I and two other soldering lab attendees were able to get these simple devices to work.


Nick Johnson explains the schematic

Nick Johnson explains the schematic

Nick began the lab with a schematic drawn on the chalkboard. He described how the circuit would work and added a diagram of the circuit board layout. He then showed us the basic tools needed (soldering iron, solder, snips, strippers, etc.) and after a brief demonstration of soldering technique, he handed out the components and we launched ourselves into our projects.


I had suggested the lab to Nick at a previous Make:Princeton meeting, explaining my deficit of talent and experience in this area. In the 70’s I had attempted building one of PAiA’s simple electronic synthesizers (which ended up in a shoebox under my bed, non-functioning) and later in the 80’s I built a Sinclair ZX-81 computer (which was replaced by the manufacturer with a WORKING model after I sent it back with another $30), so my track record with electronics was dismal.


Jon inspecting his handiwork

Jon inspecting his handiwork

But Nick has patience and loads of supportive enthusiasm. With through-mounted soldering techniques we assembled the 555 IC, two resistors, a diode and two LEDs to a small chopped up piece of Radio Shack Universal PC Board. One by one, Rob, Jon and then I were delighted to see our handiwork light up and blink (not without first learning how to de-solder, wick and clean up our mistakes).


In all it was a very pleasant evening. I intend to pay Nick (and Make:Princeton) back with a lab on metal etching sometime in the next several weeks. If you have an idea for a lab, or want to share a project technique that we could all benefit from, please contact Make:Princeton at


We hope to see you at our next meeting.




One Response to “Soldering Lab recap”

  1. makeprinceton Says:

    Hey Ken,

    You forgot to mention your spot-on photocopies from the book… What was it titled — “Dangerous Activities for Boys”

    Rock on. Nice post.

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