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The MintyBoost has been a very popular project here at MAKE, most likely because it is a perfect kit for anyone interested in learning to solder or electronics. It also happens to be very useful for anyone who owns an iPod or any type of MP3 player that is charged via USB. This is my little how-to, with a few extra twists.

The things you need:

  • MintyBoost kit – available in the Maker Shed
  • Soldering Iron
  • Rosin core solder
  • Altoids tin or any other small tin

The things you don’t need, but are great to have:

  • Arms of Assistance – Make you own
  • Helping hands for holding your parts
  • Fume extractor

This is not a detailed step-by-step build of the MintyBoost, but rather it’s a how-I-made-one, and what I learned. If you buy the MintyBoost kit, make sure to check out the build instructions here.

Step 1 : Take inventory

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Spread out all the parts and make sure everything included. Check them against the bill of materials found in the how-to.

Step 2 : Parts placement

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I chose to place, and solder, a lot of the components all at once. If you are new to soldering, or a bit rusty, you may want to only tackle a few parts at a time. I put everything, except the resistors and the IC holder, in and bent the wires so they would stay in place while soldering. Make sure you follow the polarity of the electrolytic capacitors (C2) and (C3) and the diode (D1).
Step 3 : The first soldering

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All the leads are ready for soldering.

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When you are done soldering, trim all the leads really close.

Step 4 : More component soldering

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The last soldering step consisted of the IC socket and (2) 15k resistors. To hold the socket, I clamped it using the helping hands. You could just as easily hold it with your finger.

Step 5 : Adding the power

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Finally add the power supply. To hold the wires in place give them a slight twist and clamp them with helping hands. This will give them a little tension and they will stay put while you solder.

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All done soldering.

Step 6 : Check your work

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Check the battery supply, making sure you get about 3volts.

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Now, check the USB plug, making sure you get about 5volts.

Step 7 : The case

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My wife was very nice and bought me an Altoids tin and some various candy tins. Unfortunately, they are the mint tins, not the gum tins, and they are too big. Or are they? After tinkering with the all-too-big tins I found that the battery case would fit perpendicular to the MintyBoost electronics. This allowed for extra room for my next project (more about that later).

Step 8 : cutting the opening

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I used a cut-off wheel and a Dremel tool to make the opening. My first attempt was a bit disappointing, so I transferred the opening to an orange “Runtz” tin.

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Now I’m happy with the results.

Step 9 : Enjoy

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It works perfectly, and I can even fit the USB cable inside the tin. Now I can enjoy hours of music on my iPod, all powered from a candy tin. Check back next week, when I make better use of that neat little space inside the RuntyBoost.

Marc de Vinck

I’m currently working full time as the Dexter F. Baker Professor of Practice in Creativity in the Masters of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship Program at Lehigh University. I’m also an avid product designer, kit maker, author, father, tinkerer, and member of the MAKE Technical Advisory board.


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