This kid can solder, can you?

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This kid can solder, can you?

Brad sends this about his son’s gift project:

For Christmas this year, Lucas made his grandmom a battery powered amp for her guitar. This was a big project – first time with a soldering iron. Worked out well with only one minor burn. He did 80% of the soldering and drilled all the holes for the pots and LED. He turns 6 in Jan – seemed he should learn one last skill while he was still 5.

Great project! Parts to love: scrounging parts out of otherwise dead or useless devices…teaching new skills to kids…making something that couldn’t be bought…online documentation…photos…

What have you made lately? Did it work right the first time? Did you catch some pictures/video/audio of the process? What is your experience teaching kids about electricity, electronics, soldering, programming, hacking? What should people do or not do when they venture out into projects with kids? What workspace, tools or materials would you suggest? Show us your stuff! Add your comments and park your photos and video in the Make Flickr pool.

20 thoughts on “This kid can solder, can you?

  1. mc says:

    Impressive. I didn’t solder until I was 9.

    But wear eye protection when soldering — a bubble of flux can form in the solder and burst. This is especially important for a young person whose eyes can focus very close, and who will therefore move in very close to something he wants to see clearly.

    1. Chris Connors says:

      Good call on the safety gear. It can sometimes be tough to find safety glasses that will fit kids, but sunglasses can work in a pinch, and can be picked up cheap. I would also suggest getting rid of all lead based solder in the house, workshop, toolbox etc.

      Lead is a heavy metal, and causes learning disabilities. Lead poisoning comes from inhaling or ingesting lead based products. Very thin lead free solder is an excellent material for soldering.

  2. brad says:

    yes – i knew i’d get dinged for that. no excuses – you are right

    i always use lead free solder. Agree with chris that it is the way to go. However, make sure you also wash up well after scrounging old parts – they are likely not lead free


  3. Anonymous says:

    i miss when make had balls and wasn’t a kiddie arts and crafts magazine. but none the less, that kid is awesome. i started soldering at 7.

  4. Phillip Torrone says:

    @”hmrph” – please be a little more specific – i would say most of our projects are “hardcore” – flame throwers, catapults, welding, etc – we try and have a full spectrum of projects for everyone. some folks complain that the projects are too hard and complicated, and you’re likely in another camp that wants less beginner projects. the things, there is room for all of them – i’d encourage you to submit your ballsy projects to us so we can showcase what you’re up to.

  5. amy says:

    My husband and I, usually pretty handy sorts, picked up what-appeared-to-be-simple circuit board projects from Velleman — kit MK130 which makes a nifty little lit xmas tree.

    We followed directions, made what we thought were clean quick connections (he soldered before years ago, I haven’t) and… no love.

    And we are at a loss to figure out how to figure out what went wrong. I’ve looked online and for books, but I can’t find anything that starts FROM THE BEGINNING… all assume a certain level of knowledge, but it’s that certain level of knowledge we need. =-)

    Anyone have a resource or can point us in the right direction? It would be much appreciated.

    lavachickie at gmail dot com

  6. Xmas says:

    Amy –

    It is hard to give specific instructions since I don’t have the MK130 kit.

    The first thing that I’d try in debugging your kit is to see that the LEDs are inserted correctly. Looking at the circuit diagram for the kit, I can see that it would be OK to temporarily connect a wire to the negative terminal of the 9V battery and touch the other end to the terminals of the LEDs. The net result is that touching to the right terminal of the LED will light the LED. You should be able to determine that each/all LEDs are soldered in correctly. (Assuming that the battery connections and the 1K resistors are also soldered well.

    Good luck!

    1. Chris Connors says:

      This looks it is the pdf for the kit she is using. There are a few unpolarized components, but correct orientation will be essential. I would suggest a computer or watch battery of max 3volts so you don’t fry any LEDs You can also look into the case of the LEDs if there is no notch on the outside.

      The notch is the negative side. I also look inside at the parts of the LED. One side looks like a bowl, which I see as a negative shape. That’s the neg side as well. If you haven’t cut the legs off the LEDs, the short one is the negative, and the long is the positive.


  7. Fyre Vortex says:

    Wow, that’s quite amazing… :)

  8. Xmas says:

    “I would suggest a computer or watch battery of max 3volts so you don’t fry any LEDs”

    Agreed – if you are hooking up an LED to a battery. But for trouble-shooting her circuit the ‘biggest band for the buck’ step that I could find is the single wire touched from 9V ‘negative’ to each lead on each LED. With the 9V in circuit the 1k resistor on that part of the circuit would limit the current.

    I was looking for one step that would give a go/no-go to prove as much of the circuitry as possible.

    “One side looks like a bowl, which I see as a negative shape. That’s the neg side as well.”

    Not always true. (Very often the case, but not always)

    Kudos on your soldering guide. I think that will help Amy. But also Amy (and others) needs as much a “trouble-shooting” guide. I hope the step I offered will push Amy in the right direction.

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