Monday, February 04, 2013

An Interlude: Confronting Demons and Skeletons

An Interlude: Confronting Demons and Skeletons

By Bobby Winters
I may have shared with you before the brain block I have with regard to soldering.  When I was a kid, I’d gotten a computer kit that required soldering.  I made a mess of it and it wouldn’t work. It cost a lot of money, and we didn’t have all that much.  So, in my shame, I put it aside.
Since I’ve begun playing with microcontrollers, it’s become clear to me that beyond a certain point I will need to know how to solder.  Breadboards are nice, but anything that’s not going to be taken apart eventually will need to be soldered together.  I’ve taken to a program of learning the manly skill of soldering.  I’ve confronted the soldering demon.
I will never be an artist.  Heck, I may never actually solder anything that works.  But I am beyond the “Oh my gosh, what a mess” stage.  It boils down to those three words people have been telling me all my life: “Take your time!” Yes, that’s it.  That’s the secret.  One must decide that soldering is a thing that one must do and then set out the preparations to do it.  
The first thing is to prepare a place.  You’ve got to have a place to do your work.  The second is to have all of your materials around you.  You need your soldering iron, its stand, a little wet sponge to clean your tip on, and--this helped me a lot--a desoldering iron complete with attached desoldering bulb.  I always do a better job writing when I have an eraser, so it figures I do a better job soldering when I have a desoldering iron.
All of that having been said, I’ve not been able to solder a heat sensor to the pc board yet.  I think that I’m frying them.  I hook them to my thermometer program and they read -196.6. I tried three times and got this result three times with three different ruined sensors--and I’ve tried using a alligator clip as a heat sink.  In the world of digital thermal sensors, I am now known as He-who-brings-hot-death.  I am now looking for conductive glue on Amazon.
On other news, I’ve gotten a skeleton for my ProtoCylon.  There’s a picture below.  My experience in opening the box and thinking about putting it together made me think of building the pyramids.  I knew it could be done, but thousands might die in the process. There were parts--nuts, bolts, wheels, motors, plates--but no directions.  I have got something screwed--such a versatile word--together, but it was interesting.  I suppose they thought it would be more interesting without the directions.


Anonymous said...

Are you heating the solder or the target? I was taught to heat the target and it does make things a bunch easier.

Bobby Winters said...

step 1: Tin the tip of your iron with the solder.

step 2: heat the target.

step 3; bring the solder to the target and let the heat from the iron draw the solder toward it.

step 4; remove the solder and then remove the iron.