My very own introduction to Wiring and Soldering

I am not even going to lie but I had polarizing expectations and realities walking into class this week. For starters, the Fab Lab was very far walk from my apartment in comparison to the BIF: to be honest, I think it may have been my first time on the Urbana side of campus in the last 2 semesters. Now with that being said, I walked into the Fab Lab at 1301 South Goodwin Avenue, Art Annex 2, Urbana, IL 61801 and my expectations dropped even further. It was extremely hot inside the fab lab, and I quickly learned that not only was it one of the oldest and archaic buildings on campus but it was also a building that originally stored all the horse poop back when there were horses on campus… (maybe 1880s?).

Fab Lab Picture

HOWEVER, my low expectations rapidly changed instilling an immense amount of guilt in my conscience. I felt terrible for my inaccurate pre-conceived notions about the fab lab because my first week experience wasn’t just FAB-ulous it was FANTABULOUS. Here are some initial pictures I took of all the amazing creativity and innovation taking place at the FAB-lab.


We were split into three groups this week and I had the pleasure of building a circuit on an Arduino board. Ultimately, my team was given the task to individually construct an LED light board that would act as an indicator of the amount of light in any given environment. With 5 LED lights circuited to the Arduino board, this circuit was programmed to have one LED light on when the sensor was sensing a lot of light. And in the event, that there was no light (or if you covered the sensor with your finger), all 5 of the LED lights would all flash rapidly. Furthermore, the number of lights that turned on represented the whole spectrum of all light exposure levels (i.e. 1 light representing high light exposure, 3 ligths representing medium light exposure, 5 flicker lights representing low to zero light exposure). Once again, to be completely honest I was very intimidated when the task was given to me. I remember Jorge and Brian asking me if I had ever soldered before and not even knowing what soldering meant. And thus, this was my reaction:

I won’t lie it was easy at first. There were many times I was ready to give up. For instance, I would spend 10 minutes soldering 2 wires, and the second I thought they were successfully connected, I would pick up the wires and they would instantaneously fall apart. But I didn’t let this stop me. I continued soldering, learned about positive and negative wiring, cultivated a comprehensive knowledge foundation of wiring a circuit board, and most importantly proved myself wrong. And through it all, I was not only able to successfully solder and connect 14+ wires for this project, but I was able to successfully produce a light sensor circuit board! Look at my end results here:

This has been by FAR MY FAVORITE CLASS for Digital Making Seminar. I proved to myself that I have the capability to take on challenges that I am completely uncomfortable with. Even with tasks where I may lack the dexterity of the average person, I learned with a little perseverance and a whole lot of discipline, I can definitely accomplish whatever I set my mind to. I am so glad I stepped outside the comfort box this week, as I’ve been inspired to pursue soldering and circuiting further. This week taught me to consistently keep my mind open not only in the final 2 months of my “college career” but most importantly also in my life post-graduation. I can’t wait for what is in store for class this week! (Hopefully it’s the coding portion because I’m really interested in that!)

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About Ben Chin

Hi! My name is Ben Chin and I am currently a senior studying Information Systems and Marketing at the University of Illinois. I have a huge passion for business analytics, business intelligence, AI, and will be doing technology consulting (like Veronika) full-time after graduation. Outside of that, I love sports especially basketball and I love working out and staying fit!

2 thoughts on “My very own introduction to Wiring and Soldering

  1. Hi Ben,
    Your post is so real! Fab Lab is definitely one of those buildings on campus which my first impression proved to be totally off as soon as I stepped foot into the lab. Back in freshman year, I used to live FAR PAR away so I occasionally walked passed Fab Lab, but never knew about this hidden gem until this class. I have to admit as well that I didn’t know what soldering meant either before I got the chance to actually do it myself. It certainly takes a lot of patience, and as someone whose clumsiness is just beyond repair, I’m pretty sure I burned myself twice while trying to solder the wires. However, it’s such great training and definitely rewarding at the end. The Fab Lab workshops are very helpful and I’m sure my group will incorporate some of these technologies into our final project.

  2. Hi Ben,
    I really enjoyed reading your post. My first impression with Fab Lab is very similar to yours, and I was also amazed by all the innovative projects going on in Fab Lab. I like how you stepped out from your comfort zone and picked up soldering skills. I think what you made looks really cool. I was in the coding workshop earlier today learning how the circuits were programmed to work. It took us quite a while even just slotting the circuits using circuit board so I understand it could be even more complicated soldering them together. Hope you enjoy coding with Arduino in the next session! Here’s some instructions that I found helpful with coding on Arduino (although you don’t need to write the entire code from scratch for class purpose):

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