Soldering @ the Fab Lab

For this past week, our class had the opportunity to visit the FabLab on campus! To be completely honest, this was the first time I walked to that side of UIUC. Before taking this class, I had no idea that this existed. It makes me sad because I’m a junior and I have not taken full advantage of the resources the University has to offer. As a tech nerd, this place is amazing! I will definitely be going back on my own time to see what kind of projects I can work on.

When we first arrived, Jeff Ginger, the directory of the CUC FabLab, gave us a quick tour of what one is capable of doing at the FabLab.

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One of the first things we saw was a WaterColorBot in action. I had no idea these things existed! It was pretty cool. Check out the GIF!

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After the tour of the FabLab, our group got split up into three different groups. One group learned how to program an Arduino. The second group got to work on wiring and soldering things to use the Arduino with. The third group learned how to laser cut to make a box for the LEDs that we soldered on earlier. I was part of the second group and worked on wiring and soldering. I have actually soldered before, however, I still think it’s a difficult skill to pick up. Although I have some experience in soldering, I still struggled to solder and LED to a cable. Here are all of the things we were given (plus LEDs that are not shown in the picture).

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We first learned the basics of wiring. For example, how an Arduino works, how the longer leg in a LED is the positive side, etc. After this, we started soldering LEDs to some cables.

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After about 45 minutes of struggling to solder on a good joint, here is the final product. The purpose of this product is to create a box with LEDs that indicate how bright it is. For example, if it’s extremely bright, the LED that is assigned to the highest setting will light up. As it gets darker, the LED changes. If it’s completely dark, the LEDs go back and forth really fast. Here’s a video showing how this works:

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I can’t wait to start working on our project and implementing the skills we will be learning in the next couple of weeks.

3 thoughts on “Soldering @ the Fab Lab

  1. Hello Jorge, I enjoyed learning about your experiences in the soldering workshop. As someone who has not had experience in it before, I’m interested to dive into it. Your blog post has great visuals, especially the gifs; they really helped with communicating your process. I look forward to reading your future posts.

  2. Hey Jorge,

    I enjoyed reading about your experiences with soldering, and thanks for sharing. After personally working with the soldering iron and solder alloy today, I can definitely attest to the challenges that you encountered. The wiring was difficult to manipulate, especially without the use of the “helping hands” tool; however, by the end of the session I started to get the hang of it. Do you plan on utilizing soldering in your final project? Again, great post!

  3. Hey Jorge,

    Reading your blog post was incredibly entertaining! I loved your use of GIFs and other images to give the post more life. It was really awesome to hear how you guys learned how to properly solder and how even though you had some experience with it before it was still kind of hard. I’m really excited to see how we could implement an electronics component to our own project – hope to hear how you intend to use electronics in your final project as well!

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