Tinkering and Soldering

The Champaign-Urbana community fabrication laboratory otherwise known as the CU FabLab led our class throw 3 different stages of building a small box that has a light sensor and powered by Arduino. The class split into 3 groups, one laser cutting the box, one soldering the wires and builds together and another group worked on coding the firmware. Splitting this into groups and stages made creating this project to be much more manageable and help show how much work truly goes into the design of an item from its conception to its creation.



I have never soldered before nor worked with Arduino and so it was exciting to be able to learn from professionals and people who knew what to do. Going into the FabLab I did not know what to expect and so to know that there are so many resources at our disposal really gave me hope about how our project can be created here. The soldering material was lead based and so it was instrumental that we do not touch our faces or body with our hands and that was surprising to me that we utilized lead. However, we were explained at how the smoke that rises, aka, flux, is very toxic and so soldering with other materials makes the flux much worse. We were then given our Arduino units as well as LEDs, resistors, sensors and wires.


Each student in the group had a soldering iron in front of them and we were given a tool that is referred to as the ‘helping hand’ which helps hold wires for you to solder. There were some frustrating moments as solders operate at roughly 800 degrees Fahrenheit and so it was very dangerous as one can easily burn yourself.


Our outcome after soldering the pieces all together was 5 LEDs each connected to a resistor and then attached to the light sensor. The way the object operated was triggering specific lights when there is a certain amount of light being received by the sensor. So as you can see, the bulbs each flicker as a number of light decreases, then all of them flicker when it is pitch black.

After learning about Arduino, I became very curious as to what items can be made with it and how it operated. The website Make Use Of highlighted the many potential projects that it can be used for. Through that, I found a personal project I might work on now since I am learning the basics of Arduino. The Fablab sessions are not only very informative but it is allowing me to think outside of the box and reinforces the notion that I can build and make anything I want as long as I put my mind towards it.

3 thoughts on “Tinkering and Soldering

  1. Hi Kenny,

    The Fab Lab was also a little overwhelming for me too! I had no experience with creating products or making designs either. I’m a little scared to try this workshop because of the tools we will have to use. I am so clumsy that I’m 80% sure I would end up accidentally burning myself. You did a great job on soldering though! Also, I am so happy you were able to find a website which depicts all the ways we could utilize Arduinos. I will be sure to reference that while working on our group project! Great post!

  2. Hi Brian, I was able to get a lot of inspiration and guidance from Duncan and Andrea as I was discussing possible project ideas with them. The FabLab inspired me more than I realized because as soon as I left, I already wanted to start modeling and building!

  3. Hi Kenny,

    I agree with a lot of what you had to say. I definitely was not sure what to expect going into the Fab Lab but it is definitely full of exciting and interesting projects and technologies. While I have soldered before, it was about 4 years ago so I was basically starting from scratch and it could be frustrating at times trying to make the wires stay together if soldering three together instead of one. However, once we finished soldering and put it all together it was cool to see it working! I can’t wait to keep working on the rest of the components in the following weeks. Working with the electronics definitely sparked my brainstorming for my group’s semester project, were you able to get any inspiration from the Fab Lab?

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