Week 8: Hands-On Learning

This was the last class in the Fab Lab and my group was reaching the last portion, soldering. I had no experience with soldering prior and honestly had no idea what I would learn about. However, out of all three classes my favorite one was soldering, I think it’s because it was a more hands on activity in comparison to the others and I really got to learn throughout the process because I was able to see, touch and accomplish.

Soldering is melting filler metal onto the already joined metal objects, creating an established thin layer. During class our main purpose of learning how to solder was to fuse the LED lights and sensor wires together then attaching them to the arduino board to create our own blinky boxes. The first step in this creation was to learn how to twist the wires together, such as the resistor and the positive end of the LED. At the beginning it was a bit difficult, because I had never worked much with wires but eventually by the third time of twisting the wires and soldering them together I got the hang of the process. I really enjoyed seeing how the metal melted the two wires together, it was quite a sight! As we moved onto the next few steps, things got more and more challenging. When we had to connect the negative sides of the LEDs together I had tried to be creative with the process by connecting three together, though when I ended up putting my blinky box together I regretted trying to keep all the LED lights so close because it was very hard to stretch them to meet the holes of the box. I really liked the process because it brought together all that we had learned throughout our time at the Fab Lab for the past three weeks. We had learned about the software and hardware the previous week, created the boxes on the first week and finally we were putting all that knowledge into use with a hands-on learning experience and having a better understanding of the circuit.

In the future I would definitely want to work on more projects that would allow me to solder as well as working with arduino boards. Though soldering can be a scary feat because of the heat, the preciseness and the fumes. Once we had finished soldering all the parts together we began the process of connecting the wires into the arduino board and testing to see if the blinkers worked when the battery was plugged in. We all had different issues, the wire that my battery was connected to was actually not working and in the process of fixing it I had tried to change the batteries and what not to finally come to the conclusion that the wire was the issue. Finally, once our blinkers were working we were taught to put the boxes together and placing the lights into the holes that we had laser printed from the first class by hot glue gunning the LED lights in. Finally, we had to glue gun the boxes together. During this process, many of us were in a rush and a lot of problems began occurring because some parts weren’t don’t right from the previous sections and the wires had difficulty dealing with the hot glue gun leading some to stop blinking or the LED material wasn’t good enough and the wire came out of it causing the LED to stop blinking. Overall, it was a fun experience and I’m glad I got to have three sessions at the Fab Lab.

Here is how the soldering station looked:

This was my first soldering result:

A quick diagram on how to read resistors:



3 thoughts on “Week 8: Hands-On Learning

  1. Hi Charlene,
    I soldered for the first time as well and agree that it’s indeed challenging (and quite scary, at least at first). I’m pretty sure I burned myself a bit but it was totally interesting and worth it. Putting together everything from the 3 sessions was definitely a very satisfying achievement and a proof to myself that I can actually create something decent and cool without prior experience. I learned that each step of the process takes a lot of patience but it certainly paid off. How do you think these classes at Fab Lab can apply to your group’s final project?

  2. Soldering was probably my favorite portion as well. It was the first workshop I had and I’m an electrical engineering major so it had the most appeal to me. It can be daunting and/or tedious at first, but after a few connections you get the hang of it and do some pretty cool things with the electronic components. While it is fun, I think I do prefer working with breadboards because they’re aren’t permanent, or at least a lot less of a hassle to disassemble.

  3. Hi Charlene,

    I would agree that soldering was probably my favorite part of the 3 week rotation. Even though it could be frustrating at times and we had be really careful not to burn ourselves, I loved that it was really hands on. However, the fumes were definitely a hinderance as well. You could smell them on the other side of the Fab Lab! Still, I think it was a really valuable skill to learn and even better to see the circuit come together with the components from previous weeks. Its good to know we have all these resources in case we need to use them on our final project. Do you see yourself using soldering on personal projects? Do you have any tips for someone new to soldering? I would definitely say practice makes first, and to try using the “helping hands.” It makes it way easier!

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