Sunday, January 29, 2012

Completed - Learn to Solder Merit Badge

Let me start this post with a word of warning. This software geek is now armed with a soldering iron and should be considered dangerous.

The "Learn to Solder Badge" down and many more fun merit badges on my wishlist left to earn!  Truthfully, I had done a little soldering in the past but I needed to learn (or re-learn) the proper technique and I especially wanted more confidence before tackling a more complex kit. The "Elenco AmeriKit Learn to Solder Kit" I purchased for $15 was an afternoon of pure geek heaven. The LEDs blink and the sirens blares ... and I never hurt myself once.

This kit is designed for the beginner and includes a special area of the board dedicated to practice. This practice area is the key to the kit. I was able to experiment without my mistakes ruining the project. I lifted a couple pads early in the practice exercises but by the end of the test pads I had visibly improved my solder joints. Fixing a lifted pad seems non-obvious to this novice so I'll try to avoid overheating a pad in the future.

Once you feel comfortable, the rest of the board is a European siren kit with flashing LED's. For $15, I was amazed the kit includes a soldering iron and wire cutters. However, I also recommend wire strippers and a better soldering iron holder.  The same vendor sells an inexpensive but more secure holder  for less than $6. So have fun, and don't forget to buy the merit badge.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Going for the Learn to Solder Merit Badge

For my first Nerd Merit Badge, I've decided to go for the first badge created, the "Learn to Solder" patch. This seems fitting since I read somewhere that this badge was the first created in the series.

I did a tiny amount of soldering years ago and quiet frankly I was terrible. This time around I've decided to buy a couple kits, read up on good technique, and take my time to learn correctly.  The first kit I've purchased is the "Elenco AmeriKit Learn to Solder Kit". This kit is designed for the beginner and includes a special area of the board to practice. Once you feel comfortable, the rest of the board is a European siren kit with flashing LED's. The $15 kit includes a soldering iron and wire cutters. That's an amazing bargain.


Merit Badges for Geeks and Nerds

Growing up, I always found the merit badges earned very cool. From Brownies to Eagle Scouts, each accomplishment would be proudly displayed and each badge admired would encourage others to earn more badges. So I love it that nerds and geeks can now earn their own merit badges. My buddies are almost all geeks and, like most guys, bragging rights are a lot of fun.

Looking at the available badges, I've already earned a few over the years ... including the badge for blowing up hardware! I hope to earn a few more in the coming months.