Teaching soldering - what to have students make?

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Howdy - I'm going to be teaching three soldering classes in the near future. The first class will be through hole soldering, the next will be basic surface mount, the next more advanced surface mount. (and if anybody thinks this is the wrong way to divide it... let me know please!)

My students will obviously need something to solder.

I'm thinking about making a simple PCB with a knight rider circuit on it.

What other goofy little circuits can you come up with that would have enough cheap components for students to practice on and would be fun for them to have? And any way to combine all three circuits? (in other words - have all three classes produce separate circuits that function fine on their own, but also can interact with each other)

Maybe a theremin? That may be hard to debug though.

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Quote:
What other goofy little circuits can you come up with

When I was teaching soldering I did not get them to make "goofy things"
-A +5 & +12 volt DC supply from a 12V wall wart. They would use this with a prototyping board to do analg & digital pracs.
-A simple logic probe, which they would use in their digital pracs.
-a PICAXE board
-A TTL-RS232 using MAX232 which they would use when they got into microcontrollers.
They actually made their own PCB's as well.

I would be quite happy to supply artwork(Eagle), you could modify them to convert some through hole devices to SMD.do some more SMD.

An Arduino NG board would be useful too!
Life is too short & precious to make goofy circuits, when useful circuits can be made

Charles Darwin, Lord Kelvin & Murphy are always lurking about!
Lee -.-
Riddle me this...How did the serpent move around before the fall?

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An AM radio. I think to make student enthusiastic the thing they are putting togheter should 'live'. Beep or flash lights etc. IMHO ;)

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Could make a minimal Arduino, using RS232 and a $2 R232-to-USB level converter (adapter cord) instead of the USB connection. First class could be putting in DIP components that will function alone, like the AVR (socket), 7805, and an LED. Chips can be preprogrammed with the bootloader and blinky light. Second class could improve power conditioning (add caps), add some peripherals - go anywhere from here.

I like LDEVRIES' idea: a simple logic probe. This is one of the first things I made, out of necessity. (Right after the RS232 level converter doo-hicky.)

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I think a lot depends on the background of the students, and your budget.

Another simple project is a toy electronic organ, (like a piano). A bunch of push button switches, uC, transistor, and a small speaker. This could be TH or SMD. Push the bottons to play "music".

Get fancy, hold down the first PB switch on power up and then it enters demo mode, where each switch, instead of playing a given tone, instead selects a preprogrammed tune to play.

Bonus points if you put an LED on each of the switch pins, also.

JC

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Years ago I saw somewhere on a blog a report from someone teaching soldering to kids. He went straight to SMT, skipping THT. He reported it worked out fine, kids having better eyesight and all that.

Which reminds me, Make does soldering classes at their Maker fairs. Maybe you can find some schematics and hints on the Make blog.

When I learned soldering the components were so expensive, we first had to get many THT solder joints with wires right, before we were allowed to solder real components.

One exercise was to cut twelfth equally long pieces of thicker blank copper wire, straighten them and solder them into the form of a cube. The thick copper wires needed 80 W or 120 W soldering irons and gave lots of opportunities to burn your fingers ... And getting the three 90° soldering joints in the corners right was a nightmare ...

Another exercise was making a hedgehog. A stripboard or perfboard cut into the form of a hedgehog. Then solder straight blank wires into every hole, making up spines. Lots of soldering, lots of hassle ... Once done the wires were cut to form a hedgehog. The advanced version was to solder two lamps in the place of the eyes, wire up the lamps and light them.

Other exercises were a little bit more real, like a continuity tester.

Stealing Proteus doesn't make you an engineer.

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I once soldered 3000 resistors in a diamond
crystal lattice.

What is the budget you have available ?

At the local university (RWTH Aachen) they built
this top:

http://www.elektor.com/magazines...

Attachment(s): 

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ossi wrote:
I once soldered 3000 resistors in a diamond crystal lattice.
Ossi, you need to buy a television :lol:

Cheers,

Ross

Ross McKenzie ValuSoft Melbourne Australia

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ossi is the man. Were you simulating/determining static fields in that crystal structure? I've done this with matlab, but your way seems much more manly. Perhaps he was doing it to impress the ladies.

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One of the first things we put together was a prototyping board. Plugged into the wall, supplied 5V and 12V and had a bread board stuck on front.

I think the idea behind this was more general than just soldering though. It incorporated heatsinks and ensured that every student there had at least handled a screwdriver once in their lives.

And I still use mine fairly often...

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If you let them solder a grid of equal resistors it
makes a puzzle: See attachment.

I think it would also be interesting to show
the students many different components and how
they are soldered.

Attachment(s): 

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Is this the only classes or are they part of a larger series?

I would definitely make useful things, such as the power supply suggestions, logic analyzer, and such.

But it also depends if this is going to lead to working with micro controllers, logic chips analog or whatever.

Another suggestion would be a seven segment display with a bcd decoder and switches for inputs. You could also put a set of jumpers to disable the switches and allow an input from a micro controller or something else. Maybe a 2 or 3 digit, with current limiting resistors, decoder, and switches for solder. I would suggest 8 bit, this would also introduce them to binary and give them a method of learning / checking. Then with this in mind maybe a power supply, bcd, then a micro controller board, or maybe a counter circuit.....

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Mongooose wrote:
Is this the only classes or are they part of a larger series?

I would definitely make useful things, such as the power supply suggestions, logic analyzer, and such.

But it also depends if this is going to lead to working with micro controllers, logic chips analog or whatever.

Another suggestion would be a seven segment display with a bcd decoder and switches for inputs. You could also put a set of jumpers to disable the switches and allow an input from a micro controller or something else. Maybe a 2 or 3 digit, with current limiting resistors, decoder, and switches for solder. I would suggest 8 bit, this would also introduce them to binary and give them a method of learning / checking. Then with this in mind maybe a power supply, bcd, then a micro controller board, or maybe a counter circuit.....


No - it is a series of classes designed to teach soldering to anybody interested. I expect the students to be somewhat artsy, but that's just a guess. That's why I want to have them build entirely self contained widgets. I don't think a power supply is useful, cause, shit maybe the student is clueless and doesn't even know what a volt is.

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ossi wrote:
If you let them solder a grid of equal resistors it
makes a puzzle: See attachment.

I think it would also be interesting to show
the students many different components and how
they are soldered.


I'm hoping to use as many packages as possible on the boards so the students can solder them. There's a lot more selection of surface mount packages.

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Perhaps you should also teach them how to de-solder,
just in case...

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Now when this is AVRfreaks then it could be:

1: 40 pin dip with a regulator and ISP, perhaps some R-2R DAC's with a 386 amplifyer.(and get it to work)
2: The same in a normal SMD packets.
3: A 100 pin LCD controller and ??? and get 603 402 201 depending of the skill, (Perhaps the smallest birdnest of something and it has to work)

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If the class is exlusively about soldering, the single most annoying thing I have had to deal with learning it is a teacher showing me how to make a nice shiny solder joint, but not showing me the techniques i needed to solder say a crystal properly, or which iron tip size to use for which jobs, etc.

I think it doesn't matter WHAT you make them build, it just matters how you show them to build it. Teach them how to use the tools they have properly in every situation, the rest will come by itself.

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Ossi, you're mad

If you don't know my whole story, keep your mouth shut.

If you know my whole story, you're an accomplice. Keep your mouth shut. 

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Start by teaching them how to unsolder. Get some scrap electronics, the older the easier and better (This new lead free solder and multilayer boards are a a nightmare) and teach them how to remove components. Maybe they can even recycle some of them. You'll probably need a solder sucker though.

This is also a good opportunity to leanr an important consideration when you solder: if you get components too hot, they stop working.

I agree with Hugoboss that teaching them how to use the tools properly is important.

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Hi,

I've done lots of soldering classes at the college I used to teach at, and a few sci-tech events for local school kids to get them interested in electronics.

1. Time. You have a go at making the board you think will work and then multiply it by upto 10x. The kids make mistakes, you need time to fault find, they work slower than adults, etc

2. Streaming. Some kids will work almost as fast as you; others take much longer, or need varying amonts of encouragement. Plus, kids vary like the weather - some good days, some bad days.

3. Kids eyes are better but even in early teenagers the motor control skills are not as good as an adult used to making electronics - pins will get bent, they're not used to using hand tools, coordination is poor between left and right ("no, not at the same time - apply heat first then bring the solder into the joint...two hands so use them differently")

4. Health & safety. Someone will get burned. Safety glasses are mandatory nowadays in labs when teaching soldering.

The comments above are all good - keep it simple-ish but they will engage most if they get something working at the end of it. If you do an arduino clone make sure to add lots of leds and pre-program the avrs to flash patterns as soon as it powers up - kids today need instant gratification to reinforce their learning experiences so use it to your advantage.

Hope it helps,
Murdo.

There are already a million monkeys in front of a million keyboards, and the internet is nothing like Shakespeare!