Soldering with the South Side Hackerspace

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

This Saturday, educators gathered at the SouthSide Hackerspace to learn about soldering.  The hackerspace is one of a couple places in Chicago where people can use tools and work on projects with other makers and hackers.  Spaces like this have been popping up recently, and they feel like gyms.  For a monthly membership fee, people can get trained on various tools, and use them to complete whatever projects they have in mind.  Since I will probably never have a laser cutter in my house, a space like this in the Pilsen neighborhood is absolutely perfect!

The session was led by Dmitriy Vysotski, who provided a very thorough background into how we would be joining two conductive metals in electrical contact.  He did a great job, and saved us a lot of time by showing us what common mistakes looked like before we made them.  Speaking from experience, I have added 2-3 days to some of my projects with some poorly soldered joints.


Dmitriy inspects some work.

We worked on a digispark, a small USB device, that comes in a few separate pieces that need to be soldered together.  After being shown what to look out for, we got to work and started joining some metal!  The completed project had 25 different connections that needed to be soldered together.  With a little help, it was done in around 30 minutes.  Making a joint actually felt quite easy.  The hard part was lining everything up without resorting to balancing things precariously.

The moment of truth came when we plugged the devices in to see if it we did it correctly.  I was elated to see mine light up within a few seconds!

Going through the digispark lighting sequence.  Green means good!

Going through the digispark lighting sequence. Green means good!

Of course, I feel like I could do this for a living, but I probably have a lot more to learn.

The device itself is interesting, and SSH will offer more workshops on how to program an interact with our newly soldered digisparks.  Teachers who are looking for good electronics projects could help their students assemble these, and then learn how to program them.  This has a great home in the after-school space.

We were able to get a deal on the kits, so it looks like we will offer another training in December.  Stay tuned for details!

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