Advice for a soldering newb


I plan on buying the Shruthi-1 as soon as possible (ie. tonight :D), but the problem is, I’ve never once touched a soldering iron in my entire life. I would like to prepare and learn a bit before I even attempt to build the Shruthi, obviously, but I’m not sure where to start.

What kits would you recommend for someone completely new to this? Any internet or book guides I should read?

Thanks in advance. I’m really excited about this, but rather intimidated at the same time!

because we’re silly?

Welcome to the ShruthiVersum™

Its all in the building instructions that you obviously first should read especially the Part right before Step 1! Read carefully the mentioned HowTo-s + Tutorials.

If you are totally unexperieced start right: get a 15W Soldering Iron (approx) with a fine Tip, 1mm diameter Solder with integrated Flux (NO XTRA FLUX!), preferably non ROHS conform;-), something to cut the wires and a cheap Voltmeter capable of measuring 0-50V DC and Resistance (the Ohm thing…). Dont let you talk into an expensive one. Its more usefull you know how and what to measure than a fancy 15654 function Multimeter hence in the ShruthiVersum the next usefull step would be an Oscilloscope.

Get a PrefBoad with round Copper Eyes, and something cheap to practice - 5-6 IC sockets (40+ Pin) and a 100 Pack of Resistors and solder them all to the board, just to practice. Then try a cheap kit (some LED Blinker…). If that works out without any hassle begin with the Shruthi. My Killer Tip for beginners: measure every Resistor with before soldering.

We are all kind and will try to help you with your build, but ist more fun and likelier to suceed if we can assume you know where the hot end of a soldering iron is and what that Cap Thingy looks like we talk about all the time.

if you prefer to practice on something useful, you could order a USBtiny kit from adafruit (for example), so you can flash your own firmware later… or search for cacophonator, or atari punk console circuits at this is all very inexpensive, but will lead to fine sounding little devices too.

Thanks for all the advice! Some really solid info here, you guys are life-savers - I now have a pretty good idea of where to start :smiley:

I think I’m going to go for one of those bread boards, and then try the USBtiny kit. I do have a few questions still: Once assembled, is it easy to tell if the USBtiny is fully functional? Won’t I need some other little kit to tell if it’s working properly or not? I’ll probably pick up a few of the other kits suggested, blinky stuff, sound generators and what not.

I’ve found a few used oscilloscopes for sale around here. Is there recommended type or model for this sort of thing?

if you’re not planning to dive deep into sdiy/electronics a scope might be overkill at the beginning. but there are often good deals with old analog gear at ebay. anything should work for low frequency stuff (audio). but i’ve no idea which are the best, i have 2 old phillips and they work just fine. there are also oscilloscope products (cards?) for pcs, never had that though…

USBtiny: i don’t know, but i think a led should glow… but you can breadboard a programmer in a few minutes and try if it works. (so did i, my first steps are somewhere here on the forums)
(of course: you can find the information about how the usbtiny works on the adafruit website, they have all the docs for download)

good luck with your first noisemakers!

btw the shruthi pcbs are very pro, they have solder mask so there won’t be problems like solder bridges like on perfboard or self etched boards. and the descriptions are very easy to follow.

Yeah, I felt that an oscilloscope would be a bit too much for me at the moment. They look so cool though - would be impressive to guests, at the very least :wink:

Probably will hold off on one for now, as money’s a bit tight. I’ll look up your old posts and learn more from there. Perhaps I should just skip the USBtiny and go straight for the noisemakers, as that’s what I’m here for mostly :stuck_out_tongue:

And I’m relieved to know that the PCB’s will be at least a little bit protected from any newbie mistakes I make - I’ll make sure to be well-prepared before I tackle this though. Might be a month before I actually begin to assemble it. I’m just relieved to have secured my own Shruthi kit.

I think I’m going to buy this starter kit:

Intermediate kit at Sparkfun

I’m a little concerned though as the multimeter is comes with looks to be pretty limited. Should I try to find a better one, or will that one do?

Meter is fine, mine is something like that.

No, you shouldnt - its way better that the thing i work with Mr. Voltcraft (the brand Richard Wagner would have chosen).

Little tip to Multimeters: Pay attention to the batteries, as the internal Reference depends a bit on the Battery Status you might read to high Voltages when the Battery starts to die: mine just reads +5,64V i checked with another Filter Board (in the Pic above) that showed 4,96V as Mr. Voltcrafts internal Power Source was young and volatile…

and don’t use the extra flux (unless you solder smt) if you like to avoid being grabbed by the ear by Mr. fcd

the resistance range is good and continuity tester with beep is good to.
make sure you also grab something like this:

it allows for clipping leads closer to the board.

And while you are at it grab some Foam where you can place your board onto while soldering - others prefer these little 3rd hand things i dont like because it scratches everytime my precious PCBs.

Did i mention not to use xtra Flux? Flux is evil. Perhaps even more than VA-Synthesizer. Flux is for Tiffany Lamps and Submarines.

Also you should not pay any attention to my advices as rosch is way more experienced than me and a hardcore DIYer - qualified and skilled by nature, genome mutation by Flux smokes and good old german Education.

yeah if that were true :smiley:

You can use a nail clipper to cut leads with, for a more hardcore approach… Its not entirely recommended but works in a pinch ^^

My first project was a 5 of these: arranged into a cube (with no bottom). Was kinda fun, and it’s pretty hard to ruin anything that simple - although I had a pretty good stab! My LifeCub™ works but only intermittently.

I looks like you’ve picked some starter kits already, but one good thing about the Adafruit site is that they do a pretty nice set of links for people beginning soldering:

One bit of kit you should definitely pick up (alongside an iron, some solder, a multimeter and some clippers) is a desolder pump. They look like a big spring loaded syringe and they’re a lifesaver if/when you get something wrong. When I first started I found it really useful to have a little hobby tool thing as well - a little framework with some crocodile clips for holding a board in place and a magnifying glass to see better. I don’t really use it anymore, I just solder stuff on a flat surface and try not to move it around too much, but it was good for me when I was still building my confidence.

EDIT: Just saw the kit you were thinking of buying, it’s got a desolder pump in it. Good :slight_smile: I’d maybe pick up a bit more solder as well as that kit. 10g goes a surprisingly long way but it would suck to run out before you’ve finished a kit.

Ready for some desoldering tips?

  • Do not desolder at all. First think, then solder else socket™
  • Use a low power soldering Iron (15W or less) to prevent burning the board.
  • For 2 or 3 Pin Parts (Resistors, LEDs, Caps or Transistors etc…) you have a chance by heating one Leg and bending the part to the other side. Repeat with the opposite pin to prevent overheating.
  • For parts with more pins use a socket :wink: If you didnt: get a new part, cut the pins and desolder the wires one at a time. Use a socket next time.
  • If there is Solder left in the hole (it shurely will) you can use fancy things like vaccum sucking tralala etc. Or go the LowTech way, get a needle from a Syringe , heat the hole and push the neddle thru. The solder wont stick on the stainless steel needle.
  • By all Means be gentle to your board, maybe as gentle as you are to your grilfriend. This is not an Aircraft Carrier!

Trust me, i know what i’m talking about:

Thanks again for all the advice guys, really appreciate it.

I’m taking notes and adding all the other stuff recommended to my ever-growing shopping list. The soldering kit has been ordered along with a little metronome project from Sparkfun to get me started. I should be ready to start on the Shruthi sometime next month, hopefully, so I’ll be sure to ask if I have any other questions. Wonderful community here :smiley:

As i just burned my fingers here the Übertip

The hot end of a soldering iron is opposite to the cable that comes out of it!