I’ve learned to solder!
OK, maybe I already had an idea of how to solder and have done a (very) small amount if it in the past but I’m learning to do it correctly. I picked up a nice iron (Weller WES51) with adjustable temperatures, swappable tips and a holder and it definitely makes a huge difference from the el cheapo I had before.
My First Attempt
My first attempt was pretty terrible, actually. A friend sent me a box of various electronics parts to get me started (a solderless breadboard, jumper wires, resistors, etc) as well as a 5V/3.3V breadboard power supply from SparkFun. It comes in individual parts so in order to use it I needed to solder it together and this became my first attempt. You can see the results below.
Yeah, pretty bad even when you consider the extra that needs to be trimmed. After trimming the excess below the board and testing it with my new multimeter (an Extech EX330) I found my voltages were a little under where they should be (4.85V and 3.195V). I thought it might be my soldering job, so I had a Skype session with the friend who sent me the parts and he showed me the proper way to solder as well as answered a bunch of questions. At that point I had a much better idea of what to do.
My Second Attempt
I’m finding that many things you buy on electronics sites are actually sold as kits that you need to assemble yourself, so it’s a good thing I’m learning to solder.
After purchasing my RPi and deciding I wanted to figure out how to integrate with various electronics parts I realized I’d need a way to actually connect the Pi with my breadboard (maybe it didn’t happen exactly in that order as I’d been reading up on everything for awhile anyway but whatever). Adafruit has a ton of neat electronics stuff, one of the items being the Adafruit Pi Cobbler Breakout Kit. Once it arrived it became my “second attempt”.
I think it turned out MUCH better than the first attempt and I hope you agree.
I paid specific attention to making sure both the pads and the part being soldered were being heated and that made all the difference!