Solder of Fortune

Tuesday saw the first step in our plan to revive our class schedule now that our space and sleep schedules have recovered from Maker Faire, and what better way to get started than to have two illustrious makers as our guest lecturers? These two giants were none other than Mitch Altman of Noisebridge and TV-B-Gone fame and Jimmie P. Rodgers of LOLshield fame both of whom are currently on a road trip to promote their clever kits and educate young and old about how easy and fun soldering can be.

The evening started with generous amounts of smalltalk amid frantic searches for enough tables, chairs, irons, and power to meet the unexpectedly large demands of the class. First up after introductions was a brief rundown of the different projects our MCs of the evening had to offer. I say brief, as if they stopped to go into too much detail on each and every project, we’d have been there until 3 AM with the titanic catalog of toys, games, and various playthings the duo had brought.

After everyone was settled with their new projects, Mitch began the lesson in earnest, opening with some sage safety advice, roughly paraphrased as: “If you don’t wash your hands after you solder, the lead in the solder will end up in you. If it ends up in you, it will make you crazy and you’ll lose all your friends. So if you want to keep your friends, wash your hands.” This is a good tip, soldering or not. He also said to be mindful of the soldering iron, as it’s very hot, but the fact that my index finger is currently bandaged indicates I should have listened better…

Safety tips aside, all in attendance gathered around Mitch as he explained the finer points of tip maintenance and solder selection. After this prerequisite learning was out of the way, Mitch built up to his grand finale: actually soldering! In his charismatic way, he demonstrated that the two biggest keys to soldering well are adding the right amount of solder and to delay before removing the tip. That’s about it. Now, ready to try making a project themselves, the students quickly overcame our shop in a wave of melting metal, making TV-B-Gones, LED waves, LoL shields, and many other nifty products. One by one, projects were completed as Mitch and Jimmie walked around to inspect and advise, congratulating  and handing out soldering badges as each kit was polished off in turn. By the end of the night, the shop was awash in multicolored blinking LEDs, silly noises, and the sound of a great time had by all. If you’re sorry that you missed out on all the fun, then you should check our our calendar on the right side of the page as well as our eventbrite listings for upcoming events.

Happy Hacking!

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