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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need to learn more about soldering and circuits. I ordered my soldering iron last night, and during the Christmas period I will be practicing my technique however in the spring I'd love to have a plan together.

I want to make a AM/FM radio, not from scratch but buy a Kit and go from there. There are hundreds of other projects online that interest me, and I'll be doing the simpler ones for now, but working up to the radio.

Are any of you willing to share your experiences with Soldering. Reading and watching youtube has got me spending money, but I don't need to be throwing it at useless projects.

Is there anyone else interested and maybe we can spit ball ideas.
 

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Hi Triki,
I just Googled "heathkit" as they were one of the starters waaay back in my days. It appears there are both vintage kits and apparently Heath has gotten back into the kit business. So there is one idea.

Another would be to practice salvaging components from discarded electronics. Free components will make practice projects much more affordable, especially with today's internet where you can research many components to see what they are.

Third would be a basic electronic text book. Probably a bunch on ebay as the basics haven't changed.

For projects, solar is the current buzz word and something you would enjoy building and using. Just a solar powered cell phone charger would have a use.

Good luck,
Bud
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Bud, I just found Heathkit also!! There is a bunch of great ones there. And solar your correct about that! I want to make a solar charger too!! Need to get as big of a Solar panel as I can afford!

Alright, books. Now I know there are hundreds of books, but how do I know which ones are worth a dam. I need a good Reference book, not an A-Z how to book.

Lets say I knew a man, who knows a man that works at the landfill and he's willing to turn a blind eye to me Dumpster diving. Which appliances are good for parts. Computers appear to be good, but is that the case?

And in regards to Solder, I currently have:
http://www.amazon.com/Alpha-AT-3160...ie=UTF8&qid=1449682321&sr=1-3&keywords=solder

but are you saying I should consider:
http://www.amazon.com/Kester-Rosin-...ie=UTF8&qid=1449682321&sr=1-5&keywords=solder

I just know, stick with 60-40.
 

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The one you have is 60/40 rosin core and will do just fine. I have both .062 and .031 diameter solder, as the .031 is occasionally needed for very fine soldering. I've always used Kester but probably no difference.

Our transfer station has a separate location for the electroni8cs as it contains lead and must be handled differently. Anything will do for a start. Chips are hard to salvage, but junk is a good place to practice. Power supplies have larger components and ultimately, building a variable dc power supply is handy.

As for books, start with what you can get for free. If you have any trade schools near you they may have some outdated books they would give you. Libraries often get donations which they cannot keep, potential bugs, and once the owner is gone, so are the books, into the dumpster. I used to service equipment at our local library and got to know the caretaker. He said, you want books, I can get you all you can haul away.

Bud
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Bud, I told you a lie. I hadn't found Heathkit till you said so, and yup, Thats what I need. I just filled in the survey. Who knows where it will take me, but something about radio interests me but I don't know anything. A few years ago a natural disaster took my home and took down the cell towers. Since then I have had interest, just no $.

Thanks for the nudge!

Oh, and I just thought of something. I have an old Bug Light in the barn that is no longer working. I need to pull it out and look at it!!
 

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Not sure if you can handle what might arrive, but an internet request for books might get a ton of results.

Part of my energy auditing work involves seniors and often the male half of the marriage has passed on. That leaves mama with no idea as to what he left behind. I've seen garages that look like a craftsman's work shop where the tools haven't been touched for years and there are probably a lot of books that go along with that collection. A good home with someone who is enthusiastic would make them feel good.

Bud
 

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I don't solder much so my solder will surface oxidize between uses. I clean the oxidization off with sand paper. Good or a waste of time i duno, but it makes me happy and when PaPa is happy everybody is happy.
 

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I'm a little confused by, "throwing money at projects". What do you mean?
Learning a new task(soldering) requires a little guidance and practice. Once you're proficient, you can chose the projects you want and will find useful when you're finished. In actuality, you don't need to do projects at all. Once you learn how to solder you can just do what most people do, use it when you need to.
 

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You can buy specialty ones, but, for holding small components in place to solder, I still use my 60's era Vacu-Vise with a couple of alligator clips clamped in it. I have a couple of clips soldered or screwed, can't remember right now how they are attached, to a short length of 14 or 12 gauge solid wire, so that I can clamp the wires into the vise and twist them into whatever angle I need. As for Heathkit, don't know if they returned as an image of their old selves, but were great back then. I still use a clock and a calculator that must be about 45 years old. Built other things too, from scratch, such as a motor speed controller that still maintains a spot on my bench, but never used now that variable speed drill motors, etc. became the norm. But, alas, time marches on, rough past year, got grumpy and all of that, but getting everything back in order now and still can't keep up with what needs doing most of the time, so sorry to say that just within the past couple of months I pitched literally shoe boxes full of resistors, capacitors, transistors, tubes, chassis', breadboard, stakes, etc. Used to be so easy to come by, not so much today, but still did not find anyone interested locally so off that stuff went. It is a lot of fun though, so stick with it and enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You can buy specialty ones, but, for holding small components in place to solder, I still use my 60's era Vacu-Vise with a couple of alligator clips clamped in it. I have a couple of clips soldered or screwed, can't remember right now how they are attached, to a short length of 14 or 12 gauge solid wire, so that I can clamp the wires into the vise and twist them into whatever angle I need. As for Heathkit, don't know if they returned as an image of their old selves, but were great back then. I still use a clock and a calculator that must be about 45 years old. Built other things too, from scratch, such as a motor speed controller that still maintains a spot on my bench, but never used now that variable speed drill motors, etc. became the norm. But, alas, time marches on, rough past year, got grumpy and all of that, but getting everything back in order now and still can't keep up with what needs doing most of the time, so sorry to say that just within the past couple of months I pitched literally shoe boxes full of resistors, capacitors, transistors, tubes, chassis', breadboard, stakes, etc. Used to be so easy to come by, not so much today, but still did not find anyone interested locally so off that stuff went. It is a lot of fun though, so stick with it and enjoy.

NOOOOOO!!!!!! You Pitched it!! I went to Radio shack the other week and they had NOTHING! I was really disappointed! I guess I just need to find another way of acquiring this stuff. I'm not going to get big into it, but I'm not saying I won't! Maybe there is someone else on here that would like to ship it to NC!!
 

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Google around your area for any ham clubs. Those guys always had and I assume a lot still have the right stuff, but even back in the day most of them seemed to have a 6th sense that things were going to change so they weren't going to let go of anything. I have another 8' of loft to cover one of these days, and know what most of it is, so not too hopeful, but will let you know if I run across anything or any quantity worth sending. Would be happier to do that than what I did with a lot of it.
 

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Get this:

http://www.toysrus.com/product/inde...plat_17052504&eESource=CAPLA_DF:24945786:TRUS

It has all the parts. It comes with instructions to build all kinds of projects. Everything is labeled and organized. And you don't have to learn how to solder. It is gear toward kids, but if you can look past that it is exactly what you need. I had one as a kid and then I bought another one as an adult. They are great fun. You can always add in your own parts if you want to expand it. You can probably find that on ebay if you want to save a few bucks. There are smaller kits too.

The solder on factory circuit boards doesn't have lead. That is good for the environment, but it requires a higher temperature and it is tough to unsolder that stuff with a little consumer grade iron. A little solder sucker is handy. Keep your soldering iron clean and try out some different tips.

You need a multimeter too. You can get one for less than ten bucks. Sometimes Harbor Freight gives them away for free. I have a $100 digital meter, but the cheap one with a needle is much more useful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I'm a little confused by, "throwing money at projects". What do you mean?
Learning a new task(soldering) requires a little guidance and practice. Once you're proficient, you can chose the projects you want and will find useful when you're finished. In actuality, you don't need to do projects at all. Once you learn how to solder you can just do what most people do, use it when you need to.
Ron, what I meant by 'Throwing money' was buying those 'DIY' projects back to back hoping to improve my skill level. Those projects start at $15, if I'm going to be spending that money, I would like to use it. For example, there is a 'Water sensor' kit at Radioshack on sale for $15. If I bought that kit, I would install it on my AC unit, to sense when the drain pan gets clogged up and rather than burn out the contactor it warns me there is water being backed up.

There is a amateur radio guy who lives close to me, maybe I need to stop by his house and ask questions. You just don't know unless you ask.
 

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I see those every time I am in Harbor Freight. But what can you do with 45 watts? You would need several. And then you probably want a system for storing the electricity. And you want an inverter. You wind up spending thousands of dollars for cheap solar panels.

Free electricy forever sounds pretty enticing. Unfortunately, solar panels don't last forever. Especially the cheap ones. In a few years, you'll be getting 5 watts instead of 45. These are basically the biggest, lamest, most awkward, least efficient solar panels you can buy. They know you don't know the first thing about solar panels, so they put it in a user friendly package and charge 5 times what it's worth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Mathmonger, funny you said that, thats what I have been reading for the last hour. Bottom line, the panel itself breaks down and fails.

I'm watching YouTube vids now on troubleshooting circuit boards. I need to pick up a higher quality multi meter. My $25 craftsman may not be up for the challenge, especially if I don't have a way to compare results. I found three bug lights in the barn that are bad, I may be able to locate the fault and fix it!!
 
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