New soldering iron! What should I make?
March 15, 2012 3:57 PM Subscribe
I am the proud new owner of a soldering iron. What are some good first projects? Must be cheap and at least marginally useful. Blinky lights are a plus!
posted by Scientist to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
So my USB flash drive decided to stop working, and for some reason I decided that one of the little solder joints at the connector had probably come apart. I figured that for the price of a new 32gb thumbdrive, I could get myself a soldering iron (and a solder sucker and some solder), fix the thumbdrive, and then have a thumbdrive, a soldering iron, and a new skill. Patting myself on the back for being such an eminently practical person, I placed my order for the aforementioned gear. I was very excited!
Turns out that I was wrong about the drive, though. It doesn't seem to be broken in any noticeable way (definitely broken, just more mysteriously than I had expected) and now I have an itch to solder something and nothing to solder! There's nothing broken in my house right now that a soldering iron might reasonably be expected to fix, so I'm looking for projects.
I'm pretty new to soldering, but let's assume that I'm past the "stick scraps of wire together" phase of learning. I would like to actually build something at least semi-useful that requires some soldering. It has to be cheap (we're talking maybe $30 or so here, but I can flex a bit) as I'm not exactly swimming in dough at the moment, and it should be fairly easy, and ideally not require any metal fabrication other than soldering. I do have some other tools, but I can't do much with metal beyond maybe drill a hole in it.
I'd love something that featured a light, as I've recently started sticking random lights all over my bike. Maybe a clip-on light for my messenger bag would be sweet, but even sweeter would be a proper headlight (right now I have a taped-on cluster of blue LEDs that I salvaged from a Mardi Gras throw) with at least good Be Seen capabilities. I'm perfectly open to other suggestions, but I'm looking to make something that's at least nominally a practical object rather than simply a toy.
Resources for cheap kits of this kind or detailed build plans would be wonderful. Or if you've built something yourself I'm pretty good at extemporizing based on generalized instructions, provided that the project is relatively simple. Or even just a simple idea that I could figure out how to do on my own would be great. I really just want to get a taste of what my new soldering iron will let me do.
So hit me with your best introductory soldering projects, MetaFilter! I know you've got the chops. Bonus: if anybody knows of a specific model of flash drive that for some reason stands out from the crowd, I'm in the market.