Zzzzap! 3D Soldering Kit

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About: Nick Poole is a Technologist living and working in Boulder, Colorado. Poole is a self-taught programmer and circuit designer with a background in fabrication and has been honing his craft at SparkFun Electro...

Thanks for buying one of Great Big Factory's 3D Soldering Kits. Now it's time to put it together!

Wait... have you bought a kit yet? If not, you can get one here!

The kit comes with all of the components that you'll need, batteries included! It is still a soldering kit, though, so there are a few other things you'll need on hand:

  • Soldering Iron (Any old thing will work, you don't need a fine tip)
  • Some Flux-core or rosin-core electrical solder
  • A pair of pliers and some flush cutters aren't strictly necessary but they help!

Let's get started!

Step 1: Snap Out the Parts

There are "mouse bites," or little rows of holes, anywhere that you're supposed to snap the boards apart. Some people can do it with their hands but we suggest using a pair of pliers and gripping as close to the mouse bites as you can. Just bend or twist the connection to snap them apart. You should end up with eight pieces: Two body pieces, three top ribs, and three handle ribs.

Step 2: Fillet Soldering

Now you can slide the two main body pieces together. You should notice that there are four rectangular pads on each part that line up with each other: two toward the front and two toward the back. Before soldering them together, make sure they're properly aligned so that they look like a plus sign head-on.

Next, fillet solder the two sides together using the rectangular pads. It helps to put a little dab of solder on the tip of your iron to transfer the heat, then you can use that to heat up one pad and add a big glob of solder to that. Once you have a glob of molten solder on one side of the fillet, just drag your iron into the corner to jumper the two pads and make your connection! Repeat this step for each of the four main body connections and then start adding the ribs!

The top ribs all have solder pads about halfway down that align with solder pads on the body. The handle ribs may have a defect that makes the pads not align. In this case, we recommend making your solder fillets near the rear of the handle as pictured.

Once the structure of the raygun is complete, we can move on to the electronics...

Step 3: Soldering the Electronics

There are only five components to this kit so let's start with a tricky one: the battery holder.

The battery holder is a little metal bracket that really just touches one side of your button cell battery. The other side of the battery is pressed against the oval-shaped pad on the board. Before we solder the battery holder bracket in place, we should add a little bit of solder to that oval-shaped pad. A little bump of solder helps make a tighter connection with the battery.

Next, slide the battery holder into place over the pad. Check our photos to make sure you have the orientation correct. It doesn't really matter which way it faces, electrically speaking, but it will be easier to slide the battery in and out if it's facing the top.

With the battery holder in place, solder it's feet to the two rectangular pads. If this is your first time soldering a surface mount part, simply put the tip of your iron on top of the foot that you want to solder. Now push solder against the space between the foot and the pad underneath until it starts to melt and apply enough solder to flow around the connection. The solder will wick under the foot of the battery holder and hold it in place.

With both feet of the battery holder finished, you can move on to the trigger switch! This part should just snap into place and it doesn't matter which side of the handle you mount it to. Just flip it over and solder the four legs in place.

Next up: Resistors. This is an easy one. It doesn't matter which way these one go in, just bend the legs so that they bridge over the rear rib (as per the photos) and solder them in place. Clip the extra length off of the legs so you don't poke yourself later.

Finally, it's LED time! The LED (being a Light Emitting Diode) is polarized, meaning it will only work in one direction. Make sure it's turned the right way! The short leg of the LED should go through the hole closest to the top! Solder it in place and then bend the legs so the LED is dead center with the front of the raygun for the best look.

Step 4: Moment of Truth

You're all done! Time to see if it lights up.

Insert the coin cell battery into the holder with the + side facing up and press the trigger: the color cycling LED should come on! If it didn't, first check that you put it your battery correctly, then double check that your LED isn't backward.

Thanks so much for buying a kit, I hope you had fun putting yours together!

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