Photo Challenge: Growth

As part of my daily posting, I’m going to complete The Daily Post Photo Challenge each week.

Whether you take photos with an iPhone or a full-frame DSLR, you’re welcome to participate in our photo challenges. A new theme is announced every Wednesday.

I’ll give myself 2 weeks for each challenge in case I need to come up with an idea for the theme. To keep me on track, I use a repeating reminder.


The first theme for 2018 is growth. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, so I’ll share a little journey.

The other night, as I was soldering the project HackerBox #0026 I kept thinking back to my first attempt at soldering, when I put headers on a Raspberry Pi Zero. I remember being hesitant and scared, because I was teaching myself how to solder. I was worried I’d either fry the board or burn myself. It felt like it took forever. Everything worked though.

That was only 13 months ago, but it feels like years. I’ve gained a lot of experience with the soldering iron and now know I had nothing to be afraid of. Learning new skills can be scary.

“What if I screw up?”

“What if I’m no good?”

Don’t let the voices of fear prevent you from trying, especially if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do. Do some prep work, read up on the topic, and dive in. Or find someone with experience to help and teach you.

Here’s the back of the circuit board I soldered this week. A lot more complex, but it was second nature.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? What’s stopping you?

Solder Bridges

Yesterday I posted about multiplexing 7 segment displays, but it’s actually been weeks since I got that circuit working. After 2 weeks of travel and a busy weekend, I finally got some time on Wednesday night to start moving the circuit from the breadboard to a more permanent home. I stocked up on a variety of different sized circuit boards, but unlike a breadboard each hole on these is independent. It was time to learn how to make solder bridges. After fumbling through about 10 bridges I started to get the hang of it. They won’t win any beauty contests, but they’re functional, which is what matters.


In round 2 last night I tried a couple of tricks. The first method is using a small wire or the discarded end of a lead (this happened to come from trimming off the ends of a resistor) to bridge pads together.

These will be connected to ground.

Another trick is to bend over the ends of leads to create a bridge. In the left and right columns you can see this type of bridge used. The middle column shows bent leads I’ll use when I connect more wires.


Both methods worked a lot better than trying to use mountains of solder to jump the connection pads.

By the way, I find soldering (no matter what it’s for) to be extremely relaxing. Maybe it’s something to do with the order of the entire process; physically connecting things to make a circuit work. I typically do it late at night with some music and a cold beer.

I’m glad I decided to upgrade my soldering iron, by getting a Hakko FX888D. It works much better than the entry-level iron I’ve been using.

HackerBox #0018 – Circuit Circus

It’s not often an online ad catches my eye, but when I saw one for HackerBoxes, I clicked through. I’ve enjoyed Adafruit’s quarterly subscription service AdaBox and wondered if this was similar.

The HackerBoxes look lower quality, but are cheaper ($44 compared to $60, both with free shipping) and ship monthly instead of quarterly. The previous boxes listed on the site looked neat and sell for $59 before shipping so it seemed like a pretty good deal. I really like the idea of having something new to tinker with each month instead of only 4 times a year. I signed up and was surprised to get a shipment notification for the most recent box.


This box is based around a little Transistor Tester kit you build. It also comes with a variety of extra electronic components that help go through a series of tutorials and aid in experimenting with circuits and the tester. If this box is any indication, I’m going to enjoy these each month.

It took me a couple of hours to assemble and solder the tester kit. I recorded it (had to stop twice to recharge the GoPro battery) and ended up with over 100 minutes of video! Nobody wants to watch all of that, so I cut out some empty space and sped it up to 20x.

Now I have a cool test device built by hand…


Who would have thought it would be so exciting to light up some LEDs? I had a late night playing with a breadboard for the first time. It was also my first time soldering anything. I had to attach some headers to a Raspberry Pi Zero.