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Do-It-Yourself Project Kits
We specialize in D-I-Y project kits for builders and makers.
We think of these as "Kitchen-Sink" products
- with all sorts of things thrown into the mix, and versatile as we can make them.
A major feature of our boards is personal customizability,
since you're the one building them.
Soldering. OT-Hobbies Kits require intermediate-level soldering skills, and should not be the first projects attempted by builders. People should be able to build from a schematic. These kits use mainly through-hole components with very few surface-mount (smt) parts, and can typically be built up to the working stage in under an hour. Then, they are step-by-step customizable from there, to suit personal requirements.
They can also be easily repaired in case of inadvertent trauma, whereas most smt boards will have to be scrapped if damaged.
Tools. Besides good soldering skills, the second most important factor is access to a DMM (digital multimeter) of any sort. Even a $5 DMM from Harbor Freight is worth its weight in gold to the builder.
In regards parts for electronic construction, the best thing to do for starters is to get a hardcopy version of the Jameco Catalog. They have plenty of tools and soldering supplies, as well as about 90% of the small electronic parts needed for hobbyist electronics. Other good places to buy parts in the USA are Digikey and Mouser.
A temperature-controlled soldering iron is a must-have, and can be had for about $50 or less. These are much better than the cheap "economy" soldering irons (less than $10) without temperature control. The tips burn up fast and need continual replacing on non temperature-controlled irons. We've been using a 40W temperature-controlled unit for 7-8 years now, and not once changed the tip.
The most common solder is 60-40 or 63-37 rosin-core. Do NOT use "acid-core" solder, as that is for soldering copper water pipes!
Aqueous-core flux solder also works well, and the flux definitely does need to be cleaned off afterwards. However, this is easy to do using a toothbrush dipped in moderately-hot distilled water, then rinsing with same. We use a rubber ear syringe for rinsing.
The ladyada kit 136 is not really a very good value for $100. The necessary parts with a decent temperature-controlled soldering station can be had for less.