If you solder, you’ve likely come across an “untinned” tip at some point— that’s when the tip of your soldering iron loses its shine, and doesn’t easily wet to solder any more.
Once your tip gets this way, it doesn’t make nearly as good of a thermal contact to whatever you are trying to solder, and it simply doesn’t work well. Soldering can take 2-10 times as long, and that isn’t good for your circuit board, components, or mental health.
You can sometimes re-tin the tip by melting fresh solder onto it, but that can be challenging, because the whole problem is that the tip isn’t melting solder. It’s particularly hard to keep tips tinned with modern lead-free solder, because it needs to get even hotter to begin melting. If you get to this point, you might think about even replacing the tip.
But before you throw that tip away, instead consider using one of the “old standard” solutions, which is to refurbish the tip with a tip-tinning compound. And we came across the most classic of them in one of the most unexpected locations. Continue reading
AnnMarie Thomas has just released her book Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation. She interviewed many notable makers for this book, including Dean Kamen, Leah Buechley, Luz Rivas, and Nathan Seidle. I’m thrilled to be included in this group of fascinating people. It is available through Amazon for Kindle now, and paper copies are shipping September 25.
Next weekend, September 20-21, we’ll be at Maker Faire New York at the New York Hall of Science. I will be participating in the Making Makers panel on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 on the Make: Live Stage, and Windell will be helping out at the Let’s Make Robots booth and will be bringing along an EggBot Pro.
With all the pumpkin spice jokes flowing around the internet recently, it’s time to remind everyone how easy it is to make your own pumpkin spice flavored things. Way back in 2007, we published a recipe for making your own pumpkin spice chocolate truffles (hint: no pumpkin involved) and you can use the spice blend on anything at all. (Pumpkin spice Raspberry Pi, anyone?)
Bruce B. wrote in to say:
I recently bought one of your Bulbdial clock kits. I just wanted to send a quick note to say that your step-by-step guide was the BEST guide I have ever seen, for anything. I have assembled many an item in my years and instruction sets vary from useless to marginally worthwhile. The Bulbdial guide was amazing! You should publish a step-by-step guide on how to write step-by-step guides :)
Oh, and the clock is amazing as well!
Our good friend AnnMarie Thomas will be on Science Friday today talking about Squishy Circuits. The show broadcasts from 2-4 pm Eastern.
Zener, our full-time shop cat, has discovered an unexpected application for the WaterColorBot. Not certain if we should add “cat bed” to its list of features.
Over on twitter, WaterColorBot co-conspirator Sylvia says,
Oh mah glob guys…I got some new winches for the watercolorbot!! Made of metal peeps!! :D #coraline #watercolorbot