For some time I’ve been interested in learning some basic electronics. I’ve swaped out simple light switches and wall sockets. But I hate that I don’t *understand* what I’m doing. I’m just matching up wires and colors.
I mean, I get the basics, the analogy with water, the size of the pipe, the force of the water going through the pipe, blah blah blah. But somehow it hasn’t clicked with me. And I’m still scared I’m going to kill myself by doing something wrong.
A few weeks ago we volunteered at Maker Faire Detroit, lending a hand at the Liter of Light booth. The LofL folks put together a brilliant first electronics project, using an LED, a battery, and a simple gravity-operated switch to make a #Flipbot – a light that turns on and off when you flip the container over. The kit was free to anyone who wanted to sit down and assemble one; our job was to guide folks through the process.
While the circuit couldn’t have been simpler, when I first sat down to help out, I had no idea what was going on. But through the assembly process, I got it. I wasn’t just following a diagram, but understanding how the battery was powering the light, and how the switch worked to turn it on and off. It was a blast to see others get it too, and the joy on their faces when the LED finally lit up.
(As an aside, it was fascinating to see the variety of folks who sat down at the assembly table. I would have assumed it would be mostly kids, but we had everything from four-year-olds to seniors, and a huge diversity of participants.)
Here’s some photos of the #Flipbot in action:
So, anyway … inspired by the fun I had at Maker Faire, I decided to take the next step with electronics. I looked into a basic electronics class at Henry Ford College. But $1000 for one class … yikes. TechShop Detroit, on the other hand, offered a one-day Intro to Soldering class for $80. Perfect.
Here are some photos from the class. It definitely helped me to feel better about soldering on my own. Sadly, though, I don’t entirely get how the project works. Someday …