Wednesday, December 26, 2012

OT: Christmas project with the kids

I managed to heat up the soldering iron and melt some solder during the weekend before Christmas, but it wasn't in pursuit of anything ham radio related.  I have a RockMite kit that I've been meaning to get to, but never seem to get around to it.  But no, this weekend's project was done with and for the kids.

While bumming around Radio Shack a few weeks ago I stumbled across the neatest little Velleman 3D Christmas tree kit!  It didn't look to complicated and was only $7 so I decided to give it a shot with the kids.  Now keep in mind, my kids (the two that were most interested in helping) are 7 and 10 so I couldn't do anything too complex, but this looked right up their alley!

Just like the last little project that I did with the kids, they are still too young to solder, but they can sort parts by type, sort resistors by color code and now they are old enough to actually put the components onto the board as well!  This kit comes with two boards that makes of the planform shape of a Christmas tree.  This worked out perfectly as each kiddo was able to get one board to work on.

The project did not require much in the way of tools.  A soldering iron, some solder, and some snips.

Our process was this:

  1. The kids sorted out the components into groups together (capacitors, resistors, transistors, etc).
    1. My youngest daughter, the eldest of the group at the bench, took on the task of sorting the resistors by color code, learning a bit about said code in the process.
  2. Each kid got a board, and with some help from Dad found the marked locations for each component (resistor X goes into the R1 location).
  3. They then bent the legs of the components so that they would fit into the holes in the board.
  4. As one kiddo got a part mounted, Daddy would solder it on and trim the excess off.  By then, the next kiddo would have a part mounted and the process would continue.
  5. We continued on in this vain until all of the parts were on the board (first resistors, then capacitors, then transistors, and finally LEDs).
  6. Once that was done, Daddy soldered on the battery leads and joined the two halves together with jumpers (the hardest part of the project).
All in all it was a fun little project that took about and hour and a half from start to finish, and we ended up with an ornament that we can use for many Christmases to come!  

Here is a shot of the eager little technicians that help during the build out, along with the fruit of their labors:

And a close up of the finished tree:

And a couple of shots with the lights off to show the blinking motion of the LEDs:

This was a fun little project and helped to keep the kiddos entertained while Mommy was a work!  I hope to get back to some radio related projects in the near future, like maybe that RockMite kit, or installing a 4BTV vertical, or building a 12el yagi for 2m, or a "turnstile" moxon for satellite work on field day, or you get the idea...  Maybe during some vacation time that I am planning on taking in January...  Time will tell.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Richard, KK4JDO

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