After a successful exam – 78% yeahboi! – this morning, I headed down to Maplin as I finally got the parts I need to play with my pi. I wouldn’t have needed to, but the soldering iron my dad gave me contains only an iron with a screw-driver style tip, a stand and a manual, when it should have contained 5 spare tips and a sponge. Maplin actually has some nice looking electronics kits for building random things – not a patch on my beloved Adafruit, but still.
Anyway so I got my stuff home and started to solder. Couple of things:
1 – It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re probably going to burn yourself on the tip.
2 – Wait until the iron gets hot. Sounds obvious, but I perhaps waited a little too short before making my first couple and it doesn’t make the connection as pretty.
3 – Don’t be afraid to use a lot of solder, just don’t over do it…I bought a solder sucker as well which you’re meant to use to get rid of excess, but I’m still not sure how it works so whenever I put too much on I’ve kind of had to re-melt it and then reshape it so that it doesn’t interfere with other connections. Brings me on to point 3
4 – Make sure you don’t connect two holes together. It’ll break things.
Anyway, my first steps in this lil project were to put together my breakout board. Breakout boards essentially make it easier for you to know what connections do what in some cases ’cause a lot have labels round the holes, and for all cases it’s to protect your hardware from getting damaged. RPI GPIO pins have very little protection so if you take an external input and send in too much power the board can’t handle, that’s £30 gone. Or at least that’s my understanding. I’m probably wrong.
Anyway, here’s my board: (apologies about the photos, my laptop’s web cam is awful)
This particular breakout board is the T Pi Cobbler (called T because they have another in which the board is more compact and is just the top part with the pins moved to either side of the top set of soldered connections) produced by Adafruit as you can tell by the customary blue PCB. The first part I had to solder the back, in which you plug in the 26 pin clip given in the pack into the top part of the board, and then solder each hole.
The next part involved splitting the header pins plugged into the bottom (you can barely see them in the photo, but again they come with the board – black plastic with two metal bits sticking out either side), plugging them in long side down to my breadboard and then resting the cobbler on top and again, soldering the connections as shown in the top photo.
Next, the thumb joystick I ordered comes as a breakout board and joystick, so I knew that needed soldering. For this the joystick top is curved so I used the handle on my soldering iron stand so as to hold it upside down:
(lol hi to my forehead whoops slightly blurry)
That doesn’t really show it very well, but yeah again I just soldered the obvious connections. For this as with the ranger I need to plug in some wires…not sure whether to solder those yet or just use header pins or whatever. Thankfully, the joystick has labels over the holes, whereas my ranger I had to look up the datasheet.
I got all of these parts from proto-pic.co.uk as I mentioned previously – my next couple of steps are a little bit more difficult because I’m following some Adafruit tutorials, and as I couldn’t get a hold of the MCP3008 A-D chip, I have an MCP3002…I think the only difference is there’s 2 channels not 8 (which is enough for my joystick, but obviously if I wanted to use my ranger and my joystick I’m going to have to buy another chip) but some of the wiring is in different places, and my breadboard’s not the same as theirs [they have like…+ and – power rail holes or something) soo lil bit of a problem.
I also might be starting blogging on tech-fruits which is a totally awesome site if you want to learn a bit more about what everyone else is doing with their pi.