Let's Make Robots!

My 1st non-breadboard circuit :)

I know..a lot of you good folks could solder before you could walk and probably sleep with a soldering iron under your pillow (hope you remember to turn it off :), so here is this guy in his 30s bragging about his first circuit. Pathetic.

However soldering is a major challenge to me and actually the main reason I didn't get started with robotics years ago. It's just not easy for my unsteady hands. So I'm very happy to declare that I just finished my 1st working non-breadboard circuit. It's a motor+servo shield for my Arduino.

It has an L293D H-bridge chip, plugs into my Arduino and provides easy plug and play connectors for 2 DC motors, 2 servos and an external power source. Here are some photos (I know it ain't pretty but it's mine and it WORKS :)





PS: Now that the hardest part is over 1st robot coming up soon :)

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Congrats, mate! I'm still somewhere in the begining stages of mastering soldering art, but can say, it's only hard in the begining. :)

And I'm not sure it'll ever be easy for me. When I said unsteady hands I really meant UNSTEADY hands ;) I bought a robot kit a few years ago and actually managed to mess up the PCB so bad in the soldering process it was rendered useless. That put a end to my robotics ambitions for a few years, since I decided that robotics was for people with hands steady enough to solder.

However I made a comeback today :)

Congrats man, any progress is good progress =D
I suck at sodering so bad, I'd soder my fingers to my face if possible...congrats!!!
I believe it IS possible..almost happened to me once or twice :D

I have the same problem as you - my perfboards seem to have about a 50% chance of working, and I think my breadboards are too old.

My solution - etching. It's nowhere near as complex as you might think and for anything that has more than about 50 connections, (or if you're planning to make the same circuit a few times in the future) - it's a real time saver.

Of course, if you're just making a quick, single inverter with a trannie, then it's a waste of time, but otherwise, it's pretty effective, and good fun. Best of all - it's not frustrating with millions of tiny "connect this with that- wait, is that right? is the transistor in the right way? damn, I have to unsolder he diode - again" type problems.

Usually people say that etching is a LOT of hassle so I never really considered that an option. But you definately made me wanna look into it. Anything to keep the soldering at a minimum ;)

Breadboarding on the other hand...well I decided at 1st to use breadboards only for my robots, but even simple circuits become very messy very fast. You should have seen how a similar setup as my litle board there. It looked like the prototype for a time machine or something REALLY complicated. Plus I kept getting loose connections all the time. Not a great way to build robots either.

Perhaps I could ask you: What would I need to get started with the etching? And how much would it cost more or less?

Anyway thanks for the tip :)

Probably the most difficult thing is finding a supplier of the etching acid. I live in japan so I can't really tell you where the best place is for you, but try art stores or hardware stores.

There's an abundance of sites online that give you a step by step process. It's something like.

1. design the circuit (I use eagle)

2. transfer the ciruuit to the board (I use an iron and water) - or you can draw it.

3. etch (takes about 5-10 mins)

4. solder it up.

Step 2. is the irritating bit. some people print directly to the board, some draw, some use a transfer. 


I use the transfer method by printing the circuit on a paper, then I have to photocopy the image (because photocopy toner melts, whereas printer ink does not), then I apply that to the cleaned copper board with a lot of iron heat - this takes a certain trial and error, so make sure you make lots of photocopies.

Put the board (with the circuit iron-on still stuck to it) in a bit of water so you can gently remove the completely soaked paper. 

then put it in a bit of ecthing fluid - agitate it a bit, and/or float it in a bit of hot water to speed it up.

then drill. 



maybe I should make a step by step - but I think some might already exist on this site... There's some eg.s of a board or two that I made here I think.

Definately nice to know that it's a realistic alternative to soldering...