Of Spaceships and Solder

Like Hackerspaces the world round, CCHS tries to spread the good word and introduce people to the joys of making.  How to Solder kits almost always pop up when we attend an event because they’re fun and (relatively) easy even for people who have never held a soldering iron before.

CCHS has always had kits, but about two years ago we ran in to a problem.  Functionally they were fine, but we’d been finding it harder and harder to get components that fitted and the design was a bit bland.  Why not take advantage of the wide range of colours now available from PCB shops in China for $cheap I reasoned?  Why not stretch my KiCad fingers and try for some smooth arcs?

So late one Friday evening, I firmly ignored the tantalising calls from friends playing online games and dedicated an evening up to my metaphorical armpits in CAD drawings and PCB layout (which honestly is just more CAD).

And here they are.

I blew the special effects budget on the flying effect!

All the Colours of the rainbow!

Turns out people love rockets, and they love soldering, which means they doubly love solder rockets….

CCHS tends to run or participate in  Maker Faires, Mini Make Days, Buzzconfs or something every 3 to 4 months.  We normally have 3 or 4 people teaching soldering lessons and on a good day we sell 30 to 40 kits at $5 each with all the profit going to the club.

So there’s hundreds of these floating around, which is kind of cool.  You can even buy them from our friends at Tronixlabs.  Not bad for an evening which could have just as easily been spent blowing away virtual zombies!

Like all our stuff the design is available on Github.  It’s an easy one to sit down and play with to do some alternative designs, and on my to-do list is to write a lesson plan around using KiCad and design software of your choice to introduce the idea of making to manufacturing your own boards.  Sort of a “Farm to Plate” idea for PCB design.  It’s a bit more in depth than I have time for at the moment though.

So these are a few of my designs, but I’m always looking for something new and I’d love to hear some suggestions.  Or fork my code!

John Spencer

I’m the hardware geek. I lean towards laser cutting, 3D printing, CNC routing and designing circuit boards.

You can find me on Github and Twitter.

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