Let me start this post with a word of warning. This software geek is now armed with a soldering iron and should be considered dangerous.
The “Learn to Solder Badge” down and many more fun merit badges on my wishlist left to earn! Truthfully, I had done a little soldering in the past but I needed to learn (or re-learn) the proper technique and I especially wanted more confidence before tackling a more complex kit. The “Elenco AmeriKit Learn to Solder Kit” I purchased for $15 was an afternoon of pure geek heaven. The LEDs blink and the sirens blares … and I never hurt myself once.
This kit is designed for the beginner and includes a special area of the board dedicated to practice. This practice area is the key to the kit. I was able to experiment without my mistakes ruining the project. I lifted a couple pads early in the practice exercises but by the end of the test pads I had visibly improved my solder joints. Fixing a lifted pad seems non-obvious to this novice so I’ll try to avoid overheating a pad in the future.
Once you feel comfortable, the rest of the board is a European siren kit with flashing LED’s. For $15, I was amazed the kit includes a soldering iron and wire cutters. However, I also recommend wire strippers and a better soldering iron holder. The same vendor sells an inexpensive but more secure holder for less than $6. So have fun, and don’t forget to buy the merit badge.