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A little frustrated

This post is principally related to my inexperience, but as a C# developer with a keen interest in electronics, perhaps it’ll yield some useful insights.

I’m fortunate enough to have three Meadow boards in my collection as well a few Netdiunos from before the Wilderness Labs acquisition. One of the things that I loved about the Netdiuno was how fast I could start playing as the boards came with the headers already attached. As my skills in soldering leave much to be desired, I’ve not got a single Meadow board working to the point that I can explore the hack kit. I’ve spent most of my day trying to desolder the headers to try again, but so far I’ve only successfully managed to remove 1/3.

Ideally, Wilderness would sell the boards ready to use, perhaps with the option of specifying female or male headers. While I understand it’s easier to ship out the bare boards, it significantly reduces the ease of use for someone like myself (a total newb). I’d be happy to pay a modest premium for the option of having a professional attach the headers and confirm the connections are working correctly.

As it stands, I’ve just ordered myself a set of RasberryPi’s as they come assembled and I know I can start exploring straight away without all the trouble that comes with getting the Meadow boards ready to use.

Just something to consider regarding soldering skills. I was right there with you until my wife bought me a better soldering iron (a Hakko FX-888 … example: Amazon has a FX-888D for $104… which is just a digital version). I was just using an inexpensive (about $10) soldering iron before and couldn’t solder worth a darn. But having a soldering iron that allows control of the temperature, gives access to easy tip cleaning (and even interchangeable tip options), plus making sure the right solder is used, along with some YouTube videos on how to properly solder, pretty much changed my soldering life. Will it still take some practice … you bet … but I’d bet you can get there.

While, as Jeff suggested, better tools will probably make it easier. I put my board together with a very cheap soldering iron bought at HomeDepot. My solder is also a huge wire and not ideal for electonics.

The trick to getting it soldered correctly, in my experience, is to preheat the pin and pad that you want to solder. Then, when the iron has been touching them for a few seconds, come in and dab the solder to the iron. The solder should practically be sucked down to the pad and around the pin. You will need good lighting and some magnification helps a lot, but I promise you can do it with the equipment you have.

To remove a bad solder can be tricky, but I would suggest getting a cheap solder sucker from amazon. Then, just heat the solder and trigger the sucker on top of it.

Link to solder sucker and wicking braid. No affiliate link, just trying to speed up your searching effort.

We hear you, amigo. pre-soldered headers will be an option in the future. Probably for $1-$2 more. It’s kind of a logistical pain that is only worth the price when we’re doing higher volumes. Otherwise, it would be like $3-4 more, which is kind of absurd.

Thanks for the feedback.

Thanks all for the feedback. I did manage to have some success desoldering with my pump and I purchased some new tips to see that might help (will try again on the weekend).

Brian, its great to hear pre-soldered will become an option. Happy to pay $5-$10 for the extra pain in terms of logistics! I’ll keep an eye out for the change in the store and when I see it’s available then I’ll order some more boards!

Cheers,
Mike J