Merry Krampus surface-mount soldering kit

Chebe writes:

I’m not of an Alpine culture, I didn’t know what a Krampus was, but I mean look at how cool this Merry Krampus surface-mount soldering kit looks! I wanted it. (It’s also available on Tindie, but the Challenge version seems permanently sold out.) I found and ordered it last year, but it arrived in January, so I put it in a drawer until recently. I got the Challenge version, because a little challenge in your life can be good for you.

Slight hitch being, I didn’t have any surface-mount soldering tools. So I had at the kit with my regular soldering tools. The instructions are thorough, and it even comes with a programmer that you need to assemble. But when I got to the point where I could program the board it just wasn’t working. The LEDs at the eyes would blink, but then the Arduino IDE would complain that it couldn’t communicate with the board. I emailed the creators, and was surprised when they replied, with even more detailed info to help me through the process! Seriously, they are lovely people.

I examined the circuit diagrams, figured out which pins on the board were which on the diagrams. I multi-metred my way through all the connections. It all seemed good. The next step was removing the transistors. I did not fancy that with my standard soldering iron, so I ordered a SMD Repair station (a.k.a. a very hot air gun).

Before trying to remove the components I hit every single solder joint with the hot air. I couldn’t see anything happening, but the plastic parts of the switches are very toasted, so stuff was happening. Then I tried programming the board, and it worked first time! My guess is I had made connections (multi-metre said so) but that they weren’t good enough.  After that you can add decorations and ways to attach the board to things/you. (There is also the challenge of changing the programming, but I might save that for next year.)
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