Monday, 31 August 2009

Bank holiday blues

Well, I never did get started on the soldering. Finally we had a dry morning today, so I sorted out the soldering iron - it went outside for a smoke! It took 5 to 10 mins to clear it.
I tried to fit the first resistor into the opto endstop board, starting with one lead and then trying to manipulate the other lead into the right orientation to insert that one through its hole, too, but found that was nigh on impossible - I was in danger of damaging the lead/s. I've been trying to look up better techniques, which turned out to be a difficult task. There is precious little information out there, as everyone starts from just using the soldering iron! It occurred to me that I can't be the only person who doesn't know how to do this.... I did find some in the end.
I've also been refreshing my soldering knowledge, so I have written my own "how-to", starting from absolute basics for those who are utter novices as I am. I shall amend as I go along, and put the tutorial up on the blog when I'm sure I've got it right.
Maybe I'm actually ready to start now.

Friday, 28 August 2009

...three lights; four lights; five lights......

(anyone fond of motor racing will know what my heading means) - false start!

My solder, yes SOLDER, arrived in today's post. So, naturally, I thought I'd have a go.
Oh-oh. As soon as it started heating up, my brand spanking new soldering iron smoked rather more than I expected, and as I was planning to practise soldering (why do the American videos all say what sounds like "soddering"?) in the room housing my stick insects, and stick insects being sensitive souls when it comes to aerosols, vapours, and smoke, I have unplugged and opened the window. I shall have to set up elsewhere until the iron no longer smokes so.

Guess what I'll be doing this bank holiday weekend?

Thursday, 27 August 2009


The good folks at Farnell, bless their little cotton socks, had refunded £20.75 straight onto my credit card (but fogot to tell me!). They didn't have to do this, as it was my error in the first place, so I am very grateful.
I have now ordered, from Farnell, as it only seems right, some solder wire and solder paste. I'm going for lead-free as an environmental sciency person.

Farnell (second) sub-total £19.26
  • solder paste, lead-free, no-clean, 5 ml, 10 g, manufacturer: Edsyn, part number 1521898, £16.11
  • solder wire, lead-free, 0.7 mm, 2 m, manufacturer: Multicore, part number 9887105, 64 p.
When it comes to adding the costs of everything, I can take off £20.75 for the Farnell refund, but add £1.62 it cost me to post the extraneous parts back!

Back on 11th June, the costs had reached £262.88, excluding a set of washers and screws from B&Q, and the welding tips that got missed off, at £2.
Then on the 21st July came the first Farnell order (less the refund now received), £72.08
and the subsequent return postage of £1.62
the RapidOnline order £12.35
the RS order (less the solder paste refund now received), £3.59
the Maplin further order (including 2 LEDs now not needed) £1.99
today's Farnell second order (as above) £19.26

so the running total now stands at a whopping £

I probably wouldn't have started if I'd thought I'd be spending this much, but hey, still having fun, and it's giving me something unusual to talk about at weddings!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

No hurry....

It took a while, but today I received my cheque from RS after the solder paste debacle. I have had no word from Farnell about my refund/credit there (after my over-order error), but I've not checked with my credit card people, and it is possible that my credit card account has been refunded.
I want to start assembling my electronics, but everything is currently on hold.

Patience, I hear you cry!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Joy and distress

Having been informed by Nophead that I had eleven too many headers (I had ordered 12 24-pin connectors, as listed on the Reprap parts lister, when it seems 4-pins were needed, so one 24-pin cut up into short sections would be enough for all three boards!), I emailed Farnell. I explained that it was entirely my error, that I'd ordered 12 and only wanted 1, and asked if I could send the others back unused for a refund. They emailed to say yes, or at least I'd get a credit raised. Very decent of them, considering!
I've put them back in the post now. That was the joy.

Now for the distress. After RS local trade counter failed to find my goods when I was there, and then took half an hour to determine that the missing item, solder paste, wouldn't be available until the 6th August, I thought I'd better ring the trade counter to check it was there before setting off on my sojourn. I rang the number given for the local counter this morning - but the system automatically puts you through to head-office. I explained what I wanted, and the lady said she'd ring the counter for me to check (since there was nothing on their system) ringing me straight back.

Having heard nothing 3 hours later, I rang again. She said she'd been trying, but nobody answered. She'd continue trying.
Another 2 hours passed, I rang again, and got passed to somebody new, who redirected me to the counter - but all I got was holding messages.
When she went off shift, I got passed to the 3rd operator, who tried again.... Anyway, another 2 hours later, she rang me back to say she hadn't managed to talk to anyone yet (it was now 5 pm) and went away (with me on hold) to consider options.
As a private individual without an account BECAUSE I'D ELECTED TO COLLECT (apparently), she couldn't send me another tube of paste out, because their system didn't have my details on it! It would look like a new order - unpaid. So I'd have to pay again online, and then have a credit put on my account afterwards. Humph. So they'd get to keep the money. Don't like that.
The weird thing is that all my details are on one of their systems - I can get to it all when I log in to their ordering website. After going round the houses, and it being 3 weeks since I expected to have the solder paste, and them not being able to tell me where it was/is, I have requested a refund. I should receive a cheque.
Guess I'll be using my Farnell credit to order solder paste....