Make Heart v1.1

Making the Heart

Being that there are a number of resources online about how to solder. I am not going to go over that here. This is a fairly straight forward kit that should be a great first time project. If you haven't soldered before I suggest you check out this page for a ton of examples and links. It's actually how I learned to solder, by reading, watching, and then practicing. If this really is your first time, pick up some broken electronic part, and de-solder and re-solder parts to it till you have nice looking solder joints.

Document Map:

Step 1: The Parts
Step 2: Soldering the resistors
Step 3: The LEDs
Step 4: The Cable

What you will need to build this kit:

  • Soldering Iron (a cheap one will work, but a temperature controlled iron will improve your life)
  • Shear Cutters
  • Solder
  • Wire strippers
  • Needle nose pliers

Things you really should have, but do not absolutely need:

  • Helping hands
  • De-soldering braid
  • Multimeter

I suggest you check out this list of recommended items for a good soldering setup.

Some tips before we start:

  • Lay out everything beforehand, and go through the directions at least once before you start.
  • Keep your iron tip clean. I Highly recommend a brass tip cleaner.
  • Use 60/40 flux core solder, unless you have a good iron and know what you are doing.
  • The joints should look like a "Hershey's Kiss", completely covering the pad.
  • Do not over-heat things. It will only take 1-3 seconds at the most to solder a joint.
  • Don't abuse your tools. Use your tools for their intended purpose, and keep them maintained. This will dramatically improve the quality of anything you do.
  • Double check your work.
  • If you get stuck, don't be afraid to ask questions.
  • Check out the Flickr set for a ton of additional information.

Step 1: The Parts

Check your kit and make sure you have all the parts you need. Click on the images for details:

Standard Kit:
Open Heart Broach Kit

Sewable Kit:
Open Heart Sewable Kit

Full Kit:
Open Heart Full Kit

Step 2: Soldering the resistors

If you have the Sewable kit, you are going to want to go here to configure the board properly before we start. It is within the larger Open Heart kit set, and just click on the next image to advance it.

The polarity of the resistor does not matter, so the way they go in is entirely dependent on your personal preference. Gently bend the leads in till the resistor falls into place.

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Once the leads are through the board, gently bend them outward, so that the resistor stays in place once you flip the board over.

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You may do all of them all at once if you wish. Simply apply some heat to both the pad and the resistor lead, and then apply the solder to the joint (not the iron). It should flow into place naturally. You do not need much, but it should completely cover the joint.

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Once they are all in place, clip the leads. You should have something like this. It doesn't matter if the solder makes it all the way through the board as long as the joint is solid on the back.

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Step 3: The LEDs

The LEDs, unlike the resistors, are very specific about how they go in. They have a polarity, the longer lead is positive, while the shorter one is negative. You are going to place the longer lead into the round hole, and the shorter one into the square hole for all 27 of them.

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Then you gently bend the leads out so that the LED will stay in place. I like to place all of the LEDs within a row in at the same time. Otherwise, flipping the board each time would be tedious, and more than one row at a time makes it difficult to get to the joints.

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I then solder only a single lead on each LED so that it will stay in place.

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While gently pushing from the front of the LED, and applying just a touch of heat to the solder joint, I press the LED flush with the board, then pulling the iron away once the solder has settled. By doing this, you get nice and straight LEDs, and it only takes a second. Make sure they are all lined up and flush, then solder the other joint.

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Next you just cut all the leads flush with the board.

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Now you do the same thing with the next row.

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The LEDs should be lining up naturally at this point.

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Continue doing this till all rows are in. Place LEDs, solder the LEDs, straighten, clip, repeat. The Flickr set has a good deal more pictures with a step-by-step.

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If you are going with the sewable configuration, then you are done, and you can move onto programming it. Otherwise you want to cut the right angle headers so that you have two sets of three, and two sets of five.

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I then place all of the headers into place, with the plastic portion resting against the board. I then lay it down on a surface that I do not mind getting hot (if you look at my desk, it has seen it's share of soldering action). You could also put these in one at a time with the assistance of the helping hands. Whatever you do, do not hold onto these while you solder. They will burn you, as they get very hot (a lesson I had to learn through experience, numerous times).

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Just fill in each of the joints with solder, which should look something like this. The ones with the squares around them are the ones that are electrically connected to the pins, so they are most important. The other pins are just there for support, or for additional sensors/buttons and the like.

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Step 4: The Cable

The cable is the part that is most likely to give you a headache. It is slightly more delicate work, and much easier to mess up. The cable that comes with the kit will suit it's purpose. It has 6 wires, and it will work for what you need it to do. It however is not a very comfortable cable, but I've honestly not found anything better, otherwise it would be in the kit. Cat5 will work as well if you want to bring any extra things out to the heart (light/sound sensors, buttons, etc). I am only going to go over the basics here, so if you want an in-depth look at the steps, go to the Flickr set starting with this image.

You will start by stripping the casing. Make sure that you have enough length before you start stripping the ends.

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Strip and tin (apply just a touch of solder to the stripped ends) the middle two wires.

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Place a crimp into the helping hands, and the tinned wire into the crimp. You want some of the insulation to be included when you crimp the pin with your needle nose pliers. Crimp hard on the part that connects to the bare wire. Make sure that an excessive amount of bare wire is not poking out the top (it is excessive if it touches the bottom of the loop on the crimp pin). I like to heat the part touching the wire, so that the solder will melt and make contact (I will sometimes add a tiny touch of solder if it isn't connecting solidly), be careful though, as you don't want to melt the insulation too much (this will cause it to pull back, and you will have to start over). You will do this for both wires.

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Next you will insert the two crimped wires into the opposite ends of the housing. They should slide in easily with little pressure. If they do not, then they probably aren't situated properly. You may optionally fill in the rest of the empty slots for a better grip, as the kit has the extra crimps included.

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Next fit the other wires to the heart by laying all the wires onto the heart, and then cut them close to the three pin headers.

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You will now do this for the other two sets of wires, minding the direction of the crimp pins.

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The last thing you do, is go ahead and strip and tin the other end of the cable. It's exactly like the first step. What you are going to do with that end will depend on the Arduino you want to hook it up to.

You are now ready to program and test the heart!

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