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Who can solder here, how many like building kits (if it's interesting) ?


Could you, would you, solder a kit ?   

18 members have voted

  1. 1. If you came across an interesting electronic/computer kit with 200+ parts, could you, would you, solder it together ?

    • You can select multiple answers. Soldering, I could do that, I have done it before.
      9
    • Would do that, if it was exciting enough to keep my interest and affordable.
      9
    • If it was interesting enough and looked easy in tutorials, I'd give it a go.
      5
    • Probably not, I'm too lazy or I just don't think I could do it
      3
    • I make things but I'm not into soldering things so I wouldn't
      2
    • If I wanted it and couldn't solder it, I'd buy it off someone who could if it was interesting.
      5
    • No interest in electronics as a hobby, not soldering anyhow.
      0
    • I live to solder.
      4


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Would be nice to get an idea about who may like to see an electronics kit, like a computer kit, they used to have these, and still they are around...

but how many X16 enthusiasts can actually solder a kit together... ? or would want to..

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I’ll build anything, but prefer thru-hole.  My body isn’t as forgiving as it used to be and I struggle to read cap values and resistor colors; but I’ve built small (MiniPet), medium (Corsham Kim-1) and large projects (crOwBX); the latter is a synth DIY.

If the X16 ever materialized in kit form, I’d be early to buy one or two.  I’ve always (only) been interested in the expansion slots and ability to connect my stockpile of Commodore peripherals.  If an SBC, not interested.

Not that I’m against single board computers, just that they need a purpose in order to be anything other than flash-in-the-pan shelfware.  Otherwise, it’s an appliance like the pasta maker or the bread machine that was the rage but now...?

Maybe it’s the personal interest in ‘owning’ something that you built that makes it seem more special and maybe if I didn’t think it was special in the first place, I wouldn’t have bothered buying and building it.

X16-lite or X8 or whatever “on a chip” it may someday be is of zero interest; that’s been done to death.

Foenix is a much better and more interesting platform due to capabilities of HW, availability of compiliers relative to the power of the hardware, and design in general.  Also the kernel/kernal is being built from the ground up to be multi-platform (65C816 and MC680x0) and is open source with lots of collaboration and good will.

 

Edited by EMwhite
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On 10/17/2021 at 8:35 AM, EMwhite said:

I’ll build anything, but prefer thru-hole.  My body isn’t as forgiving as it used to be and I struggle to read cap values and resistor colors; but I’ve built small (MiniPet), medium (Corsham Kim-1) and large projects (crOwBX); the latter is a synth DIY.

If the X16 ever materialized in kit form, I’d be early to buy one or two.  I’ve always (only) been interested in the expansion slots and ability to connect my stockpile of Commodore peripherals.  If an SBC, not interested.

Foenix is a much better and more interesting platform due to capabilities of HW, availability of compiliers relative to the power of the hardware, and design in general.  Also the kernel/kernal is being built from the ground up to be multi-platform (65C816 and MC680x0) and is open source with lots of collaboration and good will.

 

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I can… I just don’t want to. I built my PiDP-11, which took two evenings, and that came out very well. However, that’s really just an LED and switch panel, and there’s not much that can go wrong there. 

With a computer as complex as the DIP version of the CX16, I just don’t want to make a mistake while building the kit and find out it doesn’t work… then spend days trying to find a flaw that may even be out of my control to fix. So while I’m interested in an assembled computer, or even a motherboard sans case, I’m not interested in a kit computer at all. It’s the biggest reason I don’t already have an RC2014 computer. 

Edited by TomXP411
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On 10/17/2021 at 12:18 PM, Calculon said:

I can solder through-hole, no problem, but my hands aren't real steady so surface mount would be a challenge.  I'll give it a go with X16, though.

They seem to be pretty consistent that if there is a solder yourself kit, it will be the through-hole version. The daughter board holding the Vera and other surface mount components would come finished, the kit builder would solder in the pin block headers and, if they wish, they can squint and imagine it's just a socket for an unusually large chip.

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Probably not, I'm too lazy or I just don't think I could do it

Way to invite those who don't think they could build a kit that complex to insult themselves.

Edited by BruceMcF
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I look for any excuse to puck up my iron. I love working with electronics in general, I started soldering and making boards in the late 80's and on through the 90's. I took a break for many years and recently picked it all back up again.

I will solder on anything, from simple "project kits", recapping old boards, building my own custom projects, to trying to repair/mod modern hardware. So, needless to say, I am waiting on the full kit version of the X16. I want to build it all myself. For me, it's very relaxing, and I love troubleshooting so I'm not worried about making mistakes, they can be corrected.

You could say it's my "happy place". lol

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The options available in your poll are strange enough that I don't feel comfortable choosing any. What I can say is this...

  • I learned how to solder 30 years go. I was terrible at it then and I am worse at it now.
  • I wouldn't buy anything that required soldering anything more than a couple of power leads.
  • I don't enjoy soldering, at all.

Aside from the fact that I just don't want to solder a kit anything together...

  • I don't have a properly ventilated location to work.
  • I don't want to troubleshoot and repair complex circuitry.
  • I don't have the electronics tools required to troubleshoot and repair complex circuitry.
  • I don't want to buy (or own or use) all the equipment required to solder/de-solder properly.
  • I don't want buy (or own or use) the electronics tools required to  troubleshoot and repair complex circuitry.

There was a time in the distant past where I would have answered this question differently, but people and circumstances change. I already have hobbies that require more time and attention than I have available, such as using already assembled devices to program.

Edited by Tatwi
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On 10/18/2021 at 2:35 AM, EMwhite said:

struggle to read cap values and resistor colors

I know where you're at there. Here is a good tip. All those little black power supplies that plug into the wall, keep a supply of white stickers in the house. When you do get the glasses and good light to see what is written on the power supply, Volts and Amps, scratch that information into the side of it in large writing and then add a sticker ( which may or may not fall off later ) with the same information in large writing. 

 

On 10/18/2021 at 4:23 AM, BruceMcF said:

Way to invite those who don't think they could build a kit that complex to insult themselves.

Not my intention I promise, however I am NO believer in the mind poison called self-esteem, it turns would be people into mindless trolls with no intention to improve themselves.

On 10/18/2021 at 2:35 AM, EMwhite said:

they need a purpose in order to be anything other than flash-in-the-pan shelfware.

I worry about the X projects. It is not good enough to think that a community IS the feature and will become a self-fulfilling selling point.

On 10/18/2021 at 2:35 AM, EMwhite said:

something that you built that makes it seem more special

also works if you buy something secondhand and clean it 😁

On 10/18/2021 at 2:35 AM, EMwhite said:

Foenix

😲

pricey though.

On 10/18/2021 at 8:46 AM, Justin Baldock said:

I have a good soldering iron,

I got a temperature controlled one recently, Oh luxury ! gas ones are good but don't last too long and some models are 🤢 so have to choose carefully.

On 10/18/2021 at 10:38 AM, Tatwi said:

I was terrible at it then and I am worse at it now.

I think I'd be in the market for trailer bumper stickers which read  " WARNING - I WELDED IT MYSELF " . I know where you're at and I don't mind at all saying what I am not good at, I find pleasing ways to do it too.

How about the question "If I wanted it and couldn't solder it, I'd buy it off someone who could if it was interesting. "

 

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On 10/17/2021 at 7:57 PM, Oldrooster said:

pricey though

I paid $220 for my 65C816 based C256U and it comes with the equiv. of a VERA but I might be insulting one or the other by saying that but indeed it's FPGA implemented video, glue, etc.  Also has a real Serial port, real working PS/2 (what a feature !!!) @ 14.x mhz. tons of audio capabilities and some people excited and working on it.  (arrives on Tuesday so I'll post something in the off-topic underground forum where cigarettes are currency, the way I don't get in trouble and cause more threads to lock.

But you are correct, the A2560K is pricey @ $995 USD.  But you get what you pay for; I won't go on and on except to say that it's a rocket ship and everything they (she) makes is made by her; design, hand built, custom modeled, all of the core FPGA coding that makes it special.

I wish it had a breadboard area that I could solder to but in actuality, the 'U' has an expansion connector off to the right of the board that is currently leveraged for either a C100 or C200 add-on; one adds an RJ-45 Ethernet jack and two SID sockets; the other adds the Ethernet and a 2nd DVI-I adapter for 2nd monitor;  I'm pretty sure the pinouts are published but I doubt it's a simple as a Commodore Cartridge port where all lines of the CPU and other is brought right to the edge, but maybe it is.  So maybe I'll be able to solder something if I can breadboard something if I can attach a connector and get docs and have the motivation and time.  Mostly, it will be software adventure.

I'll test my theory of shelf-ware to see if, even if I don't build it that it's interesting enough to keep my attention for more than a few weekends.  I've been watching Tail Recursive's excellent videos on 65C816 assembly in the context of the Foenix and Vicky II sprites.

But back on topic, I wanted to add that I bought one of those high-end hand-held desoldering pump irons last December from Amazon, really makes recapping a pleasure.  And one of my prize possessions is an Army issue Weller with all of the tips/attachments including the DIP attachments.

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My dad found an old electronics kit in the garage and, not really having much use for it anymore but knowing that I was more into retro electronics these days, gave it to me. Sure enough, I went to solder it. Couldn't test it, though: It turns out it was missing a transformer, and the accompanying documentation only listed a part number from the company that made the kit. Alas, while the company appears to (technically) still be in operation, it didn't respond to emails inquiring about the part. Not even to say "we can no longer provide support for that kit", it was simply a black hole. Ah well.

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If you can post sufficiently hi resolution photos of both sides I'll tell you how to connect up a power supply.

Worst thing that can happen is you'll be barbecued in a massive electrical fire, so may as well give it a go. No, seriously, post up some pictures.

What is the part number, it may have obvious ques to the type. For example, you'd pick a name like TR-1201 for a 12volt AC 1 amp transformer, so when customers refer to it, you are prompted to know what it is.

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I have created several 6502 based, and also avr-based boards. Either through-hole or smd is fine. I've put in a significant investment in a JBC soldering station with more tips than would be wise, but alas, hobbies being what they are 😉. Recently invested in a good digital microscope for smd, indispensable for smd ICs with lots of pins.

I would certainly be able and willing to solder an x16 kit, even willing to solder a few for other people to get them started. 

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On 10/20/2021 at 7:44 PM, Oldrooster said:

If you can post sufficiently hi resolution photos of both sides I'll tell you how to connect up a power supply.

Worst thing that can happen is you'll be barbecued in a massive electrical fire, so may as well give it a go. No, seriously, post up some pictures.

What is the part number, it may have obvious ques to the type. For example, you'd pick a name like TR-1201 for a 12volt AC 1 amp transformer, so when customers refer to it, you are prompted to know what it is.

I've since lost the kit, and the instructions, but as I recall this transformer was intended to sit between raw mains power and potentially expensive audio equipment, so uh.... I didn't want to guess. It was one of those old kits for driving banks of lightbulbs to music, based on several basic filters. Not a great loss, nor that complicated of a kit, but... I wasn't going to guess. Thing was probably unsafe anyways even in an enclosure, as it took mains power on one end and expected to put filtered mains power on an array of A/C sockets on the other end. My original plan to test it was to clear out my garage, plug an arduino into the audio input to provide a sweeping test tone, plug the A/C output into some work lamps, and the A/C input into a surge protector, then toggle the surge protector with a long stick. 😛 Also would have been my first finished kit to work on mains power, everything else I've done works at 12v or less and I can easily provide the power with batteries or my rinky-dink bench supply.

I don't recall the name of the company, but when I went looking for them, I learned that they used to be a significant seller of radio kits, until their warehouse and/or headquarters was raided by the FBI. Apparently, government suspicion and legal battles over whether they were allowed to sell "radio equipment" was why they stopped selling electronics kits. But again, while they still seemed to be in operation, my queries went unanswered. Ah well.

Edited by StephenHorn
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On 10/22/2021 at 8:04 PM, John Chow Seymour said:

I quite enjoy soldering.  I may be looking forward to soldering the X16 kit more than I am to programming for it.

SMD were never meant to be soldered by humans, and I am amazed every time I see a video of a human doing repairs by hand on tiny SMD leads.

I'm in the same X16 boat, I think I will enjoy building it just as much as using it.

SMD was actually one of the reasons I got out of repairing and building for such a long time. The smaller and smaller surface mounted components made repairs more and more difficult, and back when I stopped you really could not just go out and buy them, it was all through-hole. Fast forward many years, now you can get pretty much anything delivered right to your doorstep, so I picked up my iron again. Funny thing, once I actually started really trying SMD, I found it was actually pretty easy once you get a technique down. In some cases, it's even faster than through-hole. The biggest downside for me is age, my eye's are not nearly as sharp as they used to be. So when I am doing SMD, I use a trifecta of a magnified lamp, head mounted magnifier, and a digital microscope camera to see what I'm doing. Makes it so much easier. Thankfully, my hands are still steady. lol

Edited by Strider
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On 10/17/2021 at 12:22 PM, TomXP411 said:

I can… I just don’t want to. I built my PiDP-11, which took two evenings, and that came out very well. However, that’s really just an LED and switch panel, and there’s not much that can go wrong there. 

With a computer as complex as the DIP version of the CX16, I just don’t want to make a mistake while building the kit and find out it doesn’t work… then spend days trying to find a flaw that may even be out of my control to fix. So while I’m interested in an assembled computer, or even a motherboard sans case, I’m not interested in a kit computer at all. It’s the biggest reason I don’t already have an RC2014 computer. 

I'm with Tom here.  I know how to solder, and I enjoy soldering (to a point), but that means very little.  There's a big gap between "I can solder a header onto a Raspberry Pi Zero" and "I can properly and correctly solder" kits like the Mini PET, the Gigatron, the PE6502, or the X16. 

 

Edited by rje
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