# Pete's Log: Staying up past my bedtime to solder

Entry #1961, (Smokepacking)
(posted when I was 42 years old.)

I promise they don't pay me.

I have a confession: I'm slightly embarrassed by how much I enjoy my HackerBoxes subscription. Sometimes I roll my eyes at the over the top stickers and badges, and I know I could source a lot of what comes in the boxes for cheaper. But honestly? I love it. I now get giddy each time a new one ships.

I think a big part of the value for me boils down to "I don't know what I don't know." If it was just a matter of knowing what I need to look up and then learning that, it would be one thing. But this interest in hardware is a recent development, and I did not do a great job of learning the electronics lessons they tried to teach me in college. So it works out well to learn these "I never even thought of that" lessons.

An example of this at work: I don't like reading resistor codes. So most of the time I just check them with a multimeter instead of reading the codes. For a couple months I'd been toying with the idea of building a little resistor-testing circuit. Something I could easily stick a resistor in and have it tell me its value. The multimeter works well enough, but it's bulky and the probes are finicky sometimes, especially with big resistors where I need to make sure I'm not measuring the resistance of my body in parallel.

I'd been putting some thought into what this thing would look like, and along comes HackerBox 67. It includes a gadget that is exactly what I want to do, and more. And it has a few important features that I hadn't thought of that make it much more accurate than what I would have built.

• It includes both a high-resistance (470K) and low-resistance (680) resistor so that the voltage divider used to measure can handle a wider range of values
• The resistors for the voltage dividers are high precision resistors (0.1% tolerance) to ensure accurate results
• It includes a precision voltage reference that always outputs 2.5V, so if the power supply isn't exactly 5V, you can correct for that

I would not have thought of any of those. So I'm real excited about this new toy. And it also measures capacitors, transistors and more. HackerBox 67 also came with this cute full adder demo, which makes me hope that someday JB will want to learn binary addition so I can use this as a prop.

HackerBox 68 arrived at the beginning of July. It taught me about the Shitty Add-On standard, which is something I'd never heard of even though I'm tangentially familiar with BadgeLife. It amuses me.

Anyway, the box has been sitting by my desk slightly intimidating me with all its SMD components. But tonight after everyone else went to sleep I had at it.

These three are the ones I'm most excited about:

On a tangent, I just recently bought some fancy tweezers to help with soldering. They're on top in the picture below. HB 68 included the tweezers on the bottom of the picture. I feel like I should stop buying tools for a while and see what all I amass via this subscription. At least they're two different shapes.

Up first: a minimal badge that holds a button battery and can power one SAO. Need that for testing.

First the easy ones: these two didn't feature SMD components.

Oh boy, that's a lot of tiny SMD components.

Pikachu!

Laughing Skull

With this next one I learned a lesson. I needed four LEDs, so I went to peel back the the plastic film far enough to expose four LEDs. When I got to three, the packaging decided to catapult them across the room. Through luck, one of them landed on my arm. I could not find the other two. Lesson learned: peel back and remove carefully one at a time. At least the eyes look ok with just one LED lighting them up instead of two.

I really like this one.

The sideways mounted LEDs are real finicky and I had to exercise a lot of patience with them. So while I am really looking forward to doing the SMD challenge SAO, it's going to have to wait for another time. But I did get some good SMD practice in this evening.