The Brain Game Kit has a lot of great attributes as a kit for young people or anyone just learning to solder.
- Discrete through-the-hole parts (much easier to solder than surface mount components)
- LEDs (blinking lights = fun factor)
- Sound (bleeps = fun factor)
- Its a functional game (once built everyone wants to try it)
- Attractive hand-held device to show off the builder's skill
|Velleman instructions are light on text though very visual and helpful|
|Always fun to inspect and layout all the interesting parts when starting a new kit|
The building went very smoothly without any errors. Things to watch out for include reversing the orientation of the semiconductors (diodes, transistor, or integrated circuit).
|The Brain Game Kit about 50% built|
|KC2VSR demonstrating soldering technique|
KC2VSR was so excited to power up the kit and collected three AA batteries. Two of the batteries were from the "new battery storage" and the last two remaining. Rats! KC2VSR scrounged up one more from somewhere. All three batteries were put into the kit's battery pack and the LED's came on. Good sign. After a few moments of button pushing and blinking lights it was apparent that the kit was not functioning. Rats again!
A Teachable Moment
One of the skills that hams and kit builders need is the ability to diagnose and correct problems (not a bad skill to have in life too). The non-functioning kit presented an nice opportunity to grow this skill. We went through the following checks together:
- Are the parts installed in the correct orientation?
- Yes, no issue with part installation.
- Are there any soldering defects (bridges or cold joints)?
- No, a double check again showed confirmed all was soldered correctly.
- Are the batteries good?
- We powered up our digital volt meter and selected the 2v range and checked each of the 3 batteries independently.
- 1st = 1.4v
- 2nd = 1.4v
- 3rd = 0.75v
- The 3rd was a bad battery and the one scrounged. Physical inspection also found light traces of alkaline leaking through. This battery had definitely seen better days.
|Finished Brain Game Kit|
This kit reinforced learning in several ways:
- Component identification
- Soldering skill
- Following instructions
- Lesson learned: always use fresh batteries when testing a kit for the first time.
By Michael W. Maher
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