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A Few Upcoming Classes

We have some classes coming up in the next few weeks and you should be there!

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Using a soldering iron certainly has its time and place - and many of the SparkFun products you buy are lovingly made by the skilled solderin' hands of our production crew. But when it comes to placing tiny SMD components and soldering large quantities of boards, nothing beats stenciling!

The above video will certainly help you learn how to solder stencil, but hands-on experience is really the way to go - which is why we are offering another one of our Solder Stenciling Classes! This class, which takes place on July 14th at 6 PM, will show you all the tools, tips, and tricks you need to do solder stenciling at home. At the end of the class, you'll leave with an Arduino Pro that you built!

Also, a reminder that we have the XBee Series I and Series II classes coming up as well on July 23rd and 24th. These are two different classes which will cover many of the facets of incorporating the XBee protocol into your next project. Hope to see you at one of (or all of?) these classes!

Comments 32 comments

  • Hmm... I can assume that your classes are great, but here's a idea.
    Sell Class kits. This way, Hackerspaces could hold classes. This would enable the people (like me) who can't travel to Colorado to participate.
    Like the Stenciling Class, Provide text for the teacher and all supplies like the board and stencil (and maybe solder paste).

    • I second and third this idea!

    • no, the good old fashioned live streaming is awesome :) you guys should do that again.

    • I nonuple this idea.

    • This is a really great idea. Sparkfun should make more tutorial videos, like the one in this post, from which a 'how to' class could be made, using multiple videos. I.e, if there was a class on batch PCB production, all of the details would be in videos on PCB etching, stenciling, PTH and reflow soldering and testing/ debugging. I guess a bit like BildrTube??

    • As a hackerspace member (FamiLAB), I can't express how important this is for us. If there were full class sets (and maybe a volume discount) we would certainly purchase SF wares. We're starting to run classes every month.

    • Let's make a few assumptions with this idea. Great idea in general, but let me show some issues.
      * What if the teacher is not experience in circuitry/EE? How would they be able to help you debug issues of the kit?
      * What if the kit has malfunction parts and issues? That's money down the drain the Hackerspace cannot afford.
      * What if the students in the hackerspaces just want the kits to play with and not follow a tutorial/guide?
      In all reality, making Video on Demand (VOD) would be a better way to go.

      • I can see where you're coming from with some of these issues, but I think they could be easily addressed in the kit:
        I agree with Chill_Bill that if someone in a Hackerspace wants to use this kit, it's pretty likely that they would have *some experience. At least enough to follow the kit's instructions. Plus the kits should be fairly "bug-resistant". I'm sure the Simon Game kit would be a great example of this.
        *If you have ever had any issues with anything you've ordered from SparkFun, you will know this is a non-issue. The more important issue in that area is that there may be disgruntled students who receive bad parts, but that's why you always provide a couple backups.
        *If the students just want the kits to play with and not follow the instructions, then they belong in a Hackerspace. Seriously. Besides, it would probably be cheaper for then to buy the separate project kits than the text and other things they wouldn't use.

      • In all reality, a teacher IN A HACKERSPACE would know how to look for solder bridges/faulty connections/etc.

  • +1 for kits! I really want to learn Stenciling, but Buffalo to Colorado may be a little far!

  • Hi all,
    We're working on getting a quasi permanent video setup in the classroom.
    As far as kits go for stenciling, we sell the paste, but we don't know what boards you want to stencil for yourselves. Selling class kits is a great idea and one we will definitely pursue!
    We definitely encourage hackerspaces to hold as many classes as they are willing. We will be making our materials available as time passes. Our Department of Education is very new and kinda small in comparison to other departments.
    All that said, check out http://static.sparkfun.com/education/SIK/ for some pre-release teacher materials.

  • Another +1 for class kits to hackerspaces! Freeside ATL represent!

  • Great video, but it should continue to show the reflow process using the griddle oven.
    Keep up the great work!

  • Awesome tutorial! Now show me how to use the damn skillet to cook the boards without cooking the boards! I've tried twice with no luck.

    • Right here on sparkfun there's: http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/59
      Also, google "diy reflow toaster oven" and you'll find more. Many lead back to sparkfun.com though.

    • Yeah that would be a nice tutorial to accompany this one, lets hope they make it.

  • Just finished the wireless sensor book and I recommend it for someone starting out.

  • New to Sparkfun. Where do I go to order stuff?

    • You must be new to the Internet in general.

    • Check out our Customer Service section at the top of the page for info about creating an account, payment methods, shipping options, and all that kind of stuff. Or give us a call or shoot us an email.

    • Take a look at the "Products" column on the left side of this page. Drill down until you find what you want, then "Add to Cart".

  • Vintage Sparkfun. Question: how do you guys clean up your excess flux? A lot of time when I'm building boards, I get a little carried away with applying flux, and I just wash it off with some rubbing alcohol, but I find it hard to get flux off between tightly packed surface mount components. Do you use any of the flux removing sprays, or do you have a better method?

    • In the Navy Micro-miniature Electronic Repair shop, we would scrub first with an acid brush and isopropyl alcohol. Then we would use a squeeze bottle to flush with distilled water, shake it off, then a little more isopropyl alcohol. The first application of alcohol breaks down the flux. The water flushes it away (preventing the light flux residue that often stays behind) and doesn't leave extra residue on the board. The final alcohol application displaces the (slow-evaporating) water and evaporates cleanly and quickly, leaving a clean board. Overkill? Maybe. But it worked.
      Hope this helps.

    • Most of the times I use alcohol. But if I have a sensitive circuit or I want it to look real good I use Windex. The small amount of ammonia in it cuts the flux like no other and is safe on other components and yourself. I've used this very successfully on high impedance crystal circuits that wouldn't start. Some fluxes, which are pretty high impedance themselves, are sometimes enough to affect their operation. Most cleaners I've found smear the flux around and after a rinse leave "snail trails". Use with toothbrush or cut-down acid brush with the Windex and follow by very hot water rinse, dab with paper towels to dry.

    • We had this same problem and ended up getting a special parts washer for it.
      But for water-soluble flux, we used a toothbrush and a crock-pot. Seriously. Soak the board in hot water for ~10 minutes and scrub it.

      • Awesome, I've been looking for an excuse to ask the boss for a hot tub in the lab. "No, it's for the boards. Really." Any idea how I could convince him that margarita mix is also useful to keep in the lab?

  • Have you ever seen the videos sold by The Teaching Company? They get well known college professors to record lectures on DVD (or CD for audio only classes). The concept should work for you too.
    Why not make videos of some of your classes? Sell the required hardware kits that you use in the in-person classes and put the youtube videos on line. Have you considered making these classes available at Maker Fairs or even major Hamfests such as Dayton? (You guys should have a booth at the next Dayton Hamfest).

    • The only problem is that, well, the Weather unit Completely And Totally Sucks. Me and my mom returned it because we had stuck with it for like 2-3 months and... visual aids were only like, graphs every 2-3 lessons. There was one bad animation of a stickman kicking an air parcel, though.

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