SparkFun Soldering Competition 2012

Note: We are no longer taking reservations online. If you still want to come, you can show up and we can fit you in.

Are you a soldering superstar? A rework revolutionary? Do you feel prepared to wield the hot-iron and prove your skills on the field of battle? Well prepare thine self because this year we're organizing the very first SparkFun Soldering Competition! The competition will be held at Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids, a down-home beer and Southern-inspired BBQ joint that's been nice enough to host us. Doors open and check-in begins at 11:00 AM, so come join us for some lunch and a serious soldering showdown.

Competition starts at high-noon and will unfold in several rounds. The preliminaries will consist of 4 heats of 25 competitors. Out of those 4 heats our judges will take the best 16 times and those chosen few will advance to the sweet 16 round. The sweet 16 will take place in 1 round with all 16 competitors going head-to-head and only 8 will move on to the final round. The final 8 round will determine our gold, silver, and bronze medal winners.

Kids are, of course, welcome and a special Kids' Heat will be held as well! The first 25 kids (under 12) to sign up the day of the event will compete, at no charge, in a single round soldering race putting together one of our simple kits (Assuming they have proper parental/guardian supervision). There will the bronze, silver and gold medals awarded to the kids' heat winners but the kids' heat isn't considered part of the larger competition. If they had previously signed up for the larger competition they may compete in both, if they choose.

You're welcome to bring your own tools if you like, but we request that everything be lead-free! There will be food nearby and lead-free is a must. If you don't want to bring your own gear, we will provide you with everything you need.

  • 50W variable temperature soldering iron
  • Lead-free solder (all contestants must compete using lead-free solder)
  • Solder wick
  • Flux Pen
  • Diagonal Cutters
  • Tweezers will be provided for advanced rounds

    There will also be a few general rework stations set up for competitors who wish to fix a mistake on the spot.

Prizes Have Been Determined!

Main Competition Prizes:

  • The Bronze Medalist will receive $100 cash!
  • The Silver Medalist will receive $250 cash!
  • The Gold Medalist will receive $500 cash!
  • All Medalists will also receive gift cards to Oskar Blues

Kid's Heat Prizes:

  • Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalists will all receive awesome SparkFun medals that they can show off to their friends and they get to take home whatever they build!

    If you just want to come bask in the warmth of soldering mayhem, but don't think you can take the heat of competition (or if you're coming to cheer on a friend or family member) please sign up at our EventBrite page so we can get an idea of how many people are coming.

    See you there, hotshot.

Date: April 28th, 2012
Time: Doors Open at 11am, Competition starts at High-Noon! Final announcements should be made just after 5:00pm
Location:Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids


Looking for answers to technical questions?

We welcome your comments and suggestions below. However, if you are looking for solutions to technical questions please see our Technical Assistance page.

  • c17657 / about 11 years ago / 2

    How about a "multitasking" heat in which the competitior must A: assemble the kit, B: teach users how to change the font in an Excel doc, C: label the dialing procedures for a satellite phone, D: change the cyan cartridge in a printer (ONLY THE CYAN), E: text there girlfriend/boyfriend with a good excuse why they will be late to dinner, F: balance their checkbook, etc. Welcome to my world. :)

  • d w / about 11 years ago * / 2


  • PaulS / about 11 years ago / 2

    Great! But why do I have to pay shipping to enter?

    • You shouldn't have to. At checkout, there is only 1 option for shipping (None = Free). At least that's what I got when I just went to register...

      • PaulS / about 11 years ago / 2

        Looks like it has been fixed, or I was just being crazy.

  • Chingzilla / about 11 years ago / 1

    Alright, just signed up. I'm sure I will go down in the 1st round, but hey, I just moved to Colorado and could go for meeting some fellow hobbiest.

  • Member #319588 / about 11 years ago / 1

    I was wondering... Is it o.k. to bring our microscopes? What is going to be the small components that are used? Will there be (O402) or (0201)surface mount parts?

  • MostThingsWeb / about 11 years ago / 1

    What the hell am I doing here on the other side of the country?

  • WKUadam / about 11 years ago / 1

    to bad its nearly 19 hours to Colorado from Kentucky, I'd love to give this a try but even IF i won that prize money would hardly cover the gas to get there. LOL

    • Expanding this outward from Colorado is the ultimate goal. We'll see how year #1 goes first. But things could really ramp up next year if we can convince ESPN8 (the Ocho) that this is an event they need to be covering...

  • CF / about 11 years ago / 1

    What is considered a "passing" entry? Does it just have to work, or are we graded by how good it looks?

    • Chris, sorry for the slow response. I have not been monitoring this page as often as I should be. Functionality will determine "passing". Though we take pride here in the aesthetic quality of our solder joints, we know that the look of those joints matters little if what you've built up does not work! So just make it work...!!

      • dRudRu / about 11 years ago / 1

        Really? A functional joint is not always a reliable joint. Shouldn't you want the quality of the joint to be a larger factor? You should be using IPC-610 requirements as part of your judging criteria. The judging should be weighed across:

        1) 30% Time to complete the task

        2) 30% Appearance of joints

        3) 20% Quality of joint

        4) 20% Functionality of completed project

  • mossmann / about 11 years ago / 1

    This is going to be fun! I am competing and will give a Throwing Star LAN Tap Kit to anyone who beats me. Bring it!

  • bbotany / about 11 years ago * / 1

    <pondering>This may could be a fun way to determine if I want to drop coin on a variable temperature iron, or on more IC's!

    (yes, the pondering tag is still open...)

  • julienj / about 11 years ago / 1

    Awesome idea! I wish I lived a little closer to you guys...

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