Simon Says Retail Tutorial


Overview

If you've found yourself here, chances are you've purchased one of our many Simon Says Through-hole soldering kits. This tutorial will help you become familiar with the tools you'll need to build the Simon Says, show you how to build it, and show you how you can take this simple, yet fun, game further with a little bit of programming know-how. The different kits encompassed in this tutorial include:

These kits are all very similar. The only difference is that for the first two, you will need to provide your own tools to build it, whereas the Learn to Solder kit comes with everything you need to get started. To make things simple, we'll cover everything from the tools, to building the Simon Says all in this tutorial. If you feel comfortable enough with soldering and are just looking for some detailed instructions on how to put your kit together, you may want to skip ahead. However, if you would like to know more about soldering, which tools are best for the job, and how to properly maintain those tools, then read on!

Requirements

If you've purchased the Simon Says - Through-hole Kit or Retail Kit, the following is a recommended list of materials you'll need to complete the build. If you have a Learn to Solder: Simon Says, your kit should include all of the following:

Inside the Simon Says Through-hole kit, you'll find all the parts for the Simon Says. This includes:

  • ATmega328 - pre-programmed with Simon firmware
  • Buzzer
  • 0.1μF Cap (x2)
  • 10K Resistor
  • LEDs (x4) (blue, yellow, red, green)
  • Slide Switch (x2)
  • Battery Clips (x4)
  • AA Batteries (x2)
  • Button pad
  • Bezel
  • Standoffs and screws (x4)
  • Simon Says - Through-hole PCB

Missing any parts? Sometimes one of those tiny little components can get misplaced. If you're missing any parts contact our customer service team, and we'll get you your parts in a jiffy.

Getting Started

From this point on, it will be assumed that you've never picked up a soldering iron until now. For those who have soldered in the past, you may want to follow along as well. You might learn something you didn't know.

Soldering Basics

There are some basic tips that will help you achieve the best solder connection possible, help keep your soldering iron in good condition and also keep you safe. For starters, it is best to keep your iron unplugged when not using it. Leaving soldering irons on for long periods of time will wear out the tip much quicker. They are also very easy to forget about when left plugged in and can be a potential fire hazard. With that said, plug your iron in an let it warm up before using it. Allow it to warm up for about 30 seconds - 1 minute. There isn't any indicator to let you know when the iron is ready. NEVER TOUCH THE TIP OF THE IRON TO SEE IF IT'S ON. The best way to test if your iron is warmed up and ready is to melt a little solder on the end. If it melts easily, you're good to go. If you have trouble getting the solder to melt on the tip, let it warm up a little bit longer.

The next bit of advice is always keep your iron in its stand while your not using it. Setting down your iron on your workspace can be a major hazard. Not only can you burn the other items on your workbench, but you can also set your arm down on it and get a gnarly burn (I speak from experience). Your iron has a home, and we're all better off when you keep it there.

You'll notice that on your stand there is a little pool with a sponge in it. This sponge plays a very important role in soldering. As you solder, old solder tends to clump up and loose it's ability to melt and flow properly. It can also build up a nasty residue on your iron tip and corrode it to the point were it won't accept solder any more. That's where the sponge comes in handy. Dampen it in a sink or using a water bottle. It doesn't need to be soaked, just wet enough to pull solder off you iron. Now, very gently, wipe the excess solder off onto the sponge. Avoid jamming the tip into the sponge or leaving the tip on the sponge for more than a few seconds. Doing so could result in holes in you tip, which ultimately ruin your iron. You should periodically clean your tip as you're soldering. This will make your solder connections look nicer and will increase the life of your iron. To increase the life of your iron even more, we recommend using a brass sponge instead of a regular one. Expansion and contraction of the tip, from the cool water, tends to wear it out over time.

Now that we've covered proper soldering iron handling and care, let's go over how to properly use it. There is a correct way to solder, and it takes lots of practice to master. Getting it right early on will make your soldering experience a lot lot more fun. Below are some tips that show how to properly use the iron, and below that are some tips on creating the best solder connection possible. Be sure to follow these bits of advice while your putting your kit together.

If you still have some uncertainties about soldering, check out this tutorial. There is a video for those of you who are of the visual learning variety.

Assembly

We'll go over over in detail how to solder on the the first part, then, from there, we'll show you which parts go where and let you have at it. The booklet that comes with the Simon Says has been carefully crafted and goes over the assembly in lots of detail. We'll follow along here. Click on the image for a larger view, or you can download the entire guide here.

With that, you should have a fully functional Simon Say that you built yourslef. Plug the batteries, turn it on and see if it works.

Troubleshooting

If your Simon doesn't work right off the bat, don't fret. There are many ways that your board could have an error on it. Look over these troubleshooting tips to help diagnose the problem. This section also goes over how to use the solder wick that came with your kit. This is like an eraser for soldering mistakes, and it can come in very handy if a mistake is made.

Wrapping it All Up

I hope this has been a fun learning adventure. Soldering is a much easier than it may seem, and can be a useful tool for many trades and hobbies. If you still feel like you need some more help you can check out the video below. It goes over the same steps as are mentioned here, however, sometimes seeing someone else do it is easier than trying to explain it. Please note that the video showcases a different version of the Simon Says, but it still highlights all the main components and shows you the proper way to assemble them.

 

Going Further

This ATmega328 comes pre-programmed with the Simon code as well as the STK500 serial bootloader. This serial bootloader will allow you to re-program the Simon game using the Arduino development environment.  The serial port on this board requires a male header and FTDI Basic board, not included. To learn how to use the Simon Says as an Arduino development platform, check out this tutorial!

If you still have any questions or comments, please leave them in the box below. Happy soldering!

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