Today I started actually building it. You can see the results of my efforts below:
Some observations from my experience today:
- Soldering is one of those skills that you keep even if you don't use it. Within just a couple of solder joints, I had the technique down pat again.
- My ancient and decrepit vision makes this a lot harder.
- The tools have gotten way better. The soldering iron I bought has electronic (digital) temperature control, and it works extremely well – far better than the crazy magnetic tips my old soldering iron did. I can tell with a glance at the controller whether the iron is ready to use, which is surprisingly handy (surprising because I managed without something so obviously useful!). The hand tools are also much higher quality, with perfect springs, balance, and smooth actions. The diagonal cutters slice closer to the board than any I've ever had, and I've owned some expensive “dikes” in the past.
- The components have gotten smaller. No, really, they have! The resistors in this kit are mainly 1/16th watt, which I don't remember ever seeing before. They're tiny! The diode packages are also smaller than I remember. Even the terminal block (that tiny green thing in the lower left) is smaller. One thing about the resistors and diodes really surprised me: the leads are quite flexible (because the wire is such a tiny gauge). Bending them to position on the board is far easier than the components I worked with years ago.
- This kit is superbly constructed, with directions that even someone who didn't know any electronics at all could follow.