When it comes to electronics, soldering is essential. You can only go so far until you have mastered learned how to solder at lease little. More essential than a screw driver, is the soldering iron. Remember: If it smells like chicken, you’re holding it wrong.

Solar Eclipse in Clemson

Enlarge Cereal Box Solar Eclipse viewer
Joshua’s solar eclipse view

We travelled to Clemson for the total solar eclipse. We threw a few simple, random building materials I the car as we we’re heading out. And when we got there we had a little bit of time… So we made a cereal box viewer, sans the cereal box… And way better. Josh gave lots of demos and explained how it worked and some of the more interesting properties. So much so that we were interviewed for and included in a book!

One of the neat things about the book was that Marie Harris, one of our favorite librarians from “The Loft” (a cool teen only space at Imaginon – the Children’s Library) in Charlotte – send me an email after she read the book. We’re quoted talking about Baily’s Beads which was truly the most amazing thing that I got to see being in totality.

Compressed Air Rocket Launchers

5 or more compressed air rockets launchers on a table
We’ve made a few compressed air rocket launchers through the years

When it comes to making your own launcher, it’s hard for me to do much better than the Instructable I put together a few years back.

If on the other hand you are looking to make rockets, fast and furious, check on my video on YouTube is the place to be. There is also another video where I make a high pressure rocket in about 2 minutes.

Compressed Air Rockets and Launchers at MakerSpace Charlotte


Brian makes three great tackles in a row while injured.

Brian (gray sleeves, red socks) is injured at the start of this play (on the ground protecting his head). He’s trying to get get subbed off the field… but the play comes his way. So he does the only thing he can think to do – he makes the tackle. And then he does it again and again. The play finally moves away from him and he can limp away… but he keeps checking to make sure his team doesn’t need him. Fortunately his injuries were temporary and he was able to rejoin the game after a short break.

Rugby Tackle
Brian in hot pursuit from a lineout on the far side of the pitch.

Soldering Station

Kids soldering. One child has a traditional soldering iron, the other is at a station where the soldering iron is held in place and the components and solder are moved under the held iron.

Soldering is often a challenge when you only have two hands. Having another person offer a third hand usually just results in someone getting burned. Ben decided to not only flip the solution (a third hand to poorly hold the object) and have the soldering iron held stationary. This solution worked great but for all the parts and setup it needed to scale to be useful. Hence the multi station solder… station. Complete with lights and fume extractor.

But you don’t always need a soldering station for a group of people. Sometimes you just need a soldering station that can hold the soldering iron for you.

Laser cut wooden soldering station with fume extractor fan, fume containment dome, lights, and captured (held for you) soldering iron
Ben’s improved soldering station that doesn’t involve kids (or adults!) grabbing the wrong part of the soldering iron.