Raspberry Pi & Adafruit Cobbler: Getting Started

It's yours, the world in the palm of your hand..

As mentioned last time, I had to get my hands dirty and do some soldering. Having not really done soldering since my early teens, and even then , I can't really remember what or why I was soldering. I just remember having a consciousness of what soldering was and the experience.  Anyway, needless to say, I was pretty useless at it - not helped by the fact that I was using a soldering iron from the 70's that was undoubtedly designed to fix washing machines, and solder itself to match. The pins on the Cobbler were actually closer together than the diameter of the solder i started with, which made things pretty hard for precision soldering.

To give you an idea of the size of the cobbler, here is a photo pre-assembly:

I bought the Adafruit Pi Cobbler to make prototyping easier, and a lot of the tutorials/articles around the web suggested they were a good idea, and being an electronics rookie I dutifully did what I was told.
I also noticed when I was in Maplins recently that there is now a slightly cheaper version of the cobbler available, I don't know about its quality but in shape/size/design it looks pretty similar to the Adafruit cobbler. The advantage of this is you can just stroll into your local maplin and grab one for not much more than a fiver (that is five english pounds). The red one above is the non-branded one, the blue one is the Adafruit version.

After almost doing irreparable damage to the cobbler with my antique soldering iron and solder, I also resorted to a cheap hobbyist soldering iron and solder from Maplin. It cost less than a tenner (£10) and made a huge difference. Not drinking whisky whilst soldering on the second run possibly also made a difference as well, but that theory would need to be further tested.

All in all, it took me about two-three hours, over two evenings to get the thing soldered (there are 52 pins that need soldering), and considering I haven't soldered for probably 15-20 years (and that was as a young boy, so probably just soldering wires ends with my dad or something) it went reasonably well.

Lessons Learned

1. Don't use solder/soldering irons from the 70's. Washing machine repair evidently requires less precision that modern electronics
2. Don't drink whisky whilst soldering (not proven, but I definitely saw a decline in soldering quality on the first night).
3. Soldering irons get hot - touching them to test if they have cooled down/heated up is not advised.