As I mentioned in a previous post, Berkley decided she wanted to learn CW. After having learned a few letters, I was pretty confident it was going to stick, but we needed to have a way for her to practice. I have used the Ham Gadgets Ultra Pico Keyer for a few years on my HomeBrew 630M transmitter. Disconnecting and reconnecting is super annoying, so I opted to get her one of her very own.
The manual is online and includes both operating instructions and assembly instructions. The assembly instructions are exceedingly thorough and easy to follow with pictures. To me the real adventure was how much interest Berkley took in actually soldering and clipping the leads.
For those of you who are concerned about exposing children to lead solder, One of the first lessons I taught the kids is the importance of washing your hands BOTH before AND after any activity involving soldering. We even went into the bathroom together and demonstrated to one another the thoroughness of our scrubbing technique. We also discussed the importance of not inhaling the fumes. In fact Berkley decided that one of her tasks was to make sure the tiny bit of smoke was always blown away from us.
So. . . now that our safety talk is out of the way.
To start our solder lessons Berkley opted to be the solder feeder, while I ran the iron. We focused on the importance of the solder melting on the components/pads and NOT on the iron. This took a few tries, but she was able to get the hang of it. As we got toward the end she decided she was ready to hold the iron and I could feed in the solder. I kept a hand on the back of the iron, just in case, but Berkley was able to put the iron where it needed to be and we were able to make good solder joints together.
When we were all done she fired it up. 73 is what the keyer sends. She was so excited and she was so sad. She is ready to work on another kit together, so I’m contemplating getting some Arduino gear. Arduino is the Lego of electronics. We can build up a project and then take it apart to build something else. We shall see. Amelia took such interest in the building that we will be working on an AM radio kit, so more to come with kids and radio.
I’m a relatively new ham. Got my license, joined a club and I’m having fun! I enjoy CW, pedestrian mobile, backpacking, and I dream of building radios at some point. At present I have a wife and daughters so my building time is limited.
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