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Nope, I’m not referring to the old board game.


I’m talking about something I’ve been putting off for a while because I was concerned I might not be able to do it well with my dominant left hand so reduced in function, but is a task that anyone involved in the hobbies I like has to do sooner or later: soldering.

A few months ago my mom insisted I pick up a soldering station from Micro-Mark, a supplier of small tools and materials for hobbyists that aren’t usually found in stores. I have use for it, and she has a few pieces of jewelry needing repairs using silver soldering that’s a bit higher temperature than the rosin core solder I use. It’s a neat little variable temperature station that promised to put out higher heat than the anemic Radio Shack pencil soldering irons I grew to loathe. Best of all, it was only twenty bucks at the time, and is virtually indistinguishable from much pricier name brand units.

Last night I finally quit being a wuss and fired it up, since I’ve been meaning to shorten the leads on both the battery and electronic speed control of my little Red Arrows Hawk jet, both to save weight and clutter from the too-long wires. The speed controller was the hardest, the unit is buried in the jet’s fuselage so unless I wanted to disassemble the airplane I had to do the job with the wires in close proximity to the delicate foam of the fuselage. I have one of those ‘third hand’ gizmos with alligator clips and a magnifying glass to hold the project steady, but I still had to set everything up and maneuver the very hot (near 500° F) iron around that space without touching anything…very much like the old board game but if you mess up instead of a buzzer, you ruin the foam fuselage!

It took some patience and care, but I got all the joints properly soldered and then covered with heat shrink tubing that both protects and insulates the new solder joints. You really don’t want to get a short when the current from a lithium polymer battery’s live, they have an unpleasant habit of bursting into flame if that happens.

Success with an essential task that I haven’t performed since I became disabled is mighty gratifying, lemme tell ya. One more thing I can do that’s also good therapy for me. It’s getting to be time to start building something soon!

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