Soldering and playing with the Dreamweaver 4N Jr. from Cyber City Circuits

Cyber City Circuits Box.

Earlier this week, I received my first soldering kit subscription box from Cyber City Circuits. I signed up for the subscription for two reasons. First, I used to love soldering but have a hard time doing so because of my shaky hands. These kits will give me extra opportunity to practice soldering techniques to work around my disability. And second, I love to assemble and play with electronics kits.

Another benefit of kits like this is that I am trying to improve my Fusion360 skills. With that in mind, I designed a simple case for the kit. This post will briefly (I mean it this time) share some information and my thoughts about this kit.

The Dreamweaver 4N Jr kit.

The kit contains all the parts required to assemble the Dreamweaver 4N Jr. Cyber City Circuits even included a little handy little resistor color chart. On a side note, I still remember what my first electronics teacher made me memorize: Bad Boys Race Our Young Girls, But Violet Generally Wins. (I won’t share the less kid-friendly version we used in the Army).

Dreamweaver 4N Jr soldering kit from Cyber City Circuits.

Soldering this kit was a breeze. There are instructions with pictures for each step of soldering on the Cyber City Circuits website. And even better, there is a YouTube video provided which goes through each step of the assembly. I would recommend any newer makers to follow the video. He gives some useful soldering tips while going through the video. Plus, here and there, the person soldering gives some insight as to what each component does. Cyber City Circuits seems to focus on training young makers. I appreciate and respect them for that.

During soldering, there is a point where I had to decide between connecting the battery terminals from the top or bottom of the board. I chose to join my battery connectors to the top and thus soldering them on the base. I mainly did this because I knew I would have the board sitting in a case.

The other part of this build to watch out for is inserting the ATMEGA328P into the IC socket. This is probably the more challenging part of this build. But even with my shaky hands, it was no problem because I took my time and backed out any time it appeared a pin was not right.

Below is the Dreamweaver 4N Jr all soldered up. I added an ICSP header I had laying around because I plan to play with the programming sometime later this year. You will also notice that I put too much solder on some of these joints. When I try to give a little solder to a solder joint carefully, my hand will suddenly push forward. I am learning to control this through practice, but I still have a lot more training to go (the tech inside me from 20 years ago groans seeing that excess solder). I only shared this, so people out there having problems soldering understand they are not alone! Whether soldering problems are due to inexperience or a disability, soldering is a skill that can be improved upon with practice.

Dreamweaver 4N Jr soldered up.

Adding a case.

This project once again gave me the perfect opportunity to work on my Fusion360 skills. I designed and printed a small case to easily play with the Dreamweaver 4N Jr on my desk without worrying about the solder joints underneath the board. I also included a little cubby for the 9V battery.

If anyone is interested in the case, I have shared it on Thingiverse as Thing 4712631.

Dreamweaver 4N Jr in my custom case.

I used M2.5×5 screws to secure the board into the case. The battery can sit in its cubby, but I have a small piece of double-sided tape holding it in place. I’m not too fond of batteries hanging loose when I’m playing with my toys electronics projects.

I also added some cabinet bumpers to the bottom of the case to keep it from sliding around the desk as I play with it. Usually, I used silicone, but these cabinet bumpers seem to work just as well.

Cabinet bumpers added to the bottom of the case.

Playing with the Dreamweaver 4N Jr.

Now for the necessary part, actually playing with the Dreamweaver 4N Jr. Here is a short video of me turning the Dreamweaver on and testing its basic functionality. Playing with this brings me back to the sounds I would hear when playing my Atari 2600.

Final thoughts.

This was a fun little project. It worked as a great source to continue honing my soldering skills with my shaky hands. Plus, any electronics kit that includes both light and sound just rocks. Cyber City Circuits mentioned in an accompanying letter that the subscription service would likely go up in price. I think that it is reasonable for them to do so. This is an excellent kit for any experience level makers, and I would hate for them to lose money on such a fantastic subscription box. Plus, I’ve looked at their previous box contents, and I think they all look like fun little projects.

Song of the Day: The Entertainer

Today’s song comes from Cyber City Circuits. They have videos of a very cool servo farm instrument that plays bells. Here is that machine playing The Entertainer (it has been too long since I’ve watched The Sting).

Bonus Song: Africa

Here is the cool servo bell machine playing Toto’s classic song Africa:

Bonus Bonus Song: Never Gonna Give You Up

This whole Rick Roll thing doesn’t seem to be going away. This video clip would rock to use for those purposes…

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