Fun beginner's electronic project - the Solder: Time LED watch

My daughter Jane told me she wanted to build something "electronic," and luckily, I had a sample of the Solder: Time kit. It looked like a fun thing to make, and it turned to be so.

It's a large digital wristwatch and the $35 kit (available in Maker Shed) contains everything you need except the tools (a soldering iron and wire cutters).

Jane is 8 years old and I decided to do all the soldering, but she enjoyed loading the printed circuit board with components.

She loved the way the components looked and asked a lot of good questions: What is a resistor? Why do resistors have different colored bands on them? What is a capacitor? What is an integrated circuit? I answered the questions as well as I could.

It took about 45 minutes to put the watch together. I feel like Jane got a lot out of doing this. Maybe she is ready to try a little soldering on our next project. Do any of you have kids aged 8 or younger who can solder?


  1. I can’t directly answer the question (my 2 boys never exhibited any interest, so I never taught them). But I learned to solder at about 10 years old, when I outgrew the kids toys of the time (which featured springs and tinned wires for making connections – think 1960). I’d start her on about 18 gauge wire, where what’s happening is pretty obvious. ICs onto a PCB is pretty subtle stuff. 

  2. Check out the Radio Shack “cold heat” soldering iron. Battery operated, uses a short circuit to solder and then cools down almost instantly. Some people don’t like them, but they’re great for kids and tabletops alike.

  3. With a set of helping hands and close supervision I see no reason why children of 8 or even younger could not learn to solder, I wish someone had shown me when I started at around that age, I think I would have had a lot more luck, using my families only soldering iron which was designed to solder car battery terminals really set me back a bit and made me think I just wasn’t very good at it, years later when I tried again I found I was actually a natural, and my hampering was just the wrong equipment and no instruction, I would encourage you to perhaps choose a much simpler kit such as an LED christmas tree or some such kit and just let her have a go perhaps point her at as well as showing her the knack.

  4. I learned at such a young age (before age 3, self taught), that I can’t remember ever not knowing how to.  Mich Altman says his youngest student was something like 3 1/2.

    A friend taught his 7 year old grandson to MIG weld.

  5. I was soldering at the tender age of 5 1/2 in a class at my local science museum.  I built a thing on a piece of breadboard where you pushed a button and a green LED lit up. It was awesome.

    I just wish I had listened to the guy about not using your front teeth to strip wire.  That proved problematic 2 decades later.

  6. I was repairing my r/c car around 9 or so.  Did I solder, yes.  Did I do it correctly, no.  (But there wasn’t really anyone in the house that knew any better than I did.)  By high school I had things down pretty good.

  7. I designed a project called the Bright Bunny to serve as an introduction to electronics and soldering.

    The Bright Bunny is a soft felt rabbit whose heart lights up when it eats a carrot. I’ve successfully taught a workshop of adult women and ~11 year old girls with no prior electronics experience to assemble the kit. (Actually, it took longer to sew the bunny together than to do the soldering. :) )

    In addition to teaching how a simple circuit works the end result is very cute and frequently provokes an “Awwww….” reaction. :)

    As of last week SparkFun stocks Bright Bunny kits in their online store.

    Could be an ideal project for your upcoming soldering playdate. :)

  8. My OCD can’t let this go without saying that the resistors are in backwards.  The color bands are supposed to be read from left to right (or top to bottom).

    I recommend starting with a the solderless breadboard before progressing on to soldering your own circuits. Easier/faster to get things going and much less chance of destroying things (eg lifting the track while removing a diode to turn it around).

  9. Whoa… what is that sore on the left hand.  Is there a history with soldering attempts?   Looks 7+ days old.  Staph is nasty.  Keep it clean.

    1. Wounds heal faster covered; plus you can keep some neosporin against it to reduce the possibility of infection.

  10. Did you try to explain time?  Horology is “fun” in electronics.  It is one of things I wished someone took the time(pun not intended) to explain it deeply when I started.

  11. My son learned to solder at the Edinburgh Science Festival’s MadLab, aged 5. He chose a kit to build a red and a green LED flashing in antiphase. Great kit for kids. Great big solder pads with huge gaps between them. He still managed to get one solder bridge, which I fixed. He  took his completed kit to school where the teacher wouldn’t believe he’d built it and virtually accused him of lying. Bah!

  12.  I was cooking mac & cheese on the stove by the time I was 8.  You can do more damage to yourself with a pot of boiling water than you can with a soldering iron.  Just sayin’.

    I was 11 or 12 before I convinced my mom to buy a soldering iron.  This may have coincided with the year we had to learn how to use an arc welder in shop class. 

  13. I’d like a kit that was equally geeky-looking but perhaps not so enormous for myself (although I’m sure it’s not as large as the photo suggests since I’m guessing her wrists are quite small).

Comments are closed.