Customer Reviews: Elenco AmeriKit Learn to Solder Kit
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on June 23, 2010
I'm 17 and I wanted to learn how to solder printed circuit boards. This is a great product that has (almost) everything you need to get started. The soldering iron melted the solder quickly, even though the solder was lead free. The instruction manual teaches you not just about soldering, but about the components in the kit. It teaches almost like a class, complete with detailed instructions and even quizzes you on what you have learned. In the end, the device you make is pretty useless, but here, its all about the journey not the destination.

I do have a few cons however. There is nothing included to clean the soldering tip like a small piece of sponge. I also could not get the soldering wick to work, so I would recommend also ordering a desoldering pump as well. also, it can be a bit tricky to solder without some kind of helping hand device. However, for less than $15, this is still a great bargain.

The value of this kit is great, however I'm sure that people would be willing to pay a bit more if it included something to clean the soldering tip and possibly a desoldering pump, however, with the value of this kit, adding those items to your order should be no problem.

All in all, I greatly recommend this product to anyone trying to dive into the world of electronics.
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on September 23, 2010
I didn't know how to solder before I bought this kit, and now that I'm finished with it, I feel very competent at it. This was exactly what I needed to figure out soldering! Overall I think this project took 4-5 hours from beginning to end. It gives you a couple dozen practice joints to begin with, where all you have to do is put solder on the circuit board. Then it goes through different examples of how to fix problems, such as causing a short circuit by making a solder bridge and having to desolder a joint with the included desoldering braid. The instructions are very clear, and the only problem I had building the final circuit (which is a decently loud alarm with speaker and flashing lights) was my own fault: I soldered the R2 resistor to R1, and had to use my newly acquired desoldering skills to switch it around.

Note that the kit comes packaged in a way that it describes every single part that comes with it thoroughly, so you do not have to know anything about electronic parts to get it up and running. But if you're just getting started in electronics, like I am, I would highly recommend these additional materials:
There Are No Electrons by Kenn Amdahl
MAKE: Electronics by Charles Platt
Absolute Beginner's Guide to Building Robots by Gareth Branwyn

If you use all these together, you should be well on your way to becoming an electronics hobbyist!
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on November 24, 2010
I have bought over 30 of these kits to teach Boy Scouts how to solder for there Electronics merit badge. The kit are well organized and have good directions. The end of the board is set up to practices honing your skills before you start working on the main kit. All the scouts enjoyed the project.
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on February 11, 2014
I recommend this for anyone wanting to learn how to solder for repairs around the house and vehicle. Worked out great and works great. Take some time to read through the manual and instructions.

-25 watt soldering iron. It's a great soldering iron to start learning. Buy a better one if you plan on continuing the soldering hobby/practice. (I bought the "Weller SP25NKUS Standard Duty LED Soldering Iron Kit, Red/Black").

-The lead-free rosin core solder ran out on me. I took too much time and solder practcing, you have been warned.

-wire cutter, cheap and doesn's cut the wire at all parts of the blade, find the sweet spot.

-I had a great time with it. Posting up a video on amazon soon.
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on December 17, 2010
This is a great product. For less than the price of a comparable soldering iron alone, you get a nice iron plus lead-free solder, wire, solder wick (and well more of each than you need for the project), a practice circuit board that makes a fun little lights-and-sirens gadget when it's finished and has extra solder pads just for practice, and an extremely clear and thorough instruction book. The book does assume some prior knowledge of electronics--you won't get the most out of it if you don't already know what ohms and farads are or how to read a circuit diagram, although you will still be able to complete the project and learn the soldering part.

I went from total ignorance to completing the project confidently in about three hours, and I had a lot of fun doing it. The instruction manual, and the way that the practice board is designed with everything clearly labeled and room to practice, were excellent for learning. I wouldn't recommend this as a toy for children (the soldering iron is in no way a "play" or "practice" model, it gets very hot and has to be taken seriously), but for teenagers or adults who want to learn how to solder and get a decent soldering iron as well, this is a great kit.

Two things you should know:
-There's only one of each resistor and capacitor, so if you break or lose one you're out of luck. They're filed on a nice little labeled card, though, so they're pretty easy to keep track of.
-The instruction manual has you solder in the wrong resistors initially and then gives you the "desoldering practice" of putting in the right ones. I didn't read ahead and was a little annoyed when I found this out, although the desoldering and replacement went fine and hey, I did get the practice. (SPOILER: R4 and R6 are incorrect; you'll replace them with R4A and R6A.)
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on December 12, 2010
It's a good kit to learn how to solder and the educational value. The finished product is pretty good, and I had fun building it. The things learned can really help in the long run. The only problem I had was that the wires were a bit stiff and were hard to strip.
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on January 19, 2015
It could be just me, but I thought the iron was really terrible. It just so happens to wanted to buy both a last-for-20-years "soldering station" with super-high-quality iron...and a how-to-solder-kit. Getting this kit at least allowed me to practice and screw up the pathetic little 25 watt iron that came with it. And screw it up I did.

I'm assuming all or nearly all of my problems stemmed directly from my own actions but even when I first started it seemed like the iron wasn't quite acting how it was described in the booklet.

And the booklet, though well written and sufficient in the basics, is merely mediocre in the area of useful techniques. And the lead-free solder provided makes soldering unnecessarily difficult (as I found out).

For a REAL walk through of proper soldering techniques search youtube for the EEVBlog soldering tutorial: three parts (of 30+ minutes each) going to exacting detail on EXACTLY what to do and what NOT to do. EEVBlog guy actually contradicts the pamphlet with the kit in some instances on techniques and details (like tinning).

For the part where I screwed up the 25 watt iron, I realized at some point as a dragged the iron back forth across me I would inadvertently and without realization touch the iron to the power cord insulation (I'm right handed and power strip was on my left, it was kind of an awkward setup that I have since rectified). So in short order the iron tip was completely ruined in-so-far as it was coated with that rubber that makes up insulation. Hardly the fault of Elenco (although they never specifically said "don't touch the iron to the power cord". That was a joke.)

Possibly in some small part due to my ruined soldering iron I also burned through the board a few times but I just kept going. Supposed to be practicing after all. When I was done soldering all the parts, carefully making sure each was in the right place, I wasn't going to even bother hooking it up because I assume I had ruined it. But to my worked!

Then I decided to "enhance" it a little: since I had an old power switch from a PC chassis circa 1993 or so (on-off like a light switch, not a momentary) I chopped up the wires going between the battery snap and the board and put the switch in between. And now I have a blinky-LED euro-siren that I can turn on and off any time I want...and leave the battery connected (I know, uber-leet mod right?).

I think I can recommend this kit. I would still recommend buying a higher-quality iron and make sure to BE PATIENT. And don't touch the iron to the power cord...
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 20, 2013
You know your a nerd when you have a friday night home alone and your bust out your learn to solder kit. At first I was scared of all the little circuits but after I started going I was loving it. ( I have ZERO experience) They give you some practice soldering first then you begin the project. It took me about an hour to complete this. I don't know if that is slow or fast but I had a great time. The best part was finishing and turning it on and it actually worked!! The box says you will be a "expert" after this kit which I do not feel that I am. But I surely feel comfortable now and have a great basic understanding. This is a great kit.
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on December 16, 2015
I highly recommend this kit for the beginner or for someone wanting to improve rudimentary or rusty soldering skills. I am well experienced at electronic assembly and soldering, and conduct soldering workshops at a nearby science museum. I bought this kit for my 12 year old grandson.

Anyone working with the kit or observing should wear Eye Protection, either glasses or preferably safety goggles. There is danger from flux particles when soldering and especially from flying pieces of wire when trimming components leads or wires. You only have one set of eyes. Don't take chances with them.

The Kit’s Contents - The soldering iron is a nicely made entry to mid-level one, almost alone worth the price of the kit. The stand is a bit flimsy but works. A set of wire cutters is included and the part of the blades closest to the handles serves as an insulation stripper. What's missing is a cleaning sponge. You can use a damp wad of paper towel, but I'd recommend getting a sponge (Weller TC205) or metal tip cleaner (Haako 599B-02). A roll of solid insulated wire, a coil of rosin-core solder, and a piece of de-soldering braid are also provided.

The single-sided printed circuit board is marked well for component placement and the pads are spaced to avoid solder bridges, a common beginner's mistake. The quality of the printed track and pads is low as to thickness and adhesion, so care must be taken not to pull it off if a repair is required. Most of the electrical components are mounted on a card and are clearly identified. The booklet shows how to identify each component, whether on the card or separated.

The Course and Project - The instruction booklet is excellent. It has a section about how soldering works along with useful illustrations to help understand what good and bad solder joints look like. There are separate pads and connections on the board used for practice in the beginning. The steps you are asked to perform are designed to teach you a number of soldering skills, including clean-up and de-soldering using the included braid (wick). The course part provides you a good foundation to move on to the project portion of the board.

The project is straightforward and worked properly the first time after completion by my grandson. The student is asked to make a circuit change exercising de-soldering skills after first testing the project. A theory of operation, schematic diagram, and a brief quiz about soldering and the project rounds out the booklet.

I recommend this kit as a complete soldering course for the beginner or for someone wanting to improve rudimentary or rusty soldering skills.
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on May 3, 2015
This is my first time trying to solder. This thing melts the two screws in the front before everything. As long as i plug it in for 1 minutes, it started smoking from the middle. There is no heat going to the tip, and I could only melt the solder with the two screws. Everything else is perfect though. I spent 20 dollars to buy all the accessories. A horrible experience for the first time. If anyone knows how to fix this, please help me.
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