Electronics - Picaxe

I bought a PICAXE kit.

It's small.

It has a few bits in it.

That's pretty much all I know so far.

I didn't know I had to put it together so I haven't yet. I have no soldering skills. Who knew melting metal to make metal stick to metal could be difficult. Currently I can make a blob of solder that kind of sticks to the wire bit, but wants nothing to do with the bit that I want the wire bit to stick to.

That's not really soldering.

That's just making wire thicker.

I can make wire thicker. I guess that could come in handy. It's a skill of sorts.

But my kit looks like this.

"A" is the actual PICAXE chip. From what I read it  has around the same processing speed as my first computer. Not bad for $2. It's stuck into some black foam for it's own protection.

"B" is a tiny bit of plastic with some copper in it that is used as a switch to select a connection  between two of the three pins on "H". Both those bits look like they are connected to other bits but that's just my poor photography.

"C" is the circuit board. That's the kind of thing I want to solder the other things to. All the components get attached to the right hand side, and most of the left hand side is blank to allow some space for you to add stuff like switches to control what your chip is doing, or some lights to tell you it is in fact doing something. This is the most simple version of   this system, and I hope to be able to make a few lights flash, and perhaps switch on a fan if the temperature gets too high in my grow house.

"D" is a regular stereo headphone jack. The kit comes with a cord that plugs into your computer, and that headphone jack. This is how you communicate to the PICAXE chip and tell it what you want it to do for you. Everything that's required to understand what your computer is telling it to do, is contained on the PICAXE chip already. Your instructions to it come from some free software that allows you to program your PICAXE chip. The software also came with the kit.

"E" is a yellow thing with some cardboard stuck to the two pins it has sticking out from the bottom of it.

"F" and "F" are resistors. I presume they resist.

"G" is the holder that the chip "A" clips into. Chips are quite delicate, so you solder the clip in place, and then plug in the chip. That way you avoid overheating the chip with the soldering process.

It's difficult to get an idea of scale in the first photo, so I included a rubber chicken of unknown size to offer a sense of scale, and assist your attempts further.

I hope that helps.

Actually, the board "C" is around the length of an AA battery (5 or 6 cm).

So there you have it. It still doesn't mow my lawn or make me drinks yet, so I guess I'll have to start repairing it.

As soon as I bake some cakes and go to a two year old's birthday party, I'll get right on it.

I need a rest after all the study I've been doing. A nice peaceful two year old's birthday party should be just the ticket. Just a crowd of kids quietly celebrating a birthday, and lounging around chatting, eating sugar, and just generally being quiet and calm.

Should be perfect.

Did I mention I have an earache.


  1. A soldering tip: It is a common beginner's misconception that you use the iron to melt the solder which will then stick to your part. In actual fact, you should use the iron to heat the part, so that the solder melts and sticks to it. Hence the concern for overheating the microchip...

  2. That's all well and good, but what do you do if that still doesn't work? :)

  3. Looks like you've discovered your problem and found a solution already. :)

    Another tip: you can clean up dirty boards with isopropyl alcohol, which is also handy for cleaning the flux (which is corrosive in the long term) off your finished project after you have soldered it. An old toothbrush is handy for this (and many other uses).


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