Second Solder

In an attempt to clean up my project, I purchased some additional supplies a few weeks ago.

While the Dupont casings helped organize a bit of the clutter, I had high hopes for Adafruit’s LCD backpack, which would let me drop from around 12 wires down to 4. Huge!

First step: solder the terminal blocks to the backpack. I’m actually quite proud of these, as I think they’re fairly decent solders. Maybe ever so slightly chunky/wide, but closer to the Hershey’s kiss Platonic ideal I have in my mind.

The terminal blocks themselves.

Next: solder the backpack to the LCD display itself.

This was incredibly daunting, as there were 16 pins in total. And though they’re spaced out just like everything else I’ve soldered… these seemed closer together. A trick of the mind, but I was sweating something awful as I stepped through each pin.

Not too shabby! I used a bit too much on pin #1, but the rest seemed the right amount. Not quite as much to make a high mound, as each solder seemed to flatten out a bit more into a longer, rectangular shape.

Quite impressed with myself. I think there are a few that might be solder-starved joints. But my main worry was creating solder bridges (where I accidentally connect two pins through my solder).

On wiring things up, I needed to use a new/different LCD library with the backpack. I installed the new library, loaded up an example sketch, and… nothing.

No blinking, no lights. Nothing.

One possible fix: the contrast was too low. What I needed to do was adjust the contrast/potentiometer build into the backpack.

Unfortunately, all the small screwdrivers I had didn’t quite fit. So I was left to fret and hope that this would ultimately fix my issue.

Fast forward a day, and I got a new set of precision screwdrivers delivered. Adjusted the contrast and… still nothing. I was really depressed at this point, because the only other thing that might cause this issue is my soldering. So the recommendation was to re-solder the backpack.

I felt pretty confident in my work, even though there might be a few spots that could be better. The soldering job (even though I’m still a novice) seemed pretty strong.

I looked over the tutorials again, and realized that while I installed the proper library… I had uploaded the wrong example sketch! Once I found the right sketch, uploaded it… the LCD started blinking as expected.

I’ve never been more excited at such a boring display:

Over the weekend, I couldn’t get my momentary button to work properly, which was super frustrating. And so I was worried my progress with the LCD would end up in the same spot.

Luckily, things are working as expected. So this means I’ve reduced the wire clutter in my project by a significant amount. No need for 12 wires, and no need for a potentiometer to boot! I might be able to switch to a half-size breadboard, actually.

A dumb little “Hello World” display made my night. Slowly but surely.

First Solder
New Supplies

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