Archives June 2021

Electronics Kits for all Levels


Kits are a fun way to jumpstart an electronics interest, refresh some skills with a low-entry cost, or jumpstart previous progress with a fun output. We go over our favorite Starter Items & Soldering Irons if you need to stock up your workshop or update some tools.

RadioShack Online offers Game Kits which can be finished in a couple of hours and Jameco Electronics has an average range of kits from $10-50 for all skill levels.

Soldering Kits we especially love:

For kids ages 5 & up (plenty of STEM learning and no soldering required):

VanLife with a Family of Four

Van Life with a

Family of Four

As we gear up for our fifth (!) summer in the van I am often asked about our routines, recipes, and favorite gear.

Power and Powered Items

While we loved our Suaoki Portable Power Station, it allowed us to move from grid-to-grid versus boon-docking for days. The Goal Zero Yeti 3000 is designed to be a fully off-grid system when paired with our solar panel. So we’ve taken the plunge to test it out this summer.

First Summer in Althea

Our first version of a fridge was a Coleman Power Cooler we found on the side of the road that only need a new power cord soldered in. Bam, done, and that lasted us for years (and still gets loaned out to neighbors). After a crafty year-of-trades we were able to upgrade to the fridge of my dreams, a Dometic 12V Electric Powered Digital Cooler. I can’t recommend it enough because you can digitally set it to whatever temperature you want.

Sleeping, Lighting, and Cooking

Sleep requires being in tight quarters but we found cargo netting around each girl’s train-car bunks helps us all sleep better. Everyone gets their own Rechargeable LED Lantern for book reading and the ability for each person to control their own space’s lighting at night.

Cooking on the campfire is always preferable but when the weather doesn’t permit we get out our Portable Induction Cooktop which is perfect in small spaces and cools to be able to store incredibly quickly. Check to see if your pots and pans work for induction by seeing if a magnet will stick to the bottom of the pan. If it does then it’ll work! I particularly like the The Campout Cookbook for recipes and food prep inspiration.

Cooking bacon and drinking coffee on a cold camp morning

Best Soldering Irons

Best Soldering Irons and Starter Items

Photo credit Jamie Harmon

Students beginning on their electronics journey are in for an exciting ride. A few simple tools can transform anyone’s home, garage, or desk into a workspace to tinker, learn and grow into an engineer.  

After we teach our Intro to Electronics – Soldering Class people often ask what tools we use and how can they re-create our set up at home. Here are the best items to get your student started. 

Best Soldering Irons

Great soldering irons have never been so affordable and they range from basic (perfect for your first timer) to digitally controlled, multi-tipped machines (perfect for your forever-soldering iron).

Helping Hands

Helping Hands keep your project at exactly the right angle and placement you need to ensure a success Soldering or Connection of Wires.

Electronics Kit Materials

Add these essential items to your workshop so you’ll never be without the materials you need to Solder and Tinker with your projects a little bit everyday.