TV Tennis kit from Radio Shack – built by an eight year-old

While on over the July 4th holiday, I was in Radio Shack with a friend (yeah, that’s what I do on vacation…) and I saw that they’d added the Velleman soldering kits at that store. When I saw the “TV Tennis Game” kit, I heard Phineas say, “I know what we are going to do today, Ferb!”

I’d grabbed my soldering gear on the way out the door to vacation so that the boys could try out the Electronic Merit Badge kits, but now I had something even more fun to build…AND we could play it at the “Retro Arcade” event that I was hosting with the FamiLAB crew at The History Center.
We opened the kit and spread out all the parts – then I setup all the soldering gear…
Instructions – better than IKEA…
One day, I’ll have my name on an integrated circuit…one day!
Ready to build!
About this time, my friend’s eight year-old daughter asks if she can help… My friend & I exchanged looks, and I said, “Sure!”
She started by handing me components, and before long was trimming component leads…
She didn’t want to solder, I think the fumes were concerning her, so I did the soldering with the cheap, portable iron…
By this point she was placing components AND cutting leads…
Showing how the PCB indicates diode direction…
Making good progress…the components are well organized in the packaging, and the board layout is not complex…
She’s installing one of the up / down switches…
She asked if she could solder…I thought her Mom was going to fall over…
I do some basic demonstration…
And help her solder those big legs on the switches…
I need to pack kid-sized safety glasses…always…
Letting her do the solder while I hold the iron…
Now she’s on her own – I’m stabilizing the board – the helping hands weren’t helping, so I put my hands in the danger zone in the name of education!
She’s REALLY proud at this point…
A good shot of all the siamesed pads on the PCB…and another shot of a proud girl…

We worked together to finish adding the components and power to the PCB…

Then we mounted the battery pack and the feet…

A little continuity testing to be safe…
Connected to the TV in the condo at the beach…
The game kept starting on 1 Player mode Level IV – something was wrong…
let me check the board…
There it is – a lifted solder pad with a broken trace…
Resoldering the connection and adding a jumper (component leg scrap)…
Jumper installed…
Once the game was repaired, we played for a bit, then took it to a few outings…one of the Electronics Merit Badge classes, and the Retro Arcade at The History Center
TV Tennis game being played at The History Center’s “Retro Replay”…
Next time I’ll have a fancier label 🙂

 

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