Thursday, May 4, 2017

Soldering LED lights to copper tape - Take 1

In the middle of packing away all my dollhouse stuff, I signed up for a LED dollhouse lighting/soldering online class - because one of my goals for this year was to learn how to solder.

The online class was offered by Luci Hanson of Cascade Miniatures and LED-N-Minis.

I also recommend her website for LED lighting supplies.

Apparently half the class was from Canada.  (I wonder if it was a mini club).

First, there were pictures up on her website in the classroom section which showed step-by-step how to run  the tape and make the connections.  Then there was a class via chatroom which ran through those pictures, and then there was a video class where she did video demonstrations!  And then she answered questions by email all week - even sending mark-ups of the pictures that I sent her of my work to show how to improve/fix it.

She is offering another class this summer - I highly recommend it!

Right now I use the plug method and just attach plugs to all my lights with wires.  And it takes me ages to attach the plugs, so I thought soldering might be easier and more secure.

In the class, we first run our copper tape on a sample structure (which is not in any particular scale). Here are my copper tape runs - I made a few mistakes because I didn't run them close enough etc. (And I glued the building together wrong because I was trying to catch up in the class that I joined late.  But it still served its purpose.)

Since I haven't used copper tape before, I found this part of the class very useful, although I was late to join the online class and rushing to catch up.  I'd bought a copper tape kit years ago and read the book, but never actually ventured to do it.  (I also don't use wallpaper all that much).

And then on Monday I tried soldering for the first time after watching some Youtube videos.

I did manage to get the 9 volt battery holder soldered to the copper tape (and producing light when I touched the wires to it), but I did not succeed in getting my novalyte LED light soldered to the tape.

I'm afraid I burnt the wood.

I emailed the instructor and she looked at my pictures and gave me some tips and instructions.

Right, I will try again!

I seem to have gotten it soldered, although my solder kept first breaking off into little silver balls, which would eventually kind of melt in a plop when I applied the soldering iron.

You are supposed to apply heat to the copper tape (but I think not so much heat that it starts to curl - as mine did).  Then when you put your solder to it with the soldering iron, it should be so hot that it just melts.  That did not happen for me.  Room for improvement there.

Did my soldering work?

The suspense!

So now on to the connection to power.  I received a cord with spade lugs and 2 brass screws, so I atttached that.

I attached the 9 volt power supply with the male solderless connection (yes, now as a result of this class, I know what that means).  And I hoped it would light.

And it does!!

Super exciting!  So happy! (I keep turning it on to see it light up!  My family was also impressed.)  And I was also relieved.

Anyway, if anyone has seen any good Youtube videos on soldering, please share!

And for NAME members, Luci is doing another intro class this Sunday during the online Sunday "chats".

Have a great weekend!


  1. I'm so excited for your gumption to give it a try and for your stick-to-it-ive-ness when the going got tough! Yeah for lights that work and that keep working when you start to doubt yourself and check them several times later! Nice job!

    Soldering gets easier the more comfortable you get with how everything behaves together. Get yourself some copper wire - 18 or 20 gauge, and practice by making simple plate racks. That's how I did it, and I even ended up with some I could use, lol!

    1. Thank you! I did want to "graduate" so the light had to light! Yes, I'd like to try some soldering that doesn't involve electricity. Thanks for the suggestion - I will try that!

  2. Well done you. No one ever gets soldering first time around so don't think that you're the only one. Like Jodi said, spend a bit of time soldering brass and copper and you'll be a pro in no time :0D

    1. I was initially afraid to try because I was afraid I'd burn myself, given how clumsy and distracted I can be, so I had to remind myself that I didn't burn myself and that was my initial threshold of success!

  3. I am glad that you took the plunge and dived into Luci's class,Penelope! I got an opportunity to meet her at the Seattle Show and I know that she is well-versed and extremely knowledgeable about lighting in miniature, and might I say that for a first-timer, you have caught on quickly - Good Job! :D

    1. I would really love to meet her in person. She seems just lovely and I couldn't believe how helpful and available she was. Also, since I've been a NAME member for several years now, I have met her before online (for example, during the online house party). Hopefully one day I will attend a houseparty and meet her!