Building the Velleman LED Riding Santa Kit

Description: Velleman Riding Santa Sleigh Kit (MK116)
Assembly Time: 3 hours
Skill Level: Beginner

Riding Santa Building Instructions

This kit is a great holiday gift for any blossoming engineer and is a great way to explore the fun side of engineering. I found it to be a great experience for both me and my dad, so sit with your parent, maybe prepare a snack, and dive in. This kit promises to hold something special for all ages.

From the moment I laid my eyes on Santa trapped in a box, I knew there was a connection. It was something incredible, a real feeling I felt when I looked at the jolly silicon board. It was definitely something; something that drew me closer to this flashing euphoria, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. It might have been the drawn-out Santa riding his sleigh through never-ending bliss or the vast amount of LEDs that came with him, but I knew that something felt right about it.

I quickly peeled away the staple and slid the cardboard support out to reveal a hidden jubilee of resistors and different colored LEDs. I gave away a shining grin that stretched from ear to ear that spoke "Santa would be riding through my town very shortly" and I began...

Well, the instructions seem easy enough. It shouldn't be much harder than assembling a LEGO kit. I mean there are no words on the board and the placement is literally spelled out for even those who cannot follow the pictures. Perfect!!! You could not find any instructions more straightforward and easy to follow.

A perfect start for any beginner; as long as your soldering skills are up to par.

Before you begin, make sure to count the components to ensure they are all there. A missing LED or a capacitor, for instance, can ruin the entire project. You want to make sure all the components and pieces that are supposed to come in the package are accounted for. Don't worry about extras.

Step 1: Solder the Resistors

Don't have the iron touch the actual components while soldering. You may damage or destroy them. Fit the resistors into their respective copper slots and lay them flush with the board and begin. I would recommend doing a few at a time, so you can organize them and not overcrowd the board with loose components. It's pretty straightforward, although soldering from the opposite side of the board, which is what the instructions say to do, can be a bit awkward with the resistors getting in the way of the iron. Make sure to trim the leads from the opposite side of the board for all the components after you have soldered them. (Resistors are labeled in red boxes. The battery might be hiding additional resistors.)

Step 2: Solder the Transistors

Transistors can be a bit trickier to deal with than the resistors because they are taller components. They make it harder to maneuver around and to squeeze the soldering iron into tight spots. Make sure you leave some space between the board and the transistor. You don't want to be soldering the actual transistor: just its leads. (Transistors are labeled in yellow circles. The battery might be hiding additional transistors.)

Step 3: Soldering the Capacitors

Bend the leads of the capacitor just like the instructions say and fit them into their respective holes. Watch the polarity, though. Make sure that the longer lead goes into the positive hole. (Capacitors are labeled in blue boxes. The battery might be hiding additional capacitors.)

Step 4: Solder the LEDs

You first need to flip the board to the display side. Insert them into their spots that are marked for them by either the colored, half colored, or blank symbols. Each one corresponds to a different color LED. Fit the shorter lead of the LED into the rear hole, marked as the flat part of the symbol, and solder. Make sure to get the LEDs as close to the board as possible. You want them to rest neatly and straight on the board. Do NOT crowd the board with loose components. Solder a few at a time.

Step 5: DC Jack

Insert the DC jack from the display side and solder on the component side. You can use this to power your board by a wll adapter to give Santa some extra horsepower. Use a cylindrical 2.5mm x 5.5mm female connector. (DC jack is labeled in a green box.)

Step 6: Switch

Unscrew the nut and washer from the switch. Fit the switch through the hole so you can operate it from the display side and lock it in place with the nut and washer. The instructions say to connect the 3 ports of the switch to the board with wire. To my dismay, wire did not come with the kit. Although wire would work well, you can very well substitute your own home made leads. Use the trimmings that were cut from the LED leads to connect the switch ports to the board. Bend them to fit and solder both ends. (Switch is labeled in a green box.)

Step 7: Battery Jack

Finally comes the battery jack. Use the stilts that come with the jack to lift it from the board. Fit the screws from the display side and slide them into the jacks, located on the component side. Attach the jack to the component side. Solder its leads to their respective holes. Make sure not to solder the insulator. Lift the leads a bit so that the rubber isn't touching the board and solder. (Battery jack is labeled in a purple box.)

Use a 9 volt battery to power your Riding Santa.


- Soldering Iron with stand
- Solder
- 9V battery

Troubleshooting Issues:

If LEDs do not light...

1. Check the soldering job. Make sure the solder from leads doesn't touch each other.
2. Replace the battery.
3. Check for damaged components.
4. Make sure polarized components are oriented correctly on the board.

This project was assembled by Ari Dubinsky. Ari is attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering. Ari has teamed up with Jameco to accelerate his learning as well as to lend a helping hand to a major electronics distributor. His interests include shredding on the guitar, martial arts, and music production.