Whadda is the new name of Velleman for Makers. The Whadda Soldering & Programming Kits is a collection of colorful and luminous decorative and seasonal objects. The kits are based on the Arduino Nano Every board and sport many RGB LEDs. They contain all the required parts (no tools nor power supply) and are pre-programmed, so basically all you need is a soldering iron and a wire clipper to put them together.

I had the chance to assemble two of these kits: the Poly Reindeer and the Christmas Tree. The Poly Reindeer is a stylish white and orange affair; the Christmas tree is green, as expected. Both boards have 24 addressable RGB LEDs. Note that these are rather large boards, as indicated by the ‘XL’ postfix. Both are about 27 cm high by a width of 17 cm for the reindeer and 19 cm for the tree.

Whadda XL's Are Easy To Build

At first sight, the manual looks a bit succinct, one double-sided A4 sheet of paper, but it contains all the information required to assemble the kit organized as 11 easy steps (with step 11 being optional). Every step corresponds to a component type and in most cases, it concerns only one part. Be sure to respect the polarity when mounting the diode and the electrolytic capacitor. The Arduino Nano Every is soldered directly on the board. Again, ensure that it points in the right direction.

Whadda XL Poly Reindeer component side
The Arduino Nano Every is soldered directly on the board.

All the components go on the backside of the board, except for the LEDs. The parts are also soldered on the backside, except for the USB connector.

Careful with the LEDs!

Mount the LEDs with care and attention, as the footprint is staggered, which can be a bit confusing. If you put them in the wrong way around, they might break when you switch on the power supply. Turning a wrongly placed LED around is not so easy. Also, the LEDs come in two sizes, 5 mm and 8 mm, so make sure to mount them in the right places.

Using Your Whadda XL

The LEDs are connected as two strings, one of 5 mm types and the other made of 8 mm types. The jumper allows connecting the two strings in series to make one long string (position ‘1 string’, default).

You can power the kit from a 5 V USB phone charger. A suitable power cable is included in the kit. The Arduino Nano Every is pre-programmed and the push button lets you cycle through the different light animations it proposes. When everything is working as expected, you can place the board in its wooden support.

Whadda XL Christmas tree in support
The wooden support lets you place the object anywhere you like.

Program It Yourself

The kits are also intended for DIY programming and information on how to do this can be found on the Whadda website. The demo software is in the download section. Extension connectors and a USB programming cable are included in the kit, add-on modules are available on the website too.