This was my first dive into any real soldering. I attacked an LQFP-144 package micro-controller. I bought two micros and two of the breakout boards. My first micro failed, good thing I saw that coming and bought two right? Anyways, in total it only took me about 20 minutes to solder the micro - cleaning up and pausing between iron touches to keep temp down included. They are pretty easy when you slather it up with a BUNCH of flux =) Soldering on the pin header is the part that took the longest (30 minutes). Each pin on the header has to be dealt with individually. The micro leads kind of just happen in bulk when you have good flux and an appropriate tip. I didn't get pics along the way because I didn't want to stop my momentum.
I (sadly) don't have a specific project in mind for the controller yet. I am a programmer just starting to get into the whole robotics thing. The pure academic value of building a more complicated controller plus learning a new dev platform is good enough for me =)
I haven't gotten around to actually testing it, but upon CLOSE visual inspection and physically testing each individual lead all looks good. No visible (10x magnifying glass) solder bridges appear to have formed. I will update once I get around to putting together the rest of the board with power supply and other small circuitry for Ethernet (still haven't decided if i'll use this feature), USB, external ram, and an SD reader.