Learning Basic Electronics – Time Sensitive Tip

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    • #8548
      Don Donzal

      Hey All,

      For those of you that want to get into hardware hacking, learning electronics can be a very valuable skill. This ultimately lends itself to being applied to the ‘maker’ world with DIY electronics projects as well as playing with arduino, raspberry pi, beaglebone, etc. So in teaching my son about all this kewl stuff, I went looking to see what’s out there that wasn’t available way back when I was a kid.

      With that in mind, a great beginners book is Make: Electronics (Learning by Discovery) published in 2009. This is a great book and starts from scratch with great examples throughout. But the best thing about the book (as the title explains) is that it is meant to be a hands on course. Examples:

      – Not only put a battery on your tongue, but also test resistance by putting the multimeter on your tongue. Dry your tongue, do it again and note the results. Do the same on your arm.
      – Break things on purpose to see what happens like shorting out a AA battery and seeing how long it takes to get hot to the touch, blowing out an LED and noticing the smell, break open a potentiometer to see what’s inside.

      Of course to do these experiments, you need to buy all of the different components. In the book, they recommend and specify each and every part you’ll need. To make it easier, they even have 2 sets you can buy that has everything you need without having to do all of the shopping separately. Best of all it is in a very handy carrying case and everything is labeled. Looking up and buying each individual item is a learning process that is very valuable, but time constrained Dads will find this extremely convenient.

      Make: Electronics Components Pack 1 = $109.99
      Make: Electronics Components Pack 2 = $129.99

      Awesome, right? But we’re all on a budget, so of course I wanted to see if it’s cheaper anywhere else. I found that Radio Shack has their own version of both of these kits, each $10 cheaper. Score!!

      Just before the Vegas trip to BH/DC, I bought Pack 1 at Radio Shack. A few days ago, I saw an ad (on EH-Net no less) from The Shack showing that each pack was $30 off. WTF!?!?

      As I always say, just ask. The worst that can happen is they say no. So I called Radio Shack and asked if they could do something for me. Without hesitation, they said as long as it was less than 30 days, they would honor the sale and refund the $30 back to my CC. How awesome is that? So while I was in the store with my son, I purchased Pack 2. He’s not ready for it yet, but I might as well get it before the sale ends.

      Which brings me to my time sensitive point. The sale ends tomorrow 08-17-2013!

      Check out Pack 1 here: http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=17538226#showFullReviews

      And Pack 2 here: http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=17241866#showFullReviews

      So in the end, I saved $40 on each kit for a total savings of $80. Add that you can also find the book cheaper then at the Make Store, and you can save approx $100 and get the whole thing.

      Happy Hacking!

      Hope this helps,

    • #53369

      This is great. Now I can teach myself hardware hacking by teaching my son.
      Then, when I get confused, I’ll have someone to ask questions too. ::)

    • #53370

      When I wanted to learn electronics a few years ago I looked at several books and ended up going with this one. It was great and I couldn’t recommend it more. The name escapes me but there’s a really good blog out there where I guy posted his thoughts after each experiment in the book that I found beneficial a few times as well.

      Also if you’re going to go through the book, I would seriously pick up the kits sale or no sale. I did the “bulk order to save money” and it’s not only a pain in the butt but you don’t end up saving anything as no one supplier has everything you need or you end up buying twenty of something you need one of 🙂

    • #53371

      Another great book is “Hacking Electronics: An Illustrated DIY Guide for Makers and Hobbyists” by Simon Monk. http://www.amazon.com/Hacking-Electronics-Illustrated-Makers-Hobbyists/dp/0071802363/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376915568&sr=8-1&keywords=hacking+electronics

      This books really slowly takes you to a good level in electronics by explaining very well the concepts but without too much math.

      I found too many books or tutorials that focused on the experiment without spending time on the fundamentals. After these experiments, I couldn’t create something new by myself. But with this book, I was able to UNDERSTAND the concepts and create new things by myself.

      A true gem…

    • #53372

      For electricity in general, this book is great (like all No Starch books): http://nostarch.com/mg_electricity.htm

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