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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good way into electronics
I had never even heard of Arduino boards but was lead here by the "Evil Genius" bit of the title whilst looking to improve my electronics knowledge. I have now bought the Arduino kit (clone because it is cheaper) and have had a go at a couple of the simpler projects which worked well. I was initially worried about the programming side given that it is C, but the Ardunio...
Published on August 16, 2010 by Stephen Hall

versus
198 of 215 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beginners beware
I do not consider myself evil, nor do I consider myself a genius, maybe that is why I'm having so many issues with this book. This book contains great project ideas. That is why I bought it. However, as I am new to electronics and the arduino platform, some of the mistakes in the book can cause great frustration. In the few projects I have tried, the schematic diagram,...
Published on November 4, 2010 by Not so evil simpleton


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198 of 215 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beginners beware, November 4, 2010
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This review is from: 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius (Paperback)
I do not consider myself evil, nor do I consider myself a genius, maybe that is why I'm having so many issues with this book. This book contains great project ideas. That is why I bought it. However, as I am new to electronics and the arduino platform, some of the mistakes in the book can cause great frustration. In the few projects I have tried, the schematic diagram, breadboard layout, and photograph of complete breadboard do not match. The first example is Project 4. The program from project 3 says use digital pin 12. The schematic diagram Fig. 3-5 says digital pin 11, and the breadboard layout fig 3-6 and photograph of complete breadboard fig 3-8 shows it connected to digital pin 12. This one is easy to figure out, however, breadboard layout fig 3-6 also shows Luxeon LED connecting to the wrong pin on the T1-BD139. It is hard to see, but it is showing it connected to the same pin as the 270 Ohm resistor. You need to look at the photograph of the complete breadboard fig 3-8 to see the correct way to wire the circuit. This is also incorrect on Fig 4-6 Breadboard layout for project 6.

Second example: the Components and equipment for project 7: Shows "R4-5 4 Ohm 2W resistor" This doesn't match the Schematic Fig 4-9, where you need two 4 Ohm 1 Watt (not 2 Watt) resistors.

I then jumped ahead to Project 28, which I'm still trying to figure out how to configure correctly. The Schematic diagram Fig. 9-8 has the IC1 component connected to Digital pin 9. The Breadboard layout has it connected to digital pin 3. The photograph fig 9-7 has it connected to digital pin 9. The text says it is connected to digital pin 9, so I assume three to one this is correct. The 100 Ohm resistor in the picture fig 9-7 is connected to ground. In the schematic it is connected to the arduino on digital pin 3, on the breadboard layout fig 9-9 it is again connected to ground. The picture on the arduinoevilgenuis web site is currently showing it connected to ground [...]. The web site referenced in the book is showing it connected to digital pin 3. [...]

I understand everyone makes mistakes. I'm looking forward to a web page that will correct the mistakes in the book.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good way into electronics, August 16, 2010
This review is from: 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius (Paperback)
I had never even heard of Arduino boards but was lead here by the "Evil Genius" bit of the title whilst looking to improve my electronics knowledge. I have now bought the Arduino kit (clone because it is cheaper) and have had a go at a couple of the simpler projects which worked well. I was initially worried about the programming side given that it is C, but the Ardunio environment and clear explanation (and code listing) for each project made it a breeze. When I get time I will try more ambitious projects (particularly looking forward to the servo controlled lazer). Highly recommended.

Stephen
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Starter Book for Arduino, November 13, 2010
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This review is from: 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius (Paperback)
This is the clearest introduction to the Arduino microcontroller development system I have read. I'm a tinkerer and every page in this book made me want to buy it and write notes and ideas in it.

I jot brainstorms and questions in the margins - create links to other pages - correct a few minor errors and ambiguities ("darn it, is it pin 11 or pin 12?"). I write in updates and corrections from the ArduinoEvilGenius-com website. My copy is a dog's breakfast of pencil smudges, beverage stains and sticky notes.

30 Arduino Projects catches the spirit of the mildly mischievous Evil Genius Series. It is light-hearted, conversational, and fun-loving. Beautifully and clearly written; with tremendous respect for readers and what they really need to know.

Before finding this book, I was frustrated by Arduino books which were too fluffy, pompous, or just too complicated. This book hits the sweet spot for me.

North American readers may be confused by what seems to be a RadioShack parts list in the back of the book. Even the part numbers look like RadioShack numbers. But in fact, "RS" stands for the UK RadioSpares company. It is still worth checking the RadioSpares-com website for useful information. Luckily, the author gives a general list of other suppliers and sources.

Some of the photos are too murky to give more than a general idea of the actual layout of the schematic. Fortunately there is usually a line-drawing as well.

All of the programming is available as a quick, one-time, free download from the author's web site. I've never used "C" before and my high-school BASIC is rusty. But this friendly author explains and clarifies as you go along. By starting all my own programs ("sketches" in Arduino jargon) by over-typing one of his, I get very few "grammatical" errors. I do get unexpected results though about half the time. But puzzling through my mistakes is very satisfying.

30 Arduino Projects is a rare book. Thanks to the author for his dedication and hard work on this book. It has pointed me in the right direction, and truly gotten me started learning more about this fascinating hobby.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Arduino intro by far, October 1, 2010
By 
John Heath "mad zulu" (Johannesburg, South Africa) - See all my reviews
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Simon Monk provides Arduino newbies a guide that goes way beyond "Getting Started With Arduino", yet deals with the subject in an easy to read, accessible format. His projects are also far more practical eg he deals with flashing a simple led (like every other Arduino text) but then scales this up to high power Luxeon leds in various different applications but based on similar circuitry. This lead me to adapting one of his circuits to a real-world interest of mine, involving led lamps.

I look forward to a sequel where he might take us into the (so far) murky world of timers and interrupts, an area not covered very well (yet) in the Arduino world.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for anyone starting out with Arduino, December 18, 2010
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This review is from: 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius (Paperback)
One of the best I have read of the Evil Genius series. No previous Arduino or programming experience is required. All the Arduino code can be downloaded, and is of good quality and modular, can easily be reused in your own projects. You don't need to know any programming but a class in Java or C certainly wouldn't hurt if you want to understand everything going on. One of the things I liked immediately about this book is that it goes into detail about why and how you choose a certain electronic component and calculate its value. A simplified non-standard circuit schematic notation is used that makes it easy to wire the circuits. The projects are breadboarded but one of the projects is how to make "shields", soldered add-on boards from any of the projects that can be plugged in as a module above the main Arduino board. The author seems to have struck an excellent balance between cool projects and inexpensive components. So you won't find projects that use $30-60 ultrasonic sensors or 6-DOF accelerometers. But it does have a project that communicates with an LCD module. All the basics are here in this book that will prepare for more complex projects in robotics, art, and musical instruments.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improved New Edition, February 3, 2011
By 
bk (Spokane, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius (Paperback)
The first publication of this book disappointed me for a number of reasons. However, the updated issue, available now, has fixed certain errors and gone a long way to improve the book. It makes a good primer for neophyte hobby users of the Arduino. Whether I think there's evil genius afoot might encounter my debate. I was hoping for 30 very clever uses for the tiny microcontroller which is highly capable. While I envisioned projects like self-balancing two wheeled robots or ultrasonic or infrared personal radar, the book contains a progression of introductory experiments from lighting a single LED to operating an LED matrix and a few stops between. But if you are new to the electronics field and are wanting to engage in some educational fun, this book makes a good avenue on which you can get started. That being the case, I would name the book "30 Projects for the Aspiring Evil Genius." Googling the words arduino and tutorial will produce even more ideas --once this book has gotten you started, of course.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent intro to the Arduino world., September 17, 2010
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This review is from: 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius (Paperback)
Great book with lots of interesting projects (especially the sensing type). The projects use inexpensive parts and some of the first projects don't really require the purchase of any parts at all. Some supplemental code explanations on the Evil Genius web site would add to this already great educational tool.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Out of date, still useful as a beginner's guide with some caveats, January 15, 2012
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This review is from: 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius (Paperback)
Arduino technology is changing rapidly, and a few important changes have occurred since this book was published in 2010. Though somewhat out of date, this book is otherwise a reasonable beginner's guide to learning Arduino, both programming and the electronics. Most of the content is still correct; my review and the author's Web site present a few things that have changed.

The focus is to learn as you go by building projects, and new concepts are explained by the author as they come up. This approach is good for tutorial books like this one, rather than reference books.

PROS
Reasonable starting point for beginners
Reasonably good explanations
All parts are cross-referenced with source listed in the Appendix
Author has an Errata on his Web page (arduinoevilgenius dot com, click Help), but does not address all problems

CONS
Out of date - discusses Arduino boards that are now obsolete and behave a bit differently
Poor editing, some technical errors, text poorly organized in places
The "projects" are really learning experiments - none is practical enough as is to make permanent as is
The "Evil Genius" theme and comments are silly and unnecessary

OUT OF DATE - THIS BOOK DESCRIBES OLDER ARDUINO BOARDS

This book needs to be updated. Since it's publication in 2010, the Arduino Diecimila and Duemilanove (which it covers) have been replaced by the Arduino Uno R3. There is nothing about any Uno in this book, yet that Arduino is the one most newbies will be buying. However, the projects WILL WORK on the Arduino (in a few cases, with software modifications, described on author's Web site).

Subtle things like the color and positions of the LEDs have changed, and some of the interface pins are different. The good news is that if you go to the book's Web site and click on the Arduino 1.0 link, you find a page that tells you how to make projects work on the Uno - for the few that do not already - providing new code and a pointer to new libraries to make them compatible. The bad news is there are other problems which could stump an absolute beginner.

Example: on page 3, the book tells us we need to install the USB drivers (for Windows). It tells us to specify a folder called FTDI USB Drivers. That was correct for Duemilanove, but for Arduino Uno (the current board) you need to select the directory above that. How do I know? I looked on arduino.cc, plus the sparkfun instructions told me. The book needs to be updated for the Uno. There is no mention of the change that I have found on the author's Web site (at time of this review).

Later, in Chapter 9, there is a project to record and play back an infrared code from a remote. Almost a page and a half is spent explaining how to install the library. However, the library is included with the new Arduino 1.0; you don't need to download and install it. It would be better if there was a section or appendix explaining how to install libraries NOT included with Arduino 1.0.

PROBLEMS IN CHAPTER 1: A WALKTHROUGH

I set up according to instructions. The dev tool figured out I had an Uno; I checked to make sure it was set properly. I made sure the COM port was set to COM3, which was what the book said it should be for Windows.

I downloaded and unzipped the source files, navigated to the Project 1 source (a mistake on my part, as I'll point out below), and double-clicked on the source file. Windows failed to open the Arduino IDE. That's because the downloaded files have the filename extension "pde", which is what the filename extension for Arduino source was before Arduino 1.0, which introduced "ino". I renamed the file to have an "ino" extension and it opened when double-clicked (all files should be renamed). Pressed the upload, it compiled, but then I got this puzzling error, which is not discussed in the book:

avrdude: stk500_getsync(): not in sync: resp=0x00

Whenever you get puzzling errors, put the exact text into google, and you may find some help. This message is what you see when there is some kind of communications error between PC and Arduino - disconnected, wrong board selected, wrong comm port, etc. I eventually figured out that for whatever reason, on my system the Arduino board is not on COM3 (the book said it would be COM3 for Windows) but COM4 instead. I think the book could have a brief troubleshooting section that includes this very common error message. I'm experienced, but not with Arduino, so this was not obvious to me.

I changed to COM4, pressed upload, it compiled, loaded, and rapidly flashed the pin 13 light... 3 times only, then stopped. I pressed the RESET button, same thing. Huh?

Aha, I didn't read the book carefully enough. Instead of opening the example for the book, I was supposed to open the example for Arduino (which is inside the IDE) and make a change. I followed the procedure more carefully, and voilà! it worked correctly. So why did the example file for the book not work? I compared the two files, and noticed this line in the book's example file Chapter 1:

int ledPin = 12; // LED connected to digital pin 13

The comment (and literature I have read) says that the LED is connected to pin 13, yet the source code selects pin 12. I changed 12 to 13, upload, now it works. Incidentally, if you're wondering about the three fast flashes, the Uno seems to do that when loading the program, or after you press RESET, before the execution actually begins. The book did not mention this; maybe it is a new feature present in Arduino Uno R3 but not the Duemilanove.

Here's why I was confused: I read it a bit too quickly, and missed this: Project 1 has two parts. The Part 1 flashes the built-in pin 13 LED on the board, then for Part 2, you wire up a resistor to an LED and install it between pin 12 and ground. The download code is set up for the second part, and won't work for the first part, unless you change the 12 to 13 as I did. It's also confusing that the code says one thing, the comment says another. Technical reviews are done to find such problems. Judging by this and other errors, I don't think this book had much technical review.

THE PROJECTS - er, EXPERIMENTS

I bought this book along with Arduino Cookbook Second Edition as my quick start into Arduino. I chose Evil Genius to get some practical, complete project ideas, and a fast and smooth quick-start.

Unfortunately, the 30 projects in the book are really only learning experiments. This book is a tutorial, not a set of plans for projects that are useful and practical enough that you would want to make them permanent. At least they are good experiments, and they could be expanded into useful projects with additional work, but Arduino Cookbook has over 200 experiments like that for less than twice the price. For example, few games use only one dice, but the dice project is for one die. And the Infrared experiment, which reads, stores, and plays back a code for an Infrared Remote Control, does so for only one button.

In general I found quite a few of the explanations useful - for the code, and for electronic calculations. But the current-limiting resistor calculation for Figure 3-5 figures the collector resister using the voltage drop from base to emitter rather than collector to emitter. Maybe they are the same? The author does not tell us where he got the number "0.6 V" that is used for both, making it hard for me to recalculate for a different transistor.

The protoshield described in "Making a Shield" and Figure 3-9 uses male-to-male pin headers. You have to use female-to-male if you want stackable shields. In one paragraph, he omits the pushbutton switch, which means while the shield is in place, you have no easy way to reset the Arduino. But in the next paragraph (and the photo on the next page) it's used anyway! Which leads to...

EDITING / CLARITY / ACCURACY

I get distracted by spelling and grammar nits. A good editor would correct errors like these: a constant called OUTPUT is spelled OUPUT; the sentence "The Evil Genius is not noted for their patience [snip]" is grammatically incorrect. There are clunky sentences and paragraphs; at times three short sentences are written as three paragraphs, when they should be one paragraph (and consolidated).

Chapter 2 in particular is poorly organized. Titled "A Tour of Arduino", it jumbles several topics: a tour of the board itself, Ohm's Law, how to calculate a current-limiting resistor for an LED, the Arduino Family (out of date), and the C programming language. The biggest problem is that paragraphs from the various topics are mixed together, making it confusing to follow. As an example, following a paragraph concluding the current-limiting resistor calculation, the next paragraph (in the same section!) says "We can also set one of these digital connections to be an input [snip]" leaving the reader to wonder what "also" applies to, and what "one these digital connections" is referring to. Look back a page or two and you find the paragraph this one should have followed.

Most photographs are printed poorly and are difficult to interpret.

I suspect that this book also did not get a thorough technical review. For example, page 23, Chapter 2, under Variables and Data Types, referring to the use of an int variable, it says: "This uses just two bytes of data for each number stored from the 1024 available bytes of storage on an Arduino." But Figure 2-4 shows a block diagram shows that the ATmega328 processor (used in later Duemilnoves and Uno through R3) has 2KB (2048 bytes) of RAM (working memory), and a declared int would be allocated from that RAM. I later found out that an earlier version of the Duomilanove has a different processor which has only 1024 bytes of storage, but the book gives two different numbers for the memory size without explanation.

My nits are for the CORRECTED version that corrects problems cited earlier by another reviewer. The only way I know you can tell which book you have is to see whether the errors called out by the other reviewer are present or not, because there is no note on the printing page of this being an updated edition.

BOTTOM LINE

This book isn't for me; I'm more at home with Arduino Cookbook Second Edition. It's a good book in need of an update. If updated to current hardware and software, given a technical review to fix the problems, and without the obligatory "Evil Genius" comments, it could be a great tutorial book with experiments for someone who is just getting started with Arduino. But at this price, it should have more content and better quality control, and stumbling blocks eliminated.

I bought this book expecting to get some practical, complete project ideas, and a fast and smooth quick-start. I did not get either one, so I have taken a star off for each. Three stars means "It's OK," and that's how I see it. Some readers like it just fine, judging by other reviews.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, December 28, 2011
By 
J. Burnett (Huntsville, AL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius (Paperback)
I recently purchased this book and I have learned so much about Arduino programming in just a few short days. After reading the Amazon preview, I went ahead and ordered a few electronic components (Arduino Duemilanove, LEDs, breadboard, wires, resistors) so that I could get started right away. So far, everything in the book has been very well explained and actually gets you into applying programming instead of just teaching you theory. Monk starts off simply by explaining how to blink an LED, and quickly moves into advancing the code and making cooler projects. So far, I'm just about finished with the LED portion of the book and I have enjoyed every bit of it.

As a note for all of you that are as eager to program an Arduino as I was / am, please be advised that you will need to purchase new equipment to do each project. As you probably already know, the Arduino board can be re-used, along with many of the LEDs and resistors. However, it may be a good idea to glance ahead once your book arrives so you can go ahead and order the parts for the upcoming projects. I quickly went through the first few, and now I'm having to wait until my new parts come ;)

Overall, I don't have any complaints about the book. All of the necessary codes are given, along with wiring diagrams and actual product pictures. This book is helping me, and I'm sure it will help you too.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evil genius arduino, January 31, 2011
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This review is from: 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius (Paperback)
Well written for both the beginner and advanced tinkers . Thanks for a great book. Lots of fun without spending boo-koo bucks! Highly recommended.
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30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius
30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius by Simon Monk (Paperback - July 28, 2010)
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