Top positive review
73 people found this helpful
A good beginner's guide
on March 22, 2010
You will be interested in this book if you
o Are a beginner in electronics looking to learn some skills;
o Want an entry-level text on this topic;
o Are looking for something to interest and motivate students at high school or polytechnic level (eg: TAFE);
o Are running a hobbyist's class.
Electronics is a "technic"; it is as much an art as a science. By that I mean that there are certain skills that you must acquire if you are to be truly competent and these are skills that are not related to the theory or underlying physics. Sadly, there is an increasing tendency for universities and trade schools to teach electronics using computer simulations. In some places it is possible to graduate without ever having built a physical circuit, no matter how simple, and in most universities student projects use solderless breadboards and there is no training in PCB layout and assembly.
This also affects hobbyists. If you are starting out in electronics or ham radio, or you want to hack the hardware of your computer, you need a mentor to teach you techniques such as soldering, taking measurements and trouble-shooting, as well as selecting the right materials and how to store and maintain components and equipment. If you don't know anyone who can help, you can easily become discouraged and give up. This book attempts to fill the gap by providing a visual guide to some basic techniques and knowledge.
The book covers:
o The minimum tools that you will need and basic metalworking
o Software packages
o Reading schematics
o Solderless breadboards (with some simple projects)
o Building from kits using through-hole and surface-mount boards already prepared.
o Prototyping and constructing one-offs from schematics using: Point-to-point wiring, Dead bug style assembly, Paddy board (also called "island" in the UK and "Manhattan" in the US) and wire-wrap - with some simple projects.
o Wiring cables: data, coaxial, audio, delicate assemblies and power (warning: in some places you cannot wire AC mains power unless you are a qualified and licensed electrician).
o Test instruments and measurement techniques.
o Maintaining equipment and trouble shooting - you are not really expert until you know what to do if something goes wrong.
o Maintaining your tools and instruments
o Using batteries effectively
o Interference and noise.
o There are brief chapters on the special issues of marine and automotive electronics.
The book does not cover
o Soldering in sufficient detail, especially how to recover from a badly-soldered board and how to desolder.
o Metalworking in sufficient detail to know how to fit a project into a readily available box.
o Construction using tag-strips, perfboard or "project boards" (those pre-etched boards for general use).
o Designing a printed circuit board from a printed schematic - a serious omission.
o Etching a printed circuit board from a layout in a magazine or book - another serious omission.
o How to wire radio microphone plugs. Broken mic wiring is the most common cause of "my CB/two-way doesn't work" complaints. This can be a nice little earner for the backyard techie and gets you a reputation as the local electronics wizard.
o There is no coverage of 230V 50Hz AC mains power used in most of the world. The power plug wiring covered refers only to US practice which is not compatible with world standards. There is a safety issue here which reflects badly on the publisher. If you offer a book for sale in a global market you cannot allow US-centric parochialism to dictate the content.
o The US-style RJ11 telephone plug is covered and while this plug is widely used throughout the world there are many other types of telephone plugs in use. Warning: never connect telephones that you have repaired or modified to the public switched network or use the network to conduct experiments. Your telco contract and local laws will prohibit this as it can result in shocks or injury to linesmen and damage exchange (US: "central office") equipment.
On the whole, however, this is a valuable book for the beginner.