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on April 23, 2011
This is, hands down, the best book I have ever read on understanding electronics. I've had college and post-graduate courses that taught me how to analyze circuits and figure out what voltages, currents, resistances, etc. were at certain points. That was all well and good, but totally useless for anything that I wanted to do on my work bench.

In reality, what I needed was a holistic approach that narrated the circuit and the signals that are manipulated. I NEVER thought of circuits this way and the author was able to explain that the active elements are the players in the story and everything else is a supporting cast.

I could read a schematic, but I couldn't understand why the components were there. I know that a capacitor doesn't pass DC, but now I see that when placed in the circuit, it acts as a DC filter to remove noise before passing a signal to the next stage.

On top of all that, I realized that every circuit has a voltage that is used as a signal. Signal analysis, analog and digital, seemed like a very advanced topic that I only understood through major concepts (linearity, aliasing, etc). Now I realize that a battery and a light bulb has a signal just as a digital video camera does. One is just more complex.

Bottom line, this is the book that I couldn't put down...and it is about some of the driest material you can find. It is written in a fun and enjoyable fashion. Every page had an "AH HA!" moment and I am much more confident in my electronics hobby and profession.

I cannot recommend this book enough and I would pay triple just for the section where the author walks through a couple sample circuits, describes each component's function, and what would happen if that component failed.
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VINE VOICEon April 1, 2012
PROS
Good coverage of test equipment
Good anecdotes that demonstrate basic methodology
Good basic techniques for fixing common consumer electronics

CONS
It won't tell you how to diagnose and fix everything electronic

I'm an engineer by training, and I tend to take words literally. So when I read the title of this book, then observed that rather than an encyclopedia volume 1, these 316 pages were the entire book, I was dubious, and doubly so when I read the back cover where it promises "Master the Art of Electronics Repair," and how to repair and extend the life of "all kinds" of solid-state devices. I have read electronics books for a few decades. When I noted the publisher, Tab, I said to myself, "uh-huh". Because if there are a few things I have learned about Tab Books in particular in my years of reading them, it is these:

1. They tend to over-sell their books in the title and abstract for the book
2. If the book features projects, the circuits are often not tested and sometimes can't work as presented
3. Except for the cover, the production quality is often substandard compared to other publishers

If I was the author of the book, I would not be comfortable writing a book that promised to teach you how to fix everything electronic and to make you a master in 316 pages, because it CAN'T BE DONE.

I wondered when I saw a picture on the cover of a computer hard drive with a magnification of the electronics, because when a hard drive fails, I think it's best to do your best to recover data from it, then you move to a new one that is less likely to fail again. But the author does have a technique he says may be able to save a failing drive. Hey, if it works, I'd still use it as a rescue for data from the failed drive... then I'd wipe it and throw it away.

But I'm NOT here to tell you the book is worthless, or that the author does not know what he is talking about. Neither is true.

The author clearly knows what he is talking about and speaks from experience. He does tell you about the essential tools of the trade - and other tools which you have heard of but may not be necessary except for specialized jobs. He goes into some detail on using them. I came to this book to learn more about oscilloscopes, and he does a reasonable job with them - 28 pages, almost 10% of the book!

Around 50 pages in, he gets into some basic trouble-shooting techniques, followed by diving into a couple of case studies that expose the reader to the process he follows, which is very much like a detective's work. There are no short-cuts: you have to understand the circuit so that you can trace it for clues, and from the clues you have to be able to think to figure it out. It's challenging work.

Obviously, it is useful to have a background in electronics. If you don't have that, he has a couple of chapters on components and circuits. It's brief; fortunately, there are lots of books dedicated to these subjects to learn a lot more, especially on subjects that apply to the kind of equipment you want to fix.

Chapter 14, at just over 50 pages, is tips and tricks for fixing specific products and technologies: switching power supplies (used in many products, and frequently a source of failure), audio amps and receivers, disc players and recorders, flat panel displays, hard drives, laptop computers, mp3 players, vcrs and camcorders, and video projectors. The problem is, that's just a few pages for each topic, and you could devote an entire book to each topic and not cover everything. This should be the meat of the book, but it's like the author ran out of time when he got here.

The topics in Chapter 14 should have been at least a 50 page chapter each to earn the book's ambitious title. Better still would be to omit Chapter 14 from this volume, then use this volume as the introduction to a series, and write a separate book on each of the topics of Chapter 14 and beyond. Do that, Tab, and I'll consider buying the set.

This book would have come closer to succeeding just by having a title like "using test equipment to diagnose common problems in consumer electronics," which is closer to what it covers: there are about as many pages discussing test equipment as there are on general diagnosis techniques and tips and techniques that apply to specific types of equipment. The author probably had a different title in mind, but Tab had an outdated book they wanted to update that had a similar title, so maybe they talked the author into a more ambitious title so it would sell better. Or at least, that's my theory.

BOTTOM LINE

Three stars ("It's OK") is not a bad review, but there is room for improvement. There are definitely parts that are useful to me. As it is, it will not tell you everything you know to fix everything electronic, or even close, but it may start you down that path. It is a good beginner's book.
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on May 5, 2011
This book is extremely well written, easy to follow and makes sense. The author actually "takes you by the hand" and leads you through simple test procedures, step by step and explains why things are being done.

If you are a beginner to electronics or even past the beginner stage and want to go beyond just opening up something that doesn't work, looking for loose connections and burned components, this will be just what the doctor ordered.

The writing is top notch and done in such a manner that it's truly enjoyable.

It's been a long time since I've picked up a book written to actually be read and used.

A big thanks to Michael Geier for getting me back into troubleshooting and setting up a small repair area.
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on June 28, 2011
Outstanding book. Nicely written, not full of tables and excessively technical jargon. Common sense approach to problem solving based on real life examples. As someone who majored in physics and engineering in college, I find it the book much more relevant to someone who doesn't want to go through the years of schooling just to learn that the visibly leaking electrolytic capacitor or broken trace it all that is wrong. Nice section on using an oscilloscope for the newbie.
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on September 17, 2011
I am currently a student of aviation electronics on the verge of graduation. I have been in the A/V business primarily as an Audio Engineer (A1 or FOH) for over 20 years. I have taken numerous courses in electronics, networking, and programming. I believe this is the best electronics book I have found. I read the first 5 chapters in less than 24 hours after receiving the book.

I have books that I have spent hundreds of dollars on that are not laid out nearly as well. I particularly like the breakdown and explanation of the individual components. There is a section of the book that describes the recognition and functions\uses of each type of component in electronics along with how to test them in and out of a circuit. That section also speaks about what is likely to kill each type of component. I really wish that Michael Geier (author) was an instructor at my school! He knows how to provide the most technical information so that anybody can get a foundation of knowledge going.

I will say that you should have some general knowledge about electronics. But that does not exclude the total novice from getting started with this book. A novice just might have to look a few more things up here and there. The breakdown of all test equipment necessary to have a decent electronics work bench is fantastic. I have a much better understanding of oscilloscopes because of the knob-by-knob breakdown and explanation. Nothing was missed in this book. The author is quite an intersting person as well. I get a great vibe just off of the text and you know without question that not only does this guy know what he is talking about, he also thoroughly enjoys electronics more than anybody I have run across. If I were well-off, I would buy a copy of this book for my whole class and anyone I know who is interested in electronics. I showed it to one of my instructors and he felt that it should be included in our curriculum! BTW, my instructor is a former IBM engineer who was present when IBM built the first of the PCs we all use today. He also worked on a team that was building the first ICs which are in EVERYTHING we use now.
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I have enjoyed this fix-it book on electronics since I ordered it in 2012. I've learned quite a bit from reading this book and feel it is worth the money I paid for it and am glad I purchased it. I read something in this book regularly and it will stay close at hand near my work bench area, BUT . . . No, you won't be able to fix electronics if you have this on your book shelf. If you work at it, have the background knowledge and the right tools you can learn how to attempt a troubleshooting fix for a lot of the electronic components of Audio and standard electronics, mostly older pieces of equipment. Don't think that someone who doesn't know electronics basics or has mastered the knowledge base of the technician will be turned into a competent electronics technician after scanning through this book, cause it just won't happen. Good technicians are developed over time, with training and an urge to learn this trade and skill. The newer micro electonic components, surface mount components and microprocessor based systems are not the standadrd components discussed, but like Automobiles today, one who is not an auto mechanic, just doesn't work on these new products like we did in the past. If you are an electronics buff, enjoy playing with electronics projects and components, you have learned to use a good soldering tool and can unsolder and replace components, then with some effort you will become more competent to work on your own electronics units if you dare, with this book . I will not in my life ever be the troublshooting "tough dog" go to guy for fixing the toughest problems in electronic problems, you might, but I won't. He is most likely one of the best out there and this book is proof to that with it containg so very much on this subject. You should have this book as reference. I recommend this book.
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on May 25, 2012
The title of the book promises much but the content delivers little. As one who knows very little about electronics, I found myself struggling with the lack of illustrations and clear explanations about how things work and what they actually do. When dealing with complicated components and processes, a picture is worth a thousand confusing words. Of course there is some useful content to those who are already initiated in electronics but for the average layman trying to get a grip on things, this book is a struggle. I would suggest that you would have to have read very widely before this book would make much practical sense. The lack of step by step instructions and specific troubleshooting methods is a significant omission from this title.
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on February 15, 2016
Two things at the outset: 1) I've written 18 programming texts so I know what it's like writing a technical book which makes my perspective likely different from most readers, and 2) I've been a licensed amateur radio operator for over 60 years, and that's why I bought this book...I want to start fixing my own equipment.

Pros:
I know how hard it is to discuss technical material in an understandable, yet interesting way. The author has done a good job of that. He's honest about the tools it takes to really fix something beyond a simple fuse replacement. Chapter 6 has some guidelines on using those tools.

Chapter 4 is a great chapter on how to approach the problem of fixing electronic equipment. The Zen of electronic repair is quite similar to that of debugging software, so I felt right at home with that.

There's a chapter devoted to various electronic components you'll encounter and the common uses for each. This chapter is much better than most I've seen.

Chapters 10, 11, and 14 are the best chapters from a use perspective, in that it defines the major components of most electronic systems and then tells you how to track down a problem. Chapter 14 breaks these techniques down further by devices (e.g., audio system, camcorder, computer, etc.) I think these are well done.

Cons:
He starts the book with several stories of repairs that he had to do and how he "sleuthed" them to a solution. These stories were both informative and entertaining...not an easy combination to pull off. Alas, there were too few of these. His knowledge and experience are obvious from his writing, but the stories were enjoyable to read while learning. I would have liked to see more.

I was hoping for a table of problems, and the associated method of attack on the problem (e.g., measuring voltages, injecting an audio or RF signal at such-and-such a point), and the likely culprit of the problem. There is a lot similar to that in narrative form, but a summary of issues pointing to details in the chapters would have been great. In ham radio, there are many things that can go wrong, and a table of problems/solutions like you sometimes see in an operator's manual, would have been very useful. Again, probably more for my needs than most readers, but the book fell a little short of expectations because something like it was missing.

Obviously, I enjoyed the book and felt that I learned things in the process.
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on January 14, 2012
I worked professionally as a component level tech for 15 years and continue to do repairs. This book is probably the smartest one that I have seen so far for some one who wants to actually repair things. Most electronic books get very deeply into theory and formulas-but never troubleshooting.I have had hired and trained more than one "fresh from tech school with my degree" guys- and the first thing I would have tell them was to forget just about everything that just learned, because this is not theory-it is applied-and what they learned-doesn't apply. One couldn't even figure out how to get inside a simple crt-based monitor.
Anyhow-this book addresses these things-in very clear regular jargon.No unnecessary information from what I can tell. Simple straight forward explanations on components and what they do , dis-assembly, operation,etc. If I were teaching vocational classes, I think this would be one of the basic texts. No-it doesn't give you deep theory, but it is about repair-not design. Most of what you learn will come from experience anyway-so pick this up and some basic tools and start taking things apart....
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on March 2, 2015
This is a very good book on this subject. I know of none better. However, anyone who aspires to repair (as opposed to build) electronic equipment should be prepared for difficulties. For instance, many, if not most of electronic gear these days are very dependent on integrated circuits. Fair enough. However, quite often those ICs are "house numbered", that is, who knows what they really are or what a replacement would be. The same is true quite often for discrete transistors. So, in the absence of a schematic that might indicate what these semiconductors do, with God forbid a cross reference to standard semiconductors, in my view troubleshooting modern electronics is well, not a fool's errand, go ahead and try it, but at least it's an indication of why so much of today's electronics are throwaways. I should say that I just love building electronics, have done it all my life, whether from kits or from scratch; from scratch is the most satisfying and I recommend it, and of course this book should help troubleshooting one's construction projects.

However, from my long experience, really, other than opening up the box and noticing a fried resistor, or other component (and if it's fried how do you determine a replacement in the absence of a schematic, assuming you can identify the deceased on same). Not to mention why did it fry? But you can try in that case, or with enough background (and this book is good) perhaps you could guess at a replacement. Part of my point is that it ain't like back in the day when the local radio/tv shop fixed things by mainly; testing tubes, or noticing a fried resistor or electrolytic capacitor. In my view, navigating a modern electronic circuit for troubleshooting is pretty much the same as navigating a new city with no map. Actually, the latter might be easier.

This book has a lot of value to the electronics enthusiast for many reasons. But if you are the average Joe, don't buy it thinking you can add a DMM and soldering iron and fix your flat screen tv, or anything much for that matter.
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