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Make: Electronics (Learning by Discovery) [Paperback]

Charles Platt
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (203 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 20, 2009 0596153740 978-0596153748 1st

"This is teaching at its best!"

--Hans Camenzind, inventor of the 555 timer (the world's most successful integrated circuit), and author of Much Ado About Almost Nothing: Man's Encounter with the Electron (

"A fabulous book: well written, well paced, fun, and informative. I also love the sense of humor. It's very good at disarming the fear. And it's gorgeous. I'll be recommending this book highly."

--Tom Igoe, author of Physical Computing and Making Things Talk

Want to learn the fundamentals of electronics in a fun, hands-on way? With Make: Electronics, you'll start working on real projects as soon as you crack open the book. Explore all of the key components and essential principles through a series of fascinating experiments. You'll build the circuits first, then learn the theory behind them!

Build working devices, from simple to complexYou'll start with the basics and then move on to more complicated projects. Go from switching circuits to integrated circuits, and from simple alarms to programmable microcontrollers. Step-by-step instructions and more than 500 full-color photographs and illustrations will help you use -- and understand -- electronics concepts and techniques.

  • Discover by breaking things: experiment with components and learn from failure
  • Set up a tricked-out project space: make a work area at home, equipped with the tools and parts you'll need
  • Learn about key electronic components and their functions within a circuit
  • Create an intrusion alarm, holiday lights, wearable electronic jewelry, audio processors, a reflex tester, and a combination lock
  • Build an autonomous robot cart that can sense its environment and avoid obstacles
  • Get clear, easy-to-understand explanations of what you're doing and why

Frequently Bought Together

Make: Electronics (Learning by Discovery) + Make: More Electronics: Journey Deep Into the World of Logic Chips, Amplifiers, Sensors, and Randomicity + Practical Electronics for Inventors
Price for all three: $67.72

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


A "magnificent and rewarding book. . . . Every step of this structured instruction is expertly illustrated with photos and crisp diagrams. . . . This really is the best way to learn." --Kevin Kelly, in Cool Tools.

Book Description

Burn things out, mess things up-that's how you learn.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Make; 1st edition (December 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596153740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596153748
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (203 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles Platt is a Contributing Editor and regular columnist for Make magazine, where he writes about electronics. He is the author of the highly successful introductory hands-on book, Make:Electronics, and is writing a sequel to that book in addition to volumes 2 and 3 of the Encyclopedia of Electronic Components, which was published in the Fall of 2012.

Platt was a Senior Writer for Wired magazine, and has written various computer books. As a prototype designer, he created semi-automated rapid cooling devices with medical applications, and air-deployable equipment for first responders. He was the sole author of four mathematical-graphics software packages, and has been fascinated by electronics since he put together a telephone answering machine from a tape recorder and military-surplus relays at age 15. He lives in a Northern Arizona wilderness area, where he has his own workshop for prototype fabrication and projects that he writes about for Make magazine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
198 of 204 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Beginner Book for Hobbyists/Beginners/Makers December 17, 2009
I recommend this book strongly for anyone just starting out in electronics. Many other books introduce the subject of electronics by talking about the early discoveries concerning amber rods, Leyden jars, and static electricity. This book dives right in using parts that you can pick up at a local Radio Shack, or can easily order on-line. And it uses a fun almost playful approach to experimentation. Your first experiment involves touching a battery to your tongue! Man, that will either annoy you into quitting or completely intrigue you into learning more. My bet is it will spark (pun intended) your interest and excitement as it leaves you with a funny metallic taste.

This is exactly the hands-on approach that I was looking for to teach my son. Something that he can read on his own, or read with me. Easy experimentation, clear steps, good photography. No wondering if any of the experiments will fail because they were written only/mainly to think about. These were all written to be DONE by the reader. Getting into the nitty-gritty of learning is easy when you can actively experiment as you learn.

Highly recommended as a modern first book for electronics.

Edited: Added in the comments section that I keep buying copies of this book to give away...
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97 of 101 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I can't say enough good things about this book! I learned more in the first 20 minutes with this book than I did after pouring through several other "electronics basics" books for countless hours.

Instead of starting with math and theory and circuit analysis, this book uses hands on exercises and explains the theories in very easy to understand language and metaphors. But, it still does then circle back to explain the math and theory upon which the practical examples are based.

I'm only about 1/3rd of the way through the book and projects, but I'm excited to get to the point of using IC's. I've browsed ahead enough to be confident that I'm going to be able to put execute on these projects and then put this knowledge to good use.

I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to do some tinkering with electronics of any sort. Personally, I'm experimenting with data acquisition systems in a race car, and I'd like to be able to create and wire up my own sensors instead of being limited to the plug-and-play variety that are very expensive. I believe that this book will get me enough of the basics so that I can tackle these projects. Or, at the very least, I'll be able to intelligently engage my EE friends for help!
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best electronics primer I have ever read March 1, 2010
O'Reilly has been churning out technical literature of unbeatable quality for as long as there has been a real IT industry. In recent years, they have branched into hobbyist and educational material, particularly including the Make series of periodicals and books that has not only reignited numerous hobbyist markets but also spawned its own set of conferences, the Maker Faires. DIY is enjoying a renaissance, and Make is at the forefront. I love pretty much everything about Make, but one of the most recent books under the Make brand exceeds even the high bar they have already set for themselves. I am referring to Charles Platt's Make:Electronics, which I have finally managed to pry from my 12-year-old's eyeballs long enough to review.

I was sort of obsessed with electronics when I was a kid. I read anything I could get my hands on, which unfortunately ended up being the Radio Shack catalog and a set of musty library books that seemed as though they were written in a foreign language. I pored over schematics and took things apart, much to my parents' dismay, in a vain effort to figure out just what made all those wires and components tick. I would have to say that, overall, I failed. I did manage to occasionally fix broken radios and such, but it was always by luck in finding a loose connection or a physically broken component. I simply didn't understand what all the little pieces did individually, so it was impossible to fathom what they did in concert.

Eventually I turned 16 and migrated to cars, which had actual moving parts, but a little part of me always pined to know how the solid state stuff worked.
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81 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Experimenter's Guide To Modern Electronics December 15, 2009
Charles Platt is a widely published science fiction author, electronics and bioscience consultant and superior educator. This is a guidebook to Electronics worthy of Heathkit in its glory days. It offers a completely hands-on and hands dirty approach including examining and pushing components beyond their limits, and assembling and testing all of the topics you study in the handbook. The pedagogy is clear and succinct. Beautiful full-color illustrations show you how to do "it" and to fully know what to expect on your workbench. Because all concepts are conveyed in this excellent hands-on experimental approach some topics are presented in a different order than that experienced with a conventional introductory electronics textbook. For example, wave shaping based upon 555-timer pulses is fully illustrated, as well as the digital electronics necessary to construct electronic dice, and to experiment with microcontrollers, but operational amplifiers and active filters are omitted in this experimental handbook.

This is a superb introduction to electronics, which will provide the conceptual and experimental bench skills to yield a lifetime of enjoyment.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thank you
Published 5 days ago by Mohammad R
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT FOR EVERYONE
This book is not for me. I could not stay interested. I don't need to burn out parts on purpose to learn. I find this to be a waste of time and hard earned money. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Doug
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fun book! Great for all ages.
Published 9 days ago by P. Garofalo
5.0 out of 5 stars Electronics: What book do I need?
I saw this book in a couple of places. It's has information and projects/experiments for beginners and intermediate learners. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Joel
5.0 out of 5 stars A great learning experience
Takes you from basic to advanced. You're building projects from the start. A great learning experience. I had mine spiral bound to stay flat.
Published 10 days ago by tommy sw
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good... if you have the money to spend
Really good... if you have more money to spend.

Luckily I already had a lot of these components.. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Zachary Samuels
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have Book!
This book and "Getting started in electronics" by Forest Mimms are two of the best books on basic electronics I have ever purchased. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Robert Klaus
5.0 out of 5 stars The Primary Electronics Work
This work is good basic reading. To my associate degree in electronics and an accession to my astronomy - a real fulfillment!
Published 28 days ago by Jude
5.0 out of 5 stars Make Electronics Number One
Good starting point to learn electronics and the use of a breadboard. If I have a complaint with the book it would only be that I wish the author had used bread board techniques... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Wayne Tafuro
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect learning book.
If you have about $400 for a new hobby, then you are in for a ride. This book is perfect for getting into electronics and tells you everything you need to know and buy to get... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Julia Ann Boyd
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Topic From this Discussion
question about project 11 - controlling sound using oscillators
Just a thought, since I can't seem to view page 91 online (although the reviews make me want to buy the book regardless!)...

Your essential concept is a good one, being how many an ingenious device was genesized (huh?), and loosely describes how synthesizers in general work, except that you... Read More
Sep 28, 2010 by Kenneth Ogle |  See all 3 posts
Age, Parts, Date
I enjoyed it and I'm much older than 20.
Feb 4, 2010 by HyperNerd |  See all 4 posts
Tools and Parts Required?
Go to to purchase the kits for the book. They come in 2 kits, kit1 experiments 1-11 is $100 and kit2 experiments 12-24 is $130
Sep 3, 2010 by Tasha |  See all 3 posts
Can I use this radio shack kit with the book?
I am also interested in this question. sells this:

but Radio Shack sells this:

The Radio Shack one is cheaper, but with Maker... Read More
Dec 15, 2013 by Joe Shippert |  See all 6 posts
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