Sunday, March 09, 2008

Current Reading

Over a year ago, I subscribed to MAKE Magazine after following the MAKE RSS feed for probably 6 months before that. I loved the magazine, but felt slightly left out of many of the projects being covered.

See, while I have a lot of software development background, I have very little electronics background. I did grow up playing with those "100-in-1 Electronics Projects" kits but electronics never really took off in my mind.

I've taken a couple (pathetic) stabs at it in the past, but I always lost interest when I couldn't find any good introductory reading material. The things I would read seemed so far detached form the level that I wanted to be involved with. (Does that makes sense?) I knew I had to learn about the low-level concepts such as electromotive force, current, power, and how they relate to each other, but everything I tried reading just didn't seem to hit the right 'buttons' in my head to click.

After watching the AVR Episode of Systm, I thought "holy crap, I can do that, and these AVR microprocessors? They seem right up my alley!" I don't know what it was, but there was something about that episode that made electronics, at least simple microprocessor-based electronics, feel accessible to me: Wire up a simple chip-programmer. Write some code. Compile some code. Push code to chip. Blinky LED!!

I really think it had to do with the simplicity of the programmer, and the hold-your-hands instructions they linked to that grabbed me and said: "You're gonna learn another hobby, buck-o."

I played a bit on a breadboard, never actually making that AVR programmer (yet). I again thought: "Yeah...this is cool...but I still need a good book." I dug around for a while, and of course, there's a ton of books on "learning electronics"...kinda makes picking one a tough choice.

Luckily, while on Amazon I was reading a scathing review for some book that I don't remember. The reviewer mentioned "Gibilisco's book", and how great it was for the total newbie. "Not too in depth, not too light." The freakin' just-right porridge of the 'learning-electronics' book world is what it sounded like!

I searched, found, and purchased Gibilisco's book and have been reading it (slowly) for over a week now, and I have to agree with that reviewers sentiment: So far, this book is good for beginners. I like that it's easy to read and understand, and at the end of every chapter, there's a test. It feels like a book from school in some ways...but without that $250 price tag.


I'll probably write more about this as the time goes on. But from what I've read so far of this book, I like it, and I'd recommend it to any 'geeky' individual who just hasn't found the right reading material to get them into electronics.

2 comments:

xamox said...

You should check out:
http://www.instructables.com/

Jason Poll said...

I almost said "Did you actually read my post?", but then I realized I had linked instructables.com without actually naming it in the post.

Instructables: Been there, done that, love it completely. :D