Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chapter 1 - Shopping List

One of the things I already love about this book is the shopping list - the author has done a very good job of providing full-color images of the components I need to buy (or dig out of my workshop's nooks). He goes one step further and even provides parts numbers (such as the Radio Shack catalog item number) to help you track down things.

Chapter 1 starts out by covering some of the basic tools you'll be using throughout the book as well as some of the very basic components you need to buy to perform the first 5 experiments in the book.

I have all the ch1 tools already - simple stuff, really. Pliers, multimeter, etc. And when the author recommends NOT using a autoranging meter, take his advice... I have both an autoranging one (very fancy, slightly more expensive) and a non-autoranging. The non-autoranging ones works very fast, just as he describes. I couldn't believe how annoying it became to wait for the autoranging meter to provide a reading.

Now, when it came to the components, I got in my truck and drove a few minutes down the road to my local Radio Shack (or The Shack, as they're now referring to themselves). I took my book with me and one of the employees helped me assemble the little bundle of resistors, potentiometers, battery holders, LEDs, fuses, and gator clips. Spent less than $15.00 on this first collection. (This doesn't include the cost of batteries, which I have plenty of at home.)

UPDATE: I had to go back and check, but the total cost of components was actually $22.00 but the Radio Shack guy gave me a nice discount on a few of the items because he was interested in the book, this blog, and my results. This reminds me that I need to go back and thank him and give him the URL!

Took everything home, unpacked it all in my electronics toolchest (see pics) and am ready to go with Experiment 1 through 5...

Note: I was not able to obtain the exact type of potentiometer described in the book - instead of a 2K ohm, I had to purchase a 5K ohm linear (0.5 watt) but I believe it should be an okay substitute. Radio Shack part # 271-1714


  1. You bring up a good point. I've started many projects only to find I couldn't find an exact match to a part listed. A while back I was building a small amp and I needed a specific potentiometer but none of my local shops had one in stock so I ordered it from Mouser. (Mouser rocks...) Where's the immediate gratification in that? If you can tell us what's a reasonable substitute for some of the more specific parts, that would be great!

  2. Hi, Mike.

    So far, I've been lucky to only have issues finding that particular potentiometer... but I will absolutely be commenting whenever I encounter an issue like this. I'll also be pointing out any difficulties I find with any of the exercises, any variations I may try, and basically anything else I think my readers may want to know.

  3. Hey, does anyone have a full consolidated shopping list for everything in the book, a spreadsheet perhaps? It's be nice if you could go online somewhere and just pay $xxx to get everything you need in one bundle ...

  4. Nice idea, Troy - I'll email my contact at Make: and see...

    For me, however, I'd rather pay in small batches (one chapter or two at a time), even if it means paying a slightly higher feed for not buying in bulk.


  5. Maybe someone could offer bundles that make sense by chapter(s) and then offer the full-book pkg ... I dunno. A business idea there somewhere ...

  6. An even better idea... maybe the folks at MakerSHED will give it a shot. They already have a companion kit to the book that has a lot of the tools and components, but not everything.

    I admit, it would be nice to pre-purchase a chapter's worth of components a week or two prior to working on that chapter... but then again, I enjoy driving down to Radio Shack and checking out all the toys.

  7. I've heard, in the book and on the blogs, that MakerShed is supposed to be coming out with componet bundles for each chapter. Just looks like it's not happened yet.

  8. Wow Jim,I got my book during Christmas and am doing the same thing. Im using OneNote to keep inventory and project notes as I build the labs.

  9. Chris, I'll let you and everyone else know if I hear ANYTHING about a parts bundle (or bundles).

    Mark, if you ever want to share your OneNote links with others, let me know - I don't know the tech details for what's required, but feel free to share your results here in comments or maybe we can find a way to link to your stuff.

  10. My son and I got this book for x-mas as well and are looking to get started. I look forward to reading about you progress.
    That is a nice project box where did you get it?


  11. Hi, Rob.

    I got that box at Costco last December (2009) for I think around $16.00. Yes, it is nice... very useful with the see-through top compartments and the big area below.

  12. I had the same problem finding the potentiometer and make the mistake of getting a 1M one. I was still able to do the experiment but the amount I could turn the dial was a LOT less, so I decided to put 1K resistor in the circuit to help "protect" the LED and still see the effects of the potentiometer.

    I eventually got a 5K potentiometer and will retry the experiment using it.

  13. The edition of the book I have, in its 'Chapter 1' shopping list, says you need a two-battery holder (in addition to one- and four-battery holders). Just to clarify, you won't actually use it in Chapter 1, but you will in Chapter 2, experiment 6.

    This has been acknowledged in the errata:

    The Maker Shed kit's online catalog description only mentions the one- and four-battery holders. I've ordered the kit and will let you know if it contains the two-battery holder as well.

  14. Addendum to my earlier post. The MakerShed pack DOES include a two-battery holder.

  15. There is a pack on ebay and amazon which is much cheaper than the makershed version it costs £42.50 inc shipping. The seller is electronictutorialcomponents