Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Welcome to Hands On - Make: Electronics

Welcome to Hands On - Make: Electronics. The purpose of this blog will be to provide my experiences as I read and work through the exercises found in the new Make: Electronics book written by Charles Platt.

The book proposes some unusual activities, among them the concept of actually making mistakes and burning out electronic components. How cool is that?! One of the first exercises actually involves licking a battery! I've never had a teacher tell me to do that! (And if I had, I might have sat up straighter and paid more attention in class.)

I have a lot of books on electronics. A lot. And one of the problems I have with all these books is (yawn) they're slightly (yawn) uninteresting... and none of them have really (yawn) held my interest to the final chapter.

Well, I think I've finally found a book that interests me enough to finish reading and to actually sit down and perform the physical exercises. But I also know that the act of blogging about my experiences is also likely to provide a little pressure... especially if I know others are reading about my experiences. (Yes, I fully hope and expect that my readers will let me know if they see me slacking off a bit on the reading and/or hands-on exercises...)

So, if you're just joining me... welcome. Whether you're interested in learning more about electronics (like me) or just want to see some electrical components go up in smoke (like me), I think you've come to the right place. I've been anxious to get started with this book since it arrived in my mailbox about 3 weeks ago, and today's the day. So, here we go...

Update: A special thanks to FirebirdVII1963 for being my very first follower!

James Floyd Kelly


  1. I also recently got this book, and I agree with your assessment of it. I put in a large Mouser order last night. I look forward to your posts.

  2. Hi, Benjamin.

    Please keep me updated with info on your Mouser shipment... it would be nice to provide your feedback (speed of order fulfillment, accuracy, etc) and opinion on using that supplier.



  3. As the writer of the book, I will be looking forward with great interest to your experiences.

  4. No pressure on me now! Just kidding, Charles...

    When all's done, I hope you approve of my little exercise... and always feel free to comment or email me anything you wish me to add or change or correct...


    1. After so long (Five years), I decided to start the adventure of the MAKE ELECTRONIC's book and their experiments.

      I can't find a few items, especially audio amplifier TEA2025B, which seems to me that you mention it later, but I prefer to start from the beginning your blog.

      My english is so bad... I know it!!

  5. Oh hey awesome, I will keep an eye on your progress, maybe we can swap notes. I'm also working my way through this book and journaling the progress, though not as nearly detailed as you are doing here.
    I am however taking some videos of the experiments once I have wired them up.

  6. Very nice, Ian... I'll keep an eye on your site and when I hit those exercises, I'll try and remember to link to your videos... THANKS!


  7. (note I tried posting this morning, but for some reason it didn't work - 2nd attempt).
    Cool blog! I just started reading my copy of this book last night, and I look forward to following along with you! You are already way ahead of me though in getting some of the parts at your Radio$hack. Good luck with this adventure!
    PS> I learned of your blog via @bjepson on of the editors of the the book via twitter! ;)

    one other comment...
    I had the most difficult time making a comment here. I would hit preview, and screen would 'blink' then nothing. same with the 'post comment' button. I just found one of the reasons... Under preferences (firefox) you have to have "accept third party cookies" checked. I did that and now I can post. Thought you should know.

  8. Hya, Cyen.

    Glad you like the blog - and I hope you'll be participating and offering up your own thoughts and comments as I go...

    Sorry you had trouble with the comments - I'm using Firefox, too... and I'm not having this issue. It may be a configuration issue; I've never had to click to accept 3rd party cookies, so maybe you just had a higher security level tweaked or something. Either way, glad you figured it out.


  9. This is on my wish list... I'll be buying it this month.

  10. My husband bought me this book for Christmas so I can learn electronics. I haven't gotten my parts yet (on order) but I'm reading the book and will go back to do the experiments when my supplies arrive.

    I think this blog is a great idea and I will be following it to learn your experiences as well.

    I hope to learn enough to incorporate electronics with my stitching hobby.

  11. Hi, Stitchy!

    That sounds fun! I'm seeing a lot more of this kind of thing... very interested, so keep me posted! And good luck.

  12. Hey James,

    Just caught wind of this blog on the Make Twitter feed (

    Unfortunately I'm at work right now, but will definitely be checking this out when I get home as I've been making my way through the book as well and been taking some pictures and videos of the progress, though not as detailed as yours seems to be:

  13. Hey, Brian...

    Thanks for the links - I'll be looking over them shortly. Welcome!

  14. I thumbed through the book during a visit to Barnes and Noble and was instantly hooked. A previously perceived "dry subject" has now come alive and a modicum of understanding is within striking distance. Needless to say, I walked out with a copy.

    I've yet to start on the exercises due to lack of parts. All Electronics is a fifteen minute drive for me (and a very cool store it is)- Radio Shack sucks unless you're there to buy a cellphone.

    Looks like my weekend is shaping up.

    Thank you for starting this project. I'll be checking in regularly

  15. Hi, Rick.

    Welcome! Yes, the book is 100% different from anything else I've read or used for learning electronics... and it seems a lot of other people are agreeing with us.

    I like Mouser and All Electronics, but I don't have local stores... but don't come down too hard on The Shack - the guys at my store recognize me and are very helpful - they don't have everything I need, but they are good for last minute resistor and capacitor purchases when (inevitably) you run out of something. I imagine that experiences differ store to store.


  16. Glad to find this blog. I picked up the book about 2 weeks ago and am through the first 5 experiments. Having a very hard time finding the 2N6027 transistors. Should have bought the kit from Maker Shed, but I thought I had most of the stuff already laying around.

  17. Awesome blog! I picked up this book in response to my pre-teen son's request that we learn how to make circuits this summer. Looking forward to learning this material not only as a family, but also as a part of a larger community. Thanks for making the effort to document you progress!

  18. I'm a little late to the game here but thought I would post some of my experiences as well as I go through this book. Jim, I met you at the SF Maker Faire about a month ago. I managed to escape :) the MakerShed store with only two purchases: Make Electronics Book and the Component Kit 1. I consider that to be an incredible display of self control :).

    If this post get's accepted then I have also suceeded in understanding the necessary browser security settings (ie enable third party cookies). I have tried to post a couple different times of the past two weeks with no luck. I finally looked further into the issue and perhaps this time I have found the solution.


  19. Nice blog. I'm currently working my way through the book and I'm sure I'll refer to this often.
    As of this writing, Radio Shack has the Make Component kits clearanced out at the unbelievable price of $17.98 each. But they are hard to find, and you can't order them online. There are just at some stores in TX, GA, and CA that I've found, and folks in local stores don't even seem to be able to pull them up (I think they can only do a regional search). But if you can find them by zip on Radio Shack's website, you can get your local store to do a transfer (I actually had to write a script to use wget and check stock in the 100 most populous US zip codes so I could find stores that had them). Well worth the effort for the savings and convenience of these kits.