Electronics books for beginners

There are plenty of electronics books for beginners available. While it’s true that you can find almost every answer to anything you need to know about learning electronics on the internet, sometimes there’s nothing quite like settling down with a book. You can work your way through it in the order that its presented and learn in a more logical order then just randomly jumping from answer to answers as they arise. You can miss some important stuff that you didn’t know you needed to know, if you know what I mean.

When it comes to electronics books for beginners, there are some excellent and some not so excellent. Let’s just bother with the excellent ones!

The first one is Make: Electronics: Learning Through Discovery by Charles Platt.

This book is really aimed at the complete beginner. Someone who has very little knowledge. It could easily be picked up by someone at school and in fact that’s how it comes across at the beginning. It’s almost like being at school, well like my old school anyway.

You start off learning about the basics of electricity, but like all the best learning experiences there are practical experiments to go along with the learning. They certainly help you to remember and understand the points they are making. To start with you won’t even need to be doing any soldering as the first basic circuit are connect together with wires and alligator clips.

You get introduced to electricity, voltage, current and resistance. The practical leads to the reasons why and the basic maths and theory behind it all. It doesn’t get too complicated and gets the balance just about right. You’ll learn all about electron flow currents and voltage. There are also bits of history thrown in there when it’s relevant about who discovered the various bits and pieces as you go along. It’s all quite interesting and fascinating at the same time.

Gradually some tools and a test meter are introduced along the way to illustrate what’s happening and talking about illustrations there are many and they are extremely informative.

You then progress to resistors and as to how they work and why we need then along with their values and the resistor colour code is introduced. You then learn about LED’s. A novel approach of experimenting to destruction is sometimes used along with total dissection of parts. It certainly makes it memorable and does aid the learning process while not costing the earth as most components are only a few pence.

Obviously you can only learn so much until you have to talk about the theory. Ohms law and combining resistors is talked about but you can’t really get very far into this subject by avoiding stuff like maths and physics. Again I feel that the author has got the balance about right. Something that can't be said for a lot of books on electronics.

I particularly like how each section is amply illustrated in colour with sections such as fundamentals shown in yellow blocks, background shown in green blocks and theory shown in red blocks.

There are plenty of fun experiments like making a battery from lemons. Shopping lists for experiments are shown so you know what you need as more and varied components are presented. The subject of switching is discussed along with all the experiments involving them and techniques are taught as and when you need them such as stripping wires being an early one.

Schematics are explained and shown along with symbols in another comprehensive section before relays are experimented with (a favourite of mine as I remember that’s when for me it all started coming together).

As things get more complicated breadboards are used and transistors are integrated into the growing list of components that you get acquainted with. You’ll certainly have a decent understanding of transistors after you’ve completed that particular chapter.

After that a practical circuit of an alarm is shown breaking it down into various subsections that have been covered along the way leading to a design that can be easily understood if you follow along with the explanations thus far.

As thing progress soldering is used and taught expansively and other required tools are discussed, such as magnifiers, helping hands and desoldering aids. Work your way through that chapter and you’ll be proficient at the end of it.

Eventually you get on to integrated circuits where their origin and design are talked about before practical circuits are built using them. There’s a very good chapter introducing the 555 timer where one of the most comprehensive circuits on a standard breadboard is built.

CMOS, TTL, digital circuits and logic gates are tackled next and the circuits become progressively complex with counters, debounce, monostables and displays.

Magnetism, radio, sound, robotics and programming PICAXE and BASIC stamp are also covered in fact I can’t think of anything that isn’t in this over 300 page books.

This is one of my favourite electronics books for beginners, and one I bought for my son. It seems to have everything at just about the right pace. Not too easy as to be pointless but not getting into heavy maths and theory to scare people away.