Author: Syuzi Pakhchyan
Publisher: O'Reilly Make Books
Aimed at: "makers"
Pros: Easy-to-follow explanations of technolgy
Cons: Niche market
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead
The cover of this book might well put you off from buying it – nice though the cover is. The title might even put you off with the idea of “fashion” and “craft” strongly suggested. However, if you can suspend your disbelief for a moment you might be pleasantly surprised. This is aimed at people who know little about electronics but want to include electronic and technological widgets into their “craft” projects. What exactly is a “craft” project? Well it seems to involve cloth and making things without rolling out the big power tools. Of course if you are into “craft” projects already then you will not be in the least thrown by the cover, the title or the intent of the book. Either way you find the book packed with easy-to-follow, high quality explanations of technical things like soldering, using a multimeter, series and parallel components plus how LEDs work, including how to work out the series resistor you need and so on. All of the explanations do their best to give true idea of what is going on without resorting to maths or physics – of course to really understand what is going on and design things reliably you do need the maths and the physics but this is not the “craft” way of working.
What is interesting about the book however isn’t the aspects of “introduction to electronics” but the wild and wonderful materials that at introduced – magnetic paint, conductive thread, polymorph plastic, memory wire and so on. Of course you might have trouble getting hold of these exotic items but a list of web based suppliers is listed in the back. Some of the projects are well off the wall – silk screen printing and photochromic blinds are two good examples. However at the end of the day most of the projects aren’t in the “killer” or “must have” category and to be brutally honest many of them are slightly embarrassing rather than retro or chic. I could be wrong but I doubt many fashion conscious females will really be carrying a space invaders bag or wearing the birdie brooch.
So who is this book for? If you are an electronics wannabe but your idea of a good project is a death star cannon interface to your PC then this probably isn’t for you. If you hanker after a softer implementation, and I don’t mean programming, of hardware then this book is a lot of fun.