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Resources for Makerspaces (March 2019): Electronics

by Janet Ochs, Richard Powell, and Lisa Czirr


One of the greatest benefits of makerspaces is that they enable users to experiment with technology that might otherwise be out of reach. Budding electricians, engineers, computer scientists, and even fashion designers get a chance to learn, design, create, and prototype using all sorts of electronics they could not purchase on their own.

Raspberry Pi and Arduino are found in many makerspaces and are explored in dedicated sections below. Once users have mastered the basics with these devices, they may wish to create projects that combine the two along with a number of other electronic components.

Simon Monk’s Electronics Cookbook: Practical Electronic Recipes with Arduino and Raspberry Pi is an excellent sourcebook. The first six chapters are basic recipes dealing with resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors and integrated circuits, and switches and relays. Subsequent chapters build on these recipes to cover such topics as power supplies, motors, displays, audio, and constructing tools.

Looking for something different to do with electronics? Kate Hartman’s Wearable Electronics is a book for folks who want to wear their technology. Chapters discuss circuits, conductive materials (like conductive thread – who knew?), switches, sensors, tools, and how to turn these components into wearable tech. Appendixes cover tools, batteries, and microcontrollers, as well as extensive sources. This is an excellent book, but it could use an update.

Charles Platt is a life-long tinkerer in electronics, a former senior writer at Wired, and a contributing editor to the magazine Make; his name appears frequently in this essay. His second edition of Make: Electronics provides a solid introduction to the subject. The book has full-color images and thirty-four dynamic experiments. Each chapter begins with an electronics component shopping list for that chapter’s experiments. Platt has also developed the three-volume Encyclopedia of Electronic Components. These reference books are detailed yet easy to read. Volume 1 covers components involved in powering devices; Volume 2, “Signal Processing,” covers integrated circuits, light sources, indicators and displays, and sound sources. Volume 3 is all about sensors: location, presence, proximity, orientation, oscillation, force, load, human input, liquid and gas properties, light, heat, sound, and electricity. This comprehensive reference is essential to any makerspace with electronics.

Works Cited