From the mid 19th through the 20 century, America was the world leader in technology. Perhaps the most important driver of those advances was kids who liked to take apart clocks. They took apart other things as well, of course: toasters, radios, automobile engines, etc. But basically, tinkering with stuff is a major path to new technology. Below is a brief look at some books and magazines that can get you going. The trend is back! Most of these books are from McGraw Hill Professional’s list of titles. Many are nearly half off at Amazon.
— “Teardowns: Learn How Electronics Work by Taking Them Apart,” by Bryan Bergeron; $25. The title strikes right to the point here, and the author tells you how things work, from smoke alarms to electric guitars, and provides pictures of the insides. Once you know how something works, you can think about ways to improve it or even make it obsolete.
— “Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics,” by Stan Gibilisco; $35. This is like a text book, with a quiz at the end of each chapter. It’s well done, and includes some useful algebraic formulas. Basic stuff you should know.
— “Robot Builder’s Bonanza, fourth edition.” By Gordon McComb; $30. Build your own electronic sensors, make a spider robot out of electric guitar strings.
— “Arduino, a Quick Start Guide,” by Mark Schmidt; $35 and “Programming and Customizing the PICAXE Microcontroller,” by David Lincoln; $50. Both these books teach the reader how to program the two most popular circuit boards for controlling electro-mechanical devices.
— “15 Dangerously Mad Projects for the Evil Genius,” by Simon Monk; $25. The latest in the long-running Evil Genius series. What intrigued us here was how to make a magnetic coil gun. Projectile velocity is dismal; work on it.
— “Make, #27,” a regular magazine published by O’Reilly Books, $15 per issue. Covers many subjects but this one features turning a Roomba carpet cleaner into a roving spy robot.
Last but far from least each issue of the monthly magazines Popular Science and Popular Mechanics have instructions for building electro-mechanical projects. These are not toys! Want to build your own electron microscope?