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Practical Electronics for Inventors, Third Edition

Practical Electronics for Inventors, Third Edition

Practical Electronics for Inventors, Third Edition
By Paul Scherz, Simon Monk

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(530 customer reviews)

Book Description


"If there is a successor to Make: Electronics, then I believe it would have to be Practical Electronics for Inventors....perfect for an electrical engineering student or maybe a high school student with a strong aptitude for electronics....I’ve been anxiously awaiting this update, and it was well worth the wait."--GeekDad (

Spark your creativity and gain the electronics skills required to transform your innovative ideas into functioning gadgets. This hands-on, updated guide outlines electrical principles and provides thorough, easy-to-follow instructions, schematics, and illustrations. Find out how to select components, safely assemble circuits, perform error tests, and build plug-and-play prototypes. Practical Electronics for Inventors, Third Edition, features all-new chapters on sensors, microcontrollers, modular electronics, and the latest software tools.

Coverage includes:

  • Resistors, capacitors, inductors, and transformers
  • Diodes, transistors, and integrated circuits
  • Optoelectronics, solar cells, and phototransistors
  • Sensors, GPS modules, and touch screens
  • Op amps, regulators, and power supplies
  • Digital electronics, LCD displays, and logic gates
  • Microcontrollers and prototyping platforms, including Arduino
  • DC motors, RC servos, and stepper motors
  • Microphones, audio amps, and speakers
  • Modular electronics and prototyping

Book Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #24424 in Books
  • Published on: 2013-01-31
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 10.50" h x 8.25" w x 1.50" l, 4.25 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 1040 pages

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Scherz is a physicist/mechanical engineer who received his B.S. in physics from the University of Wisconsin. He is an inventor/hobbyist in electronics, an area he grew to appreciate through his experience at the University's Department of Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics and the Department of Plasma Physics.

Dr. Simon Monk has a degree in Cybernetics and Computer Science and a PhD in Software Engineering. Monk spent several years as an academic before he returned to industry, co-founding the mobile software company Momote Ltd. He has been an active electronics hobbyist since his early teens and is a full time writer on hobby electronics and open source hardware. Dr. Monk is the author of numerous electronics books, including 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius and Arduino + Android Projects for the Evil Genius.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

304 of 313 people found the following review helpful.
3Great book, but a fail on the Kindle...
By Andy Henderson
For a little background, I own a previous paperback edition of this book from years ago which is buried in storage. As I look into making several projects now that my 3D printer build is complete, I find myself in need of a refresher. I was overjoyed to see a new edition of this book had been released and was available on kindle. Now 20 minutes and 14 pages into the book I've given up and will be buying the paperback edition. In those first 14 pages I encountered 2 places where example calculations should have been displayed and an instance where the symbol for a battery was to be shown. All three situations just had a blank space with references in the text to the missing information the only indication that something was missing . As a result it's not worth my time to continue since I'm not willing to deal with the frustration of this which I assume will continue through out the text.

It's a shame too, since I thought the index was well laid out, liked the hot links within the text that take you to other referenced sections of the book and know that the content of the paper edition is probably outstanding. Thank goodness that Prime will get the physical book to me quickly.

04/20/16 Edit: I've raised the rating of this book from 1 to 3 since I received the physical edition of the book which is awsome and I realize the 1 rating was a little harsh. That being said, I firmly believe that if you are going to publish a kindle edition of a nonfiction book, it must be identical to the physical edition. Someone purchasing the kindle edition should be able to receive the exact same information in a kindle edition as in a physical edition. If you can't publish a book like that, I don't think it should be published as a kindle at all.

I've also added a couple of images from the physical and the kindle edition of the book to illustrate the issue that I'm talking about.

328 of 334 people found the following review helpful.
5BEST Book Out There for Electronics
By P. Fulmer
I teach an introductory class in electronics at a small university. The class is intended for scientists, not electrical engineers; so the emphasis is on basic knowledge, practical troubleshooting skills, and design. I've used the Second Edition of this book a number of times with some satisfaction simply because the book covered most of what I needed. It was a great reference book for just about anything someone would want to know about electronics.

However, there were some notable gaps in the Second Edition that I typically teach in an electronics class; specifically, I teach a section on transducers and microcontrollers. With the Third Edition, there are new sections on sensors (transducers) and microcontrollers, and now this book has everything in it that I could possibly want to teach. I've been using the Arduino for class the last couple of years because most scientists would use a microcontroller to design a piece of equipment instead of discrete gates and logic chips. So with these new additions, I cannot imagine any other book that would be needed for a class. So from this point forward, I will be using this book for EVERY electronics class that I teach.

The detail in the book is in-depth enough for folks who want to know how everything works, BUT the person who wants to skip past the theory can certainly do that and STILL learn a lot from this book. As I teach, I tend to skip around within the book to cover what is important to me. The chapters are designed to be somewhat modular; for instance, I can teach the basics of analog electronics and transistors and then move to microcontrollers without necessarily having to spend a lot of time time on discrete logic chips.

There are lots of illustrations and graphs; so those who need to see something to understand it will be pleased. There is also a lot of detail on practical things like motors that generally are NOT in an electronics book.

The sections on household electricity are excellent and very useful, since some equipment/inventions would require mains power. So knowing how to be safe around it and how to use it properly is important.

I haven't read every single page yet and marked it up. In a book this size, I am sure there will be some typographical errors along the way and maybe even a mistake or two in explaining something. But I would still say this book is the BEST practical book on electronics out there. Kudos to Mr Scherz and Dr. Monk. You've taken an excellent book and modernized it in a great way for the current day.

In short, for a 1000 page book, anyone who buys this is getting a bargain. It's the BEST.

177 of 182 people found the following review helpful.
5Astounding depth and clarity. I am not worthy.
By TooCheapToBuyCheapGoods
I've never been so humbled by a book. I've only read about 250 pages but felt compelled to put my 5 stars in.

Chapter 2 on Theory at 245 pages is worth the price of the book. Not content to tell you that a capacitor holds a charge, the authors give pictures of six types of capacitors along with their schematic representation, diagrams showing the open, charging and charged-but-not-charging state and another showing where the electrons are, formulae telling you what's going on in each of the diagrams and paragraphs describing how it works in theory. Then they move on to the real-world to include graphs showing the inductive and resistive elements that make a capacitor less like a capacitor. Then there are graphs showing how temperature affects the dielectric loss for six different types of capacitor. The variables (abbreviations) in the equations are defined, then described. You won't wonder what IR means. Concept after concept, component after component--the authors are relentless. Still, it's not dry--there's a point to all of it and you can skip the theoretical parts and just use the rest.

There's no condescension and no chit-chat. The authors are to be commended for skipping every useless story of how an inventor discovered an electrical principle or invented a particular component. The water analogy is sometimes used to illustrate WHAT a component does, but never to avoid telling you HOW something works. If the authors decide to tell you how something works, hold onto your hat! There will be sub-atomic physics. There will be line drawings with arrows going in several directions. You may see chemical equations. There will be equations and graphs and some calculus where needed. What you won't see is just as important--electrons will not be wearing clothing, be running around on cartoon legs, tilt in the direction of motion like car wheels in a Dr. Seuss book, be chased by any living creature and above all, a circuit that is not in a state of equilibrium will never be described as "unhappy."

They answer the questions that will come up when you're looking at a specification sheet for a particular component. Suppose you're buying an LED and it gives you a milliamp rating. The first thing this novice wonders is "what voltage?" Don't smirk, I'm new to this. On page 499, after a few pages explaining what makes an LED emit photons at different frequencies, you're told that the anode needs 0.6 to 2.2 V more than the cathode to shine. Reversed leads won't shine. I'm pretty happy, but the authors won't stop. They have an illustration of the pn junction with photons jumping off like fleas along with a sentence or two about the epoxy package that forms a lens and holds the reflector that is designed to dissipate heat. But wait, there's more! There's the pin-out for a seven-segment LED display, the schematic symbols for the blinking, single, bi-color and tri-color LEDs. If that isn't enough, here are seven mounting schemes. You might not think to surface-mount an LED on your circuit board and embed a light pipe in your case. But once you see it, it's obvious that you don't want or need wires running from your circuit board to the case for every indicator light. Then you realize that in a pinch, the light pipe could just be a small glob of clear silicon caulk that will make your panel air-tight and simplify your assembly. Exactly what a hobbyist needs to know.

Another small consideration involves surviving your hobby. Pages 551-554 cover many things you might be tempted to disassemble that can kill you--a disposable flash camera, strobe lights, camera flash units, a microwave oven, a VCR, a CD player, a vacuum cleaner, toaster, old CRTs and CRT-based TVs. I didn't know the microwave has a 5000 V circuit...that the chassis of a microwave, TV or CRT monitor may be electrically live versus earth ground. That a camera flash or strobe light (among other devices) holds a lethal charge "long after the power has been removed." The authors explain how one might avoid the "grip of death." Nice.

Did I mention the authors are relentless? I will dip into the book at random pages:

10: Illustration of alkaline dry cell battery. Includes the chemical composition of the cathode and anode, the electrolyte, the chemical reactions that create the current (noting the waste product) and a caption reading "10^17 reactions per second for 0.100A current" An arrow shows the direction of the electron flow.
18: Eight one-battery and two-battery schematics with a quick quiz--what is the voltage between points A and B? It moves on to an eight-battery example. Includes answer keys.
52: Power loss through resistors. Includes two graphs, formulas and four worked examples.
56: An IC needs 5 V but the supply voltage is higher. Here's a voltage divider.
70: Kirshhoff's Voltage Law (or Loop Rule)
82: pulsating DC and combining AC and DC voltages
96: the leakage current of a capacitor.
223: transients caused by a switch being thrown
254: chart of bare and enamelled copper wire resistance, every wire from AWG 1 to 37.
265: finding the impedance of RG-58/U coax cable
287: selecting the right battery (15 battery types times 37 attributes like form factor and what they're good for)
293: binary-coded switches--what pins are connected when the switch is rotated to the "B" position in a hexadecimal (16-position) switch
363: Types of Inductors--line drawing of 17 different types of inductors
327: RC Time Constant
393: what's going on inside the center-tap transformer on the utility pole outside your house (7,200 VAC to two 120 VAC / one 240 VAC)
581: "What All the Little Knobs and Switches Do" (an introduction to the oscilloscope control panel)

By now I'm thinking I know so little, maybe I'm easily impressed. So I skip to the page about the Arduino hobby board. Bam! A chart describes Arduino library functions including the millis() function that returns the elapsed time since the board was reset. It's a 32-bit counter in milliseconds that will wrap back to zero--get this--in about 50 days. They knew I would have to do the math--2 raised to the 32nd power divided by 1000 milliseconds per second divided by 60 seconds per minutes, etc...and gave me what I wanted to know. Bravo!

The authors serve the hobbyist by including some brand names and component numbers, since you're going to be looking for this stuff at Digi-Key or Radio Shack. One electronics book I have assumes that I'm familiar with the 555 timer chip since they're so cheap and common. Well that doesn't mean I know how to choose one! This books helps. You get pin-outs for the single (555), dual (556) and quad (558) versions. There's a chart of distinguishing features within the chip families. Then it mentions the capacitor you'll need to avoid false triggering. But you want to time something. To get you started, the authors include a schematic of a simple delay timer, an LED/lamp flasher and a metronome.

Lastly, the layout has plenty of white space around diagrams and the type is perfect. I could keep going, but you need to use the Amazon "look inside" to see for yourself. Usually when I see something at Amazon for almost half of what I paid at retail, I'm a little upset. Not here. It's worth every penny of its list price.

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