A Beginner’s Guide to Circuits

Some time ago I reviewed Electronics for Kids: Play with Simple Circuits and Experiment with Electricity! by Øyvind Nydal Dahl, which is a very good introduction to electricity and how to hvae fun with it. There is now a new book that is a somewhat simplified version by the same author, A Beginner’s Guide to Circuits: Nine Simple Projects with Lights, Sounds, and More!.

This new book is smaller, has fewer projects, requires the purchase of fewer components, is an accordingly less expensive book, and perhaps most important for some people, requires no solder!

The projects consist of a steady-hand game, a touch enabled light, an alarm you can put on your cookie jar or similar container, a night light that detects when it is dark, various sorts of blinking or party lights, a musical instrument, and of course, an LED Marquee. You need just over 20 components to build all the projects, which mainly use breadboards. The book suggests which parts to buy from Jameco, and many of the parts come in one or a couple of Jameco kits. (Jameco company sells individual electronic parts, like the old Radio Shack, and also, kits you can use to make cool stuff like an Infrared Escape Robot or a Dual-Output Adjustable Linear Regulated Power Supply.)

All the instructions are clear, the illustrations are excellent, and the projects are fun, if a bit basic. This is well within the range of a seven to ten year old kid with adult supervision, and without the adults for ten and up. Depends on the kid, of course.

What I like about this book is that there are traditional circuit diagrams accompanied with descriptions of how the electronics work at a basic level. For many of the projects, you are expected to use the breadboard to assemble the parts using the traditional diagram. This is a much better way to learn the way circuits work than many other guides or books, which hold your hand through assembly at the cost of holding your hands through understanding. In many cases, there are photographs of the assembled project with sufficient detail and clarity to get you past any ambiguity. But, the key is this: The circuits are both interesting and simple, so nothing can go wrong.

There are also sections for many of the projects that help you past when something goes wrong.

There are many places these projects can go, on modification, and there is plenty of inspiration in here to lead to interesting results. I highly recommend A Beginner’s Guide to Circuits: Nine Simple Projects with Lights, Sounds, and More!, perhaps as a holiday gift for a young one.

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