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Support Your Library

If you have a local library, and I suspect you do, it is entirely likely they will have copies of many of these books. If your library participates in O'Reilly for Public Libraries (formerly Safari Books Online) they are also likely to have these available electronically for free use. Reach out to your local public or academic library to ask! Libraries love questions.

To me, books are still one of the best ways to learn. It provides a curated and structured approach. Below are some of the books that I have found useful and of high quality.

  • Art of Electronics (3rd edition). If applied electrical engineering has a bible, this is it. It's written in a very approachable style, and from a practical "this is what you actually need to know" perspective. While it does dig into much of the math and physics, it's also clear where you can ignore that if you're uninterested.
  • ARRL Handbook. The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) has been putting this book out for 100 years. While it's done from the perspective of amateur (ham) radio, and definitely deals with a lot of radio-specific details, it also has a lot of practical information. Also, in this day and age of gigahertz microcontrollers, nearly everything can be a radio signal if you're squinting just right.
  • Desk Ref. A paper Wikipedia, in that it's a compilation of an insane number of topics. In 1,280 pages, they cover everything from the density of gasses, to planetary data, to ply rating of tires, to glue dilution rates, to first aid. Really, it's just a collection of a ton of useful tidbits in a pretty tide, well organized, package. Originally published in 1989, it's a great thing to keep around. They also make a pocket version.
  • Encyclopedia of Electronic Circuits. First released in 1985, this book is literally an encyclopedia of circuits. Nearly everything you can imagine is already there, and reading through it and thinking about "how does this work?" is a great way to learn from functioning circuits. It's not "baby's first book", but it's a heck of a useful reference to have. There are, I believe, 7 volumes (I have 4 of them).
  • Machinery's Handbook. In print for about 110 years, and now on its 31st edition, this is the bible of machining and machinery. If you want to understand materials and mechanical construction, though, it is indispensible. Clocking in at 3,000+ pages, it is an absolute beast of a book. Get the "large print" version, as it's more normal sized. The other is designed to be kept in a machinist's tool chest and is in tiny print.
  • Big Book of Maker Skills. A breezy collection of a very diverse sets of skills that, as a maker, you'll likely need to know. It's the opposite of things like Machinery's Handbook in that it is enormously simplified and a cursory surface discussion of things like sanding, drilling, casting, refining, chiseling, and many dozens of other tools and skills.
  • Open Circuits: The Inner Beauty of Electronic Components. This is the equivalent of a centerfold or coffee-table book for electronic components. Through diligent work and stunning photography, they explore the beauty within the components.

Comments or Questions?

If you have any comments, questions, or topics you'd like to see covered, please feel free to either reach out to me on Mastodon (link below) or open an issue on Github.