Great Lakes Geek Book Review

Fashioning Technology:
A DIY Intro to Smart Crafting
by Syuzi Pakhchyan

It took me awhile to pick up this book because I am not interested in Fashion (take a look in my closet for proof) and crafting doesn't make my Top Ten list either.

But I do like technology and electronics and making stuff so when I finally did start reading it I wish I had got to it sooner.

The primers on electronic components, material, tools and the like are better than I've seen in books dedicated to those subjects. For example, the author explains why LEDs are cool (literally and figuratively) and describes all the different types (standard, high flux, bicolor, tricolor, etc.).

She leads you through your first basic circuit with LEDs using a battery, LED, a resistor and alligator clips. From there you learn about building circuits with a breadboard. The pictures and drawings are big, clear and colorful.

You get a mini electronics course as she describes serial vs. parallel, Ohm's Law, batteries and other basics. Troubleshooting a circuit teaches how to use meters and measuring voltage, current and the like. You also get a terrific primer on soldering.

It reminded me of an intro (Steve) Ciarcia's Circuit Cellar column in BYTE magazine but with more color and photos.

Normally I would skip chapters with titles like The Basics of Screen Printing or Sewing Soft Circuits but the pictures and explanations are so good that I read them.

The projects themselves weren't really for me but they were cool and great practice for a budding circuit builder. They are broken down into 3 areas: Wearables, Home Accents and Interactive Toys. The Wearables section includes an LED bracelet and a Space Invaders tote for example.

The Home Accents section includes Photochromic Blinds and a Luminescent Tea Table. Interactive Toys include E-puppets and a Solar Crawler.

Not surprising when you consider that the author is (according to her publisher O'Reilly) "an User Experience Designer, robotics instructor, writer, blogger and a seasoned tinkerer."

I recommend Fashioning Technology: A DIY Intro to Smart Crafting (Craft: Projects) for anyone who wants a good basic course in electronics and modern materials and even more so for someone who wants to mess with these tools and techniques to come up with unique and fun stuff.

Great Lakes Geek Rating: 4.5 out of 5 pocket protectors.

Reviewed by Entreprenerd Dan Hanson, the Great Lakes Geek (11/13)

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