Introductory books, circuit design, etc?

Hello everyone. I recently bought an Arduino kit from Adafruit, and have been going through the tutorials on the Learning page. I've also been mixing them up and adding to them, just so I can play around and try/learn something new. I can build those circuits and add to them using the information from other tutorials, but my problem is that I just don't understand why I use the components that I do. Basically, if I was building the circuits without having seen the diagrams, I wouldn't really know what components I should be using.

So I'm wondering what some good book, good resources, etc are other than mixing circuits together and getting them to work. I want to be able to understand why I have to (or don't have to) use the components that I use, and how. I know that experimentation is a fantastic learning tool, I'm just looking for things to supplement with and give me an understanding so when I go to building my own circuits I know what I'm going to have to use and why I'm going to have to use them. I'm not worried about the programming side (but I'll take suggestions on that too), I just don't know anything when it comes to constructing my own circuits (I'm really wanting to build my own motorcycle control panel that uses the stock RPM/Speed sensors).

Thanks! :)

I would recommend this book:- It's an all in one tourer de-force, when you know all of that you will indeed be an expert, but it starts right from the beginning.

EDIT The other books here are good but they only tell you the what of what to do and not the why of why you are doing this.

Tom Igoe have written two books:

"Physical computing" that explains how to hook just about anything up to a microprocessor. This book is very good and explains in detail all the circuits in it. The mircoprocessors in the book are not Arduino, but the code examples and circuits in the book can relatively easyli be used with Arduino.

"Making things talk" is Tom Igoes book about a whole lot of projects based on Arduino that in some way commnicates soem kind of information, including over the internet.

I really recomend both these books.

I have also found Practical Electronics for Inventors, by Paul Scherz, to be a good reference source for information about electronics components. Both that and The Art of Electronics are more like encyclopedias than tutorials, however.

Physical Computing and, at a much more basic and introductory level, Massimo Banzi's Getting Starting With Arduino both take the very useful tutorial approach.

Many thanks. I see that ‘The Art of Electronics’ has a student manual, which is available on Scribd. I’m going to check it out, along with ‘Practical Electronics for Inventors’.

I have both ‘Getting Started with Arduino’ and ‘Making Things Talk’, the former book being more “this is what we are going to do and this is exactly how we are going to do it” with not much explanation on what’s going on with the hardware. So while it was helpful in getting my feet a bit wet initially, it didn’t really teach me anything new.

I appreciate the suggestions, feel free to add more.

Also on my bookshelf is Programming Interactivity, by Joshua Noble, which has some interesting projects quite comprehensively explained, although more on the software than hardware side.

And I see in Amazon's "pre-order" category a forthcoming book by Jonathan Oxer entitled Practical Arduino: Cool Projects for Open Source Hardware.

I find most of the project-oriented books useful for getting exposed to topics and ideas and concepts even if I don't intend to actually make them. This is helpful to indicate what you might need to learn, even if they don't explain all of that.

You can check out forrest mims as well for circuits - no microcontrollers here but a lot of ideas and gives a strong foundation...

The Art of Electronics by Horowitz and Hill ISBN: 0521370957

For a cookbook style try "The CMOS Cookbook" by Don Lancaster.

A good free resource is "Lessons in Electric Circuits" at

(* jcl *)

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Has anyone had a chance to see the forthcoming Arduino Cookbook? We are looking for a good source to recommend to people getting started.


The art of electronics is more of a textbook, it is ok if you like that, but it has a lot of maths and theory that you will never use. I own it and almost never use it because it just takes too damn long to get to the point.

I recommend just deciding to build something, and then google, alot ;D .