Make: Electronics Chp3 Experiment 12

Experiment 12 “Joining Two Wires Together” is the introductory step into soldering and also the start of chapter 3. Depending on what you currently have on hand in your lab. In order to move forward, you will need to purchase a few more items both equipment and component wise. 

For what it is worth. This experiment is designed to get someone who has not soldered before some experience with the process. I felt that the section on explaining what soldering is, why it is necessary, and the do’s and don’ts was more than sufficient enough to get you started.

That being said, soldering is something that requires practice and over time you get better with it. To be fair, I’m no pro at soldering not by a stretch but I’m decent. I gained a lot of experience initially by putting together Velleman kits which I highly recommend.  I’m also a member of BoldPort which is a great way to practice soldering on some interesting kits. I highly recommend them as well.

The book suggests getting two types of soldering irons. I actually have several soldering irons. One high-quality soldering station and a few (cheap) low wattage soldering pen irons. Oddly enough, I find myself using my soldering station more. However, the book makes a legitimate case as to why a low wattage iron is a good thing to have. Depending on the type of work or hobby projects you’ll venture into. Having both types of soldering irons is definitely a good thing. Plus, this is a fun hobby to shop for anyway.

For this experiment, you’re asked to solder a piece of wire in two different ways. The first way is by braiding the wire strands together. In the first picture of this post, you can see I created a pigtail braid. The second way of combining the wires was by laying the wire on top of each other (2nd picture). In this instance, I needed to twist the ends to get the wires to lie down.

Albeit, the takeaways for the two different approaches were the following:
1. The use of the higher wattage iron and touching both the iron, the wire, and solder together to form the joint.

2. The use of the lower wattage iron and touching the iron to the bottom of the wire, allowing the solder to melt directly on the wire as you form your joint.

For what it is worth you learn that your iron doesn’t have to be extremely hot to solder. The iron just needs to be at the correct temperature as per the type of work and solder you are using. In my case, and for my solder type 350c worked fine.

More importantly,  the main point to understand is the process of heat transfer. As your goal is to heat up the surface of what you want to solder and touch the solder to that surface, not the iron tip itself.

Lastly, there is a section on hacking a power code to use as a continuous power supply. I already own a desktop power supply station so I passed on the hack. For the beginner, however, this is another opportunity at soldering.

If you don’t have a power station which I suggest you buy later on as your interest in the hobby grows. Take advantage of the hack in the book because using up 9v batteries over time gets old and somewhat expensive.

Experiment 12 materials:
Hookup Wire, Wire Cutters, Wire Strippers,
30-40 watt Soldering Iron
15-watt Soldering Iron
Thin solder (The key to a decent soldering experience is the solder itself. Highly recommending this solder Click Here)
Optional medium solder
Helping hands
Shrink wrap tubing
Heat gun (a lighter works just as well)

Make: Electronics Chp2 Experiment 11

Experiment 11 “Light and Sound” is a continuation of Transistors.  The experiment itself is broken up into several phases whereas the first consists of a circuit that flashes an LED on and off for approximately one second.
The next phase of the circuit introduces a coupling capacitor which in turn creates a pulsating effecting via the implementation of an RC network. The difference between the two is that the LED is pulsing as a result of how the capacitor is discharged through the adjoining resistors. 

Additionally, more modifications to the circuit can be added such as one which produces a second network similar to the first. This second network drives an audio section of the circuit. Unfortunately, I did not have a speaker that would work to complete this part of the experiment.

Nonetheless, I found the experiment to be quite satisfying as it relates to the overall intent and purpose.  As for the beginner, there are definitely some possible challenges but nothing that cannot be overcome with patience and refreshing one’s self with the prior topics if need.

For example, unless you have extremely small hands, I wholeheartedly advise using needle nose pliers to build the circuits in this section. Secondly, the idea is to come away with an understanding of how oscillation works while getting you to think more deeply as to what type of applications circuits of this nature could be best suited for.

Therefore, a general understanding of the previous material related to transistor switching and the charging and discharging of a capacitor will serve you well in your understanding of this experiment.


Of note: I have quite a few electronic components lying around in addition to kits I’ve bought over the years. However, when it came to the 0.01uf and 0.33uf capacitor, I actually ended up finding those values in my Mylar capacitor set(cap codes 103 and 334 respectively speaking). Those capacitors are not pictured in this post.

Experiment 11 materials:
9-volt battery
Resistors 470k, 1k, 4.7k, 100K, 220k, 470k
Capacitors: 0.01uf, 0.1uf, 0.33uf, 1uf, 3.3uf, 33uf, 100uf, 220uf
Transistors: 2N2222
8-ohm Speaker

#Make #electronics #circuits #breadboard

Arduino and Visual Code

Dusting off my blog here…it’s definitely been a while.


Today I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I could use the Visual Code with Arduino Sketches. I did, however, run into a couple of hiccups that were easily solvable.

For example, the browse path inside c_cpp_properties.json appeared to be incorrect. With the default path, I was unable to resolve any of the methods used in the Arduino libs. By editing the path to the following things turned out fine:
“C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Arduino\\hardware\\arduino\\avr”,”${workspaceRoot}”
Furthermore, filling out the necessary info in the arduino.json file is probably for best and most likely necessary i.e., sketch, port, board, and output.  ProTip – When you create an Arduino Project in Visual Code the first thing you should do is hit F1: ArduinoChange Board Type. This will generate the necessary files needed for the .vscode directory.

Lastly, just make sure that your .ino file matches the name of the directory it lives inside and that you didn’t place the .ino file inside the .vscode directory.

After about 45 mins of messing around, I was able to get a Sketch compiled and running on a STEMTera board (Arduino UNO) from SparkFun Electronics.

More importantly, I am looking forward to finishing up those MAKE: Electronics Projects as I have also purchased Book2.

However, expect to see some Arduino, other Microcontroller, and general circuit posts as well.

Make: Electronics Chp2 Experiment 10

Experiment 10 “Transistor Switching” involves one of the most important electronic component in all of electronics. The transistor. To truly appreciate how the transistor has impacted technology. I highly recommend Googling about the importance of the transistor. As this will hopefully foster a deep appreciation for this piece of technical genius. So many things that you and I own would not exist the way they do today if it weren’t for transistors.

The first circuit in this section that you’ll create is one by which you expose your finger to two jumper leads. The harder you press on the end of the leads the brighter the LED in the circuit becomes. The current flowing through your finger and the positive bus is being amplified by the transistor at its base. That said, this experiment is safe and there is no electrical sensation. Reason being is that a 9v DC power supply is negligible in this scenario.

However, never ever use two hands in a situation like this, or plainly put, don’t ever put yourself in series with a circuit by holding the leads in both hands. You definitely want to avoid current flowing through your body, even a small amount.

*In the video my wife has the two leads touching one finger and is holding the shielded unexposed wire in the other hand. 

Interestingly enough for the beginner, you’ll observe that the emitter of the transistor is connected to the LED on the board. This provides enough current to flow from the transistor and light the LED. Some of that electricity comes directly from your finger.

More importantly, the major player in this equation is the collector lead  on the transistor, it’s sourced to the positive bus terminal of the board. The base of the transistor is responsible for controlling the current that comes from your finger (in this particular setup). So in a nutshell, we have current flowing into the collector, that current flow is regulated by the base of transistor, and then resulting current from the emitter lights the LED.

During this section of the text, more information about various transistors and the differences between PNP and NPN transistors is reviewed.

Finally, you’ll augment the circuit and add a potentiometer. Under observation you should note that bipolar transistors won’t respond unless the amount of voltage present at the base of the transistor is higher that what’s at the emitter – at least 0.7v to be exact.

Personally, I believe that thus far, this section in addition to the text regarding capacitors is extremely important. Definitely take the time to get the circuits right but more importantly make sure you understand the material and how the components actually work.

Transistors play an extremely important role and it’s worth learning all you can.

Experiment 10 materials:
Bread board
2n2222 Transistor
9volt Battery
470 ohm, 1M resistor
500k Potentiometer

Make: Electronics Chp 2 Experiment 9

Experiment 9 “Time and Capacitors” is a soft introduction to the capacitor. The capacitor is a very interesting component and with it you can measure time. However, this is the first component that actually requires that you pay full attention to how it is placed on the bread board. Failure to check the polarity can result in the component exploding. As always eye protection should be worn, but especially when it comes to capacitors.

As far as measuring time. The circuit uses two tactile switches.  One switch will charge down the capacitor while the other will allow the capacitor to charge up. With a timer, i.e., smart phone or watch, you can observe how long it takes for the capacitor to charge. During my run at this experiment it took the capacitor about 1 to 1.5 seconds to charge.

The actual science behind the capacitor, or simply put,  the beauty of its function can be realized by the understanding of the RC network; of which Mr Platt provides a great over view. Most college text books get down in the weeds on this topic because it’s such a an important concept. However, what is given here is definitely sufficient for the beginner.

Moreover, this chapter continues to go deeper into the concept of the RC Network by teaching you how to graph the voltages during charging time. In addition to further tweaks to the circuit and experimental discovery.

Although it is not needed at this point, I would look into getting an oscilloscope. eBay has them for cheap if you’re on a budget. So definitely look into getting yourself one.

For what it’s worth. Electronics is basically all math. Hard math. Although, you probably won’t get any of that here (hard math). Don’t let this fact run you off if you’re math averse. Once you see how the math in electronics theory works hand in hand with the physical application – you’ll probably love math as much as I do….well maybe not that much.

Experiment 9 materials:

Bread board
9volt battery
2 Tactile switches
Generic LED
470 ohms, 1k, 10k Resistors
0.1 uf, 1 uf, 10 uf, 100 uf, 1000 uf Capacitors

Make: Electronics Chp 2 Exercises 6-8

Exercise 6 “Very Simple Switching” introduces manually operated switches. The circuit  you will construct can use either a SPDT or DPDT toggle switch. For what its worth, this circuit will require some patience if you have big hands and your toggle switch doesn’t have screw terminals. One of the things you have to get used to fairly quickly working in electronics is tight spaces, and very small components which can sometime find themselves on a crowded board. So bring lots of patience.

That said, one of the man take-aways is developing a cursory understanding of how switches work. The text provides a great overview in the section, “Fundamentals: All About Switches“.

Further along in the chapter the author presents schematics and a few symbols. Schematics in my limited opinion is the linqua franca of circuits – no different in importance as hieroglyphs are to Egyptian culture. Learning how to read schematics will definitely open the world of electronics to you in a much deeper and rewarding way. More importantly, the further you venture into this hobby, learning how to read schematics is not an option, its a requirement.

Exercise 7 “Investigating a Relay” introduces the reader to the function of a relay.  You’ll learn about it’s remote-controlled ability when it comes to receiving a signal sent by a circuit.

This however is another circuit that may present a few challenges for those with big hands. However, my hands are pretty big and it simply just requires focus and patience.

Once you connect power to this circuit you’ll notice the clicking of the relay right a away.  Using the SPST toggle switch will initiate the remote-controlled action. Holding your DMM probes to the leads of the relay while in continuity mode will produce a tone. The tone is an indication of a complete path that allows current to flow. The clicking of the SPST causes the tone to stop, thus the flow of the current is blocked.

In the spirit of full disclosure.  I sacrificed a relay to science when performing this exercise in the first edition. For some reason I kept that relay. So I didn’t perform that part of the exercise this time around. However, I would advise that anytime you get the opportunity to see how something works on the inside – go for it.

Exercise 8 “Relay Oscillator“. As a beginner you are probably smiling a little bit at this point because you finally get to used breadboards.

This circuit visually demonstrates oscillation via the use of two LEDS. From my experience, LEDS are kinda like break points when debugging  code depending on how they are used. Anyway. The schematics used in the book are super-user friendly. That said, this is probably something I would not get try and get used to. I actually applaud the author for making the schematics in this fashion as it definitely helps the beginner to focus on the task at hand without the complexities of a real schematic. Honestly, there isn’t that much difference but eventually you are going have to learn how read traditional schematics if you want to go further in electronics.

Note: Batteries are expensive. I’d highly recommend buying a power supply if you are serious about this hobby. It is definitely worth the money. I’m not advocating any particular brand but this what I use.

Exercise 6 materials:
Hook up wire
9volt battery
470 ohm
Alligator clip leads

Exercise 7 materials:
9volt battery
DPDT 9VDC relays(2)
Alligator clip leads

Exercise 8 materials:
9volt battery
batter connector
DPDT 9VDC relay
Tactile Switch
470 ohm resistor
1000 uf Capacitor
hook up wire

Make: Electronics Chap 1 Exercise 5

When life gives you lemons, make electricity. OK…that was kinda corny.

The last experiment in chapter one presents us with an old school kitchen table experiment; making a battery from lemons.

For the exercise I actually had to run out and grab some supplies, mainly the lemons, lemon juice, and some zinc coated brackets from Home Depot. The brackets set me back about $2.50 for a pack of 4.

Overall, this exercise is an attempt to mimic the function of a battery. For this to occur properly, you must have the correct chemicals working for you, i.e., copper, zinc, and lemon juice. In regards to copper, nowadays US pennies are copper plated only. So to get the most out of each penny in the circuit, look for the brightest (newer) pennies that you can find. As far as zinc is concerned. Using a galvanized metal part coated with zinc works fine as suggested in the text. If you venture out to the hardware store just look in the aisle where the door brackets are located. The packaging should say something like “Zinc Coated“.

Out of all the exercise thus far, this is probably the most difficult in terms of achieving success and a little messy. However, the key is to take your time, secure the correct parts, and follow the instructions exactly as given.

For what its worth I was able to light my LEDs on the first try. So I’ll try to provide you with a few tips to increase your level of success.

1. Put your lemon halves into a small glass jar; helps to keep them up right.
2. Saturate your lemon halves with lemon juice from the lemon juice bottle.
3. Make sure that you are alternating between bracket and penny throughout the circuit.
4. Make sure that the brackets and pennies are close but not touching; a half-inch apart worked for me.

All in all this was a pretty cool experiment  for those who have never done anything like this before.

Exercise 5 Materials:
Lemons or Lemon Juice
4 U.S. Pennies
1 inch or larger zinc plated steel brackets
Test leads with alligator clips
LED (Low Current)

Make: Electronics Chp 1 Exercises 3 – 4

Exercise 3, “Your First Circuit” provides the reader with the important skill of learning how to read resistor values; a good skill to have. Although one can use a DMM to determine the actual resistance value. Learning how to visually determine the the value of a resistor is sort of like a rite of passage for anyone serious about electronics as a hobby. Take that step, learn how to read the values, you’ll be better for it.

This particular circuit is also your first introduction to the LED.  Some areas of focus include visually determining the positive and negative side of the LED, and how to determine both forward voltage and forward current.  Note: always check electronic components to determine the manufacturers limit in respect to those forward voltages and currents. Or you’ll just waste money on parts.

The construction of this circuit is simple and should not present any difficulties. You’ll start with a 2.2k resistor, and continue to swap out different resistor values while observing the effects on the LED.

Exercise 4, “Variable Resistance“. Once again, we are tasked with sacrificing a component for the sake of science. However, as per Mr. Platt. Readers complained after the first edition of the book about not wanting to ruin a usable component. Honestly, if you take your time, you can carefully reassemble the potentiometer and it will work perfectly fine. The overall benefit of the disassembly is to get a peek inside it’s inner workings; this is one of the more interesting looking components you’ll probably come across early on. Plus, people like us, Makers, and natural born Engineers need to know how things work. Right?

The circuit in this exercise is the first time you’re in a position to actually manipulate the amount of resistance +/-  in real time. The take-away here is to realize how one might damage a component by varying the resistance in the circuit. To drive the point home, you can sacrifice the LED to science as well.

Additionally, the circuit is followed up by adding a 460 ohm resistor which is used to protect the circuit in the event the potentiometer goes to zero; a fail safe.

Lastly, the reader is treated to an excellent overview  of the fundamentals of Ohms law , Series and Parallel, and how to measure current in a circuit. All of which are important topics for the beginner as you take more steps toward learning electronics.

Exercise 3 Materials:
9volt battery
470 ohm, 1k, 2.2k resistors
Alligator Clip Test Leads

Exercise 4 Materials:
9volt battery
470 ohm, 1k
LED (2)
Potentiometer 1k linear

Make: Electronics Chp 1 Exercises 1 – 2

Exercise one, “Taste the Power” will probably have the electronic neophyte taken aback a bit. You’re literally preparing yourself for a taste of electronics. Don’t worry though, a 9-volt battery to your tongue is not as shocking as it may appear. Notably, the text regarding Ohm fundamentals and how a battery works is the emphasis of importance.

Exercise two “Let’s abuse a battery“. Here’s another project that may possibly cause concern to the uninitiated.  Questions may rise such as, “Will the battery explode?”. Most likely not, but you always have to be careful and adorn safety eyewear, especially when working with electronics.

The first part of exercise two demonstrates how heat is generated as a result of electricity flowing through the battery cable wires and the electrolyte inside the battery. NOTE: make sure you are using an alkaline battery and not a rechargeable one. 

The take away at least for me for this exercise is an attempt to answer the question, “How much current actually flowed through battery case wires before the battery shorted?” As per the material, attempting to measure the current with your DMM may blow its internal fuse. However, there are ways to properly measure current with your DMM, but it’s not covered here.

As an alternative to testing the amount of current with the DMM, we sacrifice a 3-amp fuse instead. Initially the 3-amp fuse I used was definitely much stronger than anticipated. I ended up connecting the battery wires directly to the fuse so it would blow. The take way here is to understand one of the roles of a fuse – protecting sensitive circuits.When the fuse breaks it prevents the flow of electricity to the rest of the circuit.

Overall, both of the labs are pretty simple and straight forward. These labs provide some valuable information to the beginner venturing into electronics. More importantly, learning is always fun.  Baby steps…

Required Materials:
9volt battery
1.5v AA battery (2)
AA battery carrier
Magnifying glass / Jewelers loupe
DMM (Digital Multi-meter) w/leads


It’s been almost two years since my last post on this blog.  Most of the projects I’ve worked were posted on my twitter page located here. However, I am the type of person that cannot leave things “undone” — if you say you’re going to do something, do it. Therefore, I have re-dedicatedreboot my efforts to one of the original purposes of this blog – knock off some of the books that I’ve purchased which are project based and blog about my experience (See list below).

Since my blogging hiatus Charles Platt has released a second edition of Make:Electronics. That said, it makes sense just to simply start with the most recent release and do the projects again. Where applicable I’ll provide my own person ancedotes on what changes were made for the better.

Aside from blogging about some of the books on my “to finish” list. I’ll probably rant/blog about coding, technology, and other personal projects as well.

Now it’s time to get back at it (justification for my wife as to why I have 1000’s of components, tools, and tech all over the place….and why I don’t have enough of each).

These are the books that I plan to blog about in no specific order or reason for their selection other than to finish them (so many more books could have been added and may be added later):

Make: Electronics
Arduino Workshop
Make: More Electronics
Tiny AVR Micro Controller Projects
Analog Synthesizers
Make: AVR Programming
Electronic Circuits for the Evil Genius
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