Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mechanical Devices for the Electronics Experimenter

Mechanical Devices for the Electronics Experimenter

I don't dabble with electronics as much as I used to, but I do on occasion. Just this week I was doing some research and had to find some answers regarding the different types of motors, how to drive them, and how to understand their torque ratings. Mechanical Devices for the Electronics Experimenter came in very handy.

I'm not sure why the ratings on Amazon aren't higher for this book. True, it does not go into great depth on any of the subjects covered, but I suppose that's one reason I like the book. I was able to read up on DC motors, stepper motors, servos, and solenoids in a short amount of time. Of course there must be more to know about these topics, but for a concise summary and review, this book served me well.

And motors aren't the only thing covered. Other chapters include:

  1. Basic mechanical principles - the physics you actually needed to learn!
  2. Sensors - mostly for determining speed and position
  3. Motors and Motor control - with circuit diagrams
  4. Motor control - with some circuit diagrams included
  5. Stepper motors - with info on using cheap surplus motors
  6. Solenoids - including info on making your own
  7. Gears and pulleys - a nice treatment of why the involute form is used
  8. Mechanical components - info on bearings, shafts, springs, ratchets
  9. Pneumatics systems
  10. Vacuum systems
  11. Hydraulic systems
  12. Wheeled vehicles - getting into robot-specific territory here
  13. Arms, legs, and hands - again, mostly of interest to the robot makers

The diagrams are simple line drawings, but they ARE clear. That's what matters. The author likes to throw in a lot of math, but I had no trouble just breezing past it when all I was after were the core concepts. If you happen to like math,'s in there. Also, the book makes sure to relate most topics back to electronics. You won't find that in every book.

So the book might be somewhat misnamed. It's really more about the basics of mechanical engineering. With this in mind, I think it's quite a good book. Here is where you can check out Mechanical Devices for the Electronics Experimenter.

If you are searching for something more nut-and-bolts practical, check out Animatronics: Guide to Holiday Displays which has a lot of good nitty-gritty info on the making of mechanical things and Making Things Move DIY Mechanisms for Inventors, Hobbyists, and Artists which is outstanding all around.

If you are in fact looking for in-depth introductory information on mechanical engineering (with even more math), then I recommend Mechanical Engineering Principles by John Bard and Carl Ross.

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