15 great books for making your own gadgets

diy book collage© TreeHugger

We love to regularly bring you stories about cool electronics projects that you can take on yourself -- things like DIY solar chargers, how to make your own Tesla Coil or an LED flashlight made from hex nuts. We know some of you already have some experience tinkering away and making your own gadgets, but many of you may be wondering where and how to start.

We've rounded up some of the best DIY guides and tomes to help introduce you to specific devices like Raspberry Pi or Arduino or, if you're more experienced, provide some inspiration for your next big build. That way, next time we feature an Arduino-powered robot, you'll be ready to take the project on.

Intro to DIY Gadgets

Make: Electronics

make electronics© O'Reilly

Price $34.99

If you're a true novice, before you head to a device-specific guide, you may want to start with what is widely considered the ultimate introduction to making electronics. Through 36 experiments, the book's description states "you'll learn learn the basics of voltage, amperage, resistance, capacitance, inductance, and other fundamentals. And then it’s on to logic gates, analog-to-digital conversion (ADC), and integrated circuits. Along the way, you’ll also meet the scientists and the fundamental discoveries that have made modern electronics possible. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a solid working knowledge of electronics and will be ready to confidently venture off into the worlds of hobby electronics, microcontrollers, and robotics."

Practical Electronics for Inventors

practical electronics© TAB

Price $40.00

Once you've read through Make: Electronics, this book takes you to the next level, teaching you how to apply all of that new knowledge into functioning gadgets. Sensors, solar cells, GPS, microcontrollers, LCD displays, prototyping and more are all covered.

Making Things Move: DIY Mechanisms for Inventors

making things move© TAB

Price $30.00

When it comes to DIY gadgets, the only limit is one's imagination, but sometimes it helps to have a little mechanical knowledge to successfully create what you envision. The book description says "this book is for anyone who has ever wanted to make something that moves but didn't know where to start." The projects include a drawing machine, a mini wind turbine, a mousetrap powered car and more and it covers topics like 3D printing and laser cutting too.

Raspberry Pi

Getting Started with Raspberry Pi

getting started wtih raspberry pi© O'Reilly

Price $11.99

This book, a Make Magazine publication, takes you from the very beginning set up of the microcomputer including installing the operating system all the way to guiding you through two beginner-level hands-on projects. After reading this, you'll be ready to tackle a few of the great Rasbperry Pi projects the web has to offer.

Raspberry Pi User Guide

raspberry pi user guide© Raspberry Pi Foundation

Price $13.59

This book, written by one of the co-founders of Raspberry Pi, also provides a general introduction to the tiny computer as well as ways for educators to incorporate the devices in their classrooms, how to connect the computer to other hardware, how to install software and even how to set up things like a multimedia center or drive a robot.


Arduino: A Quick-Start Guide

arduino quick© The Pragmatic Programmers

Price $24.99

This book promises to have users with no electronics experience making Arduino-powered gadgets within a few minutes. It features instructions for making a universal remote, a burglar alarm that emails you whenever someone's moving in your living room and many other projects.

Arduino Cookbook

arduino cookbook© O'Reilly

Price $28.87

Once you've mastered the basics, this book provides you with over 200 tips and techniques for building a variety of objects and prototypes that interact with the physical world using the Arduino platform -- things like toys, detectors, robots, and interactive clothing that can sense and respond to touch, sound, position, heat, and light.

30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius

30 arduino© TAB

Price $13.97

A quick combination of introduction to the device and project instructions, this book explains how to attach an Arduino board to your computer, program it, and connect electronics to it to create 30 different fun projects like a Morse code translator, pulse rate monitor and magnetic door lock.

3D Printing

Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing

make guide© Make Magazine

Price $5.64

This buyer's guide by Make Magazine compares all of the current models of 3D printers and tells you what are the best buys, what software is best suited for your needs, and of course, provides you with a few cool projects to create with your new 3D printer. If you're interested in 3D printing, this is a quick, easy overview.

Practical 3D Printers: The Science and Art of 3D Printing

practical 3d printers© Technology in Action

Price $26.39

If you want to dig deeper into the science and creative possibilities behind 3D printing, this is good resource. This book gives you step-by-step instructions for calibrating, customizing, and creating models, including 3D printed text, a warship model, a robot platform, windup toys, and arcade-inspired alien invaders.

Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing

fabricated© Wiley

Price $16.36

This book is for the 3D printing enthusiast and newbies alike because it's less instruction and more of an exploration of what 3D printing means for the future of manufacturing, electronics, biotechnology and more. If you're interested in the implications and potential applications of this burgeoning technology, this would be a cool one to check out.

Home Automation

Programming Your Home

programming home© The Pragmatic Programmers

Price $21.78

Programming Your Home builds upon the experience you've gained reading about and tinkering with Arduino to complete cool home automation projects like a phone application that alerts you to package deliveries at your front door, an electronic guard dog that will prevent unwanted visitors, smartphone-controlled door locks and a bird feeder that sends a tweet to tell you when the birds are feeding.

Raspberry Pi Home Automation with Arduino

raspberry pi home© Packt Publishing

Price $29.99

A perfect marriage of Raspberry Pi and Arduino, this book takes you from basic introductory instruction on using the technologies to home automation projects that utilize both to adjust your living environment, from lighting to heating and cooling and more.

Solar Power

DIY Solar Projects: How to Put the Sun to Work in Your Home

diy solar projects© Creative Publishing International

Price $14.95

If you want to get some solar tech into your home, but don't want to pay a fortune to do so, this book shows you how to harvest the sun with DIY solar projects like solar cell phone chargers, solar cookers, hot−water heaters, hot−air collectors all the way to off−grid systems for small cabins.

Projects to Get You Off the Grid: Rain Barrels, Chicken Coops, and Solar Panels

instructables off grid© Skyhorse Publishing

Price $9.38

While this guide is about off-grid projects for your home in general, it does offer step-by-step instruction for making your own solar panels.

15 great books for making your own gadgets
Here are great titles on everything from beginner Raspberry Pi projects to DIY home automation.

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