Back when I first learned basic electrical and electronic circuits, I also learned how to burn my fingers on a hot soldering iron and how to accidentally cut and pinch my digits with wire cutters and needle-nosed pliers. Years later, I learned how to make printed circuit boards, using nasty, corrosive chemicals and an electric drill with tiny bits that frequently broke. It was not all that much fun.
Make It Glow: LED Projects for the Whole Family, written by Emily Coker and Kelli Townley, offers some kinder, gentler approaches to learning basic circuits and how to wire together batteries, switches, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), conductive thread, and electroluminescent wire.
The new book from MakerMedia presents some two dozen projects divided into skill levels 1, 2 and 3, with Skill Level 1 projects being the simplest. “No special skills or experience are required for these projects,” the authors note, ” though hot-glue guns, craft knives, and other common materials and tools may be needed.”
Some of the Skill Level 1 projects include soda-bottle ghosts and simple bug-like creatures with glowing eyes.
The intermediate Skill Level 2 projects “introduce new materials, tools, and techniques–from paper folding (origami) to simple sewing skills–and they may require participants to follow more precise instructions. Adult supervision suggested.”
Some of the Skill Level 2 projects include an origami firefly that flickers and a wearable, glowing cuff.
And the “more challenging” Skill Level 3 projects “may take longer or require more complex skills, including sewing and soldering. Some introduce new components, such as resistors. Adult supervision highly recommended.”
Typical Skill Level 3 projects include a glowing pinwheel and a glow-in-the dark dog collar.
The key items in the projects at all levels are light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and 3-volt coin-cell batteries.
The book is well-organized, written with clarity in step-by-step format, and well-illustrated with color photographs. The book also uses coil binding, so it lies flat on a table.
I have not seen this binding used in previous MakerMedia books I have reviewed. It is a very practical choice, especially for family projects where several children and adults may be trying to work with the book at the same time. (A Kindle version of the book also is available.)
— Si Dunn
** Get the book here **
LED Projects for the Whole Family
Emily Coker and Kelli Townley
Maker Media, spiral-bound paperback, Kindle