Thu
Sep 23 2010 3:46pm

Makers Recommendations & Giveaway!

The Makers Faire is pulling into NYC this weekend and in that spirit, we’ve compiled a Makers Books & Manuals Recommendation List for aspiring scientists, engineers, and makers, courtesy of Cory Doctorow, Mark Frauenfelder, and lots of MAKE Magazine contributors.

Many of the listed books, manuals, catalogs, etc. are hard to find, but if you are willing to do a little extra work, there are a whole host of amazing DIY and makers texts out there not available in your corner bookstore. Some of these are catalogs; some are just obscure. All are intriguing and heartily recommended by our contributors. Try your luck with eBay, AbeBooks, and other used booksellers and traders.

For those who can’t make it to Makers Faire, Tor.com is giving away 10 sets tile games from Makers by Cory Doctorow, created by the awesome folks at IdiotsBooks. We’ll be randomly selecting five folks who retweet this post on Twitter and five who comment on Facebook account in the next 24 hours. (Until 3 PM Friday.)

You can read Makers by Cory Doctorow here on Tor.com.

Table of Contents

JUMP TO:
Projects
Electronics
Theory
Rare and Hard-to-Find Gems
Fiction
Arduino
Makers Book Recommendation Index


Projects:

The Best of MAKE
Celebrating the resurgence of making things, a classic already. - Phil Torrone, senior editor, Make Magazine

The Boy Mechanic, original edition, 1913
From an era pre-television, when children actually knew how to make things and not hurt themselves in the process. This book is a wonderful piece of history, even if some of the projects are dated. - Saul Griffith, of Other Lab, 323D, Energy Literacy, Wattz On, and Howtoons

Design for Manufacturability Handbook, by James G. Bralla
Required reading in Industrial Design classes, this is the most comprehensive reference book I know for manufacturing mass produced items out of most modern materials. While intended for designers of products for standard mass production, it is also very useful for the garage tinker or small scale designer. It covers everything from forging to CNC laser cutting, and contains detailed information on material specs and specific tips for each manufacturing process including avoiding common errors in design that could compromise your project when attempting to produce it. - Noah Beasley, industrial design student and maker

The Fundamentals of Digital Art, by Richard Colson
This is a really comprehensive history of “new media” projects that involve electronics as well and I find it useful as a reference point. There are only so many theremins you can design before moving on :) - Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Arduino hacker

Google SketchUp for Dummies, by Aidan Chopra
Google’s free 3D design program, SketchUp, takes a bit of getting used to, but once its basic stretch-and-squash underpinnings become clear, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without this. Aidan Chopra, who works at Google’s SketchUp Labs, wrote the best book about it. - Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of MAKE

Great International Paper Plane Book, by Jerry Mander
I like this because the author’s name is funny. He also wrote Four Arguments for the Abolition of Television, but don’t hold that against him. This has an inspiring piece about how the DIY paper airplane competition had many millions of contributors and showed fabulous innovation, yet the SST (same era) had cost over-runs and was ultimately a failure. - Saul Griffith, of Other Lab, 323D, Energy Literacy, Wattz On, and Howtoons

How to Build with Grid Beam, by Phil Jergenson, Richard Jergenson, and Wilma Keppel
Grid Beam is an open source, modular construction system based on wooden and metal beams with holes drilled through them at a standard size and spacing. People have used the re-usable, bolt-together pieces to make furniture, vehicles, shacks, wind turbinesand hundreds of other things. - Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of MAKE

Pocket Ref
If you’re stranded without Google, it’s like pocket Google + Wikipedia all rolled up in to one... - Phil Torrone, senior editor, MAKE

The Way Things Work, by David Macaulay
I was given this as gift when I was 15 years old and it got me hooked on design and product design and figuring out what things are made of. Ideal if you’re wanting to get your kids into “making.”  - Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Arduino hacker


Electronics:

Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots, by Gareth Branwyn
Okay, this is MY book, but I still think it’s the best beginner’s guide on robotics (along with Dave Hrynkiw’s Junkbots, Bugbots, & Bots on Wheels). The Toronto Globe & Mail said it contained “brilliant writing and impressive scholarship” and set “a literary standard for how tech books should be written.” Published in 2004, most of it is surprisingly up-to-date, mainly because I focused on BEAM (analog-based) robotics and how to think about robotic design in general. - Gareth Branwyn, senior editor at MAKE and runs the Make: Online website

The ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications
Geared towards radio, but covers so much about electronics, hacking, RF, assembly, etc. its been revised yearly since 1926. - Limor “LadyAda” Fried, winner of the EFF’s Pioneer Award

The Art of Electronics, by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill
Not something I can read cover to cover but it’s likely the best resource for electronics ever written. - Phil Torrone, senior editor, MAKE

Making Things Talk, Tom Igoe
By Tom Igoe, the co-founder of the Arduino project, this is a really great book for intermediates and more advanced uses of electronics, especially making stuff that’s wireless. Lots of great instructables there. - Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Arduino hacker

Robot Builder’s Bonanza, by Gordon McComb and Myke Predko
If you are a robotics hobbyist, this has been the best one stop reference around to get information on building a robot from the first hardware store trip through body construction, electronics, and programming. It covers such issues as battery selection and power system design, sensors (including readily built vision systems), locomotion, and navigation. - Noah Beasley, industrial design student and maker

Voice of the Crystal, by H. Peter Friedrichs
This self-published guide to building radios from scratch has a stellar reputation amongst radio geeks, and for good reason. It is filled with great ideas and utterly awesome projects. I love the author’s assertion that every curbside can of garbage each trash night contains all the parts needed to build at least one radio. He uses such castaway (and other) components to build headphones out of soup cans, shoe polish tins, and disposable lighters(!), paper tube condensers (old school capacitors), detectors (old school diodes), and radio coils. If you have a maker bone in your body, you can’t look through this thing without itching to grab your tools and dive into the nearest dumpster. - Gareth Branwyn, senior editor at MAKE and runs the Make: Online website


Theory:

The Anarchist Cookbook, William Powell
Turn on, tune in, cook explosives. - Limor “LadyAda” Fried, winner of the EFF’s Pioneer Award

The Best of 2600: A Hacker Odyssey, by Emmanuel Goldstein
Decades documenting the hacker struggle, politics and more. - Phil Torrone, senior editor, MAKE

The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage, by Clifford Stoll
Read this book to enjoy the descriptions of the hacker monitor systems involving inline printers on data lines and DIY paging alert systems that Clifford put together to try and monitor a hacker trying to break into his school’s computer system. - Bre Pettis, hacker and maker and teacher

How Buildings Learn, by Stewart Brand
So much information encased here, it’s absolutely inspirational. - Rose White

Shop Class as Soulcraft, by Matthew B. Crawford
A sort of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for the early 21st century, this book is an indictment of the modern workplace and a personal ode to the joys of making things yourself, written by a philosophy professor who also owns a motorcycle repair shop. Crawford eloquently argues why we need to have fewer “symbolic analysts” and “knowledge workers” being cranked through our educational systems and more people who understand how the physical world works ­ and how to hack it for fun and profit. - Gareth Branwyn, senior editor at MAKE and runs the Make: Online website

Soul of a New Machine, by Tracy Kidder
You can learn a lot about how computers work by reading this book about the early days of computing innovation. Origin of the phrase “full of win.” - Bre Pettis, hacker and maker and teacher

Steal This Book, Abbie Hoffman
Abbie Hoffman’s classic book on “How to Rip Off the System” masquerades as a mere guide to low-level crime, but actually contains innumerable tips on how to turn garbage into gold, from directions for turning tires into sandals to instructions for founding a co-op store. The original is fun, if outdated, but the free online wiki version is heavily annotated and revised to bring it up to date. - Cory Doctorow, author of Makers


Rare and Hard-to-Find Gems:

Digital by Design
This is a great book that showcases some fabulous projects that can inspire anyone who wants to get into the business of “physical computing” and making stuff professionally. A lot of my peers and people I look up to are in there. - Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Arduino hacker

Experimental Television, A. Frederick Collins, 1932
The very first experiments involving the transmission of images over the airways took place during the late 19th century.  By the early 20th the technology had advanced to the point where the hobbyist could construct her own television apparatus at home. Experimental Television details the construction of camera, transmitter and receiver using electromechanical and vacuum tube technology and will give the reader great insight into electronics design in the pre-digital age. - Jake van Slatt, steampunk maker

Farm Show
An ad-free newspaper filled with examples of rural ingenuity: “Portable butchering table speeds poultry processing”; “New trap kills, then conceals dead flies”; “Simple homemade hand-powered milker”; “Portraits drawn from cremated ashes.” It’s like Boing Boing for farmers! - Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of MAKE

Forrest Mims’s Electronics
Great for hobbyists, Mims’s books were sold in Radio Shack back when they sold radios. They teach from the ground up, from electrons to resistors to semiconductors to dozens of example circuits. - Limor “LadyAda” Fried, winner of the EFF’s Pioneer Awarf

Foxfire books
If you can do it by hand, it’s covered in one of these volumes - Rose White

Created by a teacher who decided that the curriculum sucked and he would just get his students to document their parents and grandparents making wisdom, this book series is a must read. If they are out of print, get them on eBay. Some are available for free download. - Bre Pettis, hacker and maker and teacher

Getting Started in Electronics, by Forrest M. Mims, III
Mention this book to any hardware hacker who came of age in the ’80s (when this book first appeared on Radio Shack shelves) and you’re likely to get “I’m not worthy” bowing and head-bobbing. Legions of us learned from this friendly, fun, entirely accessible, and entirely hand-drawn (on graph paper), book. Slightly outdated in spots, most of its coverage of basic electronics theory and through-hole discrete components (resistors, capacitors, transistors, LEDs) is still relevant. - Gareth Branwyn, senior editor at MAKE and runs the Make: Online website

Grainger catalog
Along with McMaster-Carr, Grainger is the ultimate industrial hardware catalog. More than a simple listing of products available for purchase, the Grainger catalog is packed with technical information on forgotten skills like measuring ball bearings. - Mister Jalopy,: mechanic, maker, hot rodder, laundromat owner

The Jameco catalog
Electronic parts, almost as good as Mouser! - Phil Torrone, senior editor, MAKE

Lindsay’s Books, catalog
Over the years Lindsay has amassed a large collection of out of print technical books from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of these texts describe practices that are long obsolete in industry but are ideally suited to the lone garage tinkerer. Others were published long ago as handbooks for the young tradesperson newly apprentice in a field such as boiler construction or machining and thus give excellent and practical overviews of those occupations and technologies. - Jake van Slatt, steampunk maker

Modern Mechanix/Mechanix Illustrated
Of all the handy heyday magazines, Modern Mechanix was the most unabashedly ambitious with articles like “Build Your Own Helicopter.” - Mister Jalopy,: mechanic, maker, hot rodder, laundromat owner

McMaster-Carr catalog
From sheets of acrylic to fittings for a compressor. - Phil Torrone, senior editor, MAKE

Porn for mechanical engineers, MSC catalog is like Playboy. If you are into that kind of thing, there’s always the All Metric Small Parts catalog. My favourite catalog of all time however is the Melles Griot or the New Focus. I can’t remember which, but one of these optics catalogs has basically an optics text book in the first dozen pages. - Saul Griffith, of Other Lab, 323D, Energy Literacy, Wattz On, and Howtoons

Mouser, parts, parts and parts
If it’s made, it’s in here. - Phil Torrone, senior editor, MAKE

Radio Spares Catalog
Kind of a ridiculous thing to suggest, but the catalog is more easy to browse than their website. It comes in a carboard box and includes four separate sections. Think of it as buying the Encyclopedia Electronica :) - Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Arduino hacker

The Whole Earth Catalog
You’ll need to find a used/rare book-dealer to get these, or check them out at your library, but they’re worth it. The original “access to tools and ideas” texts, the oversized WECs have provided me with more hours of fun, aspiration, daydreams and inspirations than any other reading material. From pit latrines and yurts to solar power and food-driers, these were the original off-the-grid manuals for people who wanted to do anything and everything for themselves. - Cory Doctorow, author of Makers

These were like the web between covers, or like a printed version of Boing Boing! Nearly 40 years old, these are absolutely worth finding and reading. - Rose White


Fiction:

1632, by Eric Flint
The West Virginian town of Grantville is transplanted in both time and space to the German countryside of 1632. Faced with war, political machinations, and limited resources—but all of the ingenuity of a modern farming and mining community—the citizens
of Grantville must reinvent and reenact the industrial revolution to survive. - Jake van Slatt, steampunk maker

Masterman Ready, by Captain Marryat
Wonderfully didactic 19th century learn-how-to-make-in-order-to-survive naval lost-on-desert-island story. My mother read this when she was 10 or 12 and for my entire life recommended that I read it and would love it. I finally did at age 30-something. It was great, and I loved it, but I should have read it the first time she asked, when I was 10 or 12. - Saul Griffith, of Other Lab, 323D, Energy Literacy, Wattz On, and Howtoons

The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson
If the skull mounted gun implants don’t blow your mind, the on-site manufacturing machines that are in everyone’s house in this book will. - Bre Pettis, hacker and maker and teacher

Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, by Robert A. Heinlein
Heinlein’s legendary young adult novel—written for the Scouts—chronicles the adventures of Chet, who refurbishes a surplus space-suit and finds himself on a galactic adventure. Chet’s plucky gumption convinced the 11-year-old me that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t fix, refurb, or build with enough attention and skull-sweat. Heinlein was at his best when writing for young people, and Spacesuit is the top of the pile. - Cory Doctorow, author of Makers

Makers, by Cory Doctorow
Read it and then live the dream of personal fabrication and decentralized innovation. - Bre Pettis, hacker and maker and teacher

My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George
An early influence in my childhood, My Side of the Mountain is about a boy who leaves home in New York to live in the Catskill Mountains. Using boy scout style survival skills, he builds a shelter carved into a large stump, learns to make his own clothes from the hide of deer that he hunts, and trains a peregrine falcon to hunt small animals for food. Though as a city dweller he starts off with very little in the way of survival skills, he acquires the knowledge that he needs through books in the library of a local town, people he meets, and a good deal of trial and error. - Noah Beasley, industrial design student and maker


Arduino:

Getting Started with Arduino, Massimo Banzi
My business partner and co-founder of the Arduino project wrote this and if you’re starting out in the world of electronics, this is great because the examples use very friendly lined drawings and are really accessible for creative people and designers. - Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Arduino hacker

Developed for artists and tinkerers without much electronics experience, the open source Arduino is a versatile microcontroller that can give your projects the ability to sense and act on the world around it. This short book is a terrific introduction for people who know nothing about electronics or programming. - Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of MAKE

This slim guide, written by one of the co-creators of Arduino, is deceptive in its size. It outlines a whole maker philosophy, explains
the origins of the insanely-popular Arduino open source microcontroller (designed by and for artists!), and brings you gently into the world of Arduino hardware and programming. Any tech tome that reproduces a page from the ’70s punk zine, Sniffin’ Glue (showing the three basic chords needed to play punk rock, with the caption: Now go start a band!), gets my vote! - Gareth Branwyn, senior editor at MAKE and runs the Make: Online website


Makers Book Recommendation Index

1632, Eric Flint

Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots, by Gareth Branwyn

The Amateur Craftsman’s Cyclopedia of Things to Make

The ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications

The Art of Electronics, by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill

The Best of 2600: A Hacker Odyssey, by Emmanuel Goldstein

The Best of MAKE

The Boy Mechanic, original edition, 1913.

The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage, by Clifford Stoll

Design for Manufacturability Handbook, by James G. Bralla

The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson

Digital by Design

Experimental Television, A. Frederick Collins, 1932

Farm Show

Forrest Mims’ Electronics

Foxfire books

The Fundamentals of Digital Art, by Richard Colson

Getting Started in Electronics, by Forrest M. Mims, III

Getting Started with Arduino, Massimo Banzi

Google SketchUp for Dummies, by Aidan Chopra

Grainger catalog

Great International Paper Plane Book, by Jerry Mander

Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, Robert A. Heinlein

How Buildings Learn, by Stewart Brand

How to Build with Grid Beam, by Phil Jergenson, Richard Jergenson, and Wilma Keppel

The Jameco catalog

Lindsay’s Books

Makers, by Cory Doctorow

Making Things Talk, Tom Igoe

Masterman Ready, by Captain Marryat

McMaster-Carr catalog

Modern Mechanix/Mechanix Illustrated

Mouser

My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George

Pocket Ref

Radio Spares Catalog

Robot Builder’s Bonanza, by Gordon McComb and Myke Predko

Shop Class as Soulcraft, by Matthew B. Crawford

Soul of a New Machine, by Tracy Kidder

Steal This Book, Abbie Hoffman

Voice of the Crystal, by H. Peter Friedrichs

The Way Things Work, by David Macaulay

The Whole Earth Catalog

6 comments
John Massey
1. subwoofer
?

I got no twitter or fbook going on. I feel singled out over here.

Woof™.
Matthew B
2. MatthewB
It seems kind of odd that TOR is effectively cutting out its own community from its promotions. I guess they figure they already have us and these efforts are really about getting more page views and new customers.
Irene Gallo
3. Irene
My apologies guys. We have a pretty active community on Twitter --just sending some love their way. We’ve done many giveaways on the site and are geared up for a crazy late-October giveaway fest so, stay tuned.
AAron B.
4. AAron B.
Cory, the lead character in Have Spacesuit Will Travel is named Kip, not Chet.
AAron B.
5. john personna
For anyone looking to bridge making into business, I recommend Christensen's Innovators' Dilemma.

.
AAron B.
6. Eric Hunting
OK, some from my personal library;

How To Make Your Own Living Structures - Ken Isaacs : available free on-line. Isaacs is probably the grandfather of the Maker movement, though little known today outside of the more dedicated open manufacturing. Created the building system known as Matrix as the basis of a kind of DIY 'furnitecture' called Living Structures. (because they were intended to be perpetually evolvable) It's the predecessor of the building system now known as Grid Beam and formerly Box Beam, the subject of the legendary Box Beam sourcebook. Ken Isaacs is the inspiration for many open hardware and design projects across the globe and his influence can be plainly seen in the work of N55 and the Open Structures project.

Nomadic Furniture 1-2 - James Hennesey and Victor Papanek : Remember all that DIY furniture from the 70s made of various cast-offs? This is where that started. It was part of a short-lived counter-cultueral movement inspired by emerging Post-Industrial theory, which Isaacs also participated in, called the Urban Nomad movement.

High-Tech: The Industrial Style and Source Book For the Home - Joan Kron and Susan Slesin : One of the end-results of the Urban Nomad movement, this book showcased the '80s trend in adaptive reuse of industrial goods for home furnishings.

Shelter 1-2 and Home Work - Loyd Kahn and Bob Easton : pivotal books of the owner-builder movement that showcased a vast array of alternative and vernacular building techniques from around the world.

The Owner-Built Home - Ken Kern : Kern was one of the key founders of the owner-builder movement which preceded the green/sustainable architecture movement. His self-published books are rare and highly prized. The owner-builder movement was a very integral part of the Soft-Tech movement of the '70s, which later produced the Foxfire books.

Emergency Sandbag Shelter and Eco-Village Manual - Nadir Khalili : Definitive book on the SuperAdobe method and its use in relief shelter.

Sidewalks On The Moon - nadir Khalili : captivating autobiography of late architect Nadir Khalili which begins with his adolescence in Iran and ends up -much to my own surprise when I read this- on my own mountain road outside of Santa Fe. Largely concerns his quest for the development of the fired Adobe technique which ultimately brought him to the US, to NASA, and then to Los Alamos where he sought its development for use in habitat construction on the Moon -an application which he hoped would catalyze western support for its development worldwide. (based on his experience that developing world governments tended to ignore appropriate technology unless made 'important' by adoption in western countries) Khalili was also a devotee of the classic Persian poets and the book is peppered with this elegant verse which served as a kind of aesthetic and spiritual compass for him throughout his life.

Bolo'Bolo - P.M. : once featured in the Whole Earth Catalog, this legendary work of Post-Industrial futurism has apparently been a key inspiration for many in the Maker movement as well as many SF authors exploring the subject of post-scarcity cultures. The books describes a model of an imminent stateless future culture based on industrial independence in planned micro-urban communities. Alas, now very rare to find in English even though it once was found free on-line. Few of this anonymous Swiss activist author's works have ever made it to the US.

The Velvet Monkey Wrench - John Muir and Peter Auschwenden : perhaps the first and only example of 'hippy futurism', this book describes a future as might have been created had the youth movements of the 60s and 70s not died in a drug-induced blur. Probably one of the most fun, yet still serious, futurist works ever written.

How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive - John Muir and Peter Auschwenden : perhaps the best known book by this pair, it is an astounding work of technical illustration. Auschwenden's illustration style defined the character of most Soft-Tech DIY books to emerge in the 70s and 80s and this book is like an embroidery sampler for practical DIY project illustration -and that remains one of the biggest weaknesses in the contemporary Maker movement even with the advent of digital photography. Auschwenden's awesome exploded view poster of the classic Bug should be on every Maker's workshop walls. (of course, I'm also of the opinion that the Bug should have been the first de-facto open source car...)

Computer Lib - Ted Nelson : probably one of the most important works in the history of personal computing and the foundation of the ideals of technology liberation that the contemporary Maker movement holds dear.

MK Profiles catalog : aluminum T-slot profiles are one of the most ubiquitous yet commonly overlooked building systems in the world. It's something almost everyone with any hands-on technology experience has actually seen or used yet, remarkably, they rarely know its name except for that of a couple of brands -usually 80:20, MK, and Bosch. Developed chiefly for industrial automation applications, is became the successor to Box Beam as a popular building system for Soft-Tech/Eco-Tech tinkerers and it is now commonly used in robotics, custom lab equipment, custom office furniture, prototype computer hardware, and so on. Most recently -thanks to the advent of progressively larger profile scales- it has begun being used in housing applications. I myself am developing an open source modular house building system based on it called Utilihab. The MK catalog of T-slot parts is one of the largest and most diverse and the catalog itself serves as a good educational tool for the basic technology. The recently developed Maker Beam is a miniature derivative of this same technology.

Structure in Nature as a Strategy for Design - Peter Pearce : this is basically a short textbook in advanced geometry that explores the mathematical theory underlying natural structures and their application to man-made structures. A very important book for those interested in structural theory and design. It's very much a continuation of the structural theories of Buckminster Fuller. It's also significant in that the book develops a series of standard structural systems which later formed the basis of a building system called Min-A-Max. The interesting thing about Min-A-Max is that it was the basis of the construction of the ill-fated Biosphere-2. This was a very powerful building technology with endless applications that, sadly, were never fully explored. It is one of the lesser known victims of the controversy that befell the Biosphere program, as well as Pearce's own lack of business acumen.

Shaping Things - Bruce Sterling : one of Sterling's earlier forays into the realm of futurism and, though a short book, an important influence on the current Maker culture.

Engines of Creation and Nanosystems - Erick Drexler : the two most influential books on the subject of nanotechnology to date. The latter is a rather advanced book and is probably overdue for an update.

Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop - Neil A. Gershenfeld : perhaps the one book that is most responsible for triggering the emergence of the contemporary Maker movement. Details the development of Gershenfeld's MIT course on How To Make (Almost) Anything, which became the foundation of the MIT Fab Lab program that has now become a global movement centered on the community of Open Manufacturing advocates known as the Fab Folk. (and who recently even built fab labs in war-torn Afghanistan) We're probably overdue for another book on this topic.

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