Composite Materials Fabrication Handbook #1, by John Wanberg

This is an excellent book for anyone getting started with fiberglass or carbon fiber. The examples range from simple to complex, but are well illustrated and described. I want to make some composite nosecones and tubes, and it looks like the techniques in this book will enable me to do that without too much trial-and-error!

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Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants, by John D. Clark

This book helps explain why some liquid propellants are “better” than others, and why some should be avoided at all costs! I really liked the chapter devoted to hypergolic propellants, but the chapters on monopropellants and hybrid propellants were also very interesting to me.

Engineering books usually only list technical data concerning propellant combinations, leaving it up to you to decide which combination will meet your needs. If you are designing a liquid bipropellant rocket, Clark’s book can help you make a more informed choice.

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Arduino + Android Projects for the Evil Genius, by Simon Monk

Although published in 2012, this book is still available. The technology used in the book has moved on, however, you might still get some good ideas from it. I found a copy at my local library and discovered that most of the important parts have been upgraded or replaced with newer versions that may not be compatible. The website for the book’s code redirects to a dead-end, but I discovered that most of the code appears to be available from:

Arduino and Android Projects for the Evil Genius

I have not tried any of the projects in the book.

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ELEGOO UNO R3 Project Complete Starter Kit with Tutorial for Arduino UNO (63 Items) V2

Microcontrollers are everywhere, and almost everybody wants to make something with one. The Arduino series of microcontrollers are probably the best known and most popular available today. It was designed as a teaching aid, but has been built into at least a gazillion-and-one projects by people all over the world.

I purchased this kit from Amazon (Canada) just over two years ago for $79.99, a bargain at the time, and the price is even lower now! I knew a little bit about electronics, a lot about computers, and nothing about the Arduino. This kit turned out to be a great way to get started.

There are 33 lessons included in the kit and yes, it took me two years to complete them all. Even in retirement, it seems that “real life” gets in the way of the important stuff that you want to do! Elegoo also includes data sheets for every component in the kit, saving you many hours of online searching.

The lessons are well written and illustrated, and mistakes are corrected quickly. Over the last two years, I needed to download the updated Tutorial PDF at least three times, but this shows that Elegoo really wants you to have a frustration-free learning experience.

The first lessons are simple and boring, but introduce you to the Arduino without raising your blood pressure. It gets more interesting as you move along and before you know it, things get complicated! At this point, I stopped trying to understand the code and concentrated on getting each experiment working. After all, I just wanted to see and appreciate what it could do; I didn’t really care how it did it.

I won’t bore you with details about the lessons, but I did make a bunch of mistakes that you do not need to duplicate! If you follow the instructions and check everything carefully, you should be alright.

Solderless breadboards do not last forever, so if your circuit is correct but doesn’t work then try moving the wires and components around. The last lessons use a power supply that attaches to the solderless breadboard; make sure both sides of it are set for 5V, and remember to plug it in and turn it on!

Elegoo has a good website; search for it online, then download the Tutorial PDF for this kit and see if this looks like a good way for you to get started with the Arduino. It was for me!

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