76 of 79 people found the following review helpful
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The basic design and direction of this book is absolutely excellent. The question and answer format engages the reader for better understanding, and the topics covered include a wide variety of essential areas. The book falls down, however, because of being 'rushed out without adequate editing' (nor usable index), thus leaving the reader confused at times. Other problems include incorrect answers to problems, and inadequate explanations. So while I know that I learned a lot from the book, I also know that if I recommended it to friends they would be calling me saying how frustrated they were with the mistakes. For that very reason my review is not a recommendation. I have strong hopes that the next edition will fix the problems here and I will THEN be able to recommend this book.
In case you are wondering (and I know I was), the third edition is actually written by Earl Boysen now since Harry Kybett, having written the first two editions, has passed away.
The Q & A format is one of those things that always seems to be a bit unique in any particular book, and this one is no exception. In the early chapters many of the questions may seem insulting in that they are so easy, and the reader can find themself wondering if the book was written for 8 year old kids! But the real beauty of that approach is that it forces your mind to change modes on a regular basis: instead of staying in a passive info-absorbing mode, it has to stop and become active at solving a problem, which results in better retention. So even if the question seems childish, the information is more firmly impressed on you. In the middle and latter chapters, the Q & A format usually sticks with problem solving, often asking you to repeat the same sort of calculations you have seen in examples. Most of the time the solutions include more than just answers, serving to explain just how the answer was arrived at. But the problems occur with that word "most"! It is also the case that many of the times when we need details, all we get is a numerical answer with no hint as to how it was arrived at. It is even more frustrating when the book's answer appears WRONG no matter how many times you recalculate it.
In addition to the Q & A presentation, the end of each chapter includes review questions along with answers, but no detailed solution. One clear editorial screwup is apparent where Chapter 1 calls this "pre-test" and all other chapters call it "self-test." That's why I say "rush job".
I found myself confused with the authors presentations on occasion and felt it necessary to consult other electronics books. Two I found particularly helpful were "Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics" by Stan Gibilisco, and "Electronics for Inventors" by Paul Scherz. Both of these guys' books are a lot more "wordy" with an emphasis on making electronics undestandable. While this book is supposed to demystify electronics, I have to say I felt mystfied enough to go out and get these other books. Three things Boysen's book were unclear about are: ground line in circuits, which doesn't even show up in the index and is assumed to be something the reader knows beforehand; combining AC and DC in the same circuit (way too brief); and the emitter-follower amplifier - the description was just plain baffling!.
This book does a great job of covering things like amplifiers, resonance, power supplies, along with AC and DC basics, but of course you have to start with fundamentals. Kirchoff's voltage and current laws are covered, but this books stops short of giving you a full complement of circuit analysis tools. It would be much better to have the method of loop currents presented here since without it, readers will be left scratching their heads when they run into many real-world circuits.
Another big plus is the list of internet references that are provided in the book. The author has his own website and you can send him questions about the book; I did that and got a response every time.
The book does have some experiments (five total), but they will require some equipment. At a minimum, you will need a breadboard and two digital multimeters, but normally you will also need an oscilloscope and a signal generator. Two of these experiments are called "optional" and are in the chapter on oscillators. I would not expect anyone to be able to perform those last two experiments simply because sufficient information is not given. The components are not specified and the author basically just suggests that you try to implement what is shown in a circuit diagram rather the providing the details (as he did in the other experiments). I think they are called "optional" because the author opted out! I would have preferred to see more experiments, maybe minimum of one per chapter?, and some alternative way of doing them without the expensive equipment.
The chapter on oscillators is the worst chapter in the book! The only thing you are going to learn from this chapter is the three basic types of oscillators -- the Q&A problems are just impossible and really serve to show how rushed out the book was. Then, at chapter end, the self-test is very superficial, demonstrating that the author knew very little was conveyed. What are the characteristics of oscillators? Not covered. Why would you choose one type over another? Not covered. What are oscillators used for? Not covered.