Are you a closet inventor? Have you heard about the strange new thing called 3-D printing and would like to try your hand at it? Do you believe you could create electronic devices to solve problems around the home or office? If any of these sounds like you, then you may be a “maker”. Makers are those among us who dream of better ways to do things and creative uses for the objects around us. They are the tinkerers and programmers, the hackers and explorers. If any of this sounds appealing to you, then the book “Zero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Just About) Anything” by David Lang is a good place for you to start.
“Zero to Maker”, published by Maker Media, starts with an overview of the maker phenomena and then gets down to the hands-on nitty-gritty. In contrast to general business style books like “The Maker Movement Manifesto” by Mark Hatch, which stays at a higher more theoretical level, “Zero to Maker” goes in depth with some of the projects and problems that face today’s creators. From the various types of people that you will come in contact with to the different ways of handling specific product problems, the advice given her is concrete and actionable. The next step from here would be actual user manuals for hardware or programming tutorials for system development languages.
When it comes to the maker scene, I am definitely into the computer side of things. I am into the Raspberry PI, the Arduino, and TI’s Launchpad. I guess that makes sense since I am a programmer by trade, but I also like the hardware side of these devices. But, since I have been so preoccupied with software for so many years, my knowledge of basic electronics leaves something to be desired. That is where a book such as this comes in. It doesn’t necessarily tell me everything I need to know about electronics, but it helps lay out a path of where I should go to learn more.
I found Lang’s style easy to read and almost conversational, without become too casual. Making is an area where the excitement of discovery should show through, and it does in this book. Of particular interest is his relating his own journey with the OpenROV project. The path of that project, dealing with underwater robots, from discovery through fruition is one that all makers hope to enjoy.
I would also recommend “Zero to Maker” to parents or teachers who are interested in getting kids interested in engineering, science, or other STEAM fields. (STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) This book might give some ideas on how to motivate those kids and also how to deal with the types of personalities that will be encountered.