Apr 24

Electronics for Costumers (order parts for Tutorial soon!)

We’re planning a tutorial workshop, with hands-on “labs”, in Electronics for Costumers. Somewhat like the session conducted by Sparkfun in Denver, we will cover the basics of how to reliably and safely light up a costume or prop.

For those who want to go beyond using existing electronics as-found, this workshop will teach the basics of connecting power source (batteries), one or more LEDs or lamps, the resistor(s) needed by the LEDs, possibly a switch, possibly a fuse (more important than you might think!), and of course wires, to make a working lighting circuit. The basics of voltage, current, and resistance will be shown step-by-step via a series of simple experiments. Series vs. parallel circuits, what a “short circuit” is and how to avoid them, battery choices, LED and lamp choices, wiring choices, and so on will all be part of the learning. Time permitting, we will show some examples of more complex electronics and show how to apply the principles of power sources, wiring, etc., to them.

Soldering will not be covered due to time and equipment requirements, but we’ll present links to some terrific online videos on the subject.

We’ll have a handout (or maybe a web site you can browse, print, etc., as you prefer) that will provide reference data for all the details, along with additional information and suggestions for further learning.

Ringers welcome! If you already know this stuff and want to help infect others with the joy of discovery, please do show up! You will not need a parts kit. Seating may be limited, but expect to be “mobile” anyway, so you can go to those who need a little help. And thank you!

You are of course free to just sit in… but to participate in the experiments, you must purchase, in advance, a $30 parts kit ($19 if you already own and can bring a multimeter; any other parts you already own can be substituted as well). Review the list, remove any items you already own and can bring, then click “order project” and “checkout”. Small orders usually arrive from this company within a few days. They should be able to ship to you c/o the hotel, if that is required to fit your travel schedule. These kits will not be available at the convention. Most of the parts can be used in later projects. (Yes, the parts kit is missing resistors and LEDs! Those will be supplied by the instructor.) (No, the presenter does not get a percentage.)

You should also bring six fresh AA batteries—they should not get used very much used during the session, so you can use them for other things later.

If you can bring a pair of long- or needle-nose pliers (six inch overall length) and a small pair of diagonal cutters or other small-wire cutters, you will probably find them useful, but they are not required.

To order the parts kit, click this link or enter this URL in your web browser:


UPDATE: As of this writing, the distributor shows the multimeter as “backordered”. If this has not changed by the time you order, delete that item from your shopping cart and: 1) add item 685-MN35, a better multimeter for about $9 more; or 2) go to Harbor Freight and buy their item 98025, which is the same meter originally called for but currently on sale for just $6; or 3) bring a multimeter you already have or can borrow (any multimeter will do).