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Electronic Circuits for the Evil Genius

By Dave Cutcher
McGraw Hill
ISBN# 0071448810

Electronic Circuits for the Evil Genius (about $16.50 online) is a book designed to introduce beginners to basic circuitry, such as diodes, resistors, conductors, digital electronics, etc. It helps you make circuits and test them, and has lots of great projects that you can do. There is also an Evil Genius parts kit available from another company - Abra Electronics (, $55.95) - that is supposed to contain everything you need to make all the circuits and projects in the book. But the kit does not contain a few of the necessary components, including a soldering iron and a multimeter (needed to test the circuits). On the other hand, all the components included are of excellent quality. Another plus is that the kit comes in a neat plastic toolbox, so you can store all your little gadgets in it safely and securely.

This book is divided into 57 lessons. Each lesson has an accompanying project to do with the included gizmos. There are also more resources on the author's website ( that provides additional information and illustrations, including freeware so you can use your PC as an oscilloscope. The main component of the toolbox is the handy little breadboard. This is a little board with lots of little holes to fit wires into, and metal strips to connect said holes. It really makes the circuitry much easier than bare wires simply twisted together, but it is still a professional tool, and gives a sense of ?authenticity? to the kit. The kit and book are written for teenagers, so they would be best suited for those 13+, and for those in 9th grade or beyond, and needs to be stored away from younger siblings! The book is really designed for independent use, but it works out best with a student and a teacher (AKA Mom or Dad) who has some understanding of the topic. This actually means that the book is a great curriculum for homeschooling families, as homeschooling entails individualized teaching, an essential ingredient for success in completing the book. The book does not require a rocket scientist to decipher it (thank goodness), but beginners in electronics might be rather confused. Therefore, it is probably best for those who have at least a little understanding of electronics (and can read an electronics diagram!).

All in all, I thought Electronic Circuits for the Evil Genius was a well-thought-out, carefully researched, very engrossing, all-in-all fascinating, and excellently put together kit and book combo - but best used for older kids with some electronics experience. It worked well in our homeschool, except for the few little problems already mentioned. Therefore, I give Electronic Circuits for the Evil Genius a glowing review - with a slight caution.

-Product Review by: Josiah Wright (12-year-old son of Dr. Anne Margaret Wright), The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC

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