It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for photography — I’ve been known to take a photo or two in my time — and I have a hell of a weak spot for electronics, to boot. In the upcoming Open Circuits from No Starch Press, authors Windell Oskay, co-founder of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, and Eric Schlaepfer, creator of the popular collection of vintage competing Twitter account Tube Time, talk about the creative beauty (and beautiful creativity) of electronics.
Part history book, part coffee-table photo book and part journey into the inner lives of the electronics, Open Circuits is a fascinating journey through the history of electronics. The authors explore the visual landscape of electronics, including tearing apart a bunch of the components to take a look at what’s inside, and adding a description of how it all works.
In a spread about thick film resistor arrays, the authors explore the inner and outer beauty of the components, and call out details that I otherwise would never have noticed — such as the trimming laser scorch marks. Image Credits: Eric Schlaepfer and Windell H. Oskay.
Electronics nerds will have seen resistor arrays — these little colorful blocks on printed circuit boards (PCBs), but even though I must have soldered hundreds, if not thousands, of these in my time, I never stopped to think what’s happening on the inside. I found myself enraptured with intrigue to further explore the components. The authors took some of them apart to show off the simple, understated, elegant beauty of the components. For a brief moment, I was reminded that art is everywhere, even inside the electronics that surround us.
LED filaments contain hundreds of little LEDs in microscopic strip lights. The phosphor is agitated into glowing, which gives the individual strands the look of “filaments”. Image Credits: Eric Schlaepfer and Windell H. Oskay.
I love how the authors explore the components visually (and they are beautiful), and take the time to explain why the components look the way they look. Take the humble LED filament light bulb, for example — I’ve never paused to think how they are made or why they look the way they look. Now, I’ll never be able to see them the same way again.
Cheramic caps are probably among the simplest components there are. I never paused to think that they might actually be pretty, too.Image Credits: Eric Schlaepfer and Windell H. Oskay.
Orange Ceramic Disc Capacitors are a dime a dozen — almost literally, if you order them in big enough quantities — and they are ubiquitous in electronics labs. So simple, and yet almost poetic in their beauty, this was the spread of the early access copy of the book the publisher sent me that made me decide to share its weird wonderment with you.
The book is available for preorder now for $40, and the final version is expected to be a 300-odd page hard-cover book shipping in September or so. Perhaps it’s a good holiday present for the visually oriented electronics nerds in your life.