Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Review of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi

I have been interested in playing with a Raspberry Pi for quite some time and it'll be a while before I do as I have too many other projects to work on right now, but I decided to go through this book to see how useful it would be. I have to say it's definitely a recommended reading for anyone getting into this great, inexpensive computer!
It is quite detailed on how to go through everything from setup to advanced topics like using GPIO to control things and read sensor information. I also think the primer on Python is a great way to get people thinking more about using Python for things. I have been trying to get going in Linux for a bit now and found these instructions, even though it's for the RPi, to be quite useful. There's even a section on how to connect and use an Arduino with the RPi. I appreciate that section!
My only complaint and the reason I gave it 4 stars is the lack of thorough editing before releasing this book. There were multiple grammatical errors in the book that I found to be a bit annoying for a published book, although I know they can be hard to find. I also found a mistake in the code in one of the loops that would make it go forever as one of the variables is never incremented. You need to know a little programming to use what's in this book so most people reading this with some sort of understanding would likely catch the error but for those that are new to it may not.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and found it very useful. Now I need a little more time and my own board to play around with!

Disclaimer: This book was received as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program. All comments represent my thoughts and opinions.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Review of Getting Started with MakerBot

I just read the Make magazine about issue about 3D printing and the comparisons of hobby grade printers and decided I had to find out the details of at least one and this book was a good way to delve into it.
One problem or advantage of this particular 3D printer (MakerBot Replicator 2) is that it isn't closed source so if you want to make modifications to it to make it bigger or optimize the programming, you won't be able to. However, because it's closed source, that leaves all the major tuning work for the manufacturer so you get a more straight out of the box and up and running experience with it. Pick your poison.
Most of this book is dedicated towards the basics about 3D printing and what it's about and then setup and using the Replicator 2. Since I still don't know which one I plan on getting, I couldn't really validate these sections but all the instructions made it pretty simple to get up and running with the printer so I think that makes it worth having if you already have this particular printer and need help with it. Otherwise, this book may be too simple for you.
What I found useful for anyone that doesn't have a printer yet and wants to learn more is chapters 8 and 9. They go over the software you can use to make 3D models and things you need to take into consideration. Good stuff there. But then they go into details about how to use currently 3D scanners like the XBox Kinect and the Asus Xtion to get 3D models you can use to make something. That is worth knowing and made this book worth reading.
Overall, I would recommend this is you are planning on purchasing the Replicator 2 and don't have any experience with 3D printing. If not, you can find the information in chapters 8 and 9 elsewhere so it may not be worth it but going through it nonetheless is still a very good idea.

Disclaimer: This book was received as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program. All comments represent my thoughts and opinions.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Review of Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing

I didn't realize this was just a magazine but thought the whole thing was dedicated towards the comparison of all the 3D printer models. I guess it makes sense after I think about it some.
I have been interested in possibly getting a 3D printer this year so this was a nice way to get all the information I needed in one place! Some of the other information in the magazine is better suited for those that already have a printer so while it's nice to read and know, it's not as useful to those that do not have a 3D printer yet.
Reading the comparison was definitely an eye opener to what is actually out there and the capability of the various models. It reviews some of the higher end models but also the affordable ones more to my budget. They did a very good job comparing the print quality by using consistent models to determine which printers worked the best.
Overall, if you're looking at purchasing a 3D printer this year, pick up this magazine. You'll be glad you did. If you are looking for something more detailed about each printer, then you'll probably do better checking online at each individual website.

Disclaimer: This book was received as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program. All comments represent my thoughts and opinions.