> As for Art of Electronics: it's a tad overrated book. At one time I went through the less trivial circuits and built them, one by one, paying attention to what was going on. Many didn't work as claimed, and not because of some silly mistake in the book, but because clearly nobody bothered to actually build them as described/shown.
Reminds me of my experience with the Forrest M. Mims books that Radio Shack sold. They're regarded by many as excellent, but I don't know why. I guess it has something to do with them being the only thing at Radio Shack and anything being better than nothing, and so people remember them fondly because at least they weren't nothing.
I remember one circuit I built, some kind of radio transmitter, just burnt itself up. I then looked at the schematic closely and couldn't really see why it would do anything else.
I note a similar fondness among people on the internet for the 555 timer. I suspect this too has a lot to do with it being one of the few parts available at Radio Shack, as well as being often featured in Radio Shack's books. It's like they had a rule that they wouldn't sell any book that used any part that wasn't available at Radio Shack.
I've never had good luck with 555 timers, which seems to come down to it not being a well-defined part in terms of operating parameters, with each manufacturer doing their own thing. Indeed, one books I bought at Radio Shack about switch mode power supplies said "if one 555 timer doesn't work, try different ones until the circuit works."
Even the one thing I remember fondly from Radio Shack, the "30-in-one" electronics kits, were actually kind of awful. I guess the kits themselves were OK but the manuals were awful in that they didn't really teach anything. As a kid I would build the circuits for fun but there was nothing to be gained by reading the accompanying text, other than instructions as to how to use the circuit once completed.
It kind of makes me wonder if Radio Shack couldn't have been more successful if it had simply had better educational materials. Who are you going to sell electronic components to when no one knows how to use them?