Geek gift guide for 2011 – electronics geeks

    _Electronics geeks

Hello, world! This is the second geek gift guide post. The first was more general, and this is specifically showing gifts aimed at electronics geeks. Keep your eye peeled for a few more guides.

    You can measure up an electronics geek by the amount of time that passes between unwrapping a gift and pulling out a screwdriver in order to open it up. They (we) like to build things and break things in the quest to learn how they work and how we could make them work better. The gift ideas below range from beginner to advanced and are sure to have something to please.

    Kits from make mag or sparkfun or adafruit
    Electronics kits are a great way to get your feet wet in electronics. They generally contain everything you need in order to make your project and all you have to do is solder the components on the board. This is a great way to build a frustration-free project, and you also get to see how things are designed “the proper way” Pick out a kit that looks interesting from either of those places and it’ll be a sure fire couple of quiet hours spent with the soldering iron.

    Ponoko gift card – Ponoko is a great company out of new zealand that helps makers build stuff. They have laser cutters and all kinds of other tools that you can pay to have them cut materials with. This is really good for getting laser cut acrylic cases or gauge clusters.

    Hackerspace gift certificate – depending on where you live, there may be a hackerspace near by. This is like an artists collective for geeks. They usually have all kinds of tools, materials and like minded people. They are good places to meet other geeks and collaborate on projects. They generally charge admission to cover rent, so a gift certificate is like free entry! Look for a hackerspace in your area here.

    9 more geeky ideas after the break!

Geek gift guide for 2011 – Misc Geeks

Tinyenormous Geek gift guide for 2011

There are a lot of sites out there that have gifts for geeks. The problem is that it is really difficult for a non-geek boyfriend or girlfriend to pick something appropriate unless they are geeks themselves. The purpose of this guide is to break down a bunch of gift ideas based on the type of geek you are shopping for. There are general ideas that are broadly applicable to most geeks, there are electronics geeks, photo geeks, audio geeks, gaming geeks.

This first post goes out to all of my comrades fighting in the cubicle turf wars. It is a general list of things that appeal to a broad swath of geeks. For those of you who just want to shop, not read, click here to go straight to the amazon mini-store and see most of the items below.

_Misc Geeks

nice multitool – regardless of if it is needed, geeks love knives and tools. It is almost impossible to go wrong with something like this skeletool from leatherman or (at a third the price) this one from Gerber You always have something to open a beer with, and you don’t feel like a wuss at work trying to open a box up with your car key.

Their own domain name! would love to give you a domain name on the cheap. “.com” domains can be had for under $10 a year and are like real estate in that if you don’t buy it now someone else may. Buying or may seem silly now, but they aren’t making any more .com addresses…

Maglite XL100 flashlight This one kind of goes with the multi tool and the knives. It’s super useful in the car, it’s great for when you hear a bump in the night, and it helps when you drop something tiny and reflective on the carpet. The XL100 in particular uses a motion sensor to switch between the light modes! Fancy!

scan gauge
– If there is one thing geeks love it is data! This cool little thing plugs into your car and tells you exact info straight from the cars sensors. You can use this to check and reset engine lights, and you can use this to get very precise, instantaneous mileage measurements. This can pay for itself fairly quickly if you use it to increase your gas mileage, or it can avoid having to go to the shop to tell you that you didn’t put the fuel cap on tight enough.
more than 10 awesome ideas hiding after the jump!

Wired is supposed to be techy, right?

Why can’t they figure out their blog summary code? It has looked like this as long as I have been reading it. Most of the summaries include blog-only code (like “previous image-next image” above) or errors in passing non-text elements (“???” everywhere!) “Beyond the beyond” was the worst offender, but they seem to have finally gotten rid of that.

Do not get me wrong: I love Wired. I have had a dead-tree subscription for well over a decade. This won’t even effect my near-daily refreshing of their website. It just seems a little out of character for a company that helped start it all, survived the dot-com crash and is still on the cutting edge of all that is cutting edge.

Comments Off on Wired is supposed to be techy, right? Posted in general geek

Building the Bliptronome v0.1 and 0.2

So here is the followup to my last Bliptronome post. As I said I bought a bliptronic-5000 from thinkgeek over christmas break and was working on it back at home. I didn’t have very much for spare parts or tools, so I had to make due with that I had.

Here is the box it comes in. Try to contain your excitement.
monome clone from bliptronic-5000

Here is my first prototype. I learned a lot with this, not the least being that using old ide cables can be a very frustrating way to prototype. After re-wiring the arduino 3 or 4 times I finally tested the cable only to find that 5 of the pins were all grounded internally (somehow). I ended up with the breadboard here and it worked out for a test.
monome clone from bliptronic-5000

Since the ide cable failed I ended up taking the female header off of the scrap board and mounting some solid core wire to it.
monome clone from bliptronic-5000

This is the top of the the button board.
monome clone from bliptronic-5000
more gory details after the break

Cheap Monome built from a toy and and arduino – bliptronome

I’ve watched the monome videos for quite a while now, and I’ve really enjoyed them. I love how the unlabeled device looks so useful in someone else’s hands, but I know it’s really tough to learn. I have wanted one for a bit, but the makers (who seem awesome) only release small runs every once in a while, and they are generally highly (~$500) priced as well.

I saw a few links saying that you could build your own from an arduino and a bunch of gear, and that really got me interested. Over here at flipmu they have a full shopping list for building an arduino based monome clone that is called an “arduinome”, but it still looks like it comes out to almost $300 with shipping AND it is still very much a kit.

More recently I saw that some people had hacked their $40 bliptronic-5000s into arduinomes and that really piqued my interest. The hack basically uses the shift registers, buttons and leds of the bliptronic, and swaps in an arduino as the brains of the operation. The hardware is nowhere near as nice as the actual monome is, but it is approachable financially, and it’ll be useful for other things once it is connected to the arduino regardless.
Hit the jump for the details!