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.
There are a lot of sitesout therethat 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.
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! – www.GoDaddy.com 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 firstnamelastname.com or thelastnamefamily.com 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!
I have really had a lot of fun shooting pictures of things and learning about photography in the last few years. One thing I love about digital photography is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to take a lot of pictures. I have had an absolute blast playing around making pinhole lenses, taking infra red pictures, and playing around with garage sale flashes.
Here are a lot of ideas (and links!) for gifts for the photographer in your life, arranged by price from low to high. Most of these links are nikon-specific, but if you like the idea, there is definitely a canon version to be found out there! Side note: if you don’t want to read my interpretation, then you can just click here and find the list at amazon.
ir remote – You can control your camera with a remote! These little guys are good for group photos, stop motion work, and for the times your camera is way out of reach. They’re cheap too!
flash slave – This is a neat tiny little bit of electronics that you pop onto the bottom of a flash and it will fire whenever it sees another flash fire. These aren’t as good as the high tech versions out there, but they still do the trick a lot of the time. These can be found for $8
There really are few magazines that I eagerly look forward to. There are even fewer that I can’t hold back from reading in the bookstore BEFORE my subscription arrives (I just can’t hold back!) MAKE is chock full of cool projects, ideas, and people. They have detailed build plans for some of their projects, and they are always a source of inspiration. To give a gift subscription click here of just go to http://www.makezine.com/ There seem to be a few different deals out there. Sometimes you can get a makers notebook for free, and sometimes you can get an extra issue. You get to pick your deal.
It should also be noted that their blog is one of my main interests on the internet. You can find it at http://blog.makezine.com/ and it is almost like a new issue that arrives every time you hit the refresh button!
Make seems to be about celebrating the unabashed love of technology, and I unabashedly love that. If you know of someone who might like it – get it for them. If you already get it – loan out a few copies to your friends. This magazine deserves some more evangelism!
One gift that geeks undeniably love are tools. The tricky thing is finding ones that not only they don’t have, but also need. I can’t imagine anyone interested in electronics NOT owning a soldering iron, but almost all beginners start out with a really useless $8 radioshack iron. That thing usually has a very blunt tip, is uncomfortable, and is almost never the right temperature. It really is amazing anyone can learn how to solder on one of those. Last year I became the proud owner of a Weller WLC100, and I suggest you do the same.
I’m sure you are wondering what makes this is soldering iron better.
-It’s MUCH more comfortable in your hand
-It has a variable temperature dial so that you can gently heat components.
-It is much more stable on the desk, and it has an orange light on it that lights up whenever the unit is powered (and therefore much less likely to light your shop on fire!)
-And lastly, when you work with it you feel like you are using the proper tool for the job. We have all been in a situation where you are stripping wires with a kitchen knife, or cutting a hole in a box with a plastic fork. Sometimes you need to use the wrong tool for the job, but when you have the perfect tool for the job it really makes the process much more enjoyable.