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2019 Holiday Gift Guide

12/2/2019 | By ASHLEY

This year’s Holiday Gift Guide has you covered for everyone from the Electrician to the Maker in your life. The Gift Guide’s products are split into five categories to ease the process of finding just what you’re looking for this year.

The first set of products will please anyone on your list that is interested in robotics; but let’s be honest, who isn’t?

  • From SparkFun Electronics we have the Redboard Inventor’s Kit. This kit is perfect for someone looking to intermix programming and hardware. Detailed projects are included in the kit to cover five different sensor integrations and also familiarize the user with the C++ programming language and the Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE).
  • Next are two products featured together. The Digi-Key edition of the :MOVE mini with bumper add-on and the :MOVE mini MK2. What’s so cool about these and why are we featuring two? The :MOVE minis are easy to program using either MakeCode's Graphical Block or JavaScript programming, and they are great for autonomous, Bluetooth, or radio control depending on the user’s preference. The Digi-Key edition sports an awesome color scheme plus it includes the bumper which is typically purchased separately; while the MK2 is the original Kitronik color scheme, but with a few updates! The biggest update to the MK2 is the injection molded wheels with o-ring tires to provide better grip and mobility.
  • This Devastator Tank Mobile Robot Platform from DFRobot is spectacular for many reasons. This product comes with the chassis, assembly hardware, motors, wheels, and tracks, leaving the user to pick their choice of microcontroller. There is a recommended all-in-one board (Romeo BLE), but a Raspberry Pi or most Arduino-based boards also do the trick. This is great for users already experienced with a specific board where they may even have one on-hand already. Another cool thing about the Devastator? There are plenty of spaces on the aluminum chassis to add all kinds of sensors as well. Beginners to Engineers and everyone in between are sure to enjoy this kit.

The second set of products will actually please anyone on your list. No seriously, it’s all about lights and music. Who doesn’t love the blinkies and music?!

  • First up is a Bluetooth speaker from Klein Tools. This small speaker has many features that are ideal for a variety of environments. It has a 10 meter connectivity range, is drop protected up to 2 meters, has an IP45 rating (dust protection >1 mm, liquid protection water jets at 3 m), and has a 10 hour battery life. Another awesome feature is the variety of mounting options. There is a magnet on the back, a lanyard tie point, and a ¼-20 mount for standard tripods. While it is great in a semi-rugged environment, it is also a fitting gift for anyone that enjoys music on the go.
  • Next is another product combo. NeoPixels from Adafruit are an easy and fun way to add some flash and bling to any project. To feature this series we are showcasing a matrix and a strip, but there are plenty of other options within the series to fit any LED project need.
  • Last in this set is sort of a combination of the previous two products and then some. The Neotrellis M4 from Adafruit is an all-in-one NeoPixel and audio board powered by the SAMD51 microcontroller. This easy-to-use board can be programmed in the Arduino IDE or with Circuit Python in any text editor the user prefers. Like any Adafruit product, there is a Getting Started guide and multiple projects complete with full documentation and code examples.

The third set of products to go over will cover any fixer or tinkerer on your list.

  • Up first is the IFIXIT Pro Tech Toolkit from Pimoroni. If you’re a professional breaker like myself, you’ll need this kit in your tool arsenal. In the words of Pimoroni, it “contains all the poking, prying, gripping, lifting, ESD safety, and screw driving tools” you’ll need, whether you’re a pro or hobbyist.
  • Next, (I’m going out of order here but you’ll see why) are a couple of multimeters. Depending on preference or use, we have a manual ranging multimeter and an auto-ranging multimeter - both from B&K Precision. These both come with batteries, hangers, manuals, and test leads. The manual ranging also comes with a temperature probe. These sturdy, reliable and handy-to-have multimeters are a must for any level of designer or troubleshooter.
  • Last is the ultimate case from Serpac to house these tools and more for safekeeping. This particular case is 19.75” L x 15.53” W x 5.413” H and includes the foam inserts shown in the product photo. To top it off, this case is water and air tight with an IP67 rating.

This next set of products will cover any gamers on the list, from casual to hardcore.

  • The Arduboy from Seeed Technology is a compact (credit card sized), open platform game system powered by the ATmega32u4. It can be programmed using the Arduino IDE, Codebender, GCC, and AVRDude. Want to start playing and program later? There are plenty of published games that are free to play, or you can even download open source games to edit and make your own.
  • This is the latest version of the awesome desktop retro arcade machine from Pimoroni. The PiCade has new artwork, a dedicated power button, and comes with an 8 inch or 10 inch display! All you need to get started is the PiCade kit, a Raspberry Pi, USB-C power supply, and a micro SD card. When the company’s name stands for Pirate Monkey Robot Ninja, you KNOW their product has to be cool.
  • Last is another credit card sized gaming system from Seeed Technology - the Meowbit. The coolest feature about this product? You can program it with MakeCode arcade and Python, which allows implementation of hardware devices! Bridging the gap between the digital world of gaming and the physical world in a simple, user-friendly way.

That’s all for this installment of our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide. Please check back frequently for updates. We will be adding new product all month!