10 Great Gifts for Makers Under $30 – November 2018

Today on the hookup I’m going to give you my picks for the best gift ideas under $30 for the maker or tinkerer in your life.

Whether you’re watching this video to get ideas to put on your own Christmas list, or to shop for the maker in your life, it’s hard to go wrong with the stuff in this video.  These gift ideas are things that I own and use in my projects and can personally recommend.  Amazon links for each item in this video are down in the description.

Some ground rules first:  These gifts are going to range from 5 to 30 USD.  Most makers would love to have a nice 3d printer or CNC machine, but they cost enough money and have enough variety that you probably shouldn’t buy one for someone as a gift unless they gave you some very specific information.

Let start out with some tools under $15.  Don’t worry about whether your maker already has these tools, in my opinion these are tools that you can never have enough of.

  1. A mini precision screwdriver set: https://amzn.to/2DKeCA6

These little kits will run you around $12 and include tons of bits to make sure you always have the right tool for taking apart electronics.  The bits do not fit in to a standard quarter inch bit holder, which sounds like a bad thing, but it actually helps keep the kit in tact because you’re not tempted to take a bit to use with a different tool.

  1. A 7 in 1 screwdriver: https://amzn.to/2FqmurW

I have no less than 30 screwdrivers, big small, flathead, phillips, universal.  But for 90% of my projects I use this multi purpose screwdriver.  Why do I choose this one over all the others?  It’s impossible to lose the bits.  There are 7 different arms that swing out and each one has a different size phillips or flat head screwdriver on it, they don’t detach, so you know you’ll always have the size you need.

  1. A pocket sized multimeter: https://amzn.to/2RXCW4w

Chances are your maker already has a full sized multimeter, or maybe even a clamp meter or maybe both like me.  But just like my screwdrivers, I find myself using the most convenient tools, rather than the tools with the most features.  I absolutely love my pocket sized multimeter and when I’m working on projects I always keep it in my pocket so I don’t have to go searching when I need it.

  1. A pair of Hakko CHP-170 Nippers https://amzn.to/2RWscTR

If you’ve only been using generic nippers for your entire life, you need to experience the difference of a genuine hakko tool.  Oh, and if you didn’t believe me that these are tools you can never have enough of, amazon also sells 10 packs of these things: https://amzn.to/2KfiMjO

  1. A non-rechargable LED headlamp: https://amzn.to/2qR22q0

I wear a headlamp when I’m installing wiring, when I’m working in the attic, and even when I’m just soldering projects.  I have a rechargeable headlamp that I use sometimes, but when I decide I need a headlamp to keep working I want to know that it will be ready for me.  This one runs off 3 triple A batteries and is plenty bright to get your projects finished even after the sun goes down.

The next section is fun stuff to build and play with under $30, again, don’t worry if your maker already has this stuff, having extra just means it’s time for another project!

  1. The ESP8266 NodeMCU: https://amzn.to/2RUdoFc

My absolute favorite Arduino compatible board is the ESP8266 nodeMCU it has just the right balance of features and ease of use to make it the perfect learning tool for building wifi based projects.  They have built in voltage regulation, USB to serial communication, and of course the ESP8266 wifi chip, all for about 6 dollars and 50 cents each.

  1. A set of WS2812B lights https://amzn.to/2Tkcpj4

You don’t have to go crazy and cover your whole house in LEDs to get use out of WS2812Bs.  If nothing else they are a great way to learn to code in Arduino and give you a lot of instant gratification that keeps you interested.

  1. A Shelly 1: https://amzn.to/2Rcw8j7

A shelly 1 is a wifi relay that is made for tinkerers, you don’t even need to open it the case to put your own custom firmware on it and start tinkering.  A small word of warning on this one:  If you click the link and it’s in stock you should go ahead and buy it, these things have been harder to get your hands on than a tickle me elmo in December 1996.

  1. The WyzeCam 1080p camera: https://amzn.to/2Bd9RfP

These things cost $25 and you get a really nice camera for that price, but that’s not the reason you get it.  The WyzeCam has an open source custom firmware to add all kinds of fun features.  The WyzeCam Pan/Tilt looks neat, but I can’t currently recommend it because mine has been extremely crash prone and buggy.  Stick with the WyzeCam 1080p and you won’t be disappointed.

  1. An amazon echo dot 2nd generation: https://amzn.to/2TlQlEW

The refurbished echo dot is $29 normally, and it will certainly be cheaper on black Friday.  The reason I’m suggesting the 2nd generation echo dot over the google home mini, or even the 3rd generation echo dot is that there is a hack that allows your Arduino devices to emulate a Belkin wemo or phillips hue device so they can be discovered by your echo dot locally. Not only does that make it really easy to add voice control to your projects, but it also helps you minimize reliance on cloud services.

And there you go, buy one, buy them all, it’s up to you.  If your special someone likes to create things they will love these gifts.  If you’re buying these gifts for someone else, you should tell them to check out The Hook Up on youtube for some fun and useful project ideas.  If you’re here looking for gifts for your own list, you should watch some of my other videos… If you enjoy them, please consider subscribing.  And as always, thanks for watching the hookup.

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