As most geeks love DIY and tools, we couldn’t run our holiday guide series without including a selection of some of our favorites. Check below for a list of some of our favorite tools, DIY gadgets, and related products.
Costume and Prop Designer and Fabricator Billythebrick Cosplay has loads of great gift items from patterns to 3D models to DIY kits and even fully finished props. Get or gift a pattern to make a gift yourself, or get yourself or a loved one a unique, handcrafted gift from one of their favorite fandoms like Voltron, The Dragon Prince, She-ra, Harry Potter, and more!
It seems like everything I own has a rechargeable battery, which means I am always charging something. Consequently, this means I am also always forgetting to charge something else. I’ve tried scores of mobile power solutions in the past, but nothing comes close to the flexibility of the Phoenix 100 Mini Power Station from Renogy. At about the size of a soft drink can and weighing in at just under 18oz, it fits nicely into the expandable water bottle pocket on the side of my everyday carry bag. Like most power packs, it charges via USB Micro and easily supports both USB-A and USB-C out—making it great for use with your phones, tablets, and handheld gaming system—but this 27000mAh capacity monster has another trick up its sleeve. Simply hold down the power button to engage an AC power outlet (complete with its own cooling fan), and you can charge or power home appliances up to 100W! This makes it a versatile device that can be used while hiking or camping, during short-term power outages, or just when there’s nowhere convenient to plug in your laptop at the airport terminal. [Review materials provided by: Renogy]
This was the year that I finally took the plunge into the exciting world of 3D printing. Here at GeekDad, everyone has their own top pick for 3D printer tech, and mine is easily the FlashForge Adventurer3. With a flexible, removable, heated build plate and enclosed print area, it’s a nicely contained and whisper-quiet solution. Add to this simple, intuitive software, LAN, Wi-Fi, USB, and cloud print support, and even remote monitoring thanks to an internal camera, and you’ve got a uniquely satisfying piece of tech for the hobbyist printer on your gift list. [Review materials provided by: FlashForge USA]
The Nano Torch Twist is a powerful but compact modern take on the standard household flashlight. Between its 0-90 degree adjustable rotating head, strong magnetic tail cap enabling hands-free use, 5 different light modes, intelligent memory circuit which recalls the last brightness setting used each time you turn it on, bright LED 600 lumens light beam, and a 750 mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery, the Nano Torch Twist will be your go-to flashlight as well.
Caséta by Lutron does a great job of retaining all the familiar features of analog lighting solutions and then seamlessly adding on the power of automation so you get the best of both worlds. With the Caséta by Lutron Dimmer Kit With Smart Bridge, you get everything you need to replace an existing dimmer switch in your house and start automating the use of that light. For less than $100, the Caséta by Lutron starter kit is a great way to get a lot of bang for your automation buck, and since the starter kit includes the Smart Bridge, it is easy and relatively inexpensive to then add on to the system with more Caséta by Lutron automation hardware.
If you’re looking to make cool props, costumes, and armor, look no further than the best foam rolls, clay, and pre-cuts on the market—HD Foam from SKS Props. I personally have been using HD Foam for all of my latest cosplay and armor builds, and it is hands down the best stuff you can get for foamsmithing! Read some of my previous articles to learn more about foamsmithing!
Bake Neapolitan-style pizza in just a minute or so with the Ooni Koda pizza oven. Though we often reserve outdoor cooking for summer months, this easy-to-use pizza oven is great for the winter, too; it cranks out a fair amount of heat, making it pleasant to hover around as you count down the mere seconds until thin, chewy pizza perfection. All you need to do is hook it up to some propane, preheat for a little while, and then bake. Read my full GeekDad review here.
Backyard Guide to the Night Sky, Paired With Binoculars or a Small Telescope
Suggested By: Jenny Bristol
Mfg: National Geographic
Purchase: Backyard Guide to the Night Sky, Paired With Binoculars or a Small Telescope
Winter is a prime time to look at the stars. With more hours of darkness each day and the often drier air, ’tis the season to bundle up, heat up some hot chocolate, and venture out with your kids. Whether you study the sky with just your naked eyes or grab a good set of binoculars or a small telescope, there are dozens upon dozens of stars, planets, nebulae, constellations, and more to feast your eyes on. The Backyard Guide to the Night Sky is a perfect book for dipping your toe into the vast blanket of stars. With seasonal night sky charts and breaking down what you can see by category and distance, this book will grow with you as you get more experienced spotting objects. Read my GeekDad review here.
“Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler.” No Office Space lover’s desk is complete without a red Swingline stapler. Using standard staples and fastening up to 20 sheets of paper, this stapler is both a classic and a modern product. Swingline has been a top name in staplers for 50 years. Read my GeekDad review here.
3Doodler Create+ 3D Printing Pen – Full Grain Leather
Suggested By: Anton
Purchase: 3Doodler Create+ 3D Printing Pen – Full Grain Leather
3Doodle was a pioneer in the 3D Printing Pen back in 2013 with their fist Kickstarter, and they’ve continued to innovate since. Each year brings improvements in their product line, and 2019 is no exception. They were kind enough to send me one of the new Create+ models with a leather wrap and wood filaments.
This is the best 3D pen I’ve held. Light, ergonomic, and easy for small and large hand. The supplied filaments work great, and while it isn’t recommended, I did test some 3mm PLA I had in the shop and it worked fine, though it didn’t solidify nearly as fast as the 3Doodler filaments.
I will try to write up a more detailed review after the holidays, but I’m very happy with how it performs.
I was aware that these existed, but always just made do with a regular socket or Crescent wrench. I recently bought a fix-er-upper house and picked up a few tools to try to make repairs a little easier. This made short work of adjusting the garage door track and removing and replacing the old, inefficient toilets. I really wish I could go back in time and buy one sooner.