Do you have an engineer that is close to your heart? Are you concerned about getting them a gift that shouldn’t, but may inevitably end in a teardown? Or, are you that engineer and are looking to get something for yourself to take the edge of another year of dorky ties and Star Trek box sets? As we are all in a flurry of shopping for our loved ones, it's important to remember the special sensibilities of the engineers in our lives. Here are some gift suggestions from fun technology tools to nerdy-knowledge gifts to help put a smile on the face of an engineer close to you!
With just a USB 2.0 connection you can power a portable multifunction lab in a box, and a rather small box at that. The module is about the size of a deck of cards and operates with two fully differential 14-bit converters running at 1000 MSPS supporting functions, such as a 2 channel oscilloscope, waveform generator with 16 digital channels to boot. The module is also equipped with a +/- 5 V DC power supply, functions as a voltmeter, and uses fast-Fourier transform (FFT) operations to provide a network and spectrum analyzer output. Added free software offers many advanced features and save states, and the module is now supported by MATLAB.
$279.00 General $159.00 Academic $99.00 Student
The HackRF One is an open source software-defined-radio (SDR) platform that operates as a half-duplex transceiver from 10 MHz to 6 GHz. With USB 2.0 peripheral capability, the SDR can be paired with a PC and programs like, GNU Radio, SDR#, and more. The device can operate with up to 8-bit quadrature samples and has a software-configurable gain for RX/TX and antenna port power to 50mA at 3.3 V. Additionally, the HackRF One uses SMA female connectors for the antenna port and a synchronization clock input.
$300, depending somewhat on configuration and if the package includes an antenna.
There is finally a portable battery bank that charges from something other than a puny USB port or proprietary charger. Yes, and it's your standard laptop chargers. Not only does the Power X have massive 10,000 mAh storage, which it can reach in 90 minutes of charging, it can charge itself while charging both a phone and tablet, simultaneously… personally tested. There is also a feature that will tell you the current draw of the smart device, which can be fun for curiosities sake. There is a standard model and a limited edition Lenovo model available now.
$69.95 and Lenovo Limited for $89.95
Okay, so Sengled got a little fancy with their LED bulbs. They equipped the Boost bulb with WiFi booster and the Pulse bulb with a bluetooth connected speaker. Some might ask… why? Well, once you try them out, its a pretty easy answer. With the WiFi bulb you can illuminate while illuminating the WiFi connectivity of your devices, even in remote areas of your home where you can’t run a wire for a booster. You also don’t even need an outlet, as the bulbs work with standard light sockets.
The JBL multi-channel stereo wireless speaker in the Pulse bulb does a great job of blasting tunes and upping the brightness level. The wireless speakers come with a master and up to 7 slaves, for a huge area of high-volume coverage. I can see these devices being useful anywhere from a dorm room to a home office, as the speakers can easily handle anything from thrash metal to classical music.
$49.99 Wifi and $179.99 Wireless Speaker
What is the best way to crack open a Romulan Ale, well obviously with a Star Trek Enterprise Bottle Opener. The bottle opener is officially licensed Star Trek tool which strongly resembles the NCC-1701. Its heavy in your hand, like a good phaser… cough!
Whether you need to cut it, carve it, saw it, punch a hole in it, strip it, scrape it, screw it, file it or tweeze it, the Multi-Function Pen Tool can make you feel like a lazy MAcGyver. This could easily be an accidental gag gift that makes somebody very happy.
Because, who doesn’t keep asking themselves this question, about everything… all the time? From black holes to the Big Bang Theory, and crazy plants to intense galactic grade explosions, its all here.
The book is just what it sounds like… 80 different ways to get yourself in trouble around the home and office. A lot of very clever hacks and experiments are in this book, and you might even consider letting your kid play with it too, after you tried out all the hacks yourself!
So what’s on your list?
Let us know what you think of the gifts suggested here and if there are any thoughts you had on the best engineering gift!
For more information on how you can make the most of your holiday gift giving with engineers see Electronic Design Editor Bill Wong’s picks.