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My cousin's 19-year old son has a birthday coming up and he is quite intelligent with computers, software and electronics. What's a fun / serious electronics-related gift I could buy him? Anything from robotic kits to electronic development platforms accepted as ideas. Ideally something with a serious use-case also, so its not simply a toy you use and throw.

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closed as not constructive by Kellenjb, clabacchio, Kevin Vermeer Apr 13 '12 at 14:16

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ No matter how old the kid is, the best gift you can give him is teaching him how to research stuff like that. Grab Kid-o and go on a discovery journey together. Dream, decide, research, build. It´s a happy life. Mind you, "together" is the important part. It might even lead to seeing what your kid wishes, and giving the best present ever. \$\endgroup\$ – posipiet Apr 13 '12 at 6:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Depends on age and knowledge level. Tell us about projects he already realized. \$\endgroup\$ – jippie Apr 13 '12 at 6:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ How old is the boy? \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Apr 13 '12 at 10:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ This could be closed for many reasons. It is not constructive "this question will likely solicit opinion" there is no right answer to this. And too localized "a specific moment in time" The best gift will change over time. Then you mention robotics, which is off-topic here, this part could be removed though. Questions like this are best to be brought to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Apr 13 '12 at 12:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's a shame. I really like these sorts of questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Rocketmagnet Apr 13 '12 at 20:55
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Have you heard of Logiblocks?

Logiblocks

Each block is a simple function, and you can easily create circuits by plugging these things together. The blocks in the picture are configured as a burglar alarm, something I used to love making when I was a kid. You can also make robots, spy stuff, etc.


There's also Tinker Forge

Tinker Forge

This is a great stacking system which lets you build all kinds of robotics systems, and even connect them up to your PC, iPhone etc. And even has a wireless link.


And don't forget Cubelets

Cubelets

Each cube can do a different thing, drive, sense, etc. Plug them together and make a robot.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Check the edit to the question, it changes the level completely \$\endgroup\$ – clabacchio Apr 13 '12 at 12:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nineteen!?!? OK, that's a different story.... \$\endgroup\$ – Rocketmagnet Apr 13 '12 at 13:01
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How about an Arduino and some shields? It gives the benefits of both hardware and software learning.

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How about a small breadboard with a handful discrete components like in Velleman EDU01? Analog electronics is the basis of all and it is essential to understand if you want to be able to drive electronics from a microcontrollers. It teaches about basic circuits, makes a LED light up upon touching, makes a burgular alarm, running flashlight ... that sort of thing. Check the accompanying booklet

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that this migh work from 12 up, not so easy for kids \$\endgroup\$ – clabacchio Apr 13 '12 at 7:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @clabacchio - the edited question talks about a 19 year old. Completely different perspective. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Apr 13 '12 at 11:24
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At 19 years, and assuming sufficient 'wet' processing power, almost anything will do. Arduino, PICs, Solderless breadboard + bag of components, Raspberry Pi, subscription to an electronics hobby magazine.

But if the kid is already 'quite intelligent with computers, software and electronics' he must have done something already, so why not ask him what he fancies next?

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