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2018 Holiday Gift Guide

12/12/2018 | By ASHLEY

Are you looking for inexpensive gifts that will challenge and engage the recipients mind? This year Digi-Key has put together a list of a few products that will do just that. We have something for everyone from the Elementary aged child interested in electronics all the way up to the well-versed tinkerer or Engineer in your life.

A series of four videos will highlight the products in our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide and this blog will be updated as each is released.

First up, Kyle is dreaming about the latest version of the PiCade from Pimoroni. With all the new updates, I can see why! The first thing you’ll notice about the new version is the size, it’s half that of the original. I’m not going to lie, the first one was a tight fit on my desk, but this one is perfect.

They made a ton of upgrades on this thing. From the new 1024x768 IPS display, the dedicated power button, to the easier wiring and brand new artwork, the wonderful people at Pimoroni have thought of everything with this redesign.

If it wasn’t enough to get the new artwork that’s included in the kit, Digi-Key will be shipping custom ugly sweater skins while supplies last! Don’t worry, if you don’t get one from us that’s pre-printed and pre-cut, you can download the graphics here to print them yourself. (*Requires an 11X17 sheet of cardstock.)

Digi-Key Ugly Sweater

Now if that’s not quite what you’re looking for, these next two products will likely be contenders on your gift buying list! Makeblock has some seriously awesome products, for example, the Airblock Drone and mBot Ranger!


The Airblock includes the control module, motors/rotors, charger, battery, protective covers for the rotors, 6 spare rotors, and a hovercraft base. Assembly is made easy with magnets that hold all the pieces in place. This also makes it incredibly crash-friendly, as the magnets allow it to break apart without actually busting any of the pieces! The good news is, if you do accidentally break something, the replacement parts are inexpensive.


The mBot Ranger is another awesome product, that actually gives you 3 items for the price of 1! It is built to be easily re-configured into the land raider, nervous bird, or dashing raptor, depending on how you’re feeling that day. The microcontroller kit has multiple different types of sensors on-board to help users learn how they each function. There’s also a sweet laser add-on for this!

Both of these items are able to be programmed on the Makeblock app that’s available for download on iOS or Android devices. The app contains graphical block programming making it super user friendly for beginners. Best part? They are ON SALE through the month of December while supplies last. Take advantage of the special pricing today!

Ok, these next products are so diverse, there’s at least one to fit everyone’s taste. Adafruit recently jumped on board with the subscription craze, and started creating these unique themed kits.


Each kit is based around a specific technology, which they take and create a ton of documentation and example projects. This makes it easy for a beginner to jump in and get started, or a tenured engineer that wants to play around with some cool, new products.

I’m very passionate about the theory that everyone should continue learning their entire lives, and these kits enable just that.

I did mention that these are a subscription, but don’t worry! If you would like to purchase just one to see if it’s for you, we have you covered. The only downside to not subscribing is that some of the cool stickers and things of that nature are not included, but you still receive all the same awesome electronic components.

Making Things Dance

There are simply too many Adaboxes to go into detail about all of them, so you will have to check out our website for more information. Just to give you an idea though, one is called “Making Things Dance”. This kit includes a Feather Huzzah, speaker, remote, SD card, and other miscellaneous items. There’s also a 007 version, which you guessed it, is the “Spy” kit. This solderless kit includes all sorts of fun items such as the GEMMA M0, vibration sensor, IR emitter and receiver, and even an invisible ink pen (visible with included UVA LED) and lock picking set!

Now if none of those interest you, there are quite a few more Adabox kits available on our website, so just click the link provided above and check them out.

Still not quite what you wanted? Well these next few items pack a lot of fun and learning into a small, inexpensive package. An awesome company called Kitronik makes fun robotics kits and add-ons for the BBC Micro:bit.

First up let’s chat about the Micro:bit. This easy to use development board features a 25 LED programmable display, buttons, accelerometer, compass, bluetooth, radio, light and temperature sensors, and multiple digital I/O pins. This is the perfect board to get started with (for all ages) or just to mess around with. It’s very inexpensive, especially considering all that includes. And the best part? The programming is all web based, and free! The website also includes a free simulator for the user to actually see what the code will do before uploading it onto the board. Did I mention the programming can be done with block code, Javascript, or Python?

:Move Mini Buggy Kit

Now, let’s talk about the :Move Mini Buggy Kit. This kit was built specifically for the Micro:bit. It comes with a motor driver board, batteries, servos, wheels, and the chassis (Micro:bit purchased separately). Assemble the chassis, download some example code into your Micro:bit, and you’re ready to rock!

:Move Mini Buggy Kit

Ready to make it even more awesome? Add another Micro:bit into the code to use as a remote via radio, or purchase some of the add-ons for the :Move Mini. There’s the bulldozer for all your snow or dirt pushing needs, and don’t forget the tipper trailer to transport things from A to B.

That’s all for this installment, and that will conclude our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide. Digi-Key has a very diverse breadth of product that will please all types of makers and engineers. Remember, if you are ever unsure if we carry something, or need just a little extra help finding what you are looking for, our Applications Engineering team is here with phone, email, and webchat support 24/7/365.

Need more inspiration? Take a look at the Holiday Gift Guides from previous years here. Stay tuned for updates as we add more videos to this series!