Help dad start a new hobby this Father’s Day

Giving dad a USB charger for his phone is not exactly an expression of love. Instead of just picking up something from Wal-Mart next week, consider a few eclectic gifts that will help him develop a new hobby. Some of these are a bit “out there” and expensive. Some are more affordable. All of them encourage your dad to take up a new hobby and explore a fun new trend.

1. Electric bike

One of the benefits of tech is that it opens up new opportunities. Even an elderly dad can use a new electric bike from a company like Faraday to tool around town. It provides about 20 miles of pedal-assisted biking but weighs only 39 pounds. (Previous electric bikes were unusually heavy and not that easy to transport) When the battery goes out, the bike still runs as a normal bike.

Pricing for the Faraday Porteur starts at $3,499, while the Porteur S starts at $2,799.

2. Raspberry Pi programming

Wait, before you call this programming activity too technical or nerdy, consider this simple fact. The Raspberry Pi motherboard costs just $30 and has an incredibly active community. (Check out the raspberry site, which is just as colorful as the namesake) programming this low-cost motherboard is a wonderful new hobby because of the limitless potential -- powering a grandson’s skateboard, designing a custom sprinkler system, or maybe even designing an electric lever for a La-Z-Boy.

3. Quadcopter drone stunts

You probably already know about drones and how they can be used for aerial photography. 3D Robotics and DJI both make high-end models. Yet, one of my personal favorites is the Blade 200 QX from Horizon Hobby that doesn’t even have a camera. You use it mostly for stunts like flips, sudden nose-dives, and crazy barrel rolls. Plus, it costs only $200.

4. Connected home tinkering

You might not think of installing connected home gadgets as a hobby, but a few of them can be a blast to install and use. For example, the Rachio Iro Smart Sprinkler costs just $249; you can program one to water the lawn at regular intervals. Priced at $299, the WallyHome monitors bathrooms and a home sump pump to alert you about water leaks. It’s fun to get these home gadgets up and running, plus you earn some bragging rights for being digitally so astute.

5. 3D printing

Believe me, your father will jump at the chance to try a new 3D printer. Fortunately, the jump won’t cost as much as you think as prices have come down recently. The XYZ Printing Da Vinci 1.0 Junior costs just $349 but still lets you design and prototype objects that are about 6-inches tall and wide. The entire process of making an object is also more straightforward, using a filament.