Are you looking to get something for a friend or family member who’s into making their own hardware devices, or want to get started but don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of some of the coolest IoT and Hardware Maker products that would make great gifts for your favorite geek!

The following list contains items of varying prices, and is sorted with the lowest priced items first.

Arduino Uno – $16

IoT and Maker Gift List 2016 1IoT and Maker Gift List 2016 2This is the Arduino Uno board only. While the Arduino Starter Kit (listed below) includes the board and many other thing necessary to get started, this board alone is fairly cheap. You can buy an additional board to add to the Starter Kit, or just buy the board as a gift for someone who already has some of the other components.

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Raspberry Pi Zero Starter Kit – $29.99 USD

IoT and Maker Gift List 2016 3IoT and Maker Gift List 2016 4
The Raspberry Pi Zero Starter Kit from CanaKit contains a Raspberry PI Zero computer board, and all the other necessities required to play and get it running!

The starter kit contains the following items:

  • Raspberry Pi Zero board
  • 8 GB MicroSD Card – pre-loaded with NOOBS
  • mini-HDMI adapter
  • 1A micro-USB PowerSupply
  • USB OTG cable

This starter kit contains all the hardware necessary to get started playing with the Raspberry Pi Zero! The only things that don’t come with the kit that you need to add is a TV or PC monitor with a Keyboard and Mouse.

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Circuit Playground from Adafruit – $29.99 USD

IoT and Maker Gift List 2016 5The Circuit Playground from Adafruit is an all-in-one board with integrated sensors and LEDs. It’s a neat platform to practice getting started with programming on a real hardware device, without the need to solder or assemble anything!

Here’s some of the things built into the Circuit Playground board:

  • 10x mini NeoPixels, each can display any color
  • 2x push buttons
  • 1x slide switch
  • Motion sensor
  • Temperature sensor
  • Light sensor
  • Sound sensor
  • Mini speaker
  • 8x alligator-clip friendly input/output pins

The Circuit Playground from Adafruit is Arduino IDE compatible, and connects to a computer using a Micro-USB cable so it can be programmed. Plus, all the features of this little board are packed into a size that’s about as wide as 2x US Quarters!

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Raspberry Pi 3 Model B – $35

Raspberry_Pi_Logo.svgThis is the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B board only. This tiny little computer was built to help teach computer engineering in schools, and it packs a ton of functionality into a tiny package. It’s built on a quad-core 1.2Ghz ARM processor, 1 GB RAM, and has a few other features built onto the board that can boot from an SD Card and run the Linux / Raspbian operating system, as well as the new Microsoft Windows 10 IoT Core.


This little board can be used to play Minecraft, surf the web, learn programming, plus many, many other things! It’s really a full computer that only costs $35! Plus, it’s only a little larger than the size of a credit card!

Here are some of the features built into this amazing, little computer:

  • 1.2 Ghz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 802.11n Wifi
  • Bluetooth 4.1 + Bluetooth Low Energy
  • 4 USB ports
  • 1 Ethernet port – 10/100Mbps
  • 40 GPIO pins
  • Full HDMI port
  • Combined 3.5mm audio jack + composite video
  • MicroSD card slot

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SparkFun Thing ESP8266 IoT Dev Kit – $39.95

IoT and Maker Gift List 2016 6IoT and Maker Gift List 2016 7The SparkFun Thing Microsoft Azure IoT Starter Kit includes a SparkFun Thing board, with integrated Wifi, and a few other components perfect for getting started building IoT projects. The SparkFun thing board is Arduino compatible, so the Arduino IDE can be used for programming.

Here’s some of what comes with the SparkFun Things IoT Starter Kit:

  • SparkFun ESP8266 Thing Dev Board, w/ integrated Wifi
  • Breadboard
  • Humidity + Temperature Sensor
  • Mini Photocell
  • 20 pack of LEDs
  • MicroUSB cable
  • Jumper Wires
  • Resistors – 10K and 330 Ohm

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Raspberry Pi 7″ Touchscreen Display – $67.99

IoT and Maker Gift List 2016 8raspberrypi7inchtouchscreendisplaypartsThe Official Raspberry Pi 7″ Touchscreen Display is the perfect addition to any Raspberry Pi 2 or 3 board. It features a full color LCD display with 800 x 480 resolution, plus full, capacitive touchscreen support!

The touchscreen display connects directly to the Raspberry Pi and includes everything you need to connect it up and use it!

This does NOT come with a Raspberry Pi board, that will need to be purchases separately.

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Arduino Starter Kit – $70 USD

arduinostarterkitboxIoT and Maker Gift List 2016 9The official Arduino Starter Kit comes with all the parts and instructions to build 15 projects. It includes the instructions in a 170 page book, plus all the necessary parts for all the projects in the book. This kit is full of everything needed to get started building projects with the Arduino platform.

Here’s a short list of some of the items included in this kit:

  • Arduino Projects Book (170 pages)
  • Arduino Uno board
  • Alphanumeric LCD
  • Tilt sensor
  • Temperature sensor
  • Phototransistor
  • Push buttons
  • LEDs (multiple colors)
  • Resistors
  • and more

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Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit – $74.99 USD

IoT and Maker Gift List 2016 10IoT and Maker Gift List 2016 11The Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit from CanaKit includes all the hardware necessary to be able to start using the Raspberry Pi 3 and get it running. This kit includes the latest Raspberry Pi 3 board along with a few other essentials that you’ll need.

Here’s a list of the items included in this kit:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B board
  • Integrated Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • 32 GB MicroSD card (Class 10) pre-loaded with NOOBS
  • 2.5A USB Power Supply
  • Raspberry Pi Case
  • HDMI cable
  • 2x heat sinks
  • GPIO quick reference card

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Microsoft IoT Pack for Raspberry Pi 3 – $114.95

CertifiedIoTRaspberryPiThe Microsoft IoT Pack for Raspberry Pi is an IoT builder kit that comes with everything needed to start building IoT solutions with real hardware. This kit includes a Raspberry Pi 3 (the latest version with integrated Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity), a few sensors, LEDs, microSD card, and power adapter.

This kit includes the following items:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 board
  • Raspberry Pi Case
  • Full Size Breadboard
  • Male/Male Jumper Wires
  • Female/Male Jumper Wires
  • 5V 2A Switching Power Supply w/ MicroUSB Cable
  • Adafruit BME280 Temperature, Barometric Pressure & Humidity Sensor
  • TCS34725 RGB Color Sensor
  • MCP3008 – 8 Channel 10-bit Analog-to-Digital Converter Chip
  • Ethernet Cable
  • 16GB MicroSD card with pre-loaded NOOBS
  • Photocell
  • Potentiometers
  • Resistors
  • LEDs
  • Tactile switches
  • Capacitor

This kit comes with EVERYTHING needed to start building IoT projects. The breadboard can be used to connect things up without the need for soldering, or a solder iron could be used to permanently connect things after prototyping.

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Microsoft IoT Grove Kit for Raspberry Pi – $154.99

The Microsoft IoT Grove Kit for Raspberry Pi contains the easy to use Grove system for building IoT. The foundation of the Grove system is the GrovePi+ board that allows you to easily connect Grove Modules for rapid prototyping without requiring any soldering or building of custom hardware components. This kit lowers the hardware barrier. This is the perfect platform for prototyping, and for makers who are new to hardware.


The Microsoft IoT Grove Kit for Raspberry Pi includes:

  • GrovePi+
  • 5 inch HDMI Display with USB Touchscreen
  • Relay module
  • Temp + Humidity Sensor module
  • Ultrasonic Ranger module
  • LED Bar v2 module
  • Rotary angle sensor(P) module
  • Buzzer module
  • Sound sensor module
  • Light sensor module
  • Button module
  • LCD RGB Backlight module
  • Cables for connecting everything

This kit DOES NOT include the Raspberry Pi board. If one is needed, then you could buy just the Raspberry Pi 3 board, or a better option would be to just get the Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit in addition to this kit to have absolutely everything needed to prototype and build custom IoT solutions.

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Additional Items for Raspberry Pi

If you’re getting one of the above Raspberry Pi items, then you may want to include an extra to be sure to have EVERYTHING necessary to get building and playing without the need for a trip to the store after opening that awesome IoT / Maker gift. Here’s a short list of a few items that work really nicely with the Raspberry Pi to help complete the package:

Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard / Mouse Combo – $13.99

SanDisk Ultra 16 GB SDHC Class 10 Micro SD Card – $8.31

CanaKit 5V 2.5A Raspberry Pi Power Supply / Adapter w/ MicroUSB – $9.99

Official Case for Raspberry Pi 2 & 3 from Raspberry Pi Foundation – $6.40

I hope you, and your friends and family have a great holiday season. And best of luck to finding the perfect Maker / IoT gift for your favorite Geek!

Microsoft MVP

Chris Pietschmann is a Microsoft MVP (Azure & IoT) and HashiCorp Ambassador (2021) with 20+ years of experience designing and building Cloud & Enterprise systems. He has worked with companies of all sizes from startups to Fortune 100. He is also a Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect and developer, a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), and Cloud Advocate. He has a passion for technology and sharing what he learns with others to help enable them to learn faster and be more productive.
HashiCorp Ambassador (2021) Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect