Odds & Ends

Mindtribe Holiday Gift Guide 2018: Electric Skateboards, Directional Speakers, and Tungsten

Are you still looking for gifts to bestow upon your loved ones and are grasping for ideas? Fear not, dear readers, our Mindtribe elves have been compiling a list of things and activities that have pleased and amused us this past year. We humbly submit this eclectic list of suggestions that might not make your typical holiday gift guide.

Give the Gift of Tungsten

Image Source: midwesttungsten.com



Forget diamonds. To truly show your love, bestow a gift of pure elemental goodness in the form of a healthy lump of tungsten metal.

Denser than lead, but a whole lot cheaper than platinum, the density of tungsten defies common sense. Try to pick up a block of tungsten and you’ll swear someone glued it to the table as you discover that it is way heavier than your brain says it should be. It is also very hard and strong and conveniently tolerant of extremely high temperatures! Midwest Tungsten Service is a great source of tungsten blocks and even toys made of tungsten, like spinning tops. Tungsten is your density.

Throw Your Voice, or Any Other Sound, for REAL

The Soundlazer SL-01 Open-Source Directional Speaker is a Kickstarter-funded project that has been producing (relatively) affordable, super-directional parametric speakers since 2012. Unlike standard speakers, these can direct audible sound in a very narrow beam, allowing you to direct a message to one person without bothering anyone else nearby. The audible sound can only be heard when the beam bounces off a surface – so you can also make sounds appear to be coming from a window or wall with no visible speaker or source. Can be used for good or evil – in fact, we’re a little hesitant to let people know these exist. This actually does what ventriloquists suggest they do.


Image Source: www.soundlazer.com

Please note the potential health hazard – keep your ears a safe distance from these speakers, because they are blasting at 120dB (loud rock concert) but at ultrasonic frequencies – enough to cause hearing loss over extended use, while too high-pitched for us to hear. Use responsibly!


The latest trend in hands-on education is called STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. STEAM oriented projects encourage kids to learn about and appreciate all of those topics as part of a project. One of the best new kits we’ve seen for the younger set is the Jubilite from Brainy Yak Labs. The kit comes will all of the parts separated so that kids can see what goes into an electronic product like the Jubilite while they assemble it. They learn about circuit boards, LED’s, cable harnesses, plastic parts, and how they all go together. It’s sort of a mini-primer on what Mindtribe does. And at the end of it, they have a pretty awesome battery powered disco lamp that itself is a great educational tool to understand how different colors of emitted light mix and form new colors (you can control each color channel independently) and how all the included decoration elements can interact to make light and shadow. Or you can set it to “disco” and party!

N95 Particulate Filtering Mask

These were in high demand in the San Francisco Bay Area this November, as the Camp Fire raged to the north. Local stores sold out of stock quickly. Stock up now for next year’s fire season or for the next time you stir up a cloud of dust. If you have a beard, please consult this surprisingly entertaining CDC diagram on how to properly wear a N95 mask. Walrus good! Mutton Chops bad!

And please consider donating to various charities to help those who lost everything in the wildfires.

Image source: cdc.gov

A Really Nice Kettle

Hot water for your beverage seems simple enough, but aficionados know that exactly how hot that water is makes a real difference, especially when brewing that perfect cup of tea or coffee.

The Stagg EKG electric kettle brings the latest technology to your hot water needs. It looks cool and it does everything it says it does really well. Features include flow control for water with a thin spout, a nicely weighted handle, fast heating, temperature hold, and a built-in brew timer. For ultimate control, the EKG+ version includes Bluetooth for a rich user interface and additional features via a connected App on a tablet or phone. Ideal for those who want a precise cup of tea or coffee.


Image Source: fellowproducts.com

High-Performance Balsa Model Airplanes

Some of our junior Mindtribers participate in Science Olympiad, a series of academic and engineering-based competitions held across the U.S. for middle and high school students. One of the engineering events involves building and flying balsa wood model airplanes. These come in rubber band powered propeller versions as well as rubber band catapult glider versions. There are kits and online plans for all varieties, with different designs for outdoor versus indoor flying. The surprising thing is how well competition versions of these planes can fly. Unlike the cheap balsa gliders you bought at your local toy store for less than a dollar and seemed to fly for just a few seconds if at all, high-quality rubber band powered airplanes can literally float in the air for minutes at a time while gliders can stay up for dozens of seconds.

Make no mistake, it takes good craftsmanship and careful tuning to achieve ideal performance, but when you do it right, the results are quite magical. One source of good quality, but easier to build glider kits is Stevens Aeromodel but there are several suppliers to choose from. Search for “science olympiad free flight models” online to get started.


Toolkits are a perennial favorite amongst Mindtribers. We love tinkering and that requires tools. This year, a super compact ratchet set by Wera caught our eye. If you are looking for a gift for your own little maker, good tools are hard to beat.

Products Mindtribe Worked On

Finally, here are a few of the products that we had a hand in that launched this past year and are available now. Not everything we work on is available for purchase by consumers, but the below examples are and we think they are pretty cool. Check them out!

Boosted Board

Boosted’s electric-powered skateboards have been setting the standard since 2013. We were fortunate to work with them to help design elements of their Mini S and Mini X boards. It’s all in our selected works. These new, shorter boards are amazingly fun to ride and really take a beating. You’ll wonder how they fit such powerful motors and batteries in such a small package. We’d tell you, but it’s confidential.

Moxxly Flow

Moxxly’s founders wanted to fix a problem dear to their hearts: make pumping breast milk less cumbersome and obtrusive. Mindtribe worked closely with their team to develop a collector design that can fit under a nursing bra and work hands-free. The result is called the Flow. Let your nursing friends know about it! Both they and their babies will thank you.

Happy Holidays from your friends at Mindtribe!