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How-To Geek

What You Said: What’s Your Geek Hobby?

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Earlier this week we asked you to share your geeky hobby; you responded in force and shared some really interesting and definitely geeky hobbies and interests. Read on to see what your fellow geeks are up to.

The first thing worth noting is that, unlike when we ask you about your favorite virus scanner or another category with a limited number of options, the category of geeky hobbies is practically unlimited. None the less there were a few trends among the comments that we can highlight.

Rubik’s Cubes Are More Popular Than Ever

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Rubik’s Cubes, thanks in large part to YouTube videos showing people solving them at lightening speed, have enjoyed a resurgence. Quite a few readers mentioned Rubik’s Cube solving as one of their distinctly geeky pursuits. HTG Fan explains the hobby and how he got into it:

My main hobby, of which I think is quite a geeky one, is speedcubing. Speedcubing is the act of solving a Rubik’s cube with the intention of becoming faster at it.

A year ago, I saw a Rubik’s cube at the local toy store. I took it home and solved it a couple of hours later. I became hooked after the first solve, and ever since, it has become my greatest hobby.

I now have a whole collection of these cubes, varying from a 2×2 (the easiest cube available, but still surprisingly hard for people who’ve never solved a cube before) to a 7×7 (which is currently the hardest cube on the market), and also a dodecahedron-shaped one, known to cubers as the Megaminx.

Ham Radios Abound

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Ham/Amateur radio is another hobby that cropped up frequently in the comments. Being a radio enthusiast naturally went hand in hand with antenna design and construction for most readers into the scene. Mike writes:

1. Amateur Radio (Ham), particularly antenna theory. 2. Anything computer related.

Despite the idea by non-hobbyists that Ham radio is old-timey and must not cost that much, equipment doesn’t come cheap. Steve highlights the popularity and the expense of getting your hands on top-tier equipment:

Ham radio – digital comms, HF and VHF, like Pactor 3, WINMOR, Winlink.
Contrary to popular belief Amateur Radio is far from dead.
If I had the funds I’d be playing with D-Star digital modes on 1.2 GHz and higher.

Geeky Hobbies of All Stripes

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Of course the highest number of geek-related hobbies you all shared were in some way computer related. Many of you tinker with alternative operating systems and tons of you enjoy electronics. Lostalaska had a laundry list of awesome electronics projects on the workbench including this one:

My current project is going to be so awesome if I can just finish it, it might a little too complicated for me. I was given a 40″ LCD (1366×768) that didn’t work by a family friend who I do a lot of gratis PC work at their office and home. A little pico breaker had blown on the main power board. Replaced it for about $5 and a couple hours of work and soldering. Now i want to take it and turn it into a surface coffee table. Been trying to figure out if I should try IR LED’s and cameras in the corners for motion tracking or how to do it, but I really want large touch coffee table for playing board games and just for the geeky awesomeness of it. Or I could just sell it for a few hundred bucks, but what’s geeky about that?

A touch-screen table top game center? The geeky awesomeness is almost off the chart. Snake lists his projects and starts medieval but quickly catches up to the present:

I’m gonna be the first to say this: Building Armor.
I make leather and chainmail armor, not very electronics geeky….but….

Building HHO generators
A hydrogen cannon (loud bang)
A small arch welder made with microwave transformers
Tennis ball air cannons for my dogs
A 7ft tall trebuchet (throws a golf ball the length of a football field)
An electro-magnetic pulse gun (still working on the electronics for this)
Plants and fish, neither very geeky.
And pretty much anything else i can dig up on Instructables that looks fun/dangerous.

We’ll have to disagree about the fish tanks not being very geeky; fish keeping discussion forums read like chemistry cook books and mad scientist crib sheets most of the time. Snake and Tom should get together to see what they could come up with in the metal-working department. Tom recycles old hard drives and recasts the metal:

I cast metal. It doesn’t really relate to computers that much. I work mainly with aluminum, but where I get it is interesting. I’m sure many of you have held a hard drive, and maybe some of those have have seen/held the platters inside. The black metal black that serves as the base is actually high quality machines aluminum, pretty much the best quality anywhere, because faults in it can cause vibrations. The platters are an aluminum alloy, that I can use for other things as well. Considering I get them for free from an IT friend, it’s a pretty good deal.

I open them up, strip them down, and put them into a crucible. Then I take that and stick it in the microwave. Just kidding, I put that into a metal can, and surround it with charcoal. All that sits on mesh, underneath which a hairdryer is supplying air. I create a mold out of sand, and three minutes after the last piece has melted, I’m ready to pour.

Each entry was so unique it’s hard to begin to group them together. We heard from geeks who farm spiders, brew beer, mod cars, contribute to open source projects, and more. If we all lived in the same town we’d definitely have to find a country lot with a big pole barn and set up a hacker space.

Read more about your fellow readers’ geeky hobbies by hitting up the comments in the original post. Have a geeky hobby you didn’t share the first time? Give it a shout out now.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/13/11

Comments (28)

  1. joshvito

    I keep planted aquariums stuffed with live plants and fish.
    My hobby includes propagating the plants and turn in g them in at my local fish club for points and status ranking. You really need to be an amateur scientist/chemist, I mix fertilizers, grow food, and maintain the small ecosystem. I also build my own aquarium furniture. Is amateur carpentry geeky?

    Here is one of my tanks

  2. Brodiemac

    I have no hobbies. All of my $$ and time have been diverted to my wife and kids, respectively.

  3. cmo999

    I like to measure things!

  4. Saptashwa

    Currently, I’m working on a working model of the solar system. All the 8 planets will be individually controlled, and will involve both rotation and revolution at the same time.

  5. Tangomouse

    Repairing computers , writing software “re-enable v2″

    And playing guitar :)

  6. Adil Ali Plasterwala

    Speed cubing…………..
    Its the best thing I like to do.

  7. tom

    angry birds.

    buying old computers and laptops fixing them up and selling them on for a profit

  8. Sandra Pohlman

    I collect stationary to use in the Incredimail email program that’s now working well. I also make letters/ECards with my granddaughters picture on it or my kitties (8). There is a freecycle group in which I find and give items that would otherwise be disposed of. Being a former accountant/computer software installer I do a few tax returns and keep friends and family computers fixed, tweeked and installed with the best free software I can find. I find that even at 56 and disabled I’m able to be active and adding to “life”. I’ve watched my granddaughter most of her life and now that she’s in F/T kindergarten travel to my daughters home to get her off to school and off the bus and back to my house for fun. I’m pretty busy for a “old fart”. I also garden, work as a poll worker, cook/bake a lot

  9. Doron

    I create as many virtual machines as I can with my very limited hard disk space. I also try to fix/optimize any computers I can, up to recommending the receptionist at the dental office to turn off the Windows Aero theme in Vista….

  10. Cryptic

    I have a wide array of interest that make it so I can never quite focus on one thing and get it finished usually. I love working on computers and modding, although I am very new to the modding thing. I do woodworking, and I’m in a metal band and do some obscure music on my lonesome that I enjoy. Trouble is I’m a Firefighter/Medic and am not home very often and I have a wife and kid, so not too much time for hobbies. I’m lucky if I get a quick video game session in.

  11. P852pck

    Hobbies, well,
    tying flies for fishing,

    Shooting and reloading my own ammunition, have chronograph for measuring velocities, tailor mild loads for teachig new shooters, chart trajectories, etc. Cast my own projectriles.

    Exploring Linux

    Have made tennis ball cannon, gas grill igniter, hair spray, starting fluid and even calcium arbide to generate acetylene gas. Used it not for the dogs, but to help my boys and their friends practice catching when they were in little league. Really held their interest

    Reading, non fiction

    growing vegetable and herbs and
    cooking.

    improvising and manufacturing replacement parts for anything.

    remote computer assist for friends and relatives. Keeps me sharp.

    Some day hope to make my own beer and wine. ( Have my degree in chemical enfineering)
    Already can turn beer and wine into urine. LOL

  12. Castor

    My hobby is play sudoku on my android phone.

  13. david

    I like to build computer cases disguised as furniture. I recently built an end table with all the computer guts inside it. It works great and serves two purposes.

  14. RoseTyler

    World of Warcraft, tinkering with my UI, and my (unrooted) Android and tinkering with apps.

  15. Lindalu

    I built wood model ships during the Age of Sail. My completed one is an 1823, 3 masted schooner by the name La Toulonnaise. It took me 4 yrs, double planked, wood deck, toothpic tips for the wood nails (trunnels) deck furnishings, fully rigged, thousand + nautical knots etc etc. Yes, the only girl at the Ship modeler’s club.

  16. IT-FishGuy

    I too keep two freshwater planted aquariums. joshvito, that tank is great, I aspire to get a larger 75 to 90 gallon, with great lighting and keep discus as well. Love the plants that create the arch. I also try out different versions of linux and am heavily into VMWare. Paintball was another hobby I was into, did a lot of airsmithing and fixing of paintguns. Painting, designing Warhammer 40k stuff.

  17. menon

    Dear Joshvito, could you give some tips on how to grow plants like the one in your aquarium,

  18. dwj

    I was into filmmaking and SFX, then I had a little girl after getting married. I kept helping my friends on their projects, then my wife and I had another little girl.

    Now, I have no hobbies, except playing PC games after the kids are in bed. Like brodiemac, 98% of my time is spent with them, whether we’re playing outside, or watching TV and laughing at “Adventure Time”… :)

  19. joshvito

    @menon
    the best tip for growing plants that I have is to be consistent. Change water and fertilize on a regular basis. Also, join your local aquarium club (if possible), and join an online aquatic plant community like aquatic plant central (http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/) or The Barr Report. These communities have a wealth of information, more than I can go into here.

    @IT-FishGuy
    thanks!

  20. Max Ryan

    Ghost detection. I like to develop experiments to better detect them. When has audio, video or photos ever been enough? never. :)

  21. DRW

    Really? Nobody has mentioned Lego as a hobby yet?

  22. Amin

    youtube.com/xenomextutorials

    Thats my main hobby ^

  23. Annick Sénécal

    I’m trying to learn new things. Lately, I’m reading how to built web pages. I’m a little poor too so, I mostly read books and get prepared for my new vocationnal program in computer engineering.

  24. Phantomenacer

    I like databases, webdesign and baseball

  25. roy

    Musician,
    Electric bass ,45 years and still going.
    I’ve played it all man.
    Right now I’m working on building a hardware digital bass.
    It looks , feels,and plays like an analog electric bass.
    What’s the point?
    No tuning,string tension, whatever you like,equal fret spacing or what ever you like,
    light weight,Inexpensive to produce,It sounds like anything you want,uses freeware software.
    features could be endless,inexpensive to produce, too good to be true.
    Could use some help getting it off the ground.

    cons:
    Needs a laptop.
    .

  26. Jer

    Roy that sounds like the kind of project that once has me hyper-focused, I start losing sleep over. Do you have a schematic I could take a look at?

  27. jadus

    My hobby is learning more and more programming langugage… :-P i programming in C#, java and python

  28. sefe

    Programming, in C , C++ , C# , Java, Python
    Currently working on a 3d modelloader, gonna get support for animations next.

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