What You Said: What’s Your Geek Hobby?

By Jason Fitzpatrick on May 13th, 2011

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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 a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/13/11
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