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Best Father's Day gifts in 2020: A budget, DIYers dream list of gadgets and gizmos for Dad

With nothing on this list more than $150, and many items available for $10 or less, this is a great list of unexpected gifts that Dad is sure to love.

What to get Dad? It's a perennial problem every June. But fear not, children, spouses, and friends of fathers everywhere. For I have... stuff.

This year I took a different approach than I've done in previous years. Rather than look for unusual but not necessarily useful gifts for Dad, I decided to go back through my own personal Amazon orders and look for those items I just can't live without -- those items whose usefulness delights me, and those items I just can't wait to share with others. This list may give you too much insight into the David-brain, but I'm pretty sure most of these items will strike a chord with your Dad as well.

With only one exception that I mention below, everything I'm showing you I bought with my own money, for my own use. These are not promotions or sponsorships. These are just so darned useful. So go forth and give Dad a gift they'll actually use. Because while Father's Day neckties can actually be used to tie cables together (don't ask me how I know this), they're not optimal. I'll show you optimal.

Cheap, but sweet 32-inch Roku TV

$149 on Amazon

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TCL

So, I love my Roku TVs. Ever since I bought the first one back in 2017, we've slowly been replacing most of our older TVs with Roku TVs. The interface is just about the best TV interface I've ever encountered, and the TVs are inexpensive. As a cord-cutter, there's no need to try connecting it to a cable box.

This one is no exception. It's a nice 32-inch TV, which I bought for my office. At all of $149, it's a great gift to surprise Dad with, and they'll love being able to put it in the workshop, office, bedroom, gym. or anywhere else a nice 32-inch TV would fit.

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Mad collection of awesome light bars

$52 on Amazon

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Litever

This is an awesome package of light for about fifty bucks. You can attach these under kitchen counters, over workbenches, in closets, or any number of other places. What I like about this kit is that it comes with everything: Six bright light bars, mounting hardware, cables, etc. Also, the Litever brand has a whole pile of add-on options, so you can mix and match to your heart's content. 

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Elgato Stream Deck

$149 on Amazon

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Elgato

I own two of these, and if there was a wireless version, I'd probably own at least one more. This is a niche product, but it's such a huge productivity enhancer for some projects, it's worth listing. You can customize each button with an image and an action. My big uses for the one at my desk are for video editing and window management when I'm doing a big research project. I use the one at my studio desk to manage the settings needed for recording video.

Unfortunately, Amazon tends to have difficulty keeping these in stock, so depending on when you check, you might have to wait. I waited three weeks for my second unit, but the wait was worth it in gained productivity. If your Dad is a video editor (or a gamer), this might be for them.

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Super-inexpensive 4K GoPro clone

$49 on Amazon

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Akaso

I never could understand the idea of spending $350 on a GoPro, especially when they're used in places where they might break. I much prefer spending less than fifty bucks on a GoPro clone, which I can subject to all sorts of risky actions (like hanging 10 feet over a concrete floor on a magnet), and where, if it breaks, it's no great loss.

This device, by Akaso, is such a camera. It takes 4K video, has a Wi-Fi link to your smartphone, a wide viewing angle, and lots of options. It also takes reasonably good video quality. If you want to get Dad a cool gift without stretching your wallet, you won't go wrong with this.

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Why didn't they think of this before USB hub clamp

$22 on Amazon

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ORICO

I love this thing. It solves a problem that many of us don't realize we have, but we do. USB hubs are always flapping around on our desks like dead fish. They weigh very little and have a bunch of wires going into them, making them about the least stable items on our desks. There's just no way you're going to be able to plug something into them with one hand.

Well, this little box changes all that. It clamps to your desk or, as in my case, to the side table next to my couch work area. It extends the USB ports from the back of my machine as well as gives me an SD card slot. It's unobtrusive and functional. Get one for your dad. They'll see the usefulness immediately.

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Rock-solid SD card holder

$9 on Amazon

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VKO

For nine bucks, this is a versatile little beast. It holds 12 full-size SD cards and 12 micro SD cards. What I like about it (in addition to the price) is that it's a hard-cover unit, so I can keep this in the shop while filming and it's both sealed and tough enough to handle getting banged up.

There's a handy-enough white card you can use to label your cards, but what I wish is that there was a proper spot on the outside of the case to put a label. I use two of these, one for my filled cards and one for my available cards, and the little paper sticky note I have on them does tend to fall off. But other than that complaint, I really like these, and Dad will, too.

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Apple Watch charging station with space for an Echo Dot

$9 on Amazon

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Tranesca

This is another surprisingly useful inexpensive gift. I wear my Apple Watch 24/7 and use it to monitor my sleep and other health and exercise data. My way of keeping it topped up with power is to charge it while watching a TV show or doing my daily reading. So, I drop it on this charging station for an hour or so, and it's ready when I am.

Let's be clear. This isn't actually a charger. It uses the Apple Watch charging disk. But it holds it in a very convenient place, and there's a deck underneath where I've placed an Echo Dot. For under ten bucks, it's made out of metal, looks great, and is a solid bit of kit.

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Bright magnetic light attaches to machine tools brilliantly

$17 on Amazon

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Powker

My drill press came with a light that makes it much easier to see exactly what I'm working on. So, when I got my bandsaw (which did not come with a light), I found I tremendously missed that feature. Fortunately, it's an easy fix. I bought this Powker light, which is billed as a sewing machine light but works with anything.

The key is it's both very bright and has a really, really strong magnet. It snaps onto the side of my bandsaw, and I can now see what I'm working on. This is a great gift for Dad, who will probably be able to think of a bunch of ways to put it to use.

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Tiny diamond-grit needle files to get in all those tight places

$10 on Amazon

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SE

Why not buy your Dad diamonds on Father's Day? No, seriously. This great set of needle files is plated with a diamond-based abrasive, which makes the file's ability to cut much more effective than just machined steel. At under $10, this is a great set for getting into all those tight corners, whether it's for electronics work, making models, or fixing stuff. 

Plus, for just over another $10, you can get a matching flat-file set. I have both, and while I don't use them all the time, when I need them, I'm very glad they're in my toolbox.

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Digital microscope for seeing the hidden world

$110 on Amazon

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Koolertron

You've seen me put a bunch of projects under the microscope over the past year or so. This is the device I used. What I like about it is that it record not only photos, but video, to an SD card, so that I can manipulate and examine an object while it's recording, and then use that video in my ZDNet DIY videos.

It comes with two side lights and a top-down light, which makes it much easier to see small objects. The side lights can be moved, which can help highlight what you may want to see, while also removing glare. As microscopes go, it's not terribly expensive, but with up to 220X magnification, it's an effective tool.

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My cable organizing secret weapon

$12 on Amazon

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Attmu

I can't tell you how many different cable tying approaches I've used over the years. The two worst were tape and rubber bands. I moved up to twist ties, zip ties, and even hair ornaments (which worked surprisingly well). But of all the techniques I've used, nothing beats the hook-and-loop cable tie.

What I like about this is that you can buy a hundred of these things for about twelve bucks. I have three or four of these packs in various work areas around the house, and they're always handy. Between these and my big Ultimate Cable Organizer project, I've finally tamed the cable clutter that's haunted me for my entire adult life. Get these for Dad, and they'll be a better person (or at least more organized).

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This flexible, magnetic mini-tripod mounts almost everywhere

$52 on Amazon

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Joby

There are much cheaper knock-offs of this tripod available on Amazon, but the Joby has been tried and tested. I have a few of these, and they come in handy not only to hold my phone or GoPro clone but also for mounting small lights.

The magnets do actually hold the phone up when attached to a good piece of steel. But not everything has the magnetic susceptibility of good steel, and that's when the flexible legs come in handy to reinforce the hold. If Dad likes to film projects, this is a great tool for getting the best shots.

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A does-everything camera stabilizer and gimbal

$70 on Amazon

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Zhiyun

This is the only product in this list I didn't buy myself. The folks at Zhiyun sent me a unit. And I'm glad they did. I've used gimbals before, and while they've been effective in getting smooth shots, they're also bulky -- even the ones meant for smartphone cameras.

This little powerhouse folds down to literally pocket-sized but packs a punch. Not only is it a gimbal, it's got an extended selfie-stick built in, which also means you can put the gimbal at the end of a long reach. On top of that, it's also got a built-in tripod. If you're traveling, and all you want to do is carry your phone and one accessory, this can serve as gimbal, tripod, and selfie stick, all in one. 

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My go-to pocket electric screwdriver

$23 on Amazon

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Black+Decker

This is my go-to pocket screwdriver. I can't tell you how many PCs its helped me build and maintain. I use it for almost every household project that doesn't require the torque of a full-sized drill-driver.

The big win for this, beyond the price, is that it switches from a long tube to a gun-style shape. This allows the screwdriver to get into tighter spaces than most small electric screwdrivers. Not a week goes by where this doesn't see some use in my work or personal projects. Dad will love it.

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A big pack of super-strong magnets

$21 on Amazon

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DIYMAG

One of my biggest aha moments was the time I realized I could buy a bunch of magnets and keep them in my parts bin just like I keep spare screws. I have bar magnets like these, as well as an assortment of little round magnets. The thing is, magnets are incredibly useful problem-solvers for all sorts of work and personal projects -- as long as you have them around.

I used these to hold light fixtures together, to build a dust guard on my intake vent in the garage, to hold a flag on my mailbox, and so many other projects. Combined with some Super Glue and duct tape (or, better, gaffer's tape), there's almost no problem that can't be solved (or at least made more interesting) with magnets.

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So, there you have it. My big list of recommended Father's Day gifts. What about you? What have you bought over the last year that just delights you every time you use it? Let us know in the comments below.


You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.