It is getting late enough in the summer that we have to start putting together packing lists and figuring out what stuff we’ll need to buy for our son’s trip to college. Because he’ll be taking the train to college, we won’t have the problem some people have of him bringing a Ford Expedition full of junk and not having room in his dorm for it all. We have to be much more selective than most families in deciding what he should pack.
Of course, there are some large shopping areas within an easy bike distance of UCSB, including K-mart, Costco, and Home Depot, so it isn’t necessary to pack everything he might need. (Though the Yelp reviews for K-mart indicate that it is a very badly managed store—I don’t know if that is a K-mart universal or specific to the Goleta store.) But some things are worth having around because when you need them, either there isn’t time or it isn’t worth a 5-mile round trip to the store.
My wife will take care of ensuring that he has the bedding and clothing he needs—I’ll try to make sure that he has the tools he needs. So what tools does he need? Let’s break it down into categories:
- Study tools: computers, calculators, writing implements, books, paper, …
- Bike tools: helmet, lights, patch kit, …
- Dorm repair tools: hammer, pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers, …
- Electronics tools: soldering iron, wire strippers, …
- Living supplies: fan, refrigerator, …
In each category, we’ll need to look at what he has, what he’ll need, and whether he should take it with him or buy it there. I’ll probably come back to edit this post later on, crossing out stuff he decides not to take and adding stuff I think of later.
- Small laptop for note taking+charger. He already has a Chromebook that is adequate for this task.
- Larger laptop to use as a desktop machine+charger. He selected and we just purchased a Unix laptop for him (a 17″ Kudu Professional from System76)—in fact, UPS tried to deliver it today when everybody was out—he should get it tomorrow. The laptop has VGA and HDMI ports, so he should be able to connect up to data projectors (though there are often problems with not having the right drivers on Unix distros). The laptop comes with Ubuntu, but he is considering installing a different distro—he’s got about 2 months to play with that before college starts.
- Calculator. He has several graphing calculators that he won in grade-school and middle-school math contests—he’ll take one with him, in case there is an exam that allows calculators but not computers. He usually prefers using a computer for calculation these days, when he has a choice.
- Ethernet cable (the dorm rooms have both wireless and Ethernet, but I bet the Ethernet service is better—they are not, however, allowed to add routers to the Ethernet connections).
PrinterI think that a printer is too heavy to be worth carting around. He gets a fair amount of free printing on campus.
- Back-up drive? He doesn’t store much on his Chromebook (using it mostly to access the web and storage on the cloud), but he may need a backup device for his new laptop. A small drive is not very expensive.
- USB flash drive. He already has a moderately good one and we can supplement that with a a couple of old cheap ones, for when he has to lend a file to a friend, so that he doesn’t lose his good flash drive.
- Laptop lock? We have one, but is it worth the trouble of using it?
- Cell phone + charger. He has one that he uses rarely (usually to call us when we require him to check in) and we’ve bought a pre-paid AT&T plan that costs $2 a day to use, but only on the days he uses it, and then it allows unlimited talk or messaging, but data is 1¢/5kB. The biggest problem is that the prepaid amount expires after a while, unless you add more, so the plan costs $100 a year whether you use it that much or not. Given how little he uses a phone, that was the cheapest rate we could find. If he starts using the phone a lot more, we can add more money to the account easily.
- Pens, pencils, and markers. We’ll send a few random ones with him, but expect that he’ll buy what he really needs at the bookstore.
- Pencil sharpener.
- Dry-erase markers? (He can buy pieces of marker board at Home Depot and get them to cut it down to carryable sizes.)
- Clipboard? I like carrying a pad of paper on a clipboard in my backpack for note taking, doodling, and writing drafts of things. I don’t know whether he would want one or not, but having something to write on when studying outdoors or in a place that doesn’t have convenient tables can be handy.
- Binders, composition books, folders, ruled paper, post-it notes, … and other heavy paper items should probably be bought once he gets there. We’ll probably send him with a small pad or pack of paper, so he has something to write on until he buys what he needs.
- Scissors for paper
- Stapler and staples
- paper clips
- push pins?
- Transparent tape (buy there?)
He doesn’t do major repairs on his bike, and there is a bike shop not far away in Isla Vista that he could walk his bike to, but he’ll need to take a few things with him:
- Bike helmet. They’re not fashionable in UCSB, but he normally rides with one, and I’d be happier if he brought his with him, rather than counting on getting one there.
- Bike headlight + charger. He has a nice rechargeable LED headlight that can serve as a flashlight also. It is small enough and expensive enough to be worth carrying rather than getting a new one. He will have to remember to bring the light and the helmet home for holidays, though we probably have a spare helmet at home he could use if he forgets.
- Bike taillight. These are cheap enough that he might want to leave his here and get a new one once he gets a bike at UCSB—he’ll probably have to get a new mount for the tail-light anyway.
- Bike lock
- Patch kit
- Tire levers. We have good stainless steel tire levers, which we’ve found much easier to use that the fat plastic ones that seem to be all most low-cost bike shops carry.
- Frame-fit or smaller pump. There are some good floor pumps scattered around the UCSB campus. According to a news article, there were four bike tool stations installed in 2012 “located adjacent to the De La Guerra Dining Commons, Santa Catalina Residence Hall, San Rafael Residence Hall, and San Clemente Villages graduate student housing complex.” None of those are very convenient to Manzanita Village, where he hopes to live, so unless the dorm he is in has a floor pump, he might want to buy one there.
- Allen wrench set (3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm)
- Small adjustable wrench?
- update 2014 Aug 3: bike panniers
I don’t think he will need to bring a chain tool, a spoke wrench, cone wrenches, sprocket removers, or any fancier bike tools. First, he probably doesn’t know how to use most of them, and second, he can go to the Associated Students bike shop in the center of campus and borrow tools (and get instruction in using them) there.
Dorm repair tools
One can buy tool kits specifically marketed to dorm residents (like the Apprentice Tool Kit), but he already has a tool box and many of the tools he would need, so I’d only use a kit like that to suggest things that might be handy to include in the tool box he takes.
- claw hammer
- Allen wrenches
- screwdrivers (Phillips and slotted—maybe with a bit set)
- jeweler’s screwdrivers
- mini level
- adjustable wrench
- socket wrench set (metric and English)?
- tin snips?
- measuring tape
- spring clamps (plastic or steel)
- razor knives
- Leatherman pocket tool
- machine screws and nuts
- wood screws?
- zip ties
- velcro cable straps
- duct tape
- Elmer’s glue?
- Sewing kit: packet of sharps, spools of buttonhole twist (black, white, grey), small embroidery scissors, needle threader?, spare buttons?
This will be a little different from the ones I specify for my applied electronics course for bioengineers (see the Winter 2013 or Spring 2014 list) , but we have a lot of the things on hand. The initial list is almost certainly too much stuff.
- needle nose pliers
- diagonal cutters
- tweezer set
- wire strippers (should I give him one of the self-adjusting ones like I use?)
- soldering iron and stand (my old Unger iron, or perhaps he’ll take the one bought for his company)
- solder sucker
- solder wick?
- PanaVise Jr? for board holding? Or just a cheap alligator-clip 3rd hand?
- USB oscilloscope??? (Is there one that plays nicely with Linux boxes?) Small pocket oscilloscope?
- resistor assortment
- ceramic capacitors
- electrolytic capacitors
- electrical tape
- heat-shrink tubing?
- spools of 22-gauge wire for breadboarding
- jumper wires for headers? (female-female or male-male)
- double-sided breakaway male headers
- Arduino boards? Freescale KL25Z board? Power supply for boards?
- USB cables
- Small, closable tackle box for keeping bags of small parts sorted?
- Power strip with surge protector
- Extension cord?
- Small room fan
- Refrigerator (definitely a “buy there” item—needs to coordinate with roommate)
- desk lamp?
- bed lamp? (perhaps one that mounts on the bed posts)
- alarm clock
- laundry bag
- book ends? (probably better to buy there, if needed at all)
- Rolls razor
- shaving brush and soap
- coat hangers (buy there?)
- first aid kit: band aids, larger gauze pads, antibacterial ointment, paper tape, medic scissors, thermometer, ibuprofen, antacid, simethicone
- nail clippers
- lock box for passport, insurance card, and other important papers?
- backpack (he and I both need new backpacks for carting books around)
- knife, fork, spoon
- resealable food containers (to avoid rodent visits)
- Can opener (on Swiss Army knife?)’