SparkFun free day 2011: now with gambling

SparkFun has just announced a Free Day for 2011. Last year was the first time they decided to give away $100,000 in the form of $100 credits that melted down their servers and made the rest of the world (you know, the non-geek sort) ask what SparkFun was when it started trending on Twitter, Google, and every other form of digital communication.

Well, they’re doing it again this year, albeit quite differently. Mark your calendar for Thursday, January 13th at 9am Mountain Standard Time. But it’s not as simple as having your cart pre-filled and trying to bum rush the checkout pages. Now you’ve got options; take a loyalty payout of $10 for each year that has passed since you registered an account with them, or gamble for a $100 credit. The latter involves answering ten questions, rewarded with $10 for each correct answer and penalized $3 for each wrong answer. If you don’t finish all ten before the money runs out you get zip.

There’s several bits of good news here. First, they just picked up a new rack of servers which should help keep the website from crashing. Secondly, the prize money has been ramped up by %50 to a total of $150,000. And finally, if you choose to answer the trivia questions, $2 is being donated to charity for each correct answer. So study up on your electronic theory and you can help others while trying to help yourself.

[Thanks Diego]

52 thoughts on “SparkFun free day 2011: now with gambling

  1. i bet every business teacher in the world is crying right now XD

    but i loved free day 2010
    made an entire project with no out of pocket expense and thats unheard of in the usa XD

  2. $150K for about $1mil in free advertising. Sites like this always talk about not promoting products and advertising in posts. But here we are… Its ingenious!!

  3. I made it out last time with some loot. I think I went over by 20 or 30. I heard some people did it and then turned around and put it on ebay? Or was that just a rumor.

  4. At least they require you to know some electronic theory. Last year people just heard ‘free stuff’ and later sold their loot on ebay.

  5. ya i missed last years because of the server meltdown, cart was full… page no load… maybe i can get in on this years :)

  6. I really like that they are going to change stuff up this time around. Make it so that their actual customers benefit from this, and anyone who knows a thing or two about what they sell.

    @lobster: there were quite a few people who heard “free stuff” and tried to take advantage without knowing what they were even getting. Whether they used the stuff or sold it on ebay I don’t think we’ll ever know.

  7. I checked ebay a week after free day and there was a significant amount of Sparkfun items with obscure and incorrect descriptions. I guess there were some people who just took advantage of it (it was posted to SlickDeals as well…)

  8. This is much better IMO. Assuming it’s trivia about electronics etc, this should get rid of the hoardes of people that were in it just for free stuff.

  9. Funny, I just finished placing an order today. I think I’ll go for the loyalty option as I registered in dec ’05. Wish I could use it towards batchPCB instead.

  10. “Im just waiting for Osgeld… ;)

    Posted at 12:22 pm on Nov 24th, 2010 by Philip”

    why? If you want to bang your head on a desk while thousands of other people are taking a quiz at the same time on untested servers hooked up to a no name local ISP for a chance to save some money on retardedly jacked up, copied and pasted right out of the data sheet lego bricks, by my guest

    maybe it will knock some sense into you

  11. I envy you US Citizens. You may not have a good health care, fair taxes or a clean slate with the world. But you do have way better shops for electronic hobbyist.

  12. Just a heads-up from a SparkFunner… as far as the questions go, the $10 from every correct answer gets credited to your account instantly, so even if you don’t finish in time you will still have the money from every correct answer (minus any incorrect answers)!

    Good luck everyone!

  13. I’m not upset about what happened, I’m upset that Sparkfun came back with they felt they “were successful at giving back to there customers” when clearly it was a big lottery taking over by the deal seekers.

    Like razorconcepts said, ebay was full of SFE gear a few weeks after, and did you notice SFE never released a “what did you build with Free Day stuff” like they said they were going to? I wonder why. Maybe because very few actual hackers got free stuff?

    I still cant comprehend that people are actually this blind to what happened last year.

    The fact they are testing people this time around proves they know it went all wrong last year, or else they would do the same thing, no?

  14. @Anon
    The fact they are testing people this time around proves they know it went all wrong last year, or else they would do the same thing, no?

    They are trying to avoid people being whiny little crybabies like last year. People are still butthurt about it. I am surprised they are even doing it again this year, with the reaction from a lot of people I am surprised they just forget it and donate the money to a charity.

  15. @Anon,@therian:
    some of you people are so fucking lame. cannot believe you think a company is ‘deceitful’ because you didn’t get $100 in FREE stuff. I tried like hell to get some stuff for a project but wasn’t lucky enough. Did i cry? no. Did i think i got duped? no. Have i ordered from sparkfun in the past and will i continue to order from them? yup.

    nobody is fucking ‘blind’, Anon-guy. Sparkfun tried something and they learned their lesson – they let EVERYONE in on the action. Is that deceit? I don’t think so. You’re just bitter that you didn’t get anything, because you are so special and unique, you deserve the free product. YOU deserve it, not me. YOU. only YOU. You apparently ‘don’t care’, but you write like you’ve got a giant chip on your shoulder.

    what an ego you have.

    Fuck, can’t stand people in the real-world, and can’t stand people online anymore, either. The negative little shits cry the loudest and simply drown out any trace of positive attitude. Time to ‘opt-out’ of this whole farce of existence.

  16. @dext0rb

    besides your lack of people skills, you seemed to misread my point. Here, let me repeat:

    “I’m not upset about what happened, I’m upset that Sparkfun came back with they felt they “were successful at giving back to there customers” when clearly it was a big lottery taking over by the deal seekers.”

    IF SFE had said from the beginning and to the end that this was just a big lottery, try your luck; I would have been fine with that. I don’t get upset every time I don’t win the state lottery. But the state lottery isn’t running around claiming that they’re “giving back to it’s loyal customers” either.

  17. It was labor day. Users stayed up the morning before to sit at their keyboards and labor at a product which was impossible to get for the average person so Sparkfun could get free advertising.

    Did it work? They got their name out but I haven’t bought from them since and haven’t felt the need to buy from them ever again.

    They haven’t done anything for me so I don’t owe them anything. Even people who told me about it didn’t win anything and haven’t talked about them since.

    I couldn’t get the site to move before free day.

    Relationships are reciprocol or complimentary and when I can’t get the server to move on free day then this offer for publicity means all for Sparkfun and few people and none for me and most of the people. It means they don’t have a relationship with most or all of the people. It means only they benefited at getting free advertising at the expense of the person who sat there stupidly at the computer for hours and didn’t get anywhere.

    Here is a plan. How about giving people products at cost or with free shipping. Instead of gouging people for .35 cents for tact switches, why not give them to people for four cents where other sites sell them for? How about helping the customer who actually buys something?

    There is no help for students who want to start a robotics club because most students in high school don’t work and don’t have money from mom and dad.

    Do you know what my boss does? My boss buys a lot of product before the price increase from the supplier takes effect. It is like printing money and sellers who don’t help out their customers once and a while are just taking advantage of them in my opinion. In other words, those customers who sat for hours at a computer terminal were working at getting something. It is called free labor for advertising. You sit at a computer while your chances are nill and it only benefits Sparkfun. You work; Sparkfun benefits. Sparkfun gets the product for less so they have to be making a killing to be able to give stuff away and when you buy their products, you are paying for the next free day so people can labor at their keyboards to give Sparkfun free advertising while most of you get nothing.

    Sparkfun, you lost a customer for “free”.

  18. I couldn’t even get on their site last year but no sweat, still kept doing business with them. It wasn’t a major shock to see people took the $100 credit and just turned around and sold everything just to make a profit, there’s always going to be people with alternative motives. But a lot of loyal customers and newcomers did get a chance to start a project that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise. The fact that SFE is making this years free day more about the electronics student/enthusiasts and less of a free for all for people trying to profit off of others good will is even better. You either need to have done business with them for some time, or have knowledge of electronics, which in it’s own will keep most abusers away, but not all. Most will probably take the question gamble in order to score a bigger credit while at the same time have SFE make a substantial donation to a good cause. Either was not only are they taking care of customers this year, they’re also helping out those who deserve it by making donations.

  19. @dext0rb if it was a lottery I would had no problem with that, but it simply didn’t work and frustrated most people. It was similar to a wallet on the street with a fishing line attached to annoy anyone bending for it

  20. You need to prepare a linux kernel in advance which has its maximum retransission telay set to 500ms and a high retransmission counter.

    This is handy to have if you ever need to visit a site that is onder DDoS or just heavily loaded.

    I tried this at last years free day, and could get pages within 5 to 10 seconds, but didn’t order anything as I didn’t need anything at that time.

  21. why? If you want to bang your head on a desk while thousands of other people are taking a quiz at the same time on untested servers hooked up to a no name local ISP for a chance to save some money on retardedly jacked up, copied and pasted right out of the data sheet lego bricks, by my guest

    maybe it will knock some sense into you

    Posted at 1:37 pm on Nov 24th, 2010 by Osgeld

    I wont be entering, I have better things to do. I just enjoy your rants at sparkfun, it breaks up a tedious day ;)

  22. @chuckt
    just because you and your 2 other lame friends don’t shop there anymore doesn’t mean it didn’t work. 50% growth speaks for itself.

  23. I’m not so mad at sparkfun as I am at the a**hats that bought the goods to resell. I saw some of those listings, and the prices were often the same or higher than retail. If anyone bought that crap, even if it was to save a few bucks, poo on them. Even if the goods were cheaper, I’d rather live knowing that some ignorant sod has a pile of microcontrollers he knows nothing about and nobody will buy. THOUGHT he was gonna make a quick buck. But people did buy them. And the world keeps on turning.

    I like the thought of this new system, so I’m done being burnt toast. Let’s see how it goes and save the new round of flaming for afterwards.

    How about a simple captcha for each order submission attempt?

  24. somehow one of my 5 tabs loaded. I doubt I could have gotten to all the questions with the load. I had to reload after clicking the loyalty option for about 10 mins before i got my confirmation.

  25. Hmmm, well then. I was going to try out their questions since my loyalty option would only get me $20. But I’d happly take $20 over the nothing I’m getting at the moment!

  26. Yep, took my $20 and ran. Looks like they are starting to piece together the rubble of their servers and get something running again.

    yay sparkfun

  27. I managed to click the “quiz” button, but it died again afterward. At the time (about 30 mins ago) only about 15% of the money had been claimed.

  28. i got the first question to load but it errors out after i submit my answer.

    “After leaving his LectroCandle on all night Billy’s 1000mAh lithium-polymer battery has lost all of its charge. Billy has to get the battery fully charged before he goes to bed tonight so he plugs it into his LiPoly USB Charger. If the USB Charger charges the battery at 100mA then how long will it take to fully charge the battery?”
    10 hours

    1 hour

    11 hours

    100 hours

    and now i get this. :( it’s dead. all the money is gone.
    “Free Day is a wrap, the quiz is done! Here’s a rundown of how you did:

    Well that’s a bummer :( You didn’t qualify for any free money this time around.”

  29. It can be pretty aggravating pounding on f5 all morning and getting nowhere. With so many people doing it, I would think it boils down to luck of the draw.

  30. Wasted an hour trying to play this game. I was going to order the inventors kit a few days ago, and thought I would wait for Free Day to get a discount. But this was frustrating enough that I’m going to take my biz elsewhere! Thanks guys, been real!

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