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]

SparkFun’s Free Day is nearly upon us…

As I’m sure many of you already now, today is January 7th. While that might not have any real significance normally, today this means that our favorite hobby supplier, SparkFun, is giving away up to $100,000 of electronic goodness. We know we have our shopping carts filled to the brim, and we’re sure that most of you do too. With the start of Free Day being roughly 10 minutes away, we recommend that everyone man their shopping carts…. This should be interesting…

SparkFun product used for immoral hacking

While we have our fun ethically hacking, its very easy to forget that sometimes our ideas could be used with malicious goals. Take for instance SparkFun’s BlueSMiRF – the device’s original intention is simply to act as a wireless serial cable replacement. After hackers discovered several PIN pads use a serial interface, they put one and one together to steal several hundreds of people’s personal bank accounts.

It seems SparkFun is getting a lot of heat lately, but we’re glad they stand up and address these issues. You can check out the original news clipping here.

SparkFun gets a cease and Desist

CandD

[Nate] over at SparkFun Electronics has posted a cease and desist letter he received from SPARC industries.  Apparently their legal department feels that his name is close enough to theirs to ignite a legal battle. They are demanding that he transfer his domain to them immediately to extinguish the flames. This all seems a bit silly, his name isn’t really at all like theirs and his product isn’t similar either.  To add to the peculiarity of this, going to their site throws up a big red malware warning for us (in chrome).

[thanks IraqiGeek]

SparkFun kegerator goes to eleven

sparkfun-kegerator

It started with a simple need: keep tabs on SparkFun Electronics’ in-house kegerator so the beer won’t run out at inopportune times. But of course SparkFun and “simple need” make strange bedfellows…throw beer in the mix, and you know this can’t end well. The result, as you might imagine, reads like a who’s-who of electronics hackery buzzwords.

Arduino? Check. Custom PCB? Check. Web interface? Check. Twitter feed? Check.

They’ve assembled a nice build tutorial on how this all went together, including code, example circuits, an explanation of some of the sensors used, and links to other tutorials for such things as Twittering and persistent storage in EEPROM using Arduino. Not to mention the eye candy: a custom Arduino shield (solder mask and all), custom acrylic tap handle, custom SparkFun pint glasses. They never do anything halfway, do they?

SparkFun open-sources latest kits

09205-5

SparkFun has started to release some of their kits as open-source hardware. Projects such as ClockIt, a simple alarm clock, have their schematics, board designs, and source code released under the CC-by-sa license. Although most of their widgets and projects already had example code and schematics available, they are now using an open-source license. They are joining adafruit and EMSL and others in pushing OSH, but it is interesting to see an established company turn to this. Normally, startups do this to encourage early adoption.

[via adafruit]

SparkFun stencil and solder paste class notes

stencil

Hobby electronics manufacturer SparkFun has started offering various classes at their Boulder, CO facility. [Landon] has been attending as many as possible and posted about his experience during their Stencil and Solder Paste class. Solder paste is used when manufacturing boards with a reflow oven. He took quite a few pictures of the process and posted notes and audio. He says it’s definitely something you’d have to learn hands-on, but his numerous photos give you an idea of what’s involved. Below, you can watch a video of the paste clean-up pass and stencil removal.

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