SPARKFUNS HAS DA KEWT KITTY PARADES OF STUF

HAY GUISE! SPARKFUN ADDED AWESUM NEW STUF 2DAY. DA PICTURZ WERE SUPER BORING NERD STUF SO I ADDED SUM AWESOME KITTEHS TO THEM. THA WUN ABUV IZ AN ADORUBLE RED HAIRED KITTEH OVER DA SPARKFUN SOLDERING IRON KIT! IT’S SUPER KEWLS FOR SURE.

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Portable bench supply carries around 10 amp-hours of juice

[Punish3r] wanted to have power for prototyping on the go. What he came up with is this little thing above. Inside you’ll find common components that let the unit provide 10 amp hours of current with a 12V 500mA output.

The storage capacity is provided by a dozen Lithium batteries. These 3.7V cheapies are wired in parallel behind a protection board. For charging and discharging, a Sparkfun LiPo charger board was used, taking care of all the work necessary to top off the batteries using a wall-wort. The final piece in the puzzle is a boost converter that provides the regulated 12v connected to the red and black banana plug receivers on the bottom of the case.

This is very much a plug-and-play design… just make sure you hook the parts up correctly and you’re up and running. We would love to see a roll-your-own boost converter circuit that include a switch or dial that lets you select common PSU voltage levels. If you’re going to the trouble to make your own board you might as well incorporate the charging circuit at the same time.

[Thanks Paul]

Sparkfun free day recap

It looks like the dust has finally settled with sparkfun’s free day. They managed to give away $150,541 to users and $22,988 to charity.  The general idea is you could ether take $10/year you’ve been a sparkfun customer, or take a 10 question quiz and earn $10/correct answer plus some money for charity. It looks like some technical difficulties prevented people from taking the quiz until free day had been under way for a couple of hours. Once they managed to fix the problem the money went pretty fast, eating up the last $40,000 in about 5 minutes. So did anyone manage to get anything good? Be sure to checkout sparkfun’s recap video after the break for more details.

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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]

Project enclosures the right way

[Stephen Eaton] created an enclosure and shared his process in a pair of blog post. We thought is was amusing that he remarks on how rarely his projects get the to point that you’d want to make an enclosure for them. We’ve certainly got a lot of bare-PCB creations lying around. But when it does come time, we think his fabrication method is a good way to go.

First of all, he didn’t start from scratch. He already had a SparkFun project case sitting around. The problem is figuring how to make it work for your situation. We’ve used a drill, a Dremel, and a file in the past and that yields passable results but nothing that would be mistaken for anything other than a carefully mangled project box. [Stephen] decided to mill the openings he needed from the box, which yielded professional looking results. He started by emailing SparkFun and asking if they could give him a 3D model of the project box and the obliged. He then modeled the LCD screen, LED light pipes, button, USB port, and SD socket. From there it was off to the mill with a custom jig and a few tricks we think you’ll appreciate. The end result is just another reason to build the CNC mill you’ve had on your mind for so long.

Easy quadrotor helicopter instructions

Here’s a great tutorial on building your own quadrotor helicopter. This build isn’t necessarily less expensive than others we’ve seen since quality motors, propellers, and control circuitry aren’t cheap. But the design and assembly is well documented and presents a well-planned building procedure. The carbon-fiber tubes that make up the frame have extensions to protect the motors and propellers in the event of a crash. The Arduino, IMU, and transceiver are all tucked away between two aluminum body plates as well. They only thing missing is a solid methodology for tuning the four motors, a critical procedure that is just touched up at the end of the article.

Digikey sort by price script

Does anyone else find it a little ironic the electronic retailer SparkFun is advocating scripts to help Digikey have a Sort By Price function? Regardless, to reiterate now Firefox (and we hear Google Chrome too) users with the Greasemonkey plugin can sort Digikey items. Personally, some of us here are just Mouser fans at heart.

[Thanks Charper and Mohonri and Satiagraha, image credit Make]