SparkFun and Hackster.io

SparkFun and Hackster.io have teamed up to provide a platform for SparkFun's customers.

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When I started here back in June, one of the major decisions SparkFun was grappling with was trying to find a way to implement a platform to allow our user community to post and show off their projects. The SparkFun user community creates some pretty amazing projects using our boards – I love seeing the projects in the wild, and we wanted this community project.

The question we were trying to answer was, "What are we as a company?" Did we need to build and host our own community platform, or should we keep focusing effort on engaging the community through our learning content and tutorials? Ultimately we came to the conclusion that we needed to stick with the core of what got us to this point: showing people the way forward. We couldn’t commit to creating our own platform and still maintain the same level of quality that our customers expect for our products and content. For us the message was more important than the medium.

What we needed to do was find a platform that really spoke to SparkFun in a way that our users could positively engage with. What we wanted was our message on a solid, stable, professionally managed platform. During AVC weekend I had the pleasure of meeting a few of the people who work for Hackster.io, and I was impressed. Alex Glow and Adam Benzion of Hackster both attended and stuck around after the event. We started having conversations about SparkFun leveraging the Hackster platform for community engagement. What followed was a series of long conversations about what a partnership between SparkFun and Hackster would look like.

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During that time, Ben Larralde of Hackster helped create and update some APIs for us. These APIs allow us to push our products to Hackster when they go live. This means SparkFun can guarantee the quality of our products on the Hackster site is the same as our site. Juan, our internal photographer, does a great job of shooting photos of our products, and Topher from our catalog team writes great product descriptions. Ensuring we had an easy, seamless way to link all of that information to the Hackster website was a priority for us. Now, every Friday when we launch our new products, they appear on Hackster.

When our customers create great projects using our products, they will now have the option to load their projects into Hackster. Users can still use the standard Hackster interface to create projects, but we wanted to create the ability for users to build wishlists on SparkFun and then create a project using the wishlist. This should also simplify the buying experience if someone wanted to recreate your project themselves. Since we already have the ability to add entire wishlists to a cart, this functionality has been extended to Hackster.

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The main aspect of the integration we hope our customers enjoy is the project connection functionality. SparkFun is currently pulling images from projects that leverage our products; these images will be displayed on our main product page. Now people who make great projects have the opportunity for everyone on our website to see them in action. We encourage users to upload their projects on Hackster, and the best projects using our stuff will be displayed on our website. Every month, we’ll feature a different project from Hackster on our blog as our Project of the Month.

We want to thank Hackster for working with us and for being patient, and we want to thank our users for the work they’ve done to inspire us, and the work we know they’ll do moving forward.


Comments 7 comments

  • How does this compare to Hackaday's Hackaday.IO? I'm assuming it to compete, just wondering what will make what you're supporting more beneficial.

    • They are similar platforms, I can't speak to the exact differences as I have not used hackaday's. Essentially they are the same, you build and show off your project.

      We want to ensure we had a platform. We want to see these great projects and we want people to show them off.

  • So, how does this work? Is it live now? I didn't see a link in the post.

    • This is live now.

      The image in the blog post is real. He's the redboard linking to Sarah's project: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/12757 Here's a link to Sarah's Soil moisture sensing project: https://www.hackster.io/SarahAl-Mutlaq/soil-moisture-sensor-hookup-guide-08d1f1?offset=1&ref=search&ref_id=soil+moisture+sensing

      We have boards, components, shields and kits all connected and we connect more each day.

  • It is rare that my projects consist solely of parts from one supplier, such as SparkFun. My most recently completed project (my "Flashy Santa Hat") for instance, used LEDs and an Arduino Pro Mini from SparkFun, a couple of sensors and silicone wire from Adafruit, LED holders I designed and 3-D printed, and a Santa hat from, IIRC, the local Walmart store. (I'm going to "rethink" the battery for it, as the weight of the 3xAAA pack is causing problems, but I have reservations about having a LiPo that close to my skull, given the bad press LiPos have had recently.)

    Anyway, will there be some support for this situation?

    • In the future, it's possible. What we wanted to do was make at least adding all of the SparkFun items simpler.

      Even if you didn't buy a certain part from us, if we carry it you can still have it in your wish list for building the Hackster project. When building a Hackster project, you can still add parts from other vendors. The goal was to start simplifying a few aspects of the project creation process while having a platform to show of that cool Flashy Santa Hat (I'd love to see photos or videos in action).

      • Well, at some point I'll have to figure out how to post a video to YouTube. As I mentioned before, I'm going to change batteries (sure wish you guys would make it a practice to include the weight of certain items in their descriptions!) and then look at improving the software for the Flashy Santa Hat. (Brief description is it has 11 addressable LEDs [had planned on 12, but ran out of time when I was sewing them on] that "flash". The flash rate goes down to very slow, until I move my head, when it randomly changes the rate to "fast", how many LEDs is based on how much change is detected by the accelerometer. Also, the ambient light is measured and the brightness is adjusted based on that. And the LEDs change colors frequently.)

        Getting back to Hackster, I hope that you'll at least have the ability for the poster to include a link for something that SF doesn't carry but is critical to the project. (One example would be the silicone insulated wire, which Adafruit carries but SF doesn't -- this stuff is super-flexible, and is a good choice for wiring a Flashy Santa Hat.) Of course, I can always mention things like stuff from Michael's or Target in the text, though it would be nice to have a BOM where it can be mentioned. (Oh, and don't forget, there'll be code for that Pro Mini!)

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