Almost Free Day Is Coming!!!

Save the date: 7/20/2016!

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No, you didn't read that wrong. The single most epic day in SparkFun's history is making its comeback. If you're familiar with SparkFun lore, Free Day involved giving away a whole bunch of SparkFun gift cards to customers. Our best-documented Free Days began in 2010 and continued through 2011 and 2012. Through all of this we learned a lot about ourselves as a company and how passionate people are about free stuff. Check out the comments from past blog posts if you want some solid entertainment. After 2012 we discontinued the annual tradition for a number of reasons, but it's time to give it another go with a different twist!

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What is Almost Free Day?

This year we're selling 3,000 items for $0.01 each, thus the "almost" part of Almost Free Day. We've done this for various reasons, but mostly to keep it legal. We'll have 300 each of nine different board types and one mini LilyPad bundle (SKUs 10867, 11364, 10730, 10044). None of these boards have export restrictions, so customers around the world can participate. Here are the products:

SparkFun OpenLog

SparkFun OpenLog

Big Easy Driver

Big Easy Driver

SparkFun MP3 Player Shield

SparkFun MP3 Player Shield



LilyPad Arduino USB - ATmega32U4 Board

LilyPad Arduino USB - ATmega32U4 Board

Conductive Thread Bobbin - 30ft (Stainless Steel)

Conductive Thread Bobbin - 30ft (Stainless Steel)

SparkFun Micro OLED Breakout

SparkFun Micro OLED Breakout


SparkFun LED Array - 8x7

3 Retired

LilyPad Coin Cell Battery Holder - 20mm


SparkFun Weather Shield

18 Retired

SparkFun RedBoard - Programmed with Arduino

127 Retired

SparkFun RedStick

9 Retired

LilyPad LED Red (5pcs)

2 Retired

What's the catch?

These 10 different products will all be represented as one SKU. That means you won't know which product you get until it arrives. On Almost Free Day you'll just add the "Almost Free" SKU to your cart, and if you make it through checkout before the boards run out, you'll get one of the 3,000 boards.

Is there anything else?

Yes! We'll be offering some special bundles for this day only, as well as having a big sale on the SIK. If you want to get involved in Internet of Things (IoT) or wearables/e-sewing, this is a perfect opportunity with a big discount. The following three bundle options will be $74.99 on Almost Free Day and available on the front page with the one-cent SKU:

IoT Bundle -- Our Most Popular IoT boards at their lowest prices:

SparkFun Photon RedBoard

12 Retired

SparkFun Simblee BLE Breakout - RFD77101

4 Retired

SparkFun Blynk Board - ESP8266

16 Retired
Wearables Bundle -- A great place to start with e-sewing:*




Conductive Thread Bobbin - 30ft (Stainless Steel)

Conductive Thread Bobbin - 30ft (Stainless Steel)


LilyPad FTDI Basic Breakout - 5V

10 Retired

LilyPad Arduino Simple Board


LilyPad Coin Cell Battery Holder - Switched - 20mm

19 Retired

LilyPad Simblee BLE Board - RFD77101

2 Retired
*(Bundle includes two each of 11285, 10899, and 11364)

Classic SIK -- You know it, you love it, at its lowest price yet:

SparkFun Inventor's Kit - V3.2

76 Retired

When is Almost Free Day?

The one-cent SKU will go live at 10 a.m. MT on 7/20/2016. The above bundles will go live at the same time. The event will last as long as it takes to sell through the 3,000 boards.

What about shipping?

Unfortunately, yes, you will have to pay for shipping, but we've done a few things to help. All domestic orders over $75 will ship free, as usual. If you'd like free shipping, just add enough to your cart before Almost Free Day to hit that $75 threshold. Then, on Almost Free Day, just add the one-cent board and go! If you can't think of $75 worth of stuff you'd like, try one of the one-time-only bundles above.

What should I do before Almost Free Day?

  • If you don't have a customer account, create one before 7/20/2016
  • Have your payment information and shipping information ready to get through checkout fast
  • Be signed in to your account before 10 a.m. MT on 7/20/2016
  • Have your cart filled with everything you want (except the one-cent board or bundle) prior to 10 a.m. on 7/20/2016
  • Decide if you want to buy a bundle and be ready to add it to your cart when it goes live
  • Plan on potential server crashes
  • Almost Free Day may result in shipping times taking longer than usual

What are the rules and restrictions?

  • Customer accounts only -- no guests, educators or distributors
  • Only available for online orders
  • Sale prices applicable while supplies last
  • No backorders allowed
  • All sale prices expire at 11:59 p.m. MT on 7/20/2016
  • Only one "Almost Free" SKU, one IoT Bundle and one Wearables Bundle allowed per order
  • Multiple orders on a single account are allowed throughout the day

Thanks for reading. We're excited to participate in another day of madness with you!

Comments 28 comments

  • MTMentat / about 8 years ago / 5

    Every time I use my Hakko soldering iron, I remember the reCAPTCHA's. Every time I have to try to figure out a quick V=IR problem or simple binary-hexadecimal conversion I remember the quiz questions. Every time I reload a webpage I remember the patience that is learned while waiting for the Sparkfun servers.

    Free Day is awesome. Thank you for (almost) bringing it back!!!

    • Erik-Sparkfun / about 8 years ago / 2

      I remember losing my lunch to Nate because of a bug that was introduced last-minute. :(

  • Oh Free Day, your persistent little beast. It's not surprising in the slightest to see you come back around again.

    Good luck with the execution, SparkFun! Sounds like a good balanced approach that wouldn't require too much custom nonsense on the back end (coughquizcough)

    • Black Angus Rocket Storm / about 8 years ago / 3

      We're really looking out for our back end this year.

    • Miskatonic / about 8 years ago / 1

      You should come back for this...Dad :-)

  • jma89 / about 8 years ago / 4

    Multiple orders on a single account are allowed throughout the day

    Why do I feel like you are just mocking us?

    No matter: Time to start my F5 finger exercises. :-)

  • kirby g / about 8 years ago / 3

    Free day is what brought me to sparkfun a few years ago. I had got a free 100$ and ordered a soldering iron and some other random bits.

    Ill probably get something this upcoming free day. I need some parts anyway and the random item for a penny sounds fun. I can daydream all week waiting for it to arrive thinking of what Im going to get.

  • Member #728627 / about 8 years ago / 2

    If you need to order a $75 dollar purchase anyway, how do you lose anything except for one lousy penny? And you get some free stuff for that lousy penny. I really cannot see why someone would gripe about this promotion. If you were already planning to purchase some items it seems nonsense to not want to spend one more cent. But then, I minored in Math in college and also took several economics classes so what the heck do I know. I am just an old man who picks up every penny he sees and would not mind spending one for some "freebies".

  • scharkalvin / about 8 years ago / 2

    This reminds of the prize raffle at some ham radio ham fests I've been too. Some well to do dude wins a brand new transceiver, and a luck less guy like me wins a 1 ohm 100w resistor. I KNOW which "prize" I'll probably get (if anything at all), the stupid spool of conductive thread (which for me will be as useless as that 1 ohm 100w resistor).

    • M-Short / about 8 years ago / 3

      The list of products doesn't show this well, but the thread, LilyTwinkle, red LEDs, and coin cell holder are all 1 item in this case. It is basically 1 of 9 boards+1 kit. We actually intentionally made the retail price on all of these within a certain range (everything but the weather shield is about $15-$25). You might get something you've never used or wanted to use before but then you get to learn a new skill. All of these products are pretty popular items on our site, so we aren't just sending out duds, but we do realize that not everyone has the same interests. Also, remember, this is all for $0.01. You don't have to buy anything else. If you were already going to place an order soon, why not place it then and add on the $0.01. If you have no use for some/most/all of the boards and weren't already placing an order than this sale probably isn't for you and that's OK too.

  • OrganicByte / about 8 years ago / 1

    I unboxed my items from Almost Free Day! I made it through the checkout process several times before inventory ran out For 4 cents + shipping, I got $70+ of cool stuff. Not sure what I will do with the OpenLog, but I have several project ideas for the other items.

    Thanks, Sparkfun!

  • bobdabiulder / about 8 years ago / 1

    Will a SFE gift card work?

    • Black Angus Rocket Storm / about 8 years ago / 1

      Standard gift card rules apply but it will work as a form of payment.

  • Member #757971 / about 8 years ago / 1

    Right On Sparkfun! I so much appreciate your effort at trying to spark a little more innovation in our culture through this offer. I'm looking forward to "Almost Free Day" and will use your company as my supplier for my next project. I watched the Ted Talk and am so very impressed with your company; keep up the great work!

  • SupaIrish / about 8 years ago / 1

    This seems like a terrible way to run this type of promotion. Having people spamming refresh then trying to run through your checkout process? Why not just build a list of interested participants and randomly draw people who've won a chance to participate?

  • lucentminds / about 8 years ago / 1

    What is the exact sku I need to enter next week? Is the sku "Almost Free" or is it another sku that SparkFun will provide closer to the start of Almost Free Day?

    • M-Short / about 8 years ago / 1

      It won't be a promo code or anything you have to type it. There will actually be a product page for it. I believe we will have it linked on the main page (like the products linked on this page) so you should be able to add to cart from the main page.

  • TECH GEEK / about 8 years ago / 1

    How much will it cost to ship a $0.01 order to say zipcode: 19446?

    • M-Short / about 8 years ago / 1

      Shipping isn't based on the cost of the item (mostly, over a certain amount the order needs to be tracked eliminating some cheaper options). It does depend on weight, shipping method and actual location (often more accurate than zipcode). Your best bet to estimate shipping is to add one of the parts to your cart and click checkout. The next page will give you all shipping options for your address as well as their prices.

  • jpvlsmv / about 8 years ago / 1

    Is there a quantity limit, or can somebody snatched up 1000 of them in one swipe?

    • Black Angus Rocket Storm / about 8 years ago / 1

      You can only have one $0.01 sku added to your cart per order. You can make multiple orders but it will take time to do so.

  • Member #494988 / about 8 years ago / 1

    Will Local Pickup (with no shipping charges, but state and local sales tax charged) still be a shipping option for Almost Free Day? Will there be a minimum order size implemented for Almost Free Day orders? Will we have to do those awful Captchas to participate? I live in Boulder and SparkFun is a short drive away; I have a project I need to finish.

    • M-Short / about 8 years ago / 3

      Also, notice the fine print says online orders only meaning sales are not available in our Emporium. So make sure you place the order online and select Local Pickup.

    • Black Angus Rocket Storm / about 8 years ago / 3

      Local Pickup will be an option (no shipping charges, but yes to local and state taxes). No minimum order size. NO CAPTCHAS!!!!!

  • Member #394180 / about 8 years ago / 1

    So I line up $75+ worth of purchase to avoid shipping, race the herd through the gate, may not get anything at all, or if I do it may be something I don't want, for a best possible case of savings of $39.94 (if I limit the calculation to things I actually want, best case is $19.94) before tax. If I don't get what I want I'm pissed off at Sparkfun for another lame promotion. If I do get what I want, I've spent north of $75 to save less than $20. Logic says to just order the thing I want, eat paying full price and use the cheapest possible shipping. I'll still come out many 10's of dollars ahead.

    The old silent surprise Free Day was much better. It was a gratuitous treat handed out to customers who were ordering something they wanted anyway, a thank-you. This just adds in the worst and most frustrating aspect of the Dumpster Dive turning it into a cynical attempt to whip up a feeding frenzy and prey on people who've slept through math class.

    • ME heat o nator / about 8 years ago / 6

      So pay shipping for a chance at something you wouldn't normally buy! It is a chance to learn to use a new device...or better yet create a new device that is first of it's kind. It is a random number generator with learning as a catch. Shipping is shipping and if you already want $75 worth of stuff, then it is an extra discount. To quote a snail on a turtle's shell, "WHEEEEE!"

      • Member #394180 / about 8 years ago / 1

        Thank you for the suggestion, but if I don't normally buy it it's because I've read the data sheets and tutorials and watched the videos and decided that I don't need/want it. My workshop (makerspace for the newbies) is filled with stuff from the 19th century up to last week (wanna see an Edison used as an iambic Morse code keyer for a 1-tube radio transmitter in a 3D-printed box?) so being stuck in a technological rut is not a major problem for me. Just saying that the current incarnation of Free Day has the potential for major frustrations, disappointment and can be a money waster because it'll cost a lot more than the putative penny and that it makes more sense to just order what I want instead of living in bogus hope. If you enjoy it, I wish you the best of luck and I'll be out of your way on Free Day.

        Love the snail/turtle metaphor, BTW.

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