$1M Weighs a Ton

Maker Faire recap and we weigh our donation of $5K to local charity!

Favorited Favorite 0

Maker Faire 09 is complete! We had a fantastic time and we’re pretty exhausted. It was great to see all our old friends and meet new ones.

Stats from this year:

I don’t have cash very often ever, so it was pretty amazing to see the pile of money accumulating over two days in the donation jar at our booth.


Let’s go to Vegas!

SparkFun donated all the kits for the weekend. The makers who visited our booth could donate 10-$20 and we would teach them to put the kit together. All the cash went to two local non-profit groups. Which of course begs the question, how much does a million dollars weigh?


Here are 50 x $20s, used, no wrapper. You can make out 0.1079 lbs on our nifty precision/parts counting scale. If $1000 weighs 0.1079, that means a million dollars in twenties would weigh 108lbs! That’s a monstrous piece of luggage. We’ve all seen the movies where a person is held ransom in exchange for $5 million in unmarked bills. I hope they used $1000 bills (10.8 lbs) or Benjamins (108 lbs), because $5M in twenties would need a forklift (540lbs).

I did not take nearly enough photos! But here are a few shots from my cheap-o camera:


Faces to the company! Left to right: Trevor Zylstra (Chief operations officer), Chris Clark (director of IT), Matt Bolton (director of production), Pete Dokter (director of engineering), AnnDrea Boe (director of marketing), Jordan Hanie (chief financial officer), Nathan Seidle (chief executive officer). These are the seven people that make SparkFun groove.

The night before we left for Maker Faire, SparkFun attended an awards ceremony for Mercury 100 - to award the fastest growing companies in Boulder County. SparkFun ended up 8th in the ‘above 2M’ in revenue category. A lot of organic and solar companies have been doing fabulously over the past few years so we were ecstatic to get 8th!


14 SparkFun crew descended on San Mateo the following day. Friday afternoon was our chance to setup the gear (including two giant SparkFun tents) and meet with all the other makers. The paella was fantastic and the makers and projects were phenomenal.


The calm tent, before the storm. We had seats, tools, and irons for 28 people. We were completely full with a wait for most of the weekend. People really enjoyed getting the chance to build something and the entire SparkFun team had a great time teaching them.


We even had a few repeat visitors from Austin-08! These students really enjoyed putting together a ClockIt and a MetroGnome. Students of all ages went through the class in 20-30 minutes. I believe the youngest was five and a half years old, with an average age of ~13! We had a ton of kids and they did a really great job learning and having fun.


We maxed out all but one SMD soldering class! 125 participants put together Simon and learned that you really can hand solder SMD parts.


Anyone know what the final Maker Faire 09 numbers were? Last year was around 60,000 people. It felt busier than ever this year! I hope we didn’t break the maximum occupancy of this bathroom.


Matt tries to catch a ride with a super helpful Make staff member. It didn’t go well.


I especially enjoyed the Applied Kinetic Arts booth. This was a giant sculpture made out of re-used 2-liter bottles that were rigged to slowly raise and lower in a sort of wave motion. It was a fun piece that people really enjoyed.


After a hard day a of work Saturday, we found our way to In-N-Out Burgers. It was perhaps the best burger I have ever had. But then again, we were all so tired that cardboard covered in salsa may have tasted swell. There was a monstrous power line tower directly outside the restaurant, so instead of a fence, they covered the tower in some ferocious looking spikes. Mmmm, In-N-Out.

Sorry I didn’t take more photos of Makers! Please feel free to post sites with good photos.

Comments 21 comments

  • Just wanted to let you know what a great time my daughter (9years old) had learning to solder at your booth. Her clock worked and she was thrilled! I refreshed my soldering skills with the metroGnome. We are both ready for more! Look forward to seeing you all next year at the MakerFaire!

  • The money required to buy a house will soon weigh more than the house.

  • Is it me or does half of the Sparkfun Staff have a dutch family heritage? Zylstra, Dokter.. and maybe Hanie (as it sounds like a womans’s first name), are very dutch names. I know everybody in the states has a non-american heritage in some form or another. Any relations to the netherlands?

  • Gotta say you guys were great, as always! Nick & Lexi (pictured above) enjoyed soldering their kits. We talked about it before hand, and made sure that your booth was our first stop at the faire Saturday morning.

  • Awesome job, Sparkfun!

  • I uploaded video of the SparkFun soldering workshop in action. Pick your flavor:
    YouTube HD:

  • How about… ONE BILLION DOLLARS!!! (everyone gasps)

  • I put up a 15 minute video, made in HD - over here. If you didn’t attend, you might find the walkthru pretty interesting!

  • Finally a surface mount AVR! I think I requested that like a year ago :) Awesome.

  • We loved seeing the intent-and-happy faces of folks learning in your booth, as we went by on Sunday.

  • Woah, looks like you’re mixed up in the weight calculations.
    0.1079 lbs / 50 bills = 0.002158 lbs/bill
    ($1M / $1) * 0.002158 lbs/bill = 2158 lbs
    ($1M / $5) * 0.002158 lbs/bill = 431.6 lbs
    ($1M / $10) * 0.002158 lbs/bill = 215.8 lbs
    ($1M / $20) * 0.002158 lbs/bill = 107.9 lbs
    ($1M / $50) * 0.002158 lbs/bill = 43.16 lbs
    ($1M / $100) * 0.002158 lbs/bill = 21.58 lbs
    ($1M / $1K) * 0.002158 lbs/bill = 2.158 lbs

    • You are correct, except I sort of talked it up with a 5M calculation. What movie would be exciting if ransom was 1M? Too cheap. So I estimated a movie ransom was $5M. Always check my math tho - EEs are horrible without their TI-89.

      • Dr. Evil: Gentlemen, it has come to my attention that a breakaway Russian Republic called Kreplachistan will be transferring a nuclear warhead to the United Nations in a few days. Here’s the plan. We get the warhead and we hold the world ransom for… ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

  • There was another “Maker Faire” by O'Reilly in Japan last month. We held a real shop at the event. Almost all items are from SparkFun. Here is a photo of the shop. The staffs on the photo are me and my wife.

  • looks like u guys had lots of fun :)
    hey u dont need to pay me in cash, i take checks too… (1 mill).
    no problem, im here for you.

  • weighing the money reminded me of:
    both also linked on boingboing within the past few months..
    why is everybody thinking about how big money is all of a sudden ???

  • If you ever come to Solarbotics in Calgary, ask Dave to bring you at www.boogiesburgers.com, these are serious good big burgers!! So good that I bought a t-shirt :P
    I heard that saturday they had 37 000 peoples. So I guest we problably got the same numbers sunday and that is 74 000 peoples in 2 days.
    It was my first time in California and got a booklet of house for sales, normal house under 1 millions is really rare! I better start getting more then 108 lbs of money!!

  • The burger may be great, but in Millbrae, the place to go is El Super Burrito on El Camino Real. They are THE best burritos anywhere ever. Sometimes it seems like it would be worth a plane flight just to get one - I know it is worth a long drive.

  • I was too busy at my own booth (within sight of yours, I had all the LEDs and the giant spectrum analyzer), didn’t really get a chance to stop by you guys. Maker Faire was awesome though! And I can confirm that In-n-Out burgers taste just as good even if you’re not tired. I’ve eaten at that Millbrae In-n-Out many times next to the spiky pylon, lots of the pylons around here have those. But now that you’ve experienced In-n-Out, can you wait a whole year for another one? Let me know if you’re flying into SFO for a burger run. :)

    • I was blinded by the blinking! Was good to see you there Macetech. Maker Faire brings in a few people :)

Related Posts

Stiamo Andando a Roma!

Recent Posts


All Tags