Free Day is Done


Wow that was fast! Free Day is over. Over $100k was given away in just under 1 hour and 45 minutes. We had over 1,000 orders and nearly over 70,000 unique visitors. Our servers barely stayed up!

Thank you all for checking us out! Our sincerest apologies to all who came but were not able to get the discount. We are going to have a ton of graphs, images, numbers, and funny comments from Free Day on a Friday Recap home page post just as soon as we can get it together. Please check back soon!


http://www.sparkfun.com/marcomm/Free_Day-secondblogpost.jpg

It seems like it was just last week when we announced SparkFun Free Day and now it is almost upon us! Free Day is coming in just a few short days - Thursday, January 7th, 2010, to be exact.

For those of you unfamiliar with SparkFun's Free Day (see the original post here), here it is in a nutshell. Starting at 9AM MST (that's 11 AM EST) on Thursday, January 7th, 2010, each customer will receive $100 towards their order until we reach a limit of $100,000. You'll have to take care of shipping.

There really are no catches, but there are a few rules for fairness' and logistic's sake:
  • $100 max per person (cheating kills kittens)
  • You pay shipping
  • Limit of $100,000 in giveaways for the

    day

  • Starts 9AM MST January 7th, 2010
  • Ends 11PM MST January 7th, 2010 (or when we hit $100k, whichever comes first)
  • Rainchecks for popular items will be allowed
  • There is no special code to type in. But you get only one order on Free Day, so spend it well!
  • Only one $100 credit per household. We ask that you respect this limit and don’t try to abuse this gift.
  • There is no minimum or maximum order. You can spend more than $100, the balance of which will be charged to your method of payment.
  • Only Credit Card and Paypal orders will be eligible for the $100 credit. We don’t want to have people tying up inventory with POs, wire transfers, checks in the mail, or lost faxes.
  • You will see whether or not your order qualifies for a credit in the checkout process.
  • Free Day does not apply to our distributors. Sorry!
  • Gift Cards cannot be bought on Free Day.
  • Any returns from Free Day will be exchanged for the same item.
  • Every order isn’t going to ship on Free Day, or for a few days after. We’ve got extra tape guns on hand, but please be patient and give us some time to catch up!
  • We are ratcheting up inventory for Free Day, but backorders (a.k.a. rainchecks) are allowed on most items (some items we simply can’t get anymore). We’ll get you your goodies just as soon as we can get them back in stock.
We’ve beefed up our servers and completely re-written and streamlined our site. But realize that there are a lot of people with full carts waiting to hit the ‘submit’ button at 9AM. Servers may become slow, there may be timeouts so please be patient. SparkFun IT has even created a fancy banner they will be cycling in at the top showing a countdown and running sum. T-3 days…

Remember, if you want to stay home and in bed that day, you can always participate in Free Day by placing a side bet when you think Free Day will expire ($100k reached). Closest time without going over wins $200 credit. We currently have around 1000 guesses. I thought it was going to last 2-3 hours, but from the looks of the site traffic, twitter responses, and forum posts it may be much, much shorter.

Sorry Hawaii! Free Day will start awfully early at 6AM.

Sorry kids in school! Tell your teacher. Maybe they’ll let you out of class for an educational cause.

Sorry office job people. You’ll just have to fake like you’re working (who, me?).

We’ll be hanging out in the public SparkFun IRC channel on Thursday morning so please stop by and say ‘hi’.

Please stop by SparkFun on Friday the 8th. We’ll try to have a recap with data, graphs, and a breakdown of just how big things got.

Here’s what you can expect to see at checkout:

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/free_day__checkout1.jpg

Click for the full image. It will be vary obvious if you can checkout and get the discount. If not, the page will state that Free Day is over. What does ‘may qualify’ mean? Hit the Free Day submit button and your order will be tested. If approved, we’ll tell you. If not, you’ll be returned to the checkout page where you can edit your order or just submit the order like normal.

EDIT FROM FRENCIL:

Wow!

Our site has been up and down today from the unprecedented load we’re seeing.  We’re tuning our entire site, top to bottom and inside and out to handle this torrent.  We’re also shaving off a few features of the website (temporarily) to make everything faster, such as rating comments.  After Free Day has passed we’ll re-enable everything we’ve disabled to weather the storm.

Feel free to join the conversation on our public irc channel: irc.freenode.net #sparkfun


Comments 447 comments

  • Does this apply to products from SPARC International as well? :)
    - Tim.

    • Yeah, it seems that your names are sooo close that you must be the same company, I wonder why your logos look so different though…

  • Suspect enough people will get denied that they’ll just pay anyways.

  • My take on this is that Free Day was possible because of old and loyal customers. So sparkfun used money it earned from us to fund freebies for new customers who may never take to Sparkfun as we did. I feel cheated to have sponsored these free loaders. I agree that once I have made a payment, the money is not mine to say. But then Why is Sparkfun saying that its paying back. This is a marketing ploy by sparkfun for sure but I think it has done more harm than good. I have not shopped from Sparkfun since the day and I doubt I ever will unless there is no option.

    • I am one of those “free loaders” and I know for a fact that I will continue to shop at SparkFun whenever I need something electronic. Even if some old customers quit getting their electronic needs here I’m sure that SFE has gained many more loyal customers. Go SparkFun!!!

  • I’m surprised at the number of people complaining for not succeeding at their bid for the free $100. Then there is all that foul-crying chorus. Like everyone (of the 70,000 or so attempters) I figured to ready the cart before the contest would start. An hour before it started, it became obvious that this would be like a DDoS attack and the key would be retrying and I did, timing out regularly. This called for a new game plan: Wait for people to give up. Came back 1hr into the contest and started again. F5’s and “resend” eventually got me through the stages until finally, at 1hr 21m, I saw the URL “free_day_success…”.
    I was surprised as I am in Singapore, half-way round the world. As such, the claim that only those close to the servers succeeded doesn’t hold water. Some of my friends tried to the very end, and failed, or gave up and went to sleep. We all had a good laugh though.
    I find it hard to understand the whining against SFE. They gave away $100k and no one forced us to sit and try for it. If we did, and failed - hey, it’s the luck of the draw - someone had to fail with only 1,000 seats. Everyone put up with the same conditions, and as such it was fair. I guess in the end, the SFE community isn’t as mature as I thought it would be. That immaturity, for me, was the lamest part of this whole thing.

    • That’s the spirit! I just wish everybody else felt the same way. Congrats on lucking out!

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
    Talk about being totally unprepared, the site was basically unavailable even the day before the give away. No one thought to maybe prepare for an increase in load? I loved how I got the message that the site was down like an hour before it started. After trying to load the page many times and getting nothing but time-out’s I gave up. I guess I should have just kept trying.
    Next time just do a drawing or else instead of giving away $100K, give away $80K and spend that extra $20K on a decent hosting package.
    Let’s have a list of the winners so we can make sure that this wasn’t all just a hoax to get us to load up our carts with stuff and then once we lost decide to go ahead and purchase anyways. I mean come on, site goes down right before the contest and when its finally back up … oh its over.
    So good idea, but you were totally unprepared for this and have now left those of us who were screwed by network issues with a bad taste in our mouth.

  • Are python scripts allowed?
    Will you show us website traffic stats afterwards?
    Thanks SparkFun guys, you are great!!!
    Suggestion: after login, automatically redirect to unencrypted http:// instead of keeping https. This will reduce bandwidth and server load a lot.

  • I think that there are probably 4-5 thousand people out there that are hoping to get in on Free Day. A Google search for “SparkFun free day” (with quotes) turns up about 21,000 hits, that really lowers my chance of getting in :P However, if everyone only gets $80 dollars worth of stuff that’s still 1,250 orders. I’m still wracking my brain on how I’m gonna get my order smaller. One thing that helped was saying to myself “If Free Day hadn’t happened would I put the order in just as it is?”. That’s still rather hard if your just getting started on Microcontrollers and you don’t want to break the (skinny) piggy bank open quite yet. I hope that everyone remembers exactly how amazing this is, make your order small and everyone will get a bite of silicon cake.

  • Not really happy about the one per household (but can i really complain?)
    Both my girlfriend and I who live together are Electrical Engineers (ie: geeks) both with our own robot projects (and Sparkfun accounts) yet we only get one free day? (and I want a $99 GPS, so “splitting” is kind of hard) Sparkfun, i never thought you would be the cause of a big fight with my girlfriend. :-(

  • If i order and apply for the free day discount and don’t get qualified ..<br />
    then will i have to compulsorily buy those items or it can be cancelled ?

  • Yay! Free day stuff just hit Italy! Thanks Sparkies!

  • Hey, I am sure someone mentioned this before, but SF did have the following disclaimer:
    “Servers may become slow, there may be timeouts so please be patient."
    Also you have to love the Quote of the Day:
    "Not being able to navigate past the first page the entire time was AWESOME.”

  • well, this sucked

  • If you missed out, you’ll probably get a second chance…
    I bet half the stuff people scored today during this stunt will show up on eBay five minutes after UPS delivers.

  • I feel so bad for Sparkfun. Yes, this was a mess, but do you like it when a site gives away $100,000 or not? How so many people can be bitter about generosity, regardless of how it was handled, is beyond me.
    Okay, sure, Sparkfun should have realized the servers couldn’t handle this. Their initial bets of 2-3 hours are laughably naive. But the things is, if they were supposed to anticipate it, why couldn’t you? Why wasn’t it obvious to you, the user, that the servers would crash and burn and you’d have very little chance of getting through? Even after the upgrade announcement you could easily see the site straining a good day before the start.
    So yeah, time consuming gamble with no penalty for walking out. I’m not sure what you can complain about other than never being taught not to count your chickens before they’re hatched. It could have been better, but this isn’t worse than the offer never being made.

    • True, they did “give away” $100k, but like they said themselves, they have already made that money back and then some with today’s orders alone. $100k isn’t a lot of money for how much advertising/buzz this created, but it also created a lot of jaded previous customers.
      I’d definitely like to see them offer a lottery (even if it’s for a 10% discount) to actual repeat customers someday. I’d also like to see the stats (woot provides this everyday) as far as how many “new” customers got the deal compared to people who have ordered at least once before.
      Also, to put things into perspective, I have a fuller server rack IN MY HOUSE than their “upgraded server cluster” so I wouldn’t exactly say they’ve “joined the big boys” as they like to put it. There are MUCH easier, quicker, better ways to test servers and their ability to serve concurrent requests than what they tried to do today. They really should have used AWS, it would have cost them at least 1/10th the price they paid for their current host/server upgrades. sigh I digress.

  • Ahh, didn’t work for me..tried it for like two hours..
    Did get to the checkout page but got lots of time-outs..
    Could give the existing customers some advantage or something next time? :) I do also a lot to promote sparkfun amongst other students!

  • It’s funny how many people are sparking that they didn’t get through and get something for free. I was one of the people that had their cart waiting and at exactly 9 was hitting submit and nothing. But you know what I just laughed and thought there’s nothing like a huge DDOS to take down a couple of servers. And instead of being pissed at SparkFun I still say thank you for the offer, what other company gives away free money with no catch and nothing to do other than sitting on your ass and clicking a mouse. And you know what else I plan to make the same order in a couple days when they’re not as busy.
    Again Thank You SparkFun,
    Lyle

  • Will orders placed after or independently from the free day ended be given a priority to be shipped out?

  • I really was hoping to get that credit to finish my robot. But what I’m wondering is how did everyone get their pages to load when i couldn’t even connect?
    Anyways, Thanks you for the chance sparkfun, it is really nice to see a company support their customers.
    422 comments? You might break the SPARC S&D comment record.
    -Matthew

  • The problem with this is that it should have been on a first come first serve basis and it was not. I had my cart ready at the very start, refreshed about 40000 times and finally got to my cart. It said $8007 had been given away by the time I clicked the checkout button there was probably a bit more given away, but if this was a first come first serve basis and I clicked on the checkout at the $0-$8000 mark it should have sent me right into payment/shipping etc.. Yes, there were probably many who clicked checkout at around the same time, but its likely at that point I would have gotten an order in, that is if it was set up on a fair first come first serve basis, not CLOSEST TO OUR SERVERS GETS IT!!!
    I would REALLY like to see regional map of where the orders came from.
    Not that it really matters, im not mad about not getting anything. I just would have liked to see it done of a more fair system.

  • Wow that was a really terrible experience. I tried to finish adding an item to my cart about 50 times but never succeeded. I’m glad some people got their free stuff but I now I feel really bitter and unhappy.

  • Maybe next time you should host on a real server and not on a Arduino. Also it is 5:45 PM EST and the sparkfun site is crawling. Forum server is snappy tho!!

  • I tried all morning but did not get to the final page - I’m not disappointed though. It was cool to be a part of this and you can look forward to future orders!
    Thanks SparkFun!

  • SparkFun Sucks!! Tinker with some real server equipment, and stop wasting everyones time!!

  • I had the same experience as most everyone else, no luck after trying for 2 hours, and I only live a few miles from SparkFun.
    I couple of things I noticed today.
    1) There are A LOT of negative comments about SparkFun today
    2) I never remember seeing any negative comments about SparkFun before today
    - to be continued…

    • 3) The one true failure on Sparkfun’s part was not managing customers expectations. From above-
      “We’ve beefed up our servers and completely re-written and streamlined our site. But realize that there are a lot of people with full carts waiting to hit the ‘submit’ button at 9AM. Servers may become slow, there may be timeouts so please be patient."
      This implied that if you were there at the beginning, and were patient, most likely your order would go through. If instead, you had said "We have no idea how any of this will go, and there’s a good chance many or most of you will not receive a discount. We’re experimenting here, so please, don’t expect too much!"
      And please don’t say "Our servers barely stayed up!” To most of your customers, they were effectively down. (Of course, I would have agreed with your statement if my order had gone through ;-)
      4)Please, PLEASE, don’t stop sharing with the community or trying new things! It’s great how SparkFun is supporting the electronics community!!

  • your servers couldn’t even be called “up.” I couldn’t log in, let alone navigate to the page of an item I wanted. The only thing I could do was load the main page about once every hour, and even then things didn’t load correctly. I’ve actually been having trouble with the Sparkfun site ever since you got those “new” servers.

    • I’d like to add to my comment, while I appreciate the offer, I’m feeling somewhat cheated at the moment. You guys are still my number one pick for parts, I just really wanted that Oscilloscope kit. I noticed that somebody said that Amazon rents servers. That would have been a better idea then buying new ones, and it would have handled the traffic. I’m only upset because I spent two hours on three computers hitting the refresh button, only to see a page 5 times.
      Thanks for the generousity though.

  • I prepared the cart as soon as I knew about this day, I got a day off, I got on the site and on the irc channel 3 HOURS before the start, I patiently waited for a timeout before refreshing the page, for NEARLY 2 HOURS and guess what? I managed 5 minutes before the end of the 100k… yes, in Europe (for those who complaint about distance) on a crappy connection I managed to place my order. What can I say? GREAT JOB ON THE ARDUINOS PRO they have been a great way to have a new start on electronics and I bought some stuff to help me learn some more, and don’t let the complaints get to you this was a great day and before the start we knew this would be a lottery with 1500 people on the irc before the start we already knew this would be a rampage those that remained knew that they would probably not get anything. After that the channel got to 2.5k and the secondary channel to nearly 1k people knew what was available and decided to stay some got nothing but that was guaranteed from the start

  • Well, that didn’t go too well did it?
    “Wow that was fast!"
    No it wasn’t. It was painfully slow for tens of thousands of people.
    "Our servers barely stayed up!"
    You clearly have a very different definition of stayed up to me! The servers became to all intents and purposes unusable three hours before the start of free day.
    I think everybody always knew that this promotion was going to be a lottery with only a slim chance of winning, if we had all got a message saying ‘sorry, too late’ within a few minutes of trying then only the exceedingly ungrateful would be upset.
    It is clear that your servers don’t stand a cat in hell’s chance of surviving a denial of service attack, something that you should look to rectifying as soon as possible.
    Sorry to be so negative after you guys have been extraodinarily generous, but you have to admit that this event has been a victim of its own success and could have run a whole lot better.

  • I noticed Boulder is only about 25 miles from Denver, if I remember correctly Denver is major hub for the Internet backbone. Since Sparkfun has Fiber into the building where the servers are, you could end up with the bulk of the cable carrying your connection on Fiber. In fact people in countries where Fiber to the door is the norm, could end up with 100% of the cable being fiber. Fiber (vs. copper) being faster, with less lag and Routing (Routing takes time). Meaning people with mostly fiber would end with a faster response from the website, and less dropped packets. (Caused partly by buffer overflows in routers trying to do to much) Thats my two cents worth anyway.

  • Oh Well. I do agree with many. Not mad but, it would have been nice to be able to see a page and at least have a chance…

  • Well, that was definitely awesome. Me being one of the lucky ones. Thanks Sparkfun! I think I know who I’ll be going to when I need electronics stuff!
    Btw, I agree that it probably would have been better had it even been something like buy $10 and get $90 off your purchase or something. Because as someone said, you know some people got stuff just because it was free.. I guess there is still shipping so that sorta counts.. but idk..
    Any thanks guys! Oh and awesome @ filling an irc room with 2336 people!

  • I spent > 30 mins trying to get the login page loaded with repeated server timeouts. Once the login page finally loaded, I spent 17 mins trying to submit my login. Once logged in, I spent the rest of my time trying to get the product page to load, which never got past blank white pages and repeated server timeouts before the give-away ended.
    The sad part is that your IT people got paid for deploying that cluster-f*** and remain employed after this catastrophe.
    If the give-away were on a 1st-come/1st-served basis, and everyone else beat me to the punch, then it would have been fair. But when the majority of your users can’t get the site to load, spending 2 hours looking at blank pages and repeated server timeout messages, that’s an entirely different issue.
    I won’t business with a company that incites such a situation and then has the nerve to call it a success. Thank you, SparkFun, for ensuring that I’ll never at any point in the future be a customer.

    • Hey, out of curiosity, when was the last time ANY company gave you $100 worth of free products?
      You let me know.
      Thanks.

      • Obviously I can’t speak for the original poster, but let’s see, in the past month I’ve received the following from vendors w/o purchasing a single thing:
        $80 dinner + drinks
        $60 iPod Shuffle
        $450 x 2 Courtside seats to an NBA game
        $40 lunch
        ~$40 worth of swag
        $2500 WallBotz 500
        Like I said earlier, I think most people aren’t pissed because they didn’t get $100 (or less) of free stuff, perhaps they’re saddened, but not pissed. People are mostly pissed because of the experience (or lack of IT experience in this case) of the whole process. Time is money, and if I’m spending almost 2 hours of my time clicking Try Again because their pages are timing out it gets frustrating. As for me, it enrages me to see how poorly everything was setup (for the record, I’ve ran eCommerce datacenters and am currently a network admin for a mid-sized company with multiple datacenters) and executed. Pages should have been cached, database servers should have been a separate cluster and the order/checkout should have been on separate servers than the website/product pages.

  • You can take this as sour grapes, but this whole thing was incredibly ill thought out. I guess you may have had 70,000 unique visitors, but how many couldn’t connect to the server. Perhaps quite a few more than the 70,000. I wouldn’t be so pissed off if I could have connected and missed the $100.00 credit. For so many not to be able to connect is outrageous.
    This reminds me of the Walmart fiasco where people were crushed trying to get into the store for a deal.
    For what it’s worth, I had planned to buy a number of the items even if I missed the credit, but now the order will go elsewhere.
    Perhaps you should graph the lucky 100 against the outraged.
    One also wonders how many of the purchases were made by scripts.

    • This reminds me of the Walmart fiasco where people were crushed trying to get into the store for a deal.
      Yes, because a webserver being really busy is just like a person being trampled to death.
      Perhaps you should graph the lucky 100 against the outraged.
      (100000 / 100 = 1000, not 100.)
      One also wonders how many of the purchases were made by scripts.
      Not mine! Am really looking forward to my first Arduino.

  • I don’t think anyone’s mad they didn’t get their free stuff (it was free, and not guaranteed). However, a lot of people are very frustrated that they spent 1-2 hours attempting to get a page to load, despite already having their cart ready to go, and still not getting through.
    Personally, I’m bummed but it’s no big deal. Nothing lost. But Sparkfun could quell a lot of anger by doing something small for everyone who couldn’t get through - like a 20% discount usable anytime this week or something. Throw them a bone. I’d order my whole cart if there was a small discount. Either way I still need a few things.

  • Nobodyadifferentone:

    I don’t think anybody said or even implied anything about a “god-given right to free stuff”; that is a complete strawman.

    No, it’s not - at best, it’s an exaggeration. The point still stands - some posters seem to think they’re entitled to something for nothing, and that they’ve been wronged in some way because they didn’t get it.

    • some posters seem to think they’re entitled to something for nothing, and that they’ve been wronged in some way because they didn’t get it.
      Nobody said or implied that. That’s the very definition of a strawman.

    • Whoops. Sorry, that was supposed to go under the quoted post, not be made as a new one.

  • Wow. Just Wow.
    Some of you people just have no f-ing class whatsoever. You’re actually sitting there sparking about this whole thing being a waste of time and that SparkFun in someway wronged you just because you didn’t get $100 worth of free stuff. I’d be willing to bet that every one of you worthless complainers are the first in line to get a free t-shirt or other handout. You probably also spent a few hours playing with the numbers to make sure you had exactly $100 worth of stuff and not a penny more.
    You all are horrible, horrible people.
    Why don’t you be grateful that you were given the opportunity and then go get back in line for food stamps.

  • The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I loaded my cart last night with plans to donate the entire content to a local, student-starved, maker space. Including Sparkfun stickers to spread the word. I tried for 2 hours to get on your site and only saw the homepage once. Failed to login and was booted out. You probably counted that as 1 of your unique 70K visitors, just don’t think I’m a satisfied one. Still plan to donate, but will use RELIABLE sources instead. You weren’t prepared to handle the load and it showed. Blame your IT staff for not accurately simulating something that was completely in their power to predict and execute. To bad the result sends business directly to your competition. See you on the road!

  • Sparkfun, I totally appreciate the effort. I feel there is a lot of harsh complaining about a free gift. Still, it was quite a let down since I was unable to load your page from the start until hours after. I tried about every 5 minutes and never even saw the logo.
    anyway, thanks for trying!

  • 1 hour and 45 minutes to attempt to load the shipping page, the page that displays right after clicking checkout.
    Funny at the moment 100,000.00 was hit, everything seemed to work fine…
    Congratulations on a job so well done, it would have gotten the majority of “real” people fired if this happened at their employers storefront.

  • Looks like I’m going to have to do the same thing Gibz, I just got to wait a whole year… I’m not sure I can wait.. ;) I want to get my hands on some PCB action.
    ~B)

  • The wedged servers are a cautionary tale for other site operators. As others have pointed out, it’s silly to provision for the peak load on Free Day when you will see a tiny fraction of that traffic rate for the following year.
    There’s an easy solution to this problem: bring your service up on Amazon’s EC2 utility computing service. You can scale up hundreds of servers in minutes, pay $0.10/hour/server, then when the traffic drifts away, close them back down. It doesn’t help with the centralized components (like the order database), but it would have been enough to let SparkFun weather this morning’s self-inflicted storm without actually buying a big server farm.
    In any case, thanks to the SparkFun crew for trying such a wacky promotion.

    • You’re absolutely right about renting server space, except one of our primary goals was to metaphorically drop our servers off a roof (we like over-the-top stress testing) and see what happens. While it is a shame that so many are so disappointed, I think the wacky experiment will ultimately pay off (we’ve already had a record day and paid for the giveaway since free day ended). How much would most businesses pay for the top spot on Google trends?

  • I had my cart ready the day Free Day was announced, and after trying for over an hour I still couldn’t load the damn page. It would be nice if you made sure your site could handle an event like this before you do it! Got my hopes up for nothing…

  • Here’s an idea. Randomly send $100 discounts to registered users good for the next 24 hours. If it doesn’t get used, issue it to another user.
    The servers stopped responding way before the start and stuff left in shopping carts disappeared - imagine that! Oh well, it was an interesting cluster f*ck.

  • Here’s an idea:
    Rather than run hair-brained schemes such as the one today, which only seems to have pissed off around 69,000 people, why don’t you just offer normal sales like most sites do?
    It’s not like your prices are competitive with the big guys (DigiKey, Mouser) anyway, so why risk loosing even more customers with a misguided, very poorly run stunt like the one you ran today.
    Did you really think frustrating 69,000 people would generate lots of new customers and otherwise generate goodwill for your company? Quite the opposite…

  • I almost killed my F5 and CTRL (+ F5) buttons, and saw the website only 6 time (short flashes, with the banner flashing the amount?. Grr)
    Better luck next time?. (I hope!!!!)
    Hey nog meer Nederlanders hier??, toevallig nog niemand uit in de omgeving Arnhem??!! (Velp, of Hardenberg).

  • This 100k crap was garbage, the site crashed even before it started!! My cart had items 2 hrs before the giveaway started and as soon as it was time for it to start I could never make a purchase.
    Thanks Sparkfun keep up the excellent work
    kuddos on the new servers!

  • I ended up stuck at the final submit page even with text-only page style and disabled images on Firefox.
    This was frustrating - I heard about it a month or so ago, had everything planned out on what exactly I’d need to order, and for what? HTTP timeout errors up the wazoo. 20 minutes between page loads. And at the final “submit this order” page… nothing. Absolute nothing.
    I do appreciate the promotion although I recommend SparkFun reconsider their ways of possible sponsorships in the future. I’m sure my now-scrapped project would appreciate that since I could only afford the shipping as it stood for today - and for nothing.

  • I too was an existing member with a cart ready to go, who did not get a complete page to load from 10 min before start time ‘til well after the $100K was gone, despite multiple tabs open and a worn out F5 key. I too am glad to have had the chance to try, and disappointed that I didn’t get through, but thats nothing new…
    I like the idea of a lottery, or maybe smaller, short-term “blue-light special” tweets (for the next 5 minutes get $50 free until we give away $10K).

  • What Skimask said!

  • Free Day was perfect! Exactly what SF said it would be. For the record…I walked away empty handed. My co-worker in the same building on the same network with the same connection walked away a winner. So, for all the sore losers…a Nelson Munts style, “HA! HA!”.
    You’ll be back….SF rocks!

  • I got stuck on the final submit page for the last hour of FSD. I think they did a great job at frustrating thousands of potential customers.
    Great idea, poorly executed.

  • Did I get $100 off my order?
    No…
    Did I spend a fair amount of time hitting refresh when the ‘server timed out’?
    Yes…
    Is Sparkfun going to get my $300 order anyways?
    Absolutely!!! (at least later on tonight, after all the traffic slows down a bit so I don’t have to wait on the servers)
    Good times guys…good times…
    And to all the whiners who ‘dont have enough money’ or ‘stayed up all night’ or ‘never saw the website’ or whatever…
    Option 1) Have a Coke and a smile and S.T.F.U.!
    Option 2) Step outside and play a one-handed game of hide and go #%!#& yourself…

  • Come on everyone who is complaining! This was always going to a 1 in 10,000 shot (actually seems to have been more like 1 in 70 from what I read so the odds weren’t that bad). The first time I saw the massive timeout I knew it was a lottery.
    I’m in Aus, got up at 2:45am, stayed on for an hour or so and then went back to bed unsuccessful but happy.
    WHY? Because Sparkfun is still the leading light in kick-arse components, modules and really cool electronics stuff. And because they are not afraid to try radical things like free day.
    Go SFE! keep innovating technically and culturally and making the world a better place in some small way!
    All you whiners go and enjoy the fact that you got to participate in some fun, even if you, like me, did not get what you wanted.

  • I wonder if people realize that a server can stay up without a connection getting through. As a matter of fact, an active refusal of connection when there is a heavy load is rather common to ensure that a server does stay up when it is getting many connection attempts.
    I can’t wait to see data on server load, should be interesting.

  • No matter what I did I could not get through.
    There were way to many people who knew about this.
    Next time a lottery of random current users.
    It is too bad this was a stunt gone wrong.

  • Oh well. Tried for a buck 50 straight. No Dice. Congrads to the 1,000 people.

  • As a server admin at a site with large traffic, I cannot understand how your setup could not keep up with the load of only 70,000 users over almost 2 hours? Either this was just a publicity scam or your IT department really has no clue what they are doing. What a joke!
    Why not skip the drama next year and just offer a substantial discount on your site next year. Much less likely to piss off the 99% of people who have such a negative experience with your woeful infrastructure.

  • Hope everyone knows that it has jack to do with the speed of your connection to make priority over your connections…
    If you had a 1mb connection 3000 miles away, and someone with a t3 had a connection next door to sparkfuns' servers, both have an equal chance. It doesn’t matter at what speed of a connection has. The thing is, the faster connection will get there first, but it’s per packet, and there was no priority difference. You people whining need to get some networking 101 on.

    • Exactly.
      It’s like someone driving to a busy supermarket in the world’s largest, fastest car, then expecting to be able to jump the checkout queue.
      Extending the analogy, those of you pressing refresh continually are effectively getting bored partway through the queue, leaving it, and joining the back of another one.

  • What a joke! What a fiasco! Words fail me…
    I wasted two hours of my time pounding on the F5 key while watching my frustration level climb. I got to the “payment” screen three times, but all three times it bounced me back to the previous screen.
    Next time you try this kind of thing, consult with the big boys and find out how to run a real e-commerce server before you subject your customers to this mess!
    Since I still can’t get past the payment screen (even through the “sale” is over), I’m taking my business to Mouser. If this stunt was supposed to gain more customers for SparkFun, I think just the opposite may happen when all the ticked off people who participated in this abortion take their shopping elsewhere.

  • Sad me no $100 to me :(
    the server was dead for me i didn’t made it from my cart :( (I’m from Israel)
    Next time use some better servers!!
    (Sorry for my English XD)

  • Was fun :-) Couldn’t make it to the shipping page thou, after refreshing for bout and hour, then falling asleep :-D woke up 10 mins after it had finished. In New Zealand, so Free Day started at 5am (not as bad as some of the ozzies at 3am)
    My guess for how long it would last was only about 10-15mins off too.

  • I was here at 11 Eastern, trying to checkout a pre-loaded cart. If someone told me that if I sat, clicking “Try Again” for two hours on a website that never loads that I’d be entered into a 1-in-100 draw and that I might get $100, I’d say screw it.
    If someone said that I could fill a wishlist with $100 worth of stuff, and there was a 1-in-100 chance I’d get it all for free, I’d be excited.
    What a waste of time. I think I’ll still spend the $100. I might just spend it somewhere else, though.

  • Totally disappointed in Sparkfun’s server support. I spent all of free day pressing continue on the payment page, and never got my order.

  • Nate,
    Your comment that ‘your servers barely stayed up’ is a little frustrating for those of us that got up early in the morning (5 a.m. New Zealand time), and never once saw the Sparkfun logo in over an hour of unsuccessful connection attempts. Yes, they may have been up, but they were down for (I bet) most of your customers! Nice idea though, next time do it on Google’s or Amazon’s servers, and it’ll be over in five minutes! Good on you, mate!

  • Good to hear that Sparkfun employees, and those with a direct connection got $100k worth of free stuff for themselves and their friends. Those of us who are actual customers got shafted though. As someone who contributed a lot to your great 2009; Thanks for nothing, literally, not to say I was suprsied. How about next time you use a method that’s actually fair, instead of this retared mass DDoS joke?

    • Sorry you didn’t get through. NO Sparkfun employee got any piece of the $100k. Not only were we not allowed to participate, but it’s kind of a busy day for us.

    • I second that. Don’t work there, or know anyone that does.
      I do believe that I had 2 things that gave me an advantage over most:
      1) Patience
      2) Lack of Greed

    • Nope; no kind of connection between me and Sparkfun, and I got in. It’s just luck.

  • I have spent about $500 at sparkfun over the last year and saw this as an opportunity to get something nice I might not want to shell out the money for…. like that nice $99 digital soldering iron to replace my Radio Crap one.
    I am on a pretty fast internet connection at work on the East Coast. 47Mb/s!!! Just tested it again this morning. I was able to access the SF web site some of the time but I encountered the same errors of trying to check out and the web site not responding and having to reload the page and try clicking the button again. After over an hour I gave up and went to lunch (12EST) when I came back the site was working fine as Free Day was over
    I did not get my order through and thats OK. But I do have some thoughts on the Free Day…
    First of all, there are those out there complaining they did not get anything and they are upset… even one guy says he was hoping to get stuff on free day so he could build something, sell it, and pay the rent. I am fairly certain that free day was not designed so that SF could feed the homeless or donate to charity. They spelled out exactly what it was for.

    • They wanted to give away a bunch of free stuff, they wanted to test there new servers, I would say Free day was a success in that regard.
      They could have done a few things better though. Off the top of my head, maybe instead offer everyone $20 off orders of $100 or more… This encourages REAL customers to get a discount and allows more people to benefit.
      As others suggested, offer this free day only to people who have accounts created prior to a specific date. It would be interesting to see how many accounts were created in the last few days. Again, I thought the idea was to reward existing customers who could not afford/wanted free stuff.
      I think in general SF should have done something to make Free Day less 100% free. 50% off orders > $50, discounted items, specific bundles offered at a special price, etc etc etc. This way the people who would normally be buying from SF or who want to get started in electronics or want to get a project going can benefit and those who just want $100 of free stuff just because its free will pass on this offer.

  • Couldn’t get the site to come up until it was all over. Oh well, i’ll just save a bit more before ordering (someone has to help recoup costs right ;-)).
    I hope you got a bunch of helpful info about your new server setup.

    • Also, anybody that claims to be going away from purchasing from Sparkfun just because of this, was probably not a real customer anyway. I’ve never dealt with a better electronics supplier then Sparkfun.

  • Next time call it Fail Day. Your servers failed dramatically. I tried a few times to log in, but never got anywhere. I’m sticking with my local brick-and-mortar store.

  • After constant retires for over an hour, I finally got through! Got my order in so THANKS Sparkfun!!!
    Promotion worked! Looking forward to coming back for a lot more toys!

  • Like so many others, I spent a lot of time trying to get through to your servers today. While I was not successful in getting through in time, I can’t think of another electronics distributor who has made a similar offer and so I don’t think it’s fair to throw stones at SparkFun. Thank you.
    I suggest that everyone consider how their comments are being received and the influence they might have on a repeat (or not) of Free Day next year. As someone else said, the notion that we are entitled to something for nothing does not bode well for our society.

  • The 70000 is just the tip of the iceberg. These are the people who got a connection. The figure doesn’t include those who didn’t get a connection.
    And when one of the 70000 lost connection its place was taken by someone else. So there are much more than 70000 who didn’t get through. Like playing musical chairs with 70000 chairs and 1000 comfy chairs.

    • And don’t forget the multiple users on a common IP, which will be cases of many individual users on one unique IP. It’s entirely possible the true hit count was well over 100,000 people.

      • Yeah. I’m anxious to see more numbers. With 4 of the top seven Google searches having Sparkfun in them, I imagine we were getting at least 100k attempts per second, while (agonizingly slowly) handling around 70k simultaneously.

  • Hello, just wanted to say I feel that this was awesome of you folks at sparkfun, even though I didn’t even try :P I was going to make an account last night but the site was down for me (completely) since yesterday morning.
    Now for those of you sparking, It was a freeday not your crybaby day. So what it was slow/timingout/inaccessable. What did you think was going to happen?
    Honestly I had no idea this site was so popular myself, but a little word to the wise for next time though.
    How about have the checkout on a whole other server and connection (not a fast 1 but just 1 for temp) that way just the 1st ones to hit checkout get it and that’s it.
    But this is a great thing for many cause even though I was not able to participate it definitely got me looking. I have found your prices are better than others for these components and will probably be making an order some time 2day.
    Regardless weather or not it was free you just made a new customer :D
    Cheers!

  • booooooooooooooooo!
    I was trying since 7:55am PST, and the best I could do was get the “home page”, but I just could not login to checkout.
    I kept timing out…I gave up after 9am….
    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
    Sad me.

  • I have to say also that being ready an hour before the start and having nothing but time outs and pages that only partly loaded….I would say the servers were not up to the task…..I was bummed about having wasted 21/2 hours of time trying to get to the check out page….waaa waaaa waaaaa for me!

  • Count me in with the group of SparkFun’s regular customers who already had their cart ready to go, but could not even log in to the website until after the $100K was gone.
    No animosity at all from me - very happy you guys were able to do this whole thing in the first place.
    However, you might want to consider an “existing customer only” event in the future.
    Though, I do hope you guys got a lot of new customers in the process, to help grow your business.

  • Looks like most of the post-free-day comments fit into one of the following categories.
    1. “I didn’t get to place my order. What a joke! We’ve all got it into our heads that we’ve a god-given right to free stuff, and SparkFun have cheated us!"
    We’ll just ignore this lot.
    2. "I didn’t get to place my order, but thanks for running this promotion anyway."
    Fair play to this lot.
    3. "I didn’t get to place my order even with my enormously high-bandwidth internet connection!"
    This is like complaining you didn’t win any prizes in a raffle even when you brought a large bag to carry them home in. The speed of your internet connection doesn’t matter; you’d have had as much chance on dialup. No matter how fast your internet connection is, if the backlog is such that SparkFun’s servers take a few minutes to respond to every query, that’s how long it’ll take. This is determined by many factors, and the size of your phat pipe isn’t one of them.

    • greem: Looks like most of the post-free-day comments fit into one of the following categories.
      1. “I didn’t get to place my order. What a joke! We’ve all got it into our heads that we’ve a god-given right to free stuff, and SparkFun have cheated us!"
      We’ll just ignore this lot.

      I don’t think anybody said or even implied anything about a "god-given right to free stuff”; that is a complete strawman.

      1. “The servers were down/crashing/broken!"
        Not as far as I could tell. I got a couple of "request timed out” errors, but I found that if I clicked on the button to go to the next step and waited, after about five minutes it’d duly go to the next step. And for those of you using the words “crash” and “down”, I’m not sure you know what they mean. If the web server had actually crashed and stopped listening for connections, I’d have got “connection refused”. I didn’t, although I can’t speak for anyone else - maybe I was just lucky. Yes, it was very, very slow, but what do you expect when a website gives away $100,000 worth of kit?
      2. “The people who got their $100 of goodies are probably just the ones who are going to flog it on eBay."
        Again, I can’t speak for the other thousand-odd people who got free stuff, but this certainly doesn’t apply to me. I fully intend to build things with it.
        1. “I was one of the lucky ones. Thanks SparkFun!"
          This is the category I fall into, so I realise it’s easy for me to take the moral high horse, if that’s not mixing too many metaphors. SparkFun didn’t have to give away $100k worth of kit; and when they did, it’s a bit rich to complain at them at all when you’re not paying them. It’s not as if they’ve taken anything from you. You’ve lost nothing besides an hour or so of clicking and waiting, and nobody forced you to do that.
          Anyway, rant over, as I’ve already invented a category 7: "My comment is so huge I had to spread it over three posts to get the comment system to accept it.”
  • Here’s another “me too” from an existing customer saying… cart was ready… site never even responded starting couple of hours before the event and until well after the $100K was gone. I was going to get a few items I’d been wanting to toy with but hadn’t talked myself into buying yet.
    I hope you got plenty of business from existing customers and not just people who read about this on the tech blogs and chose to order something pointless just to be part of a “thing”. Those are the kind of folks who buy the “BoC” from Woot just to feel like they are part of something.
    I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect you to scale your servers and connectivity to handle one-off events like this, but I do think it’s advisable to take the slashdot effect into consideration in the future and have a plan. An inventation-only event for existing customers may be one thing to consider if you ever do this again.
    All of the above being said, I applaud the idea. I don’t feel “entitled” to something like this and so I don’t bear any sour grapes for having missed out on it. I think you probably got a reasonable amount of publicity for it which may have made it all worth while.

  • Like many others, I had my cart all filled, was already logged in and pressed Checkout right at 09:00:00 MST. I’m practically “next-door” in Arizona and never got through to the next page until seconds after the $100K was reached (lots of timeouts and blank pages).
    As others have suggested, I think this should have been run as a “Customer Appreciation Free Day” and only limited to previous customers.
    1000 successful orders in approx. 105 minutes = 9.5 orders/minute, or only one order processed every 6.3 seconds. Earlier I was guessing you’d be able to process at least an order every second. You may want to get a refund on your new servers.
    Looking forward to seeing the stats.
    Tom

    • Almost exactly the same situation here. Had the cart filled from the night before at home in anticipation, and when I got to the office, just after it all kicked off, I loaded a page of the site perhaps 3-4 times. Logged in and got as far as picking shipping before they hit the limit. Sigh.
      Despite the frustration, it was fun, though. :)

  • Whenever you guys want to learn how to scale a website, lemme know on twitter @jostheim.
    Check out the http headers for most pages (including static ones), the cache-control, expires are completely bogus and Last-Modified is non-existent. Product pages ARE cacheable!

  • I’m with the other commenters on you timing. I know you’re calling it at that point because of the side betters – but as one of apparently 69,000 people who pressed the button as your timer rolled over, you actually finished free day in 1 second and it took you an hour and 48 minutes to finish processing the 1000th order…. and something like 2 hours to finish notifying the rest of us that we hadn’t made it.
    These kinds of things really make me question the power of “free”… not that it isn’t a great idea and a wonderful gift for those who get it. But the trade off for 1000 ecstatic people (Please don’t gloat!) is 69,000 disappointed, bemused, frustrated, possibly bitter people. Is that really better than finding 100 school programs to give $1000 of free product to?

  • Started the second that free day started. Sat there waiting and refreshing various pages until I got to the finish order form 1 hour and 44 minutes later…didn’t get the credit…didn’t get anything :(

  • Why didn’t Sparkfun just use a low quality web page? Screw the colors and shiny buttons. Just a White page with the buttons.

    • And I also tried just 2 minutes after class was out before going to lunch. Never even got the loading bas past half. Spend 30k on servers and the other 70k for free orders.

  • I didn’t get lucky, but I’d still like to say thanks.
    So, thanks! Great idea, and I guess we know now just how big the homebrew electronics community is.

  • Thanks Sparkfun!!
    I was one of the lucky few that got the $100…and boy was I lucky. When I got to the order success page, there was 99.4k given away…

  • A nice free day !!!
    I had prepared everything (I just had to reload the page and confirm) but I don’t get the 100 $, although I saw and clicked 4 times the button “Submit this order to try…”)
    But I spend a happy day (Free day is at 5 p.m in Switzerland) full of hope.
    Thanks a lot to Sparkfun for this great job

  • As a server administrator who is familiar with the technology and having run very high-traffic e-commerce web sites, I am confounded by how incapable SF’s servers were in the wake of this promo.
    You had months to prep, and from the looks of your resources, they should have easily handled the traffic. It’s also quite unusual that as soon as the promo expired, the web site was accessible.
    It looks to me like you throttled down the number of active Apache child processes to slow the web server down during the promo, and I think you did so WAY BELOW the threshold of what your servers could handle.
    In all likelihood, it was probably 1100 orders taken, and you have FIVE SERVERS and it took AN HOUR AND A HALF to handle 1100 orders? It just doesn’t make sense.
    I don’t care about the free stuff, but I am perplexed. I’ve built systems that could handle much more with less resources, so what did you guys do?

    • But it was not 5 servers for 1100 orders in two hours. It was 5 servers for 70.000 orders in ONE SECOND! This was not an e-commerce environment, was a DoS attack! I absolutely respect your knowledge about e-commerce systems management, which I do not have, but what happened really does not seems strange to me. Requests were NOT scattered in time, they were concurrent! Not a “normal” e-commerce site, and not even near to a “heavy load” e-commerce situation.. this was a completely different beast!

    • I’m totally with you. I too smell something fishy with this “publicity stint” and seriously think this whole thing is a hoax to get their google search ratings high and possible media coverage.
      They had supposedly “upgraded” their servers in preparation for this event. Run the stats and show us how could u possibly process less than an order a minute?
      Absolutely terrible preparation but realllly nice on the publicity/marketing plot.

      • I agree with both of you. I used to manage a 100,000 item Miva store running on a crappy single processor Windows server on a 1.5Mb connection and an average of about 3000 successful orders a day and around 10000 around Christmas. It had no trouble keeping up, and never had a load issue , a little sluggish at times but wouldnt flat out halt.
        To quote Sparkfun – “We’re also shaving off a few features of the website (temporarily) to make everything faster, such as rating comments. After Free Day has passed we’ll re-enable everything we’ve disabled to weather the storm.”—
        Look like its just as they said. They disabled the store to make ratings and comments faster and as soon as it hit the $100,000 mark, it mysteriously was at a no load state again and worked flawlessly.

  • LOL i hope you guys had fun putting out the smoldering ashes which were once your servers…bad luck haha

  • I am currently unemployed and dont have the money to spend on “projects” right now so when I read about this a couple months back i was excited that maybe i could finally get a decent soldering station since I dont have access to one at work anymore. needless to say I didnt get through the checkout process, i am disappointed But i am certainly not pissed off at sparkfun. why do we all have such a sense of entitlement. even if the servers hadnt crashed and burned remember that if every person that qualified for freeday used all $100 that would only be 1000 people so there is a good chance that you wouldnt have gotten a damn thing anyway! this was a partially a stress test for their servers and they NEVER (as far as i saw) said that their servers would be able to handle the load without fail!
    note to sparkfun: remember “no good deed goes unpunished”

  • Didn’t make it, but thanks for the opportunity to try! Pretty awesome of you guys to do something like this.
    By the way, it worked. I’ll end up buying my cart anyway. Brilliant marketing: you paid $100k to be the #1 Google search, something that’s worth far more than that.

  • Sadly for us customers thing where not that fun, http servers going in and out all day, unexpected timeouts and lack of information regarding what whas happening.
    Better luck next time.

  • After wasting almost two hours waiting and never getting to the payment screen I decided the whole deal was a just a scam to draw attention. Most items I’ve found here are pricey anyway.
    This just convinced me to remove the Spark(not so)Fun bookmark and search elsewhere. I’m sure I will save more than $100 in my efforts.

  • crazy mad house, couldn’t even get the site to load, let alone login!
    why are dates and times all screwed up? your post from today says Jan 4, 2010 isn’t today the 7th?

  • I lost out on the free stuff but I still want to thank you guys for putting on Free Day. Thanks!!!

  • lol, your servers didn’t “barely stay up”, they in fact failed tremendously. Anyways, nice one for those who did manage to break through and thanks for the chance SparkFun, would’ve been great if there weren’t so many of us hehe.

  • What can i say, disapointingly predictable…
    oh well good on Sparkfun for trying, i managed to get as far as my cart but after an hour of server timeouts i gave up.

  • I want to express my appreciation to SparkFun for Free Day. I wasn’t able to complete an order, but didn’t expect to. I hit “refresh” a couple of times, then just said, “Oh well, didn’t win the lottery this time.” I don’t understand why so many people spent two hours trying to get through. I/O bandwidth and CPU power are limited; those who were able to place an order were simply lucky. It’s like one of those “first ten callers get free concert tickets” radio station promotions. Don’t be surprised when you get a busy signal.

  • Congrats to those of you who were actually able to get through. You were unbelievably lucky and I hate your guts right now.
    Not being able to navigate past the first page the entire time was AWESOME.
    SparkFun folks, this was a good idea in principle, and I still love you guys :) My suggestion: If you do giveaways in the future, give everyone the same odds and just have a random lottery. That won’t leave people with hard feelings.

  • Your servers stayed up?
    Sorry, but your site went down faster than a whore in Vegas.

  • Thanks for the lively morning.
    Like thousands of others, I didn’t get my order in - although it was fairly amusing trying to vie for that elusive $100. I captured the screen each time I got a page to load. Here are all the screen shots and a summary of my morning:
    http://www.project240.net/data/sparkfun_freeday/
    Thanks SparkFun.

  • If you look at these initial numbers, they had 70,000 unique visitors and ~1,000 orders. Hmm, that means only %1.4 of visitors were successful in ordering. LAME! Sounds like I wasn’t the only one getting endless server timeouts. That was crap! Cool idea though.

  • Clearly the website infrastructure performed very poorly for this promotion. Starting at 11AM EST, I was stuck with my cart items at checkout confirmation (https://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/checkout_confirmation.php) for hours and many dozens of retries – and in fact I never got it to fully process my order. In the end, I think this promotion was more of a turn-off due to the fact that the frustration factor was so high. I attempted to process my cart one second after the start and could never get the order in.
    “Our servers barely stayed up!” – sorry, no, they didn’t.

  • After 3 hours of trying to access the server (starting at 9am sharp) I had to leave for a doctor’s appointment and never did get past trying to check out. The servers certainly did not keep up, I kept timing out with every click. Great idea, not so great execution.

  • It was a geek lottery, and I lost - what else is new?
    We should all be grateful that we have Sparkfun to spark at!
    I’ll be back shopping tomorrow, same as always… :)

  • The giveaway probably would’ve lasted minutes if the servers handled the load properly. That is my guess anyways!

    • And I wouldn’t be complaining one whit if that were the case DerekG because that’s how it’s supposed to work.
      But when a ton of people can’t even get the website to load yet it advances but $2k or more each time they see the page then something is awfully wrong.

  • Thank you SparkFun for this generous gift. It took me a long time to get through the checkout process, but eventually I clawed my way through and got my order in. I knew there was a reason I loved this place.

  • Dear God… I couldn’t even get my order in… Well, see you next year, Glove MIDI Contraption…

  • RE: JohnM.
    I absolutely agree. This was the most frustrating experience. The entire time I could not even view the Sparkfun webpage as all requests would time out. I already had a cart of items I set up the night before but simply could not get on the page to purchase them. Regardless of whether or not Sparkfun servers crashed, they were definitely inadequate for the job. Had I just been too slow and missed out on the giveaway because of my own shortcomings I would have graciously accepted missing out on this event. But after the way this played out the image of Sparkfun I hold in my mind has surely been tarnished.

  • “Over 1,000 orders and nearly over 70,000 unique visitors."
    No wonder there are so many unhappy people posting comments if only about 1/70 were successful.
    Oh well, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t one of the lucky ones. I guess I had my hopes unrealistically high. Thanks anyway.

  • ur servers barely stayed up??….really…
    well, from my end, i was hitting F5, and [ctrl]+[r] alot…but wasent getting any server response from you guys, i wouldnt consider that servers staying up….yea, they may not have crashed, but how many users were unable to get a response??
    i sat in front of my computer for about 45min doing this, until i figured the deal was over….
    and for the record, i didnt just go on at 9am, i was up earlier to make my cart, and browse around
    oh well…guess i’m just going to have to wait to play with an arduino… :(

  • :( Tried for 2 hours to get into the site to place an order. Ultimately unsuccessfully.

  • Awesome, I had my cart pre-filled last night, had my checkout page loaded and ready to go around 8AM MT time, as soon as 9AM rolled around, I tried to proceed with my order, got stuck at the shipping selection page and refreshed for the entire hour and 45 minutes, never got my order through. What a crock.
    PS: I saw the pix of your “upgraded” servers and being a Net Admin for a mid-sized healthcare company (5000+ employees), your setup is a joke. You could have taken half the money you spent on those Dells and easily used Amazon to do everything for you and it would have been flawless. Leave the datacenter stuff to people who actually know what they’re doing and stick to what you do best, providing wonderful customer service and creating/providing awesome electronics products.
    And in case people think I’m bitter because I didn’t get the free $100, I’m not, I still placed my order after the sh!tstorm for $97.84. I’m just saddened that you talked the talk of these new servers, but when it came to walking the walk you couldn’t even handle the traffic the day before.

  • echoing others, a lottery would have been a lot more fun than battling for server space.
    Anyway, thanks for the generous offer!

  • I agree, the people that are complaining need to realize you chose to spend 2 hours trying to $100 for free, you should have known that A TON of people were also trying. So stop complaining that you didn’t get something for free and stop saying you hate SparkFun for it, they rock.
    I enjoyed watching the twitter posts with people getting excited about getting to a shipping confirmation page.
    Sparkfun gave away $100,000 worth of stuff, I think they deserve credit. Anyone with a brain knew there servers would be overloaded and not everyone would get it.

  • “Our servers barely stayed up!” That’s putting it lightly. It seems as people gave up after 10am & traffic dropped below a threshold, the number of successful orders increased. Because ordering requires multiple page loads, higher traffic actually reduces orders as people give up.

  • Self induced DOS attack. haha. My buddy at work and I figured it would be atleast 100k people, so 70k is not too far off! Naive and totally sparkin thing to do guys!! Keep up the good work!

  • Q: How do you generate $1 million in ill-will?
    A: Run a $100K ‘Free Day’ on (presumably) woefully inadequate servers that drive folks to utter frustration, and result in the waste of 3 or 4 hours worth of time. Come on, guys, the Sparkfun servers were ‘in the weeds’ two hours before the event even began….. Put me down in the ‘It was a nice thought, but the execution was miserable’ camp. Totally underwhelmed by the experience! Am I the only one??

    • Unfortunately when a company holds a giveaway there’ll always be people that don’t get to join the party, and there’ll always be a percentage of them that will be unnecessarily and unjustifiably bitter about it. SFE gave away a hundred grand in goodies to a thousand people, and it looks like that thousand was randomly selected by traffic and server conditions, as opposed to it being a matter of having an uberconnection versus dialup. This is arguably about as fair a distribution as one could hope for given the situation without having a preselection lottery in advance.
      So, some folks will be angry and quite a few are already in pouting-child mode, but the rest of us will just order what we were hoping to get for free. No harm, no foul.

  • Wow, the vitriol is pretty thick here. I was one of the lucky ones. And actually I found out about Free Day when I was looking for an Arduino starter kit back in November. I put down for more bits to work with it more. I like what they’re doing and I put down for some of their sticker swag. They deserve the advertising.
    I didn’t have any scripts running, or even an incredible ping to SF. In fact, I’m about 3,000 miles away in central NY State. It’s not quite Timbukthree, but it’s pretty far out there. I suffered for 01:37 through the same problems before I finally made it in. I got to the various screens occasionally the whole time. And usually just timed out.
    Come on, guys. You don’t really understand what kind of load their new servers just underwent. Do a search for the server setups that were used for the Olympics, and that’ll give you an idea of what it would take. For a company their size, they’ve got a pretty sweet setup. Good job, SF!

  • I was initially disappointed at not even getting a change to pay for my order (wanted to buy $200 worth of stuff). But your willingness to give us your stats and even present them in colorful graphs does much to appease my feelings of loss. I’ll buy some stuff when I see some pretty graphs. Oh and who doesn’t like animated gifs? hint, hint

    • I’ll buy some of the stuff too that I had in my basket too, I wish I could afford all $100 of stuff but I can’t.

  • I got up at 5am here in New Zealand only to find that the website was down

  • I tell you what Sparkfun,
    Along with your server stats, can you please generate a geographical map of the locations of everybody who managed to get the freebie (no precise locations, just at North America map level)?
    I’d bet its a near circular scatter graph revolving around Colorado, with maybe a few ‘hits’ on the east and west coasts.
    I know this sounds like a bit of an attack about your servers favouring the US, but the figures dont lie, and if we see a nice random scattering of ‘winners’ around the world I would tip my hat in concession.
    Would also be an interesting indication of how the internet realistically handles these kinds of legitimate loads (non denial of service attack traffic) targeted at one site.
    How about it?

    • aww, c'mon! under normal conditions, which is your ping time to SparkFun? And mine? So, is it a question of “slow TCP packets” and bandwidth, or problem was nearly-dead servers? You need bandwidth when you have to transfer BIG amount of data (Mb or Gb), but for such a similar task (hitting a SUBMIT button and sending crypted credit card data) a few Kb are enough… matter of seconds, anywhere you are located in the world. Lines and bandwidth is not a bottleneck in these cases, unless you are still on a 38Kbps Zyxel modem.
      This said, I would like too to have a look to geographic distribution of winners (I am one, from Italy, me just lucky today (I am not, usually :) )).

    • There are people who’ve already commented here saying they got in from Brazil and Italy, and people saying that they live in Colorado and didn’t; just read the comments.

    • I agree too.

  • Despite not getting those GSM/GPRS modules because of constant server timeouts here in Athens / Greece, i still think that Sparkfun rocks!!
    How many companies do this sort of thing ? Give out $100K ?
    It was fun. Most orders were from US i suppose?!
    Me, i was watching movies during the constant retry/reload clicking !!!

  • My gosh, how people complain.
    Well, Thank you very much SparkFun, I got my dicount.
    I am from Brazil, and I was going to buy some stuff from you in November, just the parts I cannot buy in my country for a robot I am making, then I read about free day. I even thought it was on December 7 xD.
    Anyway, I bought not only the parts for the robot but also a cool lcd display and a SOLAR CELL : ), that is great, it was impossible for me to buy so much stuff from you because of customs (well I hope they charge me less than $60 this time).
    As soon as I build something with it (I hope to build a solar USB charger), I will show you.
    Thank you very much, and see people, they helped someone from Brazil and I won’t sell the parts. Now I can build something cool.

  • congrats to sparkfun and all the lucky people :-).
    I bet there are more than 1,000 happy people out there… and the site was hammered … :-)
    I think you could get the same effect if you did it for $25 each at 100,000 max or even a particular item free for x number of orders :-) (note this was a hint that I wasn’t one of the lucky people … couldn’t even “checkout” with all my items in the cart from yesterday)
    this was fun… but now that I have to beg the wife for approval on the items in my cart :-)
    BTW my side bet was 09:02:44 but I forgot about the lag on the site :-)

  • a big thank you to SF for doing such a wonderful thing!

  • “Our servers barely stayed up!"
    Your servers effectively DIDN’T stay up. It took me 15 minutes from 8:50 to 9:15 to log in. Another 7 minutes and I couldn’t even open my shopping cart. I gave up then because I knew there were at least another 5 screens to go through. It seems like some people tried for almost 2 hours with the same results as I.
    Look guys, this was a great idea but someone in your IT dept. should have known that this was going to happen. This was done quite irresponsibly. Promoting everyone to use the website at the exact same time when you know your servers/connection can’t handle the strain. That’s only going to cause people to become upset with you.
    Other commenters, no, I’m not upset when I don’t win the lottery, but that’s not the case here. This was billed as "log on at 9:00, the site will be pretty slow, but it’ll get through, and you’ll get $100 of free stuff as long as you’re early about it”. Instead it should have been, “log on at 9:00 and sit at your computer re-entering the same information for over an hour and a half and you MIGHT get something”.

  • I tried… got up to the enter your credit card section multiple times and that was all she wrote. Oh well, I’ll probably just place the order anyway since I was so geeked to get the stuff. Maybe next year you could let us local folks come over to place the order in person… I’m right across the street from you and it didn’t matter. You guys are the best. Whoo-hoo!

  • Those of you in foreign countries: don’t feel bad. I live 1.1 miles from the SparkFun building and I was not able to get my order in. I started trying to load pages at 8:59AM and was able to successfully reach the site ONCE between then and the cutoff time. Even though I filled my cart the night before I was unable to place the order, even though I refreshed as fast as Firefox would time out. Maybe I should have tried refreshing faster but, well, I have other things to do with my time. :-)
    Neat idea, but yeah, it didn’t seem to work out so well. Maybe next time a lottery for 1000 $100 coupons?

  • Great idea, extremely poor execution. The website was crashed all morning, even though the Sparkfun twitter was reporting that free day was still up and running. I just could not get through… If this was a server load test, epic fail. Like others have suggested, this should have had a minimum purchase stipulation, like spend $50 to get $100 free. Instead, a bunch of spammers are going to get electronics parts they have no idea how to use, just for the sake of it being ‘free’. Boo

  • Couldn’t get on the servers :( tried every 30 seconds for almost 2hrs :(

  • Free day sounded like a good idea,unfortunately the website never came up until an 1:45:50 later and the money was gone. I guess all the people just stopped around that time since all my pages refreshed after that. Better luck with the servers next time. There most of have been a lot of people as I had alot of trouble acessing the website couple hours before.

  • Well, that was a fantastic waste of time. 2 hours of futilely hitting refresh and 100% packet loss on ping.
    It does however raise an interesting question: what is the net result of having a ridiculous number of people who previously did not know who you are learn about your site for $100,000, but with 99% of them having their only impression of your site being an hour or two of annoyance and frustration?

    • A related interesting question is how many sales that might have been made during the past month were not made because people were holding off from ordering in anticipation of ‘free day’… Sometimes referred to as “cannibalization”…

  • the bad part is; in a normal day I come and check this site once or twice, and from the first day you announced this event, im looking forward it to come.Because of distance or slow internet connections or anything else the lottery didnt hit me ,a guy who has just heard of the event googled it then came and got the precious stuff.Sorry friends but you lost a good follower and admirer on the other side of the world,far far away from you in Turkey.

  • To everyone saying they got as far as the confirmation page but didn’t actually get to submit the order successfully: check your recent orders page. The same thing happened to me and my order actually went through.

  • :‘( -Sniff- My little South African bandwidth pipe got muscled out by you nasty fist world countries! I sat here for over two hours from 10mins before the start refreshing the page! and all I got was ONE pageload halfway through. and that was that. meh. -sulks in the corner with no new toys coming in the mail.-

  • @Marcoose
    they could have accomplished the same thing with a $20 free day rather than $100.

  • I had my cart ready 1 week before Free Day! Got up early just to get ready for the opening of Free Day! Spent almost 2 hours trying to get through checkout, it never got through!
    But it’s OK!
    I mean it’s Free Day. FREE! So not everyone should expect to get something. I just want to say thanks to Sparkfun for attempting something like this. And rest assured that I will still be buying stuff from them in the near future. Even if it is not FREE!

  • How many international orders were processed? I bet 99% were all american orders. Up here in canada and all i got was downtime

  • Congrats to whoever managed to get through and order. I started at about 5 min till the start and could not even get to any page on the site. Suggestion for the next time, lease some time on google or amazons servers. Of course free day would have been over in like 6 min.
    At an rate, when I do have the available funds I’ll probably order this stuff anyway.

  • I think a lot of people on this thread thought of this give-a-way as Sparkfun rewarding their loyal customers. It clearly wasn’t this; I wouldn’t look at it as anything more than a marketing thing. You can’t be angry at SF for giving away a bunch of free stuff to help get the word out about their site. If they wanted to reward their customers it would have been done for people with older accounts, or by how much was bought in the past. No reason to get upset here although I’m surprised that anyone thought the servers wouldn’t fall down during the day. I tried for awhile and eventually gave up.

  • by Steven Osborn December 10, 2009 at 1:25 AM
    I predict with in 60 seconds one of two things will happen:
    1. Your servers will start failing to server some requests, but a few manage to get through and a few lucky people will land some free stuff. While your site is effectively down for 2-3 hours. This is fairly common behavior for a PHP/Apache stack. (best case)
    2. Your server falls over miserably before 9am due to load.
    So can the bet be when your server will fall down the first time OR the orders fulfilled. Because I’m thinking 8:45am.

  • What a waste of time. I had my cart all ready and couldn’t even load the page to checkout.

  • It was an interesting, albeit frustrating exercise… Some things that could have been done better include making the checkout process advance from one script to another, instead of the way that scripts such as checkout_shipping.php call themselves after the javascript validation passes - if you then time out, refreshing seems to put you back where you started, instead of advancing you to the next screen. Also, there was some confusion about what page you could start from - was it OK to advance past the “view cart” page before the 9:00 MST start time or not?
    Anyway, frustration aside, it gave me an opportunity to discover some products that I had not previously seen, which gave me some ideas for future projects, and that is a net “plus”…

  • I spent 30 minutes before launch loading up my cart, then at the time of the start, I realized I needed to register for the site. I was able to work through everything in an hour and a half, manually, first the registration of an account, then back to the cart, then through checkout, shipping selection, payment selection, order confirmation, and then the free day success page.

  • Were any winners paying with paypal? They had to go through 2 more pages and an external link!

  • Wow!
    Didn’t manage to get through as your site was permanently down (trying from the UK). Google Trends showed that you wer No.1 in the UK list.Awesome!

  • That sucked horribly.
    I tried loading the Sparkfun website from prior to 9:00 MST and kept trying roughly twice a minute for a good 15 mins. Sometimes reclicking just to be sure, I then tried on and off for the next couple of hours, at least once every few minutes, and not once did the home page appear or indeed any direct links to login to my account. I couldn’t even get close to placing an order.
    I just kept receiving timeouts. I would wager the site is favouring connections from within the mountain timezone in the middle of the US, and indeed favouring everybody else inside the whole US over the rest of the world.
    Not very fair really, and its not fair to get peoples hopes up either.
    Don’t get me wrong I would have really appreciated the $100 freebie and would definitely have bought from Sparkfun in future, now I’m not so enthusiastic about it for some reason.
    :-(

  • I know it was luck of the server but very disappointed. Had a cart already to go and hit the checkout button as the counter hit 0 to start free day. 1hour and 44 minutes later was hitting the confirm order button and missed out. Lost count of the number of times i’ve selected shipping method and entered my credit card details. Cart value was in excess of $200 but will be waiting now, somewhat deflated

  • I know it doesn’t seem fair to be mad at SparkFun for giving away $100000, but I have to say I’m pretty aggravated with the experience. It’s going to be a while before I try ordering from SparkFun again. I waited for over half an hour trying to check out and getting nothing but server time-outs. You made 1000 people happy and 69000 people not so happy. In the future, perhaps giving a $10 discount to 10000 might work out better.

  • Sorry to sound like a sore loser but I waited 2 months to fill my order so I could take advantage of free day for my senior design project, had everything in my cart two days prior and starting today at 11 eastern was never able to get past the log in screen. This was a matter of who could get lucky enough to make a connection to your “upgraded” servers. Im finally able to look at my cart and now some items are sold out! Im not very happy.

  • Wow… that was quick, and by the time I was actually able to make it threw to the site, Free Day was over! Starting at 10AM EST I repeatedly attempted to visit sparkfun.com, and repeatedly I was unable to get a response. 2 hours of not being able to get a response from a site, that just tells me that there are some serious problems with the load balancing of the site.

  • Wasn’t able to connect, but ordered anyway. Thanks for the chance! Don’t listen to all the whiners. If they did get a chance to order they’d be whining that it was only $100, not $1000 or something. Keep up the good work!

  • who win the bet about the time when its going to end the 100k?

  • Waste of my time. In the future just do a lottery or giveaway, or lower prices.

  • Count me in the group of people who kept timing out. I can only guess that SparkFun runs on SPARC™ servers and SI (Sports Illustrated should sue them over this) released some sort of performance bug that attacked those servers. Oh well, maybe next year.

  • Clearly this whole event was for the purposes of load testing the new hardware. I think now we know the $100,000 would have been better off going toward more servers :)
    I’m a little bummed about the whole thing too (got to credit card page at $96k out), but I think it was to be expected and is the idea. A lot of people seem pretty pissed off they didn’t get something for free. Seems to me like this whole event was a volunteer load test, and you should be happy if you got a bonus. If not, too bad. Nobody forced us to sit there.

  • Did any one REALLY get a “free” order???? 1hr:44min50sec mmmmmm sonunds fishy… constant time outs….

  • The only thing that’s sad here is the number of complaints people are having about this. I think it’s great what SF has been doing for the community. Everyone should be grateful that they have the opportunity to get something back from a great company.
    Sure, I was waiting around for 2 hours trying to get connected, but regardless of whether I got the discount or not I was going to get some parts anyway.
    I changed the LED on my mouse in between server timeouts. ;)

  • Yeah. Don’t rub it in.
    I was re-submitting the “Submit this order to try the Free Day discount!” button from the time it was $35k all the way to the end.
    And… Fail. :(
    Sparkfun, you lost my heart.

  • Thanks guys, I had had cart ready yesterday, just needed to click through. Couldn’t get there and I have a 1 gig connection up/down to the internet.
    Maybe I will get lucky next year if you are brave enough to try it again.
    Looking forward to seeing the server stats.
    Mark

  • I can see some positive for SparkFun. Instead of $100 worth of product and $10 for shipping, I bought $5 worth of stuff and $5 for shipping. I’ll get the arduino another day.

  • Well, I didn’t get in - my router path voodoo was inferior to the 1000 folks who did get in. Better luck next time. On the bright side, the servers are responsive again so I can just make my order that I was going to make anyway! :)
    You folks that are all irate about not getting your free stuff - Give it a rest, you were warned that this was a grand experiment! No guarantees were implied or expressed.
    SF - I look forward to all of the graphs and tables, it should be enlightening.
    Have fun,
    DLC

  • Why are so many people whining that they missed out on their $100, somebody had to. What was everyone expecting, that the site would run as normal and everybody would win? Shame on anybody that will boycott Sparkfun because of their attempt to share at least some of the wealth.
    Good job, a bit disappointing for me (yes I missed out too), when will the side bet winner be announced?

  • I started early as well. The servers timed out constantly and was able to get to my cart after a couple of hours but could not get past that point. I think this might of only worked for people who were close to Colorado. Good idea though. Probably need to find a way to spread out the traffic next time to give everyone a fighting chance.

    • That’s a negative on the location. I’m not 2 miles from sparcfun and it didn’t work for me.

    • nope. I got the stuff and I am in Italy. Pure Luck. Under those conditions, if a server answers you or not is Pure Luck.

  • Most of us are annoyed not because we didn’t get anything, but because we all wasted 1 hour and 45 minutes to see timeouts from the server. And then we wonder how those who won anything were able to complete the whole checkout process.
    And yes, I had my shopping cart ready since before Christmas.
    Anyway, SparkFun still has the best price for the Nokia 3310 LCD, so I guess I’ll order these anyway!

  • well I missed it due to a flight, but looking at the big picture it did generate LOTS of excitement, advertising and a great way to load test the site. With the expense of some of the load testing packages, this was a brilliant idea. Ignore the naysayers, free day served it’s business purpose well, load testing and advertising.

  • I got the home page to load about 8 times all morning, but only got one SSL page to load in 90 minutes before I had to get back to work. Perhaps some additional hardware encryption acceleration would be in order?
    Anyway, you guys are still great and I look forward to ordering the things in my cart when I have the cash.

  • Deeply, deeply bummed out. I got most of the way, damned empty php responses for shipping and 10 minute page loads. I tried really hard. Promotion left me nothing but depressed when I hear the word Sparkfun. Better luck with your next promo guys, ‘cause this one likely has more hard feelings out there than the 1000 happy people.

    • I have to agree with this one.. More disappointed people than the lucky few. A lottery or voucher would have been a better way to handle this. Every time I see this site, I’ll remember the nasty way I feel right now.

  • Please people. Stop saying you are not satisfied. Did you really think it was going to go smooth??? Do you have any idea how networks and computers work? You are saying that you did not expect that?
    I’ve been waiting for a month for that. Knowing that it was going to be EXACTLY like this. That was the whole concept around the game. It took me 1h15min to get my stuff. It was fun.

    • ha! we did the SAME comment at the same time! Absolutely agree! and BTW: One can have fiber and T1’s, but if on the other side the servers are under such a load… “you can seek forever on an empty disk”, someone once said.

  • I am sure that Sparkfun will look at the people who did get the “Free” stuff and make a dermination if a scam was being used to gain advantages over honest folks.
    time will tell.
    but dang, servers didn’t seem to handle a simple request to the home page coming form California on a Fiber back bone.

  • I finally got to the payment confirmation page seconds after the $100k was reached…. guess i’ll have up the $110 for my soldering iron!

  • well, you all disappointed people really believed it would have been like hitting the google homepage? it was OBVIOUS that SF servers would have been under nearly DoS-attack conditions… IMHO it was part of the game. Just Luck. This people gave away 100.000 bucks of free stuff in less than 2 hours and deserve respect. I already was a SF customer and I will be again and again. THX SPARKS! YOU RULEZ!

  • I tried for 2 hours and nothing would load. Had fun though.

  • I am an electrical engineering student. Very interesting kits available here. I filled my cart up (more than $100).
    Needless to say, I will not be placing any order. I’d never heard of sparkfun before this freeday thing. I hope I will not hear of them again.

  • Guys…
    I think FREE Day is such a wonderful idea.. It’s such a cool and generous way to support the hacking community… So thanks you for that..
    That said.. I tried dutifully from the opening bell at 9MST to the closing bell just to finish my checkout on my $75, 3 item order .. and your server kept timing out. I was so excited when it finally came through only to find that 1the 100K had been reached.. I guess you know this.. but your servers wern’t up to your generosity :-)
    Again.. my admiration for what you did here more than offsets my frustration and disappointment that mine didn’t get through. Thanks for thall us geeks !
    -john c

  • Wow! That was interesting.
    I knew it might be tough to get in, but not that bad.
    You know what might be neat next time (there will be a next time, right!?! :) ) is a Free Day week where you’re randomly selected throughout the week for various discounts and give aways. Raises awareness, let’s people buy but spreads the traffic out a bit.
    Thanks guys for sponsoring this.
    Wonder who won the side bet?

  • :) What a bunch of whiners. SparkFun - Thanks! I didn’t make it through either (got my credit card info in around $92K) but appreciate the chance. People have such a entitlement mindset, it’s sad. You guys tried to do something cool and in return you get a bunch of sparking. No one forced anyone to continue to try for two hours. We could have stopped at any time. Those of us that chose to go on, did so voluntarily. Sure, it would have been great if things had been very responsive. But a system to handle that type of load would be extreme overkill for day to day use.
    Again. Thanks.
    —Bill Tuttle

  • Well, that was rather disappointing for me. Over the lasts two months, I became really excited for today. I was very selective on the items I wanted to buy for the freeday, but I had it all figured out. I woke up really early today so I would be able to get everything, I had everything in the cart ready to go.. and despite all the preparation, I could not pass the 2nd page and get to the confirmation page.

  • OK I clicked the refresh button for 3.75 hrs and did not get free stuff. I wasted time that I will never get back. Whom do I send a bill of my time to?

  • Tried for 2 hours, only needed to hit checkout button, which only worked once the alledged $100,000 was gone.
    Very poorly done and pathetically inept website.
    Will not use sparkfun.com again if I can find parts elsewhere. Willl look elsewhere first.
    This definitely left me with a bad feeling about sparkfun. I must admit I’m upset.

    • I also tried for two hours, only needing to hit the checkout button, and hey.. I eventually got in! It sounds like the difference between us was just luck.
      .. which is what the whole day was about. So why be so upset?

  • Only managed to load 2 pages from 9:00 until it all ended :(

  • wasted a buncha time in hope of getting an arduino on freeday.. all for nothing. boo.

  • No luck getting checked out, myself. No worries really. Still, you should consider limiting Free Day to customers that have made a certain level of purchases in the past year (or month, week, whatever). That would reward loyalty as well as help increase sales over the course of the qualifying period.
    Thanks for the opportunity anyway! :)

  • Got to the final step, and couldn’t reconnect after that… 2 hours wasted

  • What a joke! For the past 2 hours I’ve been hitting refresh trying in vain to get the site loaded. Couldn’t even get the page loaded and now its over!!!! :(

  • After several hours of trying and no success …
    Should I change my message of optimism: “I BELIEVE!"
    For one of great disappointment: "I ALREADY KNOW!!!”

  • Dang….it seemed so close. at the shipping selection 3 times and a time out each time.
    Better luck next time
    PS. It would be cool to see what projects come out of freeday items (I like to think that nobody got stuff just to turn around and sell it - that would make them a scumbag).

    • Same here, I got to shipping screens three different times, but I kept getting bumped. Thanks for doing this SparkFun, but I found the experience more frustrating than anything else.
      I’d rather have submitted a proposal of what I would do with $100 of parts and have the SparkFun staff pick out their favorite suggestions. Of course, I don’t know how easy it would be for SparkFun to sift through multiple thousands of proposals and select a thousand winners….

  • Maybe next yr…

  • I have to say I am very disappointed with Free Day. Great idea in theory, but a bust in reality. I tried for two hours to submit my order only to receive a timeout. I’m sure more than a few people will be/are p***ed off.
    That said. You guys still have a great site and offer great products. I bought from you before Free Day and I will buy from you after Free Day.

  • Free Day needs a new name… how about “FREE 100 mins” ;-)
    Na… sounds like a cell phone add.

  • This was such a ripoff. Get real Hardware for equal chances, or just DONT DO STUFF LIKE THAT.
    I took half a day off from work, just to look at the “timeout” screens.

  • Never could get in. Lame. Beefed up servers????

  • Very disappointed in site performance… You guys have a lot of tweaking to do. I suggest you kick PHP to the curb and jump on board with a real enterprise level solution.

  • I feel like crap, 2 hours clicking and just as it ends im allowed to see my cart and pay full price. I’ve been had

  • Lay off of Sparkfun guys. Think about what a great thing they did instead of how it didn’t work out for you personally. I didn’t get jack and experienced the time out issues that everybody else did. There’s no way SparkFun could have pulled this off completely smoothly–they’re too small. Appreciate them for the effort and move on. Remember, none of us actually lost anything.
    Thanks for doing this SparkFun.

    • I lost 2? hours of my time, as did countless other people who believed that SF had actually beefed up their servers. I want them to realise the total failure of this stunt and apploigize to us!

  • disabling automatic loading of images would have helped significantly. thought for next time.

  • To those who complain: Do you mutter and whine if your lottery ticket isn’t the winner?
    Do you threaten to leave your cable/cellphone supplier when they offer amazing discounts to “new users” and leave the existing customers ignored?
    Just food for thought.
    Me? I didn’t get in..so be it. I’m interested to see the stats to see who (and where) the successful candidates came from. One observation for anything similar in the future. A lot of the pages seemed to advance via a “javascript” button. This meant that not only did you have to be lucky enough to get the first page to render (without a timeout), but the javascript link would have to work as well… or you would be back to having to refresh the original page. As I understand it this means the user had to manage not one but two “successful” HTTP requests (in a row) in order to advance from one page to the next. Again.. something to think about should there be another (similar) event.

    • LabRat, this wasn’t a lottery.
      I was expecting SF to have something together, considering they played up their new servers.
      What it boils down to was a first-shove-first-serve. I believe many people were waiting “in line” long before the start time, but once the time came (even a little before then) the servers were flooded. Why? Well, when you say you’re giving away $100 to 1000 people, well, it draws attention.
      I’m angry, yes. Will this turn me from SF? No. Regardless of fault, they’re still a great website.
      This could also help some IT guys get some ideas on how to run or a similar event better. Placeholders, maybe (click checkout, get a number and wait your turn, etc).
      As a broke college student, this stuff would have been great for my growing workbench at home. I could have used every bit that was in my cart, but now I gotta spend my school grant money :p oh well

      • I completely agree with LabRat. I’m also terribly disappointed to see so many people sparking and moaning. I thought the community was a bit more mature but it seems many still live in mommies basement. Anyway, I did what anyone with half a brain would do after hearing about this free day which was setting up a cart before it got busy today and showing up a half hour early to log in and get to the checkout button. It took over an hour of timeouts and refreshes but eventually I happened to get in. I even had to log in again at one point.
        It was luck of the draw, period. Yes, it was frustrating but it was also completely fair and I’d say pretty damn random. The only advantage it seemed was how quickly you refreshed after the page timed out.
        To those sparking: Please don’t play if there is a next time.

      • I would argue that this was a lottery. You had just as much chance of getting through (in theory) as anyone else. There was no bias (that I’m aware of) for being in line last week, versus 30 minutes into the event. There was no bias for people who have never purchased from SF before, or those who spends thousands quarterly.
        Perhaps people didn’t realize that it was a lottery when they started.
        Sure.. it would have been less stressful if you got a page within the first couple of seconds that said “you didn’t win” versus “timeout trying to reach server”, but ultimately it was the same result.

  • I never could get in either but I am a customer of theirs and will continue to be.

  • … so, I created my cart last week, woke up an hour early, finger held over the “checkout” button. When 8:00am came (PST, that is), clicked the button … timed out … tried again, timed out … for two hours (stretching even after the event was over) I couldn’t do anything on the site.
    I call shens.

  • SCAM. Like most got through twice, once the splash page said $5,195 free stuff given away, That was after ½ hour. Second time was after 1:10, and the splash said $16,480 given away. Next time I got through was after about 2 hours, and the splash page said all $100,000 was given away. Not real linear. Kinda looks exponential to me, all the while none of us could get through. Hmmmmm! I’m sure this will be another success for marketing. Us engineers always get screwed! BTW, I still placed an $80 dollar order. Definitely a marketing success.

    • Yes, such a scam. It’s almost like as time passed and more people either succeeded or gave up the server was under less strain, and thus more users could connect and make their own orders. How insidious of them to so reasonably fake the numbers.

  • Tried in vain, 2 hours gone, dissapointed and of course the site is back up now to complete the full priced order. I feel very bad and bamboozled.

  • Didn’t get in but thanks all the same. Placed my order anyway (lacking a few bits). Really, really want to see the data on this experiment, please!

  • As a system admin I’m impressed about how that many orders were successful in such a short amount of time. I didn’t get anything but it was fun trying.
    Thanks SparkFun!

  • What a let down. I had all my items in the cart right off the bat, but could not make it through the checkout process in over an hour and 45 minutes. Got as far as selecting the shipping method then could not ever get past that without timeouts, reloads, starting over, etc.

  • No luck but still Love SparkFun and it will be fun to hear of what happend in the SparkFun office today…
    Only odd thing for me was when I logged in I had 5 items in my cart.. when i hit chekout my cart was empty, oh well.

  • After more then one hour of timeouts and refreshes it finally worked. It was frustrating at first, I almost gave up, but succeeded in the end. I understand the frustration of other clients who didn’t got their free stuff, but I guess this would be practically impossible to avoid. It’s just too much traffic! If the web server were able to handle all the request from clients trying to checkout I guess the 100.000 would be reached in less then 5 minutes and the final result would be the same, lots of frustrated clients! Thanks SparkFun!!!!

    • i would agree if this had been a true “early bird gets the worm” situation, but it wasn’t. i got all the way to actually choosing the shipping method before this all started, but once the timer hit zero and i clicked next, i was taken back to my full shopping cart to start all over ONCE in 2 hours.
      nice idea, very generous, great publicity, but i bet you’d be borderline-upset like the rest of us if you hadn’t gotten through.

  • Like many others, I was waiting right at 9am MST, list ready, and am also a past customer. This could have been better done with vouchers to past customers, not just a bunch of people looking to sell their allotment on ebay for a profit.

  • I think it worths the experience…
    The intention WAS GOOD, however theory is only 50%.
    Maybe next time google has already developed a tool for this kind of situation.
    Couldnt buy anything at all even that I was 3 clicks to go…
    more luck for us next time.

  • where is the button to delete my account

  • A wonderful, generous idea, but of very little use to me because I couldn’t even get in the front door without timing out my T3 connection. Very enticing carrot, guys, but I guess it’s the thought that counts.

  • I too got to the payment page, but kept timing out… Oh well, kind of reminded me of my first trip through the Lincoln Tunnel… Eight lanes of bumper to bumper traffic fighting to get in the final two lanes through the tunnel and not a soul giving an inch. I sat there for forty minutes looking at the entrance and couldn’t do a thing about it, but it was a memorable trip just like this free day.

  • Quite disappointing and a waste of time for many people. The new servers didn’t come close to handling the increased load.

  • It was a fun morning watching all the twitter posts, too bad I couldn’t get in to the IRC channel, sounds liek there was a lot of chatter.
    Unfortunately I made it all of the way and then was told my order didn’t qualify (I still don’t know why I had all physical stuff, no gift cards or classes)). This was when only $16,000 was taken. Quite bummed. But Sparkfun still rocks.

  • Thanks so much for the free stuff!

  • I have to admit being a bit disappointed with the website performance. I had a few items in my cart (ftdi breakout, Diprotodon, and the sht-15 breakout) from yesterday. I started logging in at 8:45ish. In the two hours I made it to selecting my shipping, and that was it.. In the same amount of time my officemate made it a bit further – he got to paypal.
    It’s not about missing out on the free stuff. It’s more about the frustration of dealing with the improved website as it failed.

  • Yep, Fail.
    What a waste of 2hrs. Would like to hear if anyone did get there order through.

  • How long will it be before spark fun touts this fiasco a success? Never could get past the login screen for two hours. More thought and infrastructure should have been put into place. I’m sure the people who are only a couple of IP address hops away were able to participate while the rest of us just sat here hitting the refresh button.

  • Looking forward to seeing charts on this one :D

  • I feel like I was ripped off by a Woot BOC! I’ve been hitting “refresh” constantly, each time my browser timed out, starting 20 minutes before the Free Day started. In the past three hours, the Sparkfun site loaded for me exactly twice, and then crashed/disconnected when I attempted to view my (full) shopping cart.
    This was so not worth my time!

  • I tried from the moment it opened until the moment it closed ALL morning and not once could I do anything but have my cart timeout when I tried to buy it.
    I’m unemployed and this was a chance to get some stuff for me to hack on to keep my skills fresh. I don’t have the money to buy at the regular costs so this really had me hoping.
    Instead I’m out in the cold like so many others because SparkFun didn’t realistically plan for this bandwidth crunch. And anybody who says they couldn’t predict it is naive. I can bet quite a number of them know what the Slashdot effect is and what a DDoS is and could foresee the end results here.
    FAIL SparkFun. FAIL.

    • You and krabumple should be ashamed of yourselves. You are telling SparkFun that they fail because, what, you didn’t get the chance to get 100 free dollars worth of stuff? I didn’t get any free parts either, but I am not going to bash SparkFun because of it. They received 70,000 unique visitors in the span of an hour? This site’s server was not built to handle that. They would need a much much larger server, much larger than they need every other day of the year. What sense would it make to upgrade just for 10 minutes in this year?
      And both of you brought up being unemployed. Go cry to somebody else. Just because you are unemployed doesn’t make you any more deserving of parts than the other people. Spend your time finding a new job or going to education classes instead of wasting 3 hours on this site, then commenting and complaining. This was an open contest and you didn’t win. Don’t take it out on the people at SparkFun. The free parts were not a guarantee.

      • Firstly, Don’t start your rubbish without knowing all the facts. You want to make my unemployment a personal fault? I got let go of a company I was with for five years, grew into management, and did well with. I also, and still am, attending school for at least six credits a semester, have for the last three years. I’ve sent out 14 resumes today alone. I work very hard to make things go for me. A little relief was all I’m looking for. And it was offered here.
        And secondly, I overcome a lot daily to even function. I have a chronic condition, so I pay for doctor’s visits and medicine out of pocket. Along with rent, books, food, and a phone and internet bill. There’s precious left over for anything that could be ‘fun’.
        So don’t you dare insult me for having a little hope. This wasn’t a contest- this was an offer. And I read the rules, got ready, then got clobbered off the server. That’s a far shot from how you’re playing it out to be. I never had a chance with this.

        • I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I really am. I know too many people using umemployment as a crutch and a cry for attention. I made a generalization and I was wrong.
          As for having a chance, you did. Everyone had a chance and most didn’t get anything. It was a lottery of luck with the server. They don’t owe you anything because they didn’t guarantee you anything.

    • I totally agree. I’m out of work too, and was really looking forward to this, I really could use the parts, maybe make something I can sell to cover a bill. Instead, I’m out of this time, my blood pressure is way up, and sparkfun has totally fallen from grace in my eyes. This is a miserable failure.. don’t promise something this big if you can’t deliver it. It’s just a jilt to regular customers. Can I get away with this? No, my landlord doesn’t take false promises for rent.

  • I’m just so happy! I just had to put in my Happy Face picture.
    My new plan (as opposed to what I do every night, Pinky: Try To Take Over the WORLD!) will be to try and get a panel meter interfaced to a desktop with a rotary switch with at least 5 stops. That way I can make the case LOOK like an old tube radio and now have a dial that will actually work! So many steps…
    o. Get an Arduino to run a Panel Meter
    o. Get an Arduino to work with the switch
    o. Make the Arduino interface with the computer
    o. Maybe even throw in a few LEDs as dummy lights
    Oh boy. I’ve got a LOT to learn!
    Frnk!

  • Thanks for doing this great give-away. I missed out due to the network conditions, but not TOO disappointed.
    Had a shopping cart prepared last night, but couldn’t even see a “checkout” button on the site from T-0h:30m to T+1h:30m. Didn’t want to hammer the Retry button, but got as far as “Select Shipping Method” once at about T+1h:45m, by the time the give-away money ran out.
    I would suggest that maybe next time (if nobody spoils the love and whines about your generosity), consider a lottery system; e.g., all unique qualifying shopping carts at the appointed time have a chance of getting a special coupon code added, which can be redeemed in the next 48 hours.
    Barring that, I will mention that the ssl.google-analytics.com server was horrible, and it seems that many of your pages won’t show key buttons like [Checkout] until the javascript gets back a reply. Unplug the content from all third-party server stuff like this, as well as the other “feature trimming” you mentioned.
    Again, not TOO disappointed, it was a fun gamble. I’ll just have to save my lunch money if I want that GPS module…

  • Success! Awesome! Thank you SparkFun!

  • network timed out the entire time. I went to checkout and finally got a white page, no interface. most disappointing event of my life, good advertising for spark fun, four of the most popular Google searches, including #1. I’m sad.

  • What a frustrating experience! I prepared my cart several days ago for what should have been my 4th Sparkfun order in a month. I put over $230 of goods in the cart to benefit from this offering and also to buy more stuff as Sparkfun has to do business too. I tried desperately to go to checkout for two hours !! The https pages would never load. Now I see it is finished…
    We know 1.000 customers had the chance to make the race but how many like me are really disapointed by the frustrating experience ? I guess far more as the traffic on the web site was huge enough to make it crash completely.

  • well, it was worth a shot. 2 hours clicking “checkout” with a full cart was more exciting than what i would have been doing otherwise. thanks anyway.

  • Made it to the final Confirm step, but could not get any response on my click in time…
    Very sad, but I appreciate the offer for free stuff!

  • Argg.. wasted 2 hours trying to checkout (with previously filled shopping basket). No luck.
    Sparkfun is a great shop with all kinds of interesting things and helpful staff. However, it makes you wonder if this was stage (not to complete an order). The the site was accessable right after it reached the limit of 100K $. Moreover, not even Santa would give a way 100K $ and this would be kinda economic suicide. Hopefuly I am mistaking.
    Did anyone managed to complete an order?

  • Like others, I made it as far as the shipping page but never made it to the payment page. I’m disappointed but don’t hold any ill feelings toward Sparkfun. Thanks for the experiment.

  • Cart loaded and ready…Check.
    Online half hour before start…Check.
    Watching official NIST MST clock…Check.
    Try for hour and a half to pay for items…Check.
    Actually get to order confirmation…Fail.
    Oh well! Thank you SparkFun for your generosity, even though I could not take advantage of it. Truly awesome!

  • Too many timeouts on my T1 line. Waste of time.

  • I appreciate what you guys were trying to do, and like tupac would say “I’m not mad at ya'” but that really kind of sucked.

  • I finally got to the payment confirmation page seconds after the $100k was reached…. guess i’ll have up the $110 for my soldering iron!

  • Tried since the beginning of this contest didn’t get it cause the servers were flooded so sad oh well

  • Unlike the very ungrateful people here noting “Very Bad Experiences” I very much appreciate the opportunity to get some extra parts for free. Though I had my cart filled a month ago for this, I started getting ready to checkout about 15 minutes ahead of the start. I probably waited through an average of 15-20 timeouts on each step of the checkout process, but after about 40 minutes I eventually made it through and got a $100 discount on about $250 worth of parts. According to some of the IRC posts, I believe that I was one of the first 100 to get the discount.
    I’m very impressed with this whole event and very much appreciate the opportunity to be a part of it. Sparkfun will continue to be my #1 source for all of my electronic needs.
    Thank you soooooo much.

  • Sadness, I made it to the confirm order page a few times and clicked submit, then waited too long for the next page to load… surprise! it’s a login page.

  • It’s a little disappointing, but you can’t blame them. They gave away $100,000. There is no way to prepare for the increase in traffic $100,000 is going to bring. For those of you who were able to get through congratulations and good luck with your projects. For those of us who didn’t… Pare back your shopping carts and buy the stuff you need anyways.
    This was an amazing thing you did SparkFun! I will continue to be a customer for a long time, even though my internet connection at work sucks and I didn’t get my $100 of free awesomeness.

  • okay…..
    When free day started, was’t able untill now to connect to this site.
    Fair change for everyone, heads up

  • Agree with tjsynkral, Dakar303 and jin
    Have been here since 9AM MST but never got my order through. If your servers can’t cope with the pressure and only lets a few lucky customers through then it’s better that you don’t have a “free” day at all

  • So much for that. Got to the last step and the server never responded to the order request.

  • Tried since the beginning of this contest didn’t get it cause the servers were flooded so sad oh well

  • Bah JOKE!
    Could have limited by current customers or at least broke it down by time zone, or zip to give people a chance, not all of us are on the fastest ISPs.

  • After dreaming for a month I returned to reality and I feel cheated.
    ;)

  • I’m so sad! I carefully picked out $99 worth of things in advance I’ve been wanting, drove through today’s Iowa storm against DOT recommendations to get to my fast work connection, and tried for two hours to get them free but failed! I got to and clicked the check out free button several times but it never worked! Noooooo!

  • Free day was pretty bad. I never saw the site until free day was over. I think a random lottery would have been better.

  • Really disappointed. Never been able to buy. Site to slow and won’t load.

  • here in us from East cost tried from 10 am to 12
    i was not able to connect

  • This should have been limited to existing customers.

    • Agreed, I’ve spent more than 2 hours tearing my hair out trying to get my shopping cart to load, and every time I got to the checkout phase, I got a php timeout. Very frustrating…

  • Two hours of constant crashing ending with no purchases. Great idea and very poor experience.
    Oh well…interesting site and I may be back.
    Jin

  • Epic Fail!!!
    Your IT group should be fired.
    Made it to check out several times only to be denied due to server time out.

  • I didn’t get anything because the servers never let me through. A very bad experience with this site.

    • I spend 8AM PST to 10AM first getting to site, then getting to my cart and hoping to submit the order. Never got anywhere.
      Huge disappointment. Was hoping to start my Arduino project this month

    • A -ton- of people couldn’t get through. Traffic was nearly 100-to-one in terms of who got in versus who didn’t according to the first posted figures.

  • Gibz: 3am here in Aus! Worth it though. Awesome thing you are doing here guys.
    I’m here with you… Australia that is, Sydney infact… :)

  • I love the work of you! This is a great event!
    however…
    I’m still worried about the international shipping stuff.
    If my invoice exceeds $50, I will have to pay custom taxes of 97% over total value.
    I agree with declaring $0,00 for items under $100,00 + shipping. This would make Free Day more like ‘global’.
    I think that as a ‘not-earning-amounts-of-money-yet’ student, unfortunally I can’t agree with “Just think of it this way, you’re still paying $100 less”, since I don’t even have the other $100 to pay custom tariffs + shipping

  • I am worried that if the servers crash and people don’t get their free stuff they will become bitter towards SparkFun and the generosity of this company will be for nothing. Any one remember the Tigerdirect black friday debacle? Tons of bad publicity.
    Lets remember what SparkFun is doing for us!

    • I prepared for this day. Had my cart ready. Waited for the countdown. Wasted 2 hours of my time clicking on SUBMIT. Never got through. After that, I just lost interest building my arduino project. I’m not going to spend $153.67 without that discount. There are some people here thy actually want to build. I bet most of them just want free grab. They should Improve the checkout process and separate it from the sites server. I won’t be coming again here.

  • lol ! i wasnt so anxious even when checking out my university results yesterday !!!

  • 3 Hours to go, site is crashing intermittently. I’m still hopeful.

  • 3H:19M and counting, and the site is already running pretty slow! ;-( I guess everyone is refreshing their cart, and making sure all they have to do is one-click to confirm order. Goooood Luck!

  • 3 hours and 43 minutes to go and site refresh is sluggish.

  • i hope i can have a share off the loot, staying up till 2:30AM. no biggy though it’s school holidays. thanks for the timing sparkfun ^_^. hopefully the site will stay up long enough for me to place my order, fingers crossed.

  • You guys are great!I love you even if I missed out of free day because you have not been discriminating against international orders.I bought things on your site and I got them in my house without any problem.Thanks to you for removing barrier of access to components.

  • fedex home is the cheapest option by far for me
    so forgive my ignorance, but is it required to have a fedex account to use them as shipping?
    the wording wasn’t very clear

  • Only 2am for me, if that is any better than my southerly neighbours/rivals
    Thanks Sparkfun
    I have a good feeling about tomorrow

  • 3AM here in Sydney too :(

  • … Bed time now.. back up at 3am :)
    Thanks guys… I normally buy from your Australiain distributors… but they can’t match this deal!

  • There is no hope for freeday, the servers will die within 5 minutes of 0900 GMT-7, if they don’t die sooner :)

  • In the pictures at the beginning of this post; what are you using to get the light-out-of-the-box effect?
    Please don’t tell me that they’re a couple of those ultra bright 5 watt LEDs you carry ;)
    I’m not going for those free packages. Instead, I’m putting my money on the ‘guess when free day money runs out’ thing.
    btw, that counter’s a nice touch.

  • Why is shipping cost going up 22$+ when I add a multimeter to my order ? Is that the real price or is it something that can be adjusted/fixed ?

  • updatetheclockyeahbaby()!!
    I love people with humor! :D
    Looking forward to this afternoon (in the UK)!

  • hello
    SIR i need to send asic commands data (very short distance and require low data rate )
    can i use
    XBee 1mW Wire Antenna
    sku: WRL-08665
    as transmitter and receiver?
    if yes then i purchase pair of wrl-08665
    kindly explain your answer..?
    i am waiting ur answer to enjoy the offer

  • if i already have some items in my cart will i be able to just check out when the time comes or will i have to refill my cart? thanks for doing this guys, with the stuff i want there will be many more things i will need to buy in the near future, so its a win-win!

  • Is it just me or have the shipping options changed,? I’ve paid $8 in shipping before and now the smallest amount to ship is ~$40.

  • How will it work for the last person to get in? Say there’s an uneven amount left, like $53.28, and someone puts in an order for more than that.
    Does it tell them that they get the credit but say that they only get $53.28 of credit? Or will it say that they get the credit and not tell them how much? Or will it just outright reject them?

  • I’m also hoping people don’t ruin it for everyone else by trying to cheat the system. Unless Sparkfun’s servers die early I’m betting the Free Day ends really really early.

  • Isn’t is amazing how many people want…no, that’s a bad phrase…EXPECT, DEMAND, and will try to find any little tiny loophole in order to get even MORE ‘something for nothing’.
    I think an even better idea, much more ‘sneaky’ idea, would’ve been to do the same sort of ‘Free Day’ thing, but not advertise it until after the fact.
    I think that would separate the real hobbyists from those types that are just what I said above…types that always expect something for nothing…
    Call me a pessimist, but I expect a handful of those greedy people to completely and totally ruin it for the rest of us.
    Good luck to the team that’ll be keeping up the servers. I’ll be playing by the rules listed above. Nothing read into them, nothing read between the lines, start punching in my order at the appointed time, and when I get my roughly $300 of stuff loaded in the cart, if I get $100 off of the total…Great! If not, oh well, I’ll still get a handful of parts after a week or so…

  • What is the last page I can be on and still be able to claim the $100? If i click submit on the billing info page, will I have to refresh at 9:00:01 to be able to see the button to claim it? or will the button still be there, but not operational until 9:00:00?
    BTW,
    YOU GUYS ROCK!

  • The countdown up top is about 10 seconds off…

  • Depending on how Thursday goes when the heavy traffic hits, I see a marketing opportunity. Are you listening SparkFun? New product for the Swag section of the store. T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, etc:
    I helped crash
    the new servers on
    SparkFun Free Day!
    01/07/2010 09:00MST
    Good luck SparkFun! I’m in I.T. myself… I feel your frustration…and fear. :-)

  • If all goes well, my kegerator will be joining yours on twitter. Prost to you for doing this free day. I’ll be back when I need more parts for my automated brewery control system.

  • Me and my father are both placing an order but he asked if I could pay for his shipping with my paypal (he is old and doesn’t trust credit card companies over the inter) would this be allowed?

  • fishface: A note on customs duty and import VAT to the uk: “Goods sent as a gift that are over ?36 in value are liable to import VAT. Customs duty also becomes payable if the value of the goods is over ?120 but is waived if the amount of duty calculated is less than ?7.” http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&amp;pageLabel=pageTravel_ShowContent&id=HMCE_CL_000014&propertyType=document#P32_2450_
    All UK postal/courier services also throw on a handling charge of at least ?10.
    Why can they not be marked as gift, when it is infact a gift?

  • This sounds like not just a good opportunity for the SparkFun fan club but also a really good way of getting the word out about SparkFun. Probably cheap and effective as compared to TV ad time.

  • So do you just have to hit the checkout button at 9:00am or do you have to complete your purchase, i.e. Paypal

  • Can I make an order with a combination of Free Day credit, gift certificate, and PayPal?

  • I have a question for you:
    Are you guys insanely AWESOME or what? :D
    Best electronics company in my book!

  • Before I came to Sparkfun I too was a high school kid in PA skipping school. Of course I was doing so to get breakfast at shady maple smorgasbord with the rest of the Baseball team, but it’s still good to hear PA high school students are skipping school for higher education purposes and not just breakfast and the start of Whitetail season

  • I am a college student with my credit card registered at my parents address although I live in a different city. My little brother also plans to make an order on free day to the same billing address, will this be a problem?

  • A note on customs duty and import VAT to the uk:
    “Goods sent as a gift that are over ?36 in value are liable to import VAT. Customs duty also becomes payable if the value of the goods is over ?120 but is waived if the amount of duty calculated is less than ?7."
    http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?nfpb=true&pageLabel=pageTravel_ShowContent&id=HMCE_CL_000014&propertyType=document#P32_2450

    • Fishface.
      What does that mean?
      Is there any fixed percentage that i could use to calculate it?
      i found 2.5% off the link you gave?
      Thanks.

  • For your next free day, could you change the rules so that you must order $200 worth of stuff in order to receive the $100?
    That way I can tell my wife, “You see, I had to order all of this in order to get $100 free!”

    • Yeah - I agree - my wife always tells me how much she SAVED while shopping at Target or JC Penney…..
      ; ^ )

    • I second that! There are a lot of us who have to get approval from “upper management” to order so much as an op amp.

    • I agree. I always thought it should have been a requirement to have placed an order within the last year to qualify. Then Free Day would be a true ‘Thank You’ to loyal customers.

  • here I’m !!!

  • Yvan256: I second the suggestion of marking the first 100$ as “gift” for international orders (or at least write the value as “zero”), for customs and duties purposes.
    It wouldn’t be fun having to pay 40$ for customs on top of shipping charges for what is supposed to be 100$ of free stuff…

    I also agree with this idea!

    • So sorry, but we are not able to declare the packages as gifts. Value declaration will work the same as it always does, full or replacement value. Just think of it this way, you’re still paying $100 less…

  • openopenopenopenopenopenopenopen
    This is better than black Friday and……. No riots!
    This is almost like getting a grant for school or Venture Capital even.
    This is me nutting up…
    Thank you sooo much, even if I don’t get my order subsidized, it’s the thought that counts, yes?

  • talk about a great way to create customer loyalty, this will come back to Sparkfun in a good way… 4pm start in UK, just hope my internet conection dosen’t kick it at the crucial moment :P

  • Yvan256: I second the suggestion of marking the first 100$ as “gift” for international orders (or at least write the value as “zero”), for customs and duties purposes.
    It wouldn’t be fun having to pay 40$ for customs on top of shipping charges for what is supposed to be 100$ of free stuff…

    totally agree with that and hope the SparkFun staff consider this awesome idea

  • Cart emptying would level the field a bit
    …but this will be a spectacle to behold

  • What happened to the count down? Its gone….

  • I think Sparkfun will let people keep their carts populated.
    On another note, I would like to see a gifting idea with development boards. IE: Free resistors/capacitors/wires/etc. if you get one on Free Day.

  • I have a question:
    Carts will be cleared after Free day officially starts?
    I’m planning to leave my car ready to checkout before. ;-)

  • I second the suggestion of marking the first 100$ as “gift” for international orders (or at least write the value as “zero”), for customs and duties purposes.
    It wouldn’t be fun having to pay 40$ for customs on top of shipping charges for what is supposed to be 100$ of free stuff…

  • It’s looking like an epic fail…

  • Site is super slow right now. Doesn’t load any pages except this main page.

  • I’ve tried for the past hour, but cannot access any products, through clicking on categories, searching for a product, or clicking on Top Sellers. Advice, if it’s me that’s the problem, please.

  • I am not sure if you (Sparkfun) are still having server issues but the site is very slow for me here in the UK.
    Dave

  • Out of curiosity, how will international orders we handled? Will they be sent with the value as it should be($100 + whatever else I order) or will the first $100 be marked as gift?
    Only asking as England likes many money from tax. The last order I made was $35 and HM Customs took it as ?35 and charged me ?13 (~$20) on top.

    • Value declaration will work as it normally does during the checkout process. You will have the option of full value declaration or replacement value declaration.

  • I woke up in a panic today, dreamt it was free day today and I slept in… it was horrible.

  • Free day in New Zealand kicks off at 5am on the 8th. Too bad I’m on night shift, with locked-down work internet. [sob].

  • I hope the site loads faster tomorrow than it is for me today.

  • i’m more anxious today than i was on christmas eve.
    thanks for this sparkfun!
    hopefully the site wont overload…

  • So this question was asked before but i don’t think a SF rep responded…
    I hope our carts will stay intact for that day and not get wiped… Im taking this opportunity to build my collection of soldering tools!
    I love sparkfun!

    • I hope the same and I am refreshing it every now and then just to be sure:).
      It would be interesting also to have a look at how many active and full carts they are handling right now…

    • We will not be emptying shopping carts at any point in the foreseeable future, for Free Day or otherwise.

  • It would be fun to have a webcam filming the SparkFun servers to see them burst into flames at 09:00:01. ;)
    Seriously though, what would be nice is to see a graph of the data bandwidth/number of “order shopping cart” requests for the duration of Free Day, with perhaps lines indicating the first free order and the last one, along with a line indicating the winner of the “guess when the 100?000$USD will be gone” poll?

    • I like this idea. I have a feeling that we are going to test SparkFun’s servers extremely well tomorrow

  • Does the $100 dollar credit still works if you choose to hold the whole order because some items are on backorder?

  • I just found this Swedish movie online, it is about a happy Spark fun costumor.
    http://en.tackfilm.se/?id=1262777265055RA96
    Happy new year from Denmark.
    /espo

  • I’ll be teaching class, but we can take a break for a few minutes for me to submit my order.
    Maybe I’ll even have the class help me break through the horrible slashdot effect that morning.

  • Thanks for doing the math for me I was going to do it tomorrow(I know its not that hard to figure) but waking up at 6:00am for free day is no problem I get up at 6:20 usually and Ill be more awake for the boring drive to work if I get free stuff!

  • Thank you Sparkfun
    I heard about freeday from Tekzilla
    I am going to use mine on 6 of the .8ah battery packs and chargers for a dell netbook external battery pack im working on.
    I have an old external Hd case that i gutted.
    I was planning on putting an mk es2.3 12v battery inside and then using a regular cig lighter adpater to power my devices.
    My new plan is to use 3 of the .8ah batts making roughly 11.4+ volts. I can fit all 6 batteries in the case so i wll have a switch to go between the two packs.
    I am new to this battery stuff and i heard someone in the comments of one of the batteries that said something to the effect of not discharging the batteries in series because they dont have the same internal resistance. To me it seems the problem would only be in the charging in series but i dont plan to do that. I will open the case and charge them individually. I will also leave the original leads on each pack when i wire them up so that i can still charge them.
    peace

    • Not trying to prevent sparkfun sales or anything… but If I were you I would just buy an appropriately sized battery from a RC shop such as hobbycity.. you can buy a 3s pack 5Ah for dirt cheap and you can charge it just using a cheap lipo charger.. no need to disconnect batteries or do anything dodgy.

  • Quick Question, What happens if I’m the 1001 person to get their order through (assuming the $100 000 value has been reached), and i am using a prepaid card, and the value has gone over the value that is on my card, will my order be denied?

    • At checkout you’ll get two buttons: “Submit order and try for the Free Day Discount” and “Just submit my order, no discount” (or something to that effect).
      When try for the discount, your order will ONLY go through if you do in fact get the full discount. If for any reason you do not get the discount (your credit card is declined, Free Day has suddenly ended, you already placed a Free Day order, etc.) you’ll return to the confirmation page and no order will have been placed.

  • Your public SparkFun IRC link is broken. it has a extra “HTTP//"
    "http://http//www.sparkfun.com/commerce/news.php?id=263"
    -Matthew

  • I say 5pm

  • 8AM isn’t that bad. Time to start filling my ‘virtual cart’ :D
    It’s real nice that you guys are doing this. It allows a lot of people to expand or get started doing projects.
    Syncs atomic clock
    Just one question though, how much does traffic does a average order make?
    -Matthew

  • wait no! 11am in New York… oops :)

  • 9am in New York. I can’t waittt!

  • Will Beagle Board be available for order?

  • DANG IT! My school starts at 9AM MST (8AM PST) , but I am going to leave the page open, and intsruct my mom to click “the button” exactly when the banner changes. (fingers crossed) I guess I will be stressing out all day at school, wondering whether I got in on it or not. But that’s just how it will have to be, and I really can’t complain, as I got a good sized Sparkfun gift card for Christmas anyway!

  • I’m waiting without sleep ;)

  • So at 9:00:01, when 10,000 people simultaneously click “Checkout”, do the first thousand or so get their orders free, and the rest pay the normal price?
    Like eelpark asked, exactly how far into the checkout process can we get before 9:00?

  • is it 12:00 in Mass?
    Sam R.

  • Me and my roommate both want to order products for ourselves but we’re connected to one modem, will free-day work for each of us or will it count as one person?

  • Will Free Day limit the max orders per IP address? I’ve got several teachers from my school’s engineering department that are interested in placing their own orders but our school network routes everything from the same IP address.

    • Yea, we have the same problem, we’re connected to one modem. I hope the IT’s respond by thursday.

      • I make absolutely no promises about this, but specifically because we’ve got so many academic/institutional customers, we probably won’t bounce people on the basis of network address alone.

  • 11 am in Cincinnati!!! awesome!! works out perfectly with my personal finance class, sitting directly infront of a computer and class starts @ 11 AM!!! WOOT!!

    • Another one in Cincinnati! Hoping that snow comes they are talking about so I can work from home and place my order!

  • Is it OK to mark those items below $20 and not $50, tax is so HIGH in our country.

  • Oh, wait, it’s Thursday, not Wednesday. No way I can get out of class, but I will be straight out at 9:25.

  • Dang it, school starts for me at 9 AM MST.

  • So we can fill up a shopping cart before zero hour then quickly move on to checkout at 9:00:01MST?
    Or do we have to wait until after 9:00MST to fill up our cart?
    Thanks!

  • The last link on this news post is broken. I think it should be http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/news.php?id=263 instead of http://http//www.sparkfun.com/commerce/news.php?id=263. Thanks

  • I’m a highschool kid, and will be in school at that time, but it is ok :D Moms are very accommodating when their child asks them to advance their education in a big way for (besides shipping) free.
    The whole thing is thoroughly awesome. Big inspiration to a bunch of kids out here in rural Pennsylvania.

    • YEA high school kids in PA! My mom wouldn’t let me skip school but she going to spend her morning getting me free stuff on Sparkfun

  • I’m going to order a pile of stuff I’ve been wanting for quite awhile now.
    Don’t even care if I get a $100 of it for free or not, just hitting SUBMIT at 10:00:00.000001 (my time) will be fun enough.
    But the real fun won’t start for about another week when that beautiful package from Colorado shows up on my doorstep from Sparc.
    Wait a minute..
    You mean this isn’t SparcPhun?
    I wonder if the clowns over there at Sparc ever thought about having a ‘Free Day’.
    (BTW - Clowns = Lawyers)

  • can prepaid credit cards (from major companies like amex, visa, ect) be used? also, me and a friend share a prepaid card for online things and we both are planning to participate, can we both use it or does one of us need to buy their own?

    • Prepaid credit cards will be accepted, as always, but one of you will need to get a separate one.

      • okay thanks, I thought so. I have faith I can order before either the fun goes away, or if the new server cluster fails =/

  • +2 hours in ontairo canada luckly im not going on the grade 7 ski trip, i get to stay home! darn im so worried i will miss the time limit, my guess is about 5 minutes. there’s also a possibility of the servers going down in the middle of ordering.

  • Looking forward to Thursday. Here in Denmark, 9:00AM MST is 17:00 (5:00PM), so the timing is perfect!! Kudos to the Sparkfun crew from here. You’re doing an amazing job!!

  • so according to GMT+2 when it exactly starts?I think at 5pm? Am I right? :)

  • Sparkfun’s clock is synchronized to an atomic clock somewhere I’m pretty sure… sorry no luck on that one :)
    Great thing about university is the fact that you can skip whatever classes you want! I really hope I get the bluetooth modules I have in my cart! They would really help me with my new project :)

    • Interestingly, NIST’s Atomic clock is based in Boulder, CO, practically right next door to SparkFun.

      • Glad free day was such a success but for those of us who live less then 10 miles away from SFE and had everyhting ready last night only to not beable to finish checking out is a big disapointment.

      • So, would that be time-a.nist.gov?
        or time.nist.gov?

  • WHY!!! ok, so I need to tell my friends mom to buy it at exactly 10:00. (Can’t cut class…sadly) Hey…is sparkfuns clock fast or slow? :)
    Sam R.

  • Oh man, and I thought everything would be quiet without further announcements about free day so that I would actually have a chance. Now you’ve gone and done it by reminding everyone about it right after Christmas and New Years.
    Now I suppose I’ll have to have an atomic clock sitting by my side Thursday morning to keep me on track so I could ninja checkout before everybody else does. ;)

  • Think about it, 100K means that just 1,000 customers will get $100. Sounds like a lot, but really isn’t. Currently there are 1,000 guesses. Facebook has close to 1000 followers. So that means not even all of the most involved customers will be able to get free stuff. Forget about the friends of customers and family members also fighting. I am supper excited, but looking at the numbers suggests that it will only last a few minutes. Thank you spark fun, I’ll be counting down the seconds.

    • On the other hand, the recent blog post with all the numbers claims that SparkFun took 100K orders in a year. That’s around 250 a day. Is it really likely that four times that many orders will be made in five minutes? Particularly when plenty of overseas orders won’t happen because nobody wants to be up in the middle of the night.
      That said, I’m in Melbourne, Australia, and I’ll be up bright and early at 3am to put my order in :)

      • Never underestimate the power of “free”.

        • This is great! I have been anticipating this day for a while now. Comes in handy to a broke highschool student who love building robots! The members of the robotics club at my school could really use $100 to build some nice Arduino based wall or line following robots!

  • Can’t wait, so excited everything is always better when it is free.

  • Does free day apply to batch pcb? I have some boards I want to order?

  • How do the rain checks work, I’ve been wanting a BlueSMiRF (WRL-00158) but you seem to be out of stock. Do we just do backorder and submit the order or is there something else you are doing with rainchecks?

    • BlueSMiRFs will be back in stock by the end of today (1/5/10). Also, we are allowing backorders for most items. So if there is something that we weren’t able to get in stock prior to Free Day, go ahead and put it on backorder and it will count towards your $100 credit. As soon as we have that item back in stock, we’ll ship you yours. ;) Good luck!

  • Oh and thats 7pm here in the Netherlands :-)

    • Uhm nee, je bedoeld 17:00 (5 PM) waarschijnlijk
      Uhm, no. You mean 17:00 (5PM) probably.

  • +1 on the 3am in Australia. I’m pretty tempted to get some family to do my order for me in Western Australia - only midnight there. The prospect of getting $100 worth of 5mm LEDs instead of xBees makes me think twice though…

  • WOOOOOOWWWW that’s great

  • 3am here in Aus! Worth it though. Awesome thing you are doing here guys.

    • Thanks Gibz! Whew! 3AM is rough. Free Day has turned into a big project for us and we’re really excited to be doing it.


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