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Our Technical Support team will be out of the office on Wednesday, April 23 starting at 12pm. Tech Support will reopen with normal hours on Thursday, April 24 at 9am. Thank you

Free Day Recap


http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/FreeDay-Visits-M.jpg

Well… Free Day has come and gone. It was most definitely not without some hiccups (ok… ok… full belly burps). We apologize for anyone who was unable to take part in the $100k give away. But let’s revisit the goals of the Free Day (from the original announcement) and see how we did:



"First and foremost, we want to give back. We've had a stellar year in

2009, and it’s all because of you. So please, have a beer (or a Stepper Motor Driver) on us.“


Did we accomplish this? We think so. This was Free Day's primary goal

because our customers are the biggest part of what makes SparkFun work. Their innovation and creativity makes this “world” turn. In our opinion, the beauty of DIY electronics is its openness - this type of technology should be available to everyone to play around with. We thought limiting the promotion to just our prior customers would really be going against this notion. So we opened it up - to everyone. This left some people feeling jilted and some people ecstatic - but overall, we think this was a good thing not just for the people who got their order through, but for the whole DIY electronics community.



"Second: We wish we could sponsor more groups but we don't have a sound

way of selecting appropriate projects. Because we can’t afford to say yes to everyone, we have to say no to everyone. It pains us every time we have to do it. So this is a way for us to evenly enable all the students and great minds of the world to pickup a $100 worth of free gear. Go for it!“


I think the answer to the first questions answers this as well. We hope

we helped a few people accomplish projects they’ve been dreaming up!



"Third: Free Day will possibly create a maelstrom of site traffic, the

likes of which our servers have not seen. At the beginning of December, 2009, SparkFun will be graduating out of its high-chair and moving into a server cluster. We are excited to have the breathing room, and Free Day will help us evaluate just how much breathing room we’re getting. We’ll do everything in our power to keep the site up but please understand that the site may go down.“


This was, of course, more than just a test for our servers - we could've

done that virtually and I think anyone who participated in Free Day knows how this worked. Our server went down three times during this ordeal. Once, it really broke on its own (the day before Free Day). Yikes. The other two times, we took it down on purpose before Free Day started to make upgrades we knew we’d need to have even a fighting chance of completing the day. Did our upgrades work? Yes and no. Yes, we were able to finish Free Day. No, it didn’t go as smoothly as we hoped. Our site was slow as molasseses. We learned a ton in the IT realm of things and will use that information down the line.  We hope in the meantime your F5 key is still intact and functioning.


"Fourth: We turn 7 years old! SparkFun is now over 70 employees and is

the ripe old age of 49 (in business and dog years). We’d like to celebrate our birthday with a party.“


Was it fun? Sure! But what we are really looking forward to is

what comes down the line a week, a month, a year from now. We hope someone out there got a few things from Free Day and will create something really cool, or just start down the path of DIY electronics and get the same enjoyment we do out of this cool stuff.



So now let's look at some graphs and stats!

The SparkFun IRC chat room nearly took down Freenode! We love you Freenode!

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/FreeDay2-M.jpg

Thank you Freenode for hosting our crazy day! We where the busiest chat room on IRC for a few hours today. We beat out ubuntu and debian for a bit.

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/FreeDay1.jpg


http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/FreeDay3-M.jpg

We peaked the SparkFun chat room with about 2400 users. It was very insane. Graph came from a SparkFun friend who was parsing the user levels.

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/FreeDay4-M.jpg

For a few hours, SparkFun was the number one search term on the internet. Wow. The power of having a friend recommend a site through Twitter, Facebook, email, and everything else is incredibly amazing.

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/FreeDay7-M.jpg

And up there with the Google traffic, Twitter was ablaze! We barely made it onto the trends list for about an hour. We were up there with CES and Nexus One! Wow.

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/FreeDay5-M.jpg

And from Twitter, we discovered some hilarious photos and words of encouragement. Dan submitted this photo. F5 is the refresh button which was widely needed on Free Day as page load times increased significantly.

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/FreeDay-Guess-M.jpg

We received over 2,000 guesses as to when Free Day would expire! The winner of $200 was off by three seconds! Guess:

10:44:44. Amazing!

Fun Numbers:

  • Total given away: $100,587.80
  • Total free day orders: 1,035
  • Total units sold: 12,185
  • Largest order (before discount): $425.42 (discounted $100.00)
  • Smallest order (before discount): $34.53 (discounted $29.95)
  • Average order (before discount): $126.73
  • Most popular product: COM-00097 (Mini Push Button Switch - 254 units)
  • Most products in one order: 153
Distribution of countries (by number of orders):
  • United States      803
  • Canada     66
  • Australia     38
  • United Kingdom     27
  • Netherlands     18
  • France     16
  • Germany     13
  • Sweden     12
  • New Zealand     8
  • Finland     8
  • Spain     8
  • Italy     6
  • Switzerland     5
  • Singapore     5
  • South Africa     4
  • Brazil     3
  • Portugal     3
  • Turkey     3
  • Denmark     3
  • Sri Lanka     2
  • Austria     2
  • Belgium     2
  • Hungary     2
  • Estonia     1
  • Iceland     1
  • India     1
  • Chile     1
  • Czech Republic     1
  • Mexico     1
  • Greece     1

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/FreeDay-Visits-M.jpg

On Monday of this week, we were up to 33,000 visit, way above our normal average. Tuesday 41,619 - nearly a record for us (record was Free Day announcement of 46,442). Wednesday (we went down twice that day, once on purpose, once because the database broke) we hit 72,047 visits! That’s incredible! We knew Free Day was really going to hurt. On Thursday, Free Day itself, we are still waiting for Google Analytics to catch up but it’s obvious we will peak over 111,493 visits today we peaked at 169,132 visits. We took the site down once at 8AM to make some last minute mods, but were able to keep the site from completely breaking down. We were effectively under a self-inflicted denial of service attack but pages loaded, albeit slowly! 169,132 visits! Ow it hurt!

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

We went from 5mbps back in December to 32mbps in January. Necessity is the mother of invention. With load on our servers hitting nearly 10 times anything we’ve seen before, we learned very quickly how we needed to patch and streamline our site to squeeze every ounce of throughput out of our little e-commerce system. Our site is now running snappier than ever and this is one of the biggest days we’ve seen in our history. Nice job IT.

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 will get every order out but it will take at least a week to get back to our normal shipping speed.

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/sparkfun-freeday-M.jpg

In the end was it worth it? Completely! Either way you slice it, we got $100 worth of goods into the hands of 1,000 new customers and repeat friends. Did we anger people? For sure, but as user “lukeweston” on Twitter so elegantly put it: “This is a bizzare form of nerd torture”. We had a blast and hope you enjoyed the excitement and entertainment of the morning. Cheers!


Comments 437 comments

  • “Nice job IT”.
    That sums it up. So does the upbeat tone of your message. You guys really dropped the ball and there is no white washing it.
    Seriously you guys need to stick to embedded stuff if you think that was a nice job. Do you realize that most people could not access the main page much less place an order. I suspect the only orders that got in were logged in and had a full cart way before the thing started.
    You may have made 1000 customers happy or one in every 70 that tried to get in.
    Nice job?
    I’m still totally amazed at how poorly implemented this spectacle was.
    Wow. Just. Wow.

    • “I suspect the only orders that got in were logged in and had a full cart way before the thing started. "
      Actually not the case and…I had a full cart, logged in and have been a customer for several years…it wasn’t a favorites game……it was just luck…

    • It wouldn’t make sense for them to beef up their servers to the point where they could easily accommodate free day – most of that capacity would go unused after it was over.
      1 in 70 is actually pretty good compared to how Amazon fared when they initially put the Wii on sale, and they have so much capacity that they sell the excess to others.
      If Sparkfun ever goes to something like EC2 for their hosting, they should try this again… :)

  • I have to say this was a very frustrating experience. This was the worst shopping experience I have ever faced in all of my life, to tell the truth. I had everything ready for checkout the day prior to the event, but after hours this morning hopelessly trying to checkout, I gave up.
    I am very disappointed on how this was all planned out. And I keep wondering if this really did “give back to the community” in a meaningful way and not a huge publicity stunt.
    Congratulation to the people who did get the freebies. I will be turning my business back towards Digikey and Robotshop.

    • To be honest: if you thought this was a guaranteed $100 for you then you majorly misunderstood what was going on. There were waaaaaayyyyy more people trying to order than orders to go around.
      Yes, this did give back to the community. There are other people in the community than just you.

      • Sorry for the misunderstanding, I’m not angry I didn’t “win”. I’m angry that this whole thing was such a mess. In my previous post, I emphasized on the “shopping experience”, not on the contest itself.
        And there must have been better ways to give back to the community… Free classes in impoverished schools, random contests with applications or bursaries. But I guess those don’t give enough publicity…

        • Apricat: And I keep wondering if this really did “give back to the community” in a meaningful way and not a huge publicity stunt.
          Dude, how long have you had a SparkFun account? 15 minutes?
          Apricat: And there must have been better ways to give back to the community… Free classes in impoverished schools, random contests with applications or bursaries. But I guess those don’t give enough publicity…
          If you’d been around here for more than just Free Day you’d know SparkFun does stuff like this: https://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/news.php?id=299
          Don’t complain that they’re not giving anything back when you’re one of the people who just showed up for a handout.

  • I can’t believe people are being so negative. I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks, and spent all morning without getting past the loading page, but I still think it was a cool concept. Thanks Sparkfun. Congrats to those who made the cut.

  • As a customer and a supporter on various hardware forums, I have known about today for a while.
    I had my cart ready to go, I was up at 6:30 SF time,I was going to get this! But every time I tried to get on, the site did not time out, it did not give blank pages, all it did was flat out refused to connect, connection refused, server reset loop, for 3 hours.
    When I was able to get logged in, most of what I had in my cart was replaced with random items.Well by then the event balance was well over 70k so no chance in hell for me.
    Congrats on clearing out 100 grand of stuff right before tax season, and letting 40% of this event wind up on ebay.Also thanks for nothing, When we needed you, you opted to let every ebay leech and 1 time freebee hunter artificially inflate your numbers for 1 day.
    I will not be recommending or visiting SF any more, NOT! because “i didnt get my free swag” but it gave me more insight to the “little effort as possible to make a buck, from anyone dumb enough to let us” attitude that appears in most aspects of SF.
    From the questionable quality of the items, to the drag ass shipping response time.

    • So, I was looking through the list of US-registered charities, and couldn’t find SparkFun anywhere! I must have missed them, or they’re registered under another name. Where did you see them?

      • “First and foremost, we want to give back. We’ve had a stellar year in 2009, and it’s all because of you"
        your welcome

    • Sparkfun doesn’t owe you anything, they gave you a chance to get 100$ of free items. With any luck you meant what you said about not coming back to SparkFun and there will be one less cry-baby moron i have to compete with next free-day.

  • While I applaud the idea of free day I was left totally unimpressed. In general over the several years I’ve been a customer Sparkfun was in the “way cool” category. Today it transitioned to “you suck."
    When the appointed hour came I began trying the site. With countless attempts there was not a single time that I could even see a Sparkfun web page much less try to actually order anything. I was very briefly excited when a page started to load… until I realized it was telling me that people who were actually allowed to see the website got all the giveaways and there were none left for the rest of us.
    I had hoped to use this as an opportunity to try out a couple of products I didn’t really have a specific project for but seemed to have potential. Instead I wasted a lot of my time.
    That whole "any press is good press” thing? Not so good for retail folks who fail to deliver.

    • until I realized it was telling me that people who were actually allowed to see the website got all the giveaways and there were none left for the rest of us
      You are making it sound like there was a predetermined lucky group and a ‘rest of us’ group. Membership of these groups was in fact a random decision based on the timing of your HTTPS request packets.
      It was obvious to anyone who actually thought about it that the servers were never going to cope with all the traffic and it would end up being a lucky dip.
      Just don’t confuse the fact that you were among the unfortunate group (by random chance) with the fact that Sparkfun did something good for the community.
      When you buy a product at the supermarket with a “1 in 70 wins” competition attached, do you moan this much about the company when you don’t win?

    • Oh noes! It’s a conspiracy. Sorry you wasted your time.

  • although I did not get through to make an order (no big deal), my grandmother did and now I’ll have an LCD screen and protoshield for wiring and debugging programs on my arduino <– to all you who think people are just selling their items, mine will go to good use

    • So in other words you are one of the people that was trying to spoil it for everyone else?

    • well its a good thing that one of the TWO you tried to get came through.

    • belated birthday present

    • Come on man! If your grandma wants to use it, then let her! Don’t take it from her just because you need it. Jeez, what kind of grandson are you! J/k
      The fact that your grandma got thru just proves that it was pretty much random and there’s a lot of people that need to be grateful about what they do have, not what they expected to get. I mean seriously, if this was Christmas there would be a lot of people here with a lump of coal in their stockings.

  • NOW YOU CENSOR THE FORUMS??!! by deleting a post i made about freeday, that’s pathetic.
    all I said was you say that you are giving back to the customers that “gave you a stellar year” But you didn’t give to us you gave to everyone else!
    this was a big publicity STUNT not “giving back to the customers that gave you that $100,000” So stop putting out the BS and admit that.
    Deleting posts is PATHETIC.

    • Whiny posts are pathetic.
      You are making a post on THEIR site. They have the right to do as they please with it. Don’t like it? Don’t post!

  • To start: I didnt get my order in despite spending an hour hitting refresh. However, I think that this was a great thing for SparkFun to do. They were trying to give back to their community. The fact that some people decided to wrongly use the situation and to ruin it for real SparkFun followers isn’t SparkFun’s fault. If you think it was unfair, it wasn’t something you were entitled to, it was something that SparkFun decided to do with their own money. So deal with it.
    Props to SparkFun, I think that this was a great idea, you guys rock!

  • As one of the lucky people who did get through, thank you SparkFun!
    But whilst I’m very grateful that I won, I still think the way this was executed was totally brainless. I don’t think it’s fair to say people are annoyed just because they didn’t win free stuff. Rather, people are (rightly) annoyed that the promotion was so badly planned and executed.
    Surely it wouldn’t have taken much effort to think of some other way to run the promotion that was faster and fairer. Some sort of lottery perhaps? And that didn’t DDoS the servers such that even people who were willing to pay full price weren’t able to get through to the site for the best part of the day.
    Honestly, I think Nate should pay more attention to the sentiments of people posting here. It’s pretty insensitive of him to pretend the event was a total success when, in reality, it was carried out so poorly.
    I mean, hey, I managed to get through and even I’m annoyed. And I’m an existing SparkFun customer, too. Doesn’t speak well for keeping your customers happy, does it?

    • do you expect sparkfun to buy 100 server just so they can give aaway free stuff? expectationa are a bit unreal here and technically minded ppl should know that such a blast in visitor can’t be prepared for,

      • Of course I don’t expect them to have massive capacity for one sale. But there are so many other ways to run the promotion without doing that.
        What about a lottery with staggered entries/draws? What about (as someone suggested) a competition where people submit ideas and the best ones are drawn. What about distributing giveaways through schools and colleges?
        Whether or not this would have generated as much publicity for SparkFun I have no idea. But it sure would have been a much more professional way of doing things, and caused way less annoyance for people.
        It really doesn’t take too much effort to think of a dozen better ways this could have been done. So I think apologies are in order for a poorly planned schmozzle rather than SparkFun patting themselves on the back.

        • Yup agreed… call whine-1-1 and get the wambulance over here. Oh wait… the wambulance is slammed today, its busy making runs to pick up all the other babies whining about how they didn’t get THEIR free stuff.
          Oh and guess what… The event was not poorly planned, IT WAS A LOTTERY! It was a TCP/IP lottery. TCP connections were accepted at random (or close to it). Surely you aren’t proposing that all the successful orderers connection’s had some sort of priority over everyone else?
          Maybe next year Sparkfun can make an HTML page available for users to download & use in their browsers as the default for HTTP 408(Timeout) & 503(Service Unavailable) status codes. Make it say “Sorry you didn’t win this time, please try again!” Perhaps then some of these grumpy people would realize its a sort of TCP/IP lottery game, and not a big conspiracy against them.

          • Note: He /did/ get his order through.
            But that isn’t the point… I am sure that a project/design competition with 100000usd of prizes (for example, the competition pays for up to (100000/number_of_winners)usd of your parts) would be a much more positive experience (for /all/ involved… I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone really that angry after not winning a design competition, due to the learning experience, etc.) than some mindless lottery. The difference is, a very small portion (presumably none) of those who get the prizes would resell them, and you wouldn’t waste 2+ hours trying to “win” something randomly. It would support a lot more of said “broke students” who need to buy parts for a design project.
            I didn’t get the free order, but I wasn’t disappointed by this (100usd isn’t so much if you are in $10000+ of loans for school), but rather by the sheer mindlessness of the event.

        • “So I think apologies are in order for a poorly planned schmozzle rather than SparkFun patting themselves on the back."
          Can someone call the wambulance…we have someone have entitlement seizure…..

  • I think this whole event burnt more people than helped.
    Right now, most are without, and feel like they wasted their time and energy. I suggest sparkfun not attempt this again, because I know of a few customers they’ve lost already. People are talking, and letting server functionality determine a random payout is unprofessional, it’s also disrespectful and belittling to the client- ie; just bad customer service. If you’re going to offer something, knowing that it’s random in nature, be sure to play that up, not make it sound like a given to anyone involved.
    Just calling it “free day” implies that you’re giving away free parts all day, to everyone, while ‘lucky discount day’ is really a better term for it.
    Yep, I hoped since thanksgiving, and got nil- and yes, I’m not happy my time was wasted instead of just being outright turned down. That’s very disrespectful towards me, the customer. I would never dream of torturing a client in such a manner.

    • To everyone that feels that they were burned, all I can say is this:
      Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
      SFE gave away a hundred thousand bucks' worth of goodies to over a thousand people in less than two hours, and made it VERY CLEAR how it was going down, -including- warning that traffic would be a nightmare. There was no prerequisite requirement such as being an existing customer, only the thrill of the hunt and the very real possibility of coming up empty-handed, which I among a myriad of others did. Am I upset about it? Nope, still gonna order some goodies from here because I use the crap outta Arduino Pro Minis and SFE’s Arduino-fu is exceptionally strong.
      Anyone that still have the colossal gall to be upset because they didn’t get something for nothing needs to go outside and interact with something other than a computer for a while.
      In short, if you’re whining like a tired toddler because you didn’t get some freebies, get over yourself.

      • .. And this is exactly the sort of scolding that I’m talking about. This is what will keep me and a lot of other people away from DIY and open source projects- I know that I’d be catering to an ungrateful audience, so why post code or instructions on how to do something? It’s just more effort to me to deal with that.
        But meanwhile, I still stick to my original statement. This wasn’t ‘free day’ it was ‘perhaps your lucky day’. Playing it as “fill up your shopping cart!” is really giving the wrong impression and really bad customer service. A little caution is needed in order not to alienate your client base, which has been done.
        And above all, it’s not the 100 bucks anymore- it’s the disrespect shown to total strangers.

        • I totally do NOT see where you’re pulling this from. Sparkfun was VERY clear about the rules of Free Day. $100 per person to a limit of $100,000 total. If you thought the $100 was a guaranteed thing then you must not have read things very well?
          They didn’t misrepresent anything. Sorry you had some preconceived ideas that it didn’t live up to but thats solely on you.

      • you really shouldn’t be bothered by the comment since it is sounding to me like you got free stuff, sparkfun needs to know the aftermath of their decision and will need to suffer the repercussions of their actions from lost customers, we are allowed our opinions

        • Nope, I didn’t get a thing. I couldn’t get page one of the site to load from 8:50 to 10:50 and by the time I even saw my shipping options the run was over. My cart remains as it was, and I’ll probably send it in as a regular order next week sometime once the shipping people recover from their impending nightmare.
          But I’m not going to go find another hobby because I didn’t get some free stuff, nor do I consider a failure to get free stuff to be a crushing blow to the spirit. Some folks here are reacting as though SFE kicked their puppy down a flight of stairs, and that’s just ridiculous IMO.

          • OddOne, it really seems as if you’re the one behaving like a child here. Sparkfun needs to know their failures as well as their successes in order to make things work as a company. We’re offering our opinions over here at the grown-up table, care to join us?

    • I too would have preferred the professionalism, and finality of a “sorry, you are not a winner.” At least then I feel like it was still recognized that I took part and had an honest chance. Frustrating untold customers and potential customers is bad for business. Whether any of us has the right to be upset makes absolutely no difference. This happened before both with hackaday and with woot.com [according to the Make sparkfun aftermath article], it sounds great, but it isn’t.

      • You are still missing it. Even if they give promotional products away they could still run out and then people are still pissed they didnt get something they felt they were entitled.
        It was professional. There was a clear “You are not a winner”. Either you got your order in or you didnt. You did take part and had just as big a chance as the next person.
        As I said before, sorry this didnt live up to YOUR preconceived notions.

    • I’m going to have to agree with them, you have now put yourself in a position where people including myself don’t want to come back, when you heard about free day in that book you read or whatever it meant promotional products such as shirts, cups, pens, promotional. That would of gotten your name out there, rather than give product away which to tell you the truth pissed a ton of people off and put them in a position where they can and most likely will never return to sparkfun for being treated like crap. Never try this again. The only reason i will return if i ever will is to get Arduino stuff, maybe

      • Thanks, Com! I really have to agree with you. And this one’s for sparkfun- completely free of charge.. a promo item of an extremely cool nature would have been a lot nicer. How about that oscope kit you have, with a big SF logo screened on the front panel, sold at cost? You’d have outfitted a lot more than 1000 people, not upset anyone, and gotten your name out there, and would have been thought of pleasantly every time that o'scope fixed up a project, and saved the day. Cheaper and not as frustrating to so many as this havoc.

    • Agreed.

      • Thanks, Madsci1016. It’s appreciated. This was a contest? I didn’t know that ‘till I was scolded about it later on.

  • I’m sorry, I can’t believe you are still claiming first and foremost “you wanted to give back”. In order to give ‘back’ required the person to have given to you first, ie loyal customers only. What you did was ‘give away’ to anyone and turned what seemed like (and you still believe apparently) a warm sentiment into a cheap lottery joke. Had I know I was facing 1:70 odds i won’t not have wasted my time.
    This is my opinion, and I entitled to have it. Sparkfun has joined the league of evil companies with PR stunts like this.

    • I have a feeling that you skipped over OddOne’s reply because it told you something you don’t like so I’ll repost it for you

      To everyone that feels that they were burned, all I can say is this:
      Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
      SFE gave away a hundred thousand bucks' worth of goodies to over a thousand people in less than two hours, and made it VERY CLEAR how it was going down, -including- warning that traffic would be a nightmare. There was no prerequisite requirement such as being an existing customer, only the thrill of the hunt and the very real possibility of coming up empty-handed, which I among a myriad of others did. Am I upset about it? Nope, still gonna order some goodies from here because I use the crap outta Arduino Pro Minis and SFE’s Arduino-fu is exceptionally strong.
      Anyone that still have the colossal gall to be upset because they didn’t get something for nothing needs to go outside and interact with something other than a computer for a while.
      In short, if you’re whining like a tired toddler because you didn’t get some freebies, get over yourself.

      • First, for as much as you hate whiners, you seam to be able to do it pretty well yourself, which means you hate yourself, which is not very healthy. You should see someone for that.
        Second, I did not ask you if you feel upset by it, or if you are going to buy from sparkfun in the future, nor did i even mention if i was Going to buy from sparkfun again, so why are you talking about it? You seem to ramble a lot about nothing to do with my statement of my opinion.
        Third, you make no attempt to diffuse my argument. The first bold statement in this post is “give back to our costumers” not give away to anyone that can sign up, yet that’s what they did. This was not a “Free-day” it was a lottery, an i would have been ok with that if it’s how SFE tried to pass it off as.

        • First, I can whine with the best of ‘em. My whine-fu is strong. :-D
          Second, too many people are acting like they were personally insulted because they could not get freebies. That’s just dumb no matter what the excuse. If you’re a sad panda because you wasted two hours hitting F5, I repeat the sentiment to get over yourself, as you probably waste more time than that F5ing other sites.
          Third, you -did- see that they had, as a goal of the project, a desire to small-scale-sponsor the DIY community as a whole, not solely their customer base, did you not? Looks to me like they achieved that goal to an extent, win-and-resell lamers notwithstanding.
          Could SFE have done this differently? Sure, and I’d think a lottery where people submit their E-mail and physical addresses for a chance at one of 1,000 $100 credits may have been the more friendly way to do it, but that wouldn’t have given them the kind of load test they might have been looking for to satisfy goal #3. That said, I don’t see how SFE could have been any more transparent about the reasoning, goals, and concerns surrounding their promo.

          • You seem to still be missing what I am upset about.
            I’m ok with what happened today. Sparkfun wanted to test their servers, and they did so by treating us like dogs. They threw a few “free” steaks out and watched us fight over them without regard to who actually got the biggest piece. I am also ok with this, i mean, it worked didn’t it?
            What i am upset about is the fact they still continue to claim “they wanted to give back”. This is BS. There are ways to give back without upsetting current and future customer.
            SFE got there servers Load tested (and some PR) today by dangling a few steaks in front of their customers (like we were dogs) yet are still trying to claim “we did it for you”. I find it hard to believe so many don’t have a problem with this.

    • Thats a perfect term for what this was “A cheap lottery joke”

  • To all of those whiners that will never be a SparkFun customer ever again because of this:
    Good Riddance.
    That is all.

    • Back at ya. I spent twenty minutes on eBay and picked up the same stuff I was about to pay $130 for here, at a grand total of $27.54. Guess I got my $100 off after all.

      • Baloney. Try getting an FT232RL IC off of eBay. This site sells them lower than any other site on the web INCLUDING eBay. Maybe if you are buying LEDs or pin headers, but you definitely cant get everything cheaper on eBay.

        • Thats NOT true, just googled it and found it on the first page for less in single quantities, and cheaper shipping, from a US company!!!

          • Ok, my bad Sputnik.
            I guess you must be referring to this eBay auction, since the first 2 other sites that pop up charge $5.00 shipping?
            http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=110472948369&rvr_id=&crlp=1_263602_263622&UA=WXF%3F&GUID=0a0c3f151260a02653931a23ffdf9b37&itemid=110472948369&ff4=263602_263622
            You CAN get them for $0.15 cheaper. $3.80, plus $1.75 shipping per IC.
            But here, it gets cheaper as I add chips, because they are so light. If I buy 4 I will only spend around $5.00/chip.
            If I order 4 FT232RL’s from eBay, I’m probably going to pay $1.75 shipping per IC (5.55/chip), because those IC’s are not cheap.
            In EITHER case, Guardianfox claims he got a 79% discount on a $130 order. My point was that it’s not likely unless the parts he got were LEDs or something that’s available everywhere.

            • It was a duemilanove and an ethernet shield plus some basic components. I’ll concede that I got a rare steal on the ethernet shield, because they are normally nowhere near as cheap as I got it for.
              MY original point was that saying “good riddance” to those who complained and suggested that they might leave is NOT going to help SparkFun retain customers and be profitable. Hence “Back at ya”

  • It would be awesome if they could gauge specific projects/people and help sponsor them, but it’s nearly impossible to do without being biased or come under attack in some way from some group.
    I applaud SF’s efforts, and thank them for the chance to try. It really was a lot of fun and broke my normal work routine into something fun and worth fighting for. Though I was one of the people who honest to gosh never saw the website (not sure how anyone did really), I’m not going to say they owe me a living, or that their IT sucks–it was a crapshoot people, and the SA’s learned a lot as well and they admitted it.
    Hopefully maybe sometime this year I can find some extra money in the budget to get an Arduino and have fun with it, until then I’ll just keep tinkering with what I have and dumpster diving and grabbing parts from stuff.
    SparkFun, thanks again for the chance, hopefully you guys do even better this year than in past years!

  • well they have deleted 3 threads i tried to make on the forum, they must not want anything but a positive viewpoint on their Publicity stunt.

    • well you angry because you did not get anything…
      if you had your order done even with all the problems you got, you would not come here or to the forum say anything… and what you talking? what you trying to say?
      that would be better to not have freeday than to have? so noone would have anything?
      I lost some time too but, maybe this is a beginning… maybe some other sites go for this too like makerShed site or parallax site or something… don’t know
      also… $100.000 is a lot of money… I know as they sell components it would be like $50.000 from their distributors or even less but… still so much money to just give away to people

  • I had my dad try to order me some parts from the office while I was at school. He says that he filled the cart, but was never able to check-out.
    Man, I’ve been dreaming about this for a while. Oh well, I guess I’ll try to scrape up another $100, and wait ‘till after robotics season.
    Thanks, anyway, it’s still cool you did this. I hope Andrew was able to get what he wanted…

  • Thanks sparkfun for the great opportunity! I just wanted to post my appreciation for the event and let you know I will be returning for more stuff. It’s too bad some people don’t get what you were doing for them. I really hope those that are complaining and reselling stuff they got get what’s coming to them as that was not the spirit of the day.

  • I think that this is not fare. I’ve made several orders and i couldn’t make this order. If i’m one of those ho is part of sparkfun because i make my orders here and not in other shop, this free day should be made other way. I’m sure that many of the people who made the order on the free day din’t know sparkfun before or had never done an order here.
    I’m very dissapointed.
    From Barcelona

  • Heh, should have heard the swearing going on from our project lab as we all tried to get in to buy some stuff.
    “*&@W%^"
    5 seconds later…
    ”%^#H#! let me buy stuff!“
    ….

  • I can’t believe the people that are mad at SparkFun; they did it with good intent, and they certainly didn’t owe you anything.

  • I’m not sure if you guys were PCI compliant by stating that you were “testing” the servers with the public. If you have credit card info (shopping cart) you must test on a test server. I’ll be surprised if your server doesn’t have a few viruses because at least one out of the 100K was a hacker! Makes me wonder just how safe your shopping cart really is now! Am I upset because I didn’t get anything? No. Just upset at how it was done. For those of us that were up very early with shopping carts already full, we should have had first chance, but it was a “lottery” (and I absolutely cannot stand “lotteries” at all, so I won’t participate again!). For me, it was the whole “test servers” crap that I don’t buy into, and you should not have tested your servers on us or advertised as such.
    VERY UNPROFESSIONAL!!

    • You completely misunderstand how computers, the internet, and viruses work. Be thankful your not in IT. It would be a very short career.

    • It was my impression that they were trying to load test them more than test for bugs in the software.

  • I hate it when people who got things tell others not to complain. Easy for them to say! Sure, I didn’t lose any money, but I lost 2 hours and 45 minutes preparing and trying to order. I’m really pissed, because if I just stuck to my work (yes I was at work) I could’ve made close to that $100. Great job, sparkfun. You’ve made 1000 people happy, and 70000 unhappy. I would have been totally happy, though, if instead of wasting thousands of dollars on new servers, you just rented some space on the Amazon Cloud. Then the people who actually got up early would’ve been the ones to get free stuff, not the ones who just stumbled upon the site, made an account, and got super lucky. You should’ve made it only available to people who’ve made orders before. What angers me even more is that you think that you did a good job. Good idea, very, very poor execution. This ended up to be a huge game based 100 percent on luck. That’s not the kind of game I, or any sane person here, would like to waste their time on. The lottery is different. This is just… disgusting.

    • I really doubt that anyone that didn’t wake up early and prepare for this day got an order in. There were 70,000 people, I imagine at least 5,000 of those people (probably more) were logged in, cart full and ready to push the checkout button before 7 MST. I was, and I didn’t get anything, because that still means only 20% of the people that were ready got $100.
      The people that were pissed because they spent 2 hours trying to login, should stop complaining, Thousands of people were more ready than you, and regardless of how the servers worked you never would have been one of the first 1000 when you needed to still login an hour before the show started, I started to get on and get to the checkout page 3 hours before it started and I got there, but still didn’t get anything.
      You also could have given up at anytime and gone back to work, anyone that is smart enough should have realized 20 minutes in that it could take a couple hours for this thing to finish up.
      Stop complaining people, no one forced you to try and get a free $100, and you could have stopped at anytime, so it wasn’t sparkfun’s fault.

  • Yeah this whole fiasco pissed me off so much, I’ve decided to not buy anything from Sparkfun…. Plenty of other places to buy the same goods…

    • And they are cheaper elsewhere!!

      • I find it surprising so many people complain about the price. Most everything is the equivilent of coffee money. Really - you can browse the prices in advance to decide if its woth it.

        • Yep thats why I get stuff elsewhere, and I dont drink coffee. I just bought an item that is $16 here for $2.30 on another US based site , 2 of them actually, and only $4 shipping. If I drank coffee, that would be plenty of money LEFT OVER for coffee!!

          • Well for small parts like ICs and etc.. they are higher in price than say if you were to get it yourself from mouser or digikey, but if you were to go to Radio Shack (The SHACK now rolls eyes) they would price it four times as much, if they even carried it.
            As for PCBs and other complete working solutions/products they are cheaper over all than you creating it yourself or getting it else where such as bluetooth or GPS modules.

  • Thanks, guys. I tried, and tried, and tried, and finally… failed! Even so, I had a lot of fun, and I’ll be ordering some “non-free” stuff soon!

  • This is still sad as I’ve seen from Hackaday’s discussion on it with everybody gloating that they got X or Y or that they’re going to resell it when others that deserved a chance at the promotion got shot out from the start.
    There has to be some way - some form of genius - that would enable you to review groups and their projects/needs for a sponsorship of some kind. I know I’ve already had to scrap a project now that I’ve planned for a couple months - because Free Day was one of my only chances at getting even barebones parts to start it.

    • I know what you mean. I was lucky enough to get my order though. I am an EE student at Iowa State University and all of the projects I have been working on in eagle and avr studio I have not been able to begin due to a lack of funding. This gave me just enough equipment to begin to produce stuff and hopefully start a business!

    • Might I suggest some different options for next year (should you decide to do it again):
      1. Announce Free-day. Some orders will be free, but you won’t know until after you’ve completed the purchase. Only people who would have bought anyway get a gift and the freeloaders don’t. This ignores students and others who could use the freebies though.
      2. On Free-day- everyone gets 50 or 75% off- up to $100k. Again- it helps avoid the freeloaders who just want to resell- their profits go way down. It’s also more palatable for students and others without a lot of money- 75% off is still better than nothing at all.
      3. Pick a day at random- anyone who orders or comments in the forums on that day gets $100 coupon (up to $100k). Don’t tell people which day. This is more inclusive of students and others who contribute but can’t order a lot of stuff.
      4. On Free-day randomly select 1,000 people from the registered accounts that have ordered or commented in the last year and give them coupons.
      Any one of these would have worked better and resulted in fewer headaches.

      • Please don’t take my comments as sour grapes. I’m lucky enough to own my own company and can purchase whatever parts I need without thinking twice about it. Free stuff is always nice but missing out isn’t going to make any difference in the projects I get to work on. (Pictures of my lab are available upon request :) )
        What I feel bad about is that there are a lot of people that could have really used some parts, but instead the money went towards resellers and freeloaders.

        • Free day would have been more beneficial to us if we actually had a chance! Spark Fun had only one thing in mind. How can we get a record number of hits and the most advertisement with $100K. They succeeded at that 100%. Say free and everyone will come running. If they really wanted to give back, it should have been limited to customers that actually bought something over the past 12 months. The problem with that is it doesn?t draw a whole lot of new people to the site which was the main goal in mind here. Sorry, I love spark fun, but this free day was a sham.

          • I didn’t get anything, though I wasted 2 hours trying. I’m not upset, but I am annoyed after reading this blog post. I am sure it was a rousing success for generating publicity. But “We were effectively under a self-inflicted denial of service attack but pages loaded, albeit slowly!” seems a little too optimistic. Yes you self-inflicted a DOS attack. And your site failed it! Your pages loaded with a chance of 1 in a 1000. The fact that you guys think you did well is what floors me. Google Analytics is not a good guide. My frustration has nothing to do with not getting anything, but with the quote “Nice job IT.” If you acknowledged your failings, and said “Oh well IT,” I would have smiled with you.
            You seem to have paid a price for your success. I am sure Shawn is not the minority here. There were a lot of people that feel used by SF. Right or wrong, that’s a cost.
            I now have a pavlovian association of page won’t load and SparkFun. Probably not what you were going for.

        • i got through, and picked up an arduino starter kit and some other small tools and such. i’ve never ordered from sparkfun before and my experience with diy electronics is limited to some circuit bending and soldering together microphone cables. i heard about this from a friend though, dutifully refreshed for two hours, and i plan to put this stuff to good use and learn something. i would suspect that most new people to the site are more like myself, and aren’t just trying to make a few bucks. sure, you can call me a freeloader, but wasn’t everyone ready to accept $100 worth of stuff? :)
          anyway, if i become a regular tinkerer, i’m sure sparkfun will make their $100 back from me fairly quickly. i suppose i didn’t “need” the things i bought, but i didn’t see where that was the point.

          • In that case you’ve only confirmed what Shawn said- this wasn’t about “giving back” to the community but bringing in new customers. Is that good for Sparkfun? Well- if they succeeded in attracting more new customers than alienating existing customers- then yes. Unfortunately I think this left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths.

            • i dunno, they had three stated goals, only one of which was to give back to their existing customers (some of which undoubtedly were rewarded). in any case, if i miss out on free day next year i don’t think that i’m going to feel alienated. maybe it’s not the most transcendentally diplomatic way of giving away $100,000, but i still offer my kudos for a very neat concept and a very generous handout. your scene is expanding! that’s not the worst thing in the world. :)

              • I think what they wanted to do was nice- I think the execution was terrible. Amazon tried this same thing with their holiday deals a couple of years ago. The winning deal was an xbox for $99 or something like that. What happened? Amazon collapsed under the load. This is a company with extensive experience in running a high traffic web site built on an extensible architecture and even they couldn’t handle it.
                I realize that Sparkfun has a lot fewer customers- but they also have disproportionately fewer servers as well. They also lack the extensive experience needed to run a high capacity site like this. Honestly- I’d love to read the postmortem for the free-day outages. What failed? Bandwidth? Webservers? Database? What mistaken assumptions were made? Did they expect fewer visitors? Did the server capacity not scale as expected? What could have been done differently? More servers? Smaller images? Streamlined HTML?

      • I am a college student who truly needed the things I ordered. I had ordered some 3 color LED’s a few months back for prototyping for a project (which I never ended up using in the final design). So I am still a new customer. And yes I jumped on the free wagon. So do you think I should have denied from participation in free day?
        Its impossible to weed out all the undeserving people, but make things too strict and you will weed out deserving people in the process.

        • “So do you think I should have denied from participation in free day?"
          The point of free-day was supposed to be "to give back to the community.” Have you contributed to the community- either by contributing to the forums or making purchases that keep Sparkfun in business? If not- then yes- you should have been denied. Obviously the Sparkfun people seem to feel different. That’s their right, of course, but I get the feeling a lot of people feel they were lied to about the real purpose of free-day- and I, for one, do not like being lied to.
          In your case you did order something- a few months ago- that would have qualified you for participation. I also suggested several other ways to organize this that didn’t require purchasing anything- using forum participation as an alternative.

      • Or just don’t allow people to order if they did not order for at least 50$ worth of goods since their registration.

    • Yeh it’s pretty pathetic people wanting to resell their gift for a minor amount of profit… But you get that with alot of people. It is too bad that there was people who really needed the gear but didn’t get an order.
      Even though sparkfun dismissed the idea of allowing only previous buyers to participate I think it would have helped people to get parts for their underfunded projects, on the other hand it would have reduced the awareness of the site and what it is about.
      I commend you on your efforts Sparkfun, you don’t see too many companies doing this kind of thing.

    • Still cant believe the most sold product was green LED’s, those can be found anywhere…
      As for funding projects, whats better than a project competition?
      I didnt manage to enjoy the freeday, i wasnt expecting it really, especially because i live overseas.
      on the bright side, got my mother to activate my paypal account, so i will be buying from sparkfun as soon as i have figured out how customs work, and my chances of avoiding them.

      • Well,yes. But i wanted to make sure they are all the same.
        In case anyone likes to know, they are going to be used in a fairly large wall clock. I want to make the 7-segment displays out of green leds :-)
        Thank you sparkfun!

        • When I saw “145 green LEDs” I thought the person was going to do a rotating LED POV display for a GameBoy, with one spare LED just in case things went wrong. Then again SparkFun doesn’t have 1.8mm LEDs so that display would have been around 7.3 meters tall.
          So you’re doing a giant 7-segment LED clock made out of single LEDs?
          SparkFun: how about doing a new website section called “Free Day Projects”, where people can talk about the project they’re doing with the Free Day parts, including pictures and videos?

          • I second the idea for a Free Day Projects section!

            • I’m hoping to put together a general-purpose customer project section one of these days. Actually, I’d been meaning to get it out the door months ago, but Nate keeps coming up with ideas like Free Day… ;)

    • What was the point of Free-day?
      “First and foremost, we want to give back."
      Instead of giving back to the SparkFun community- ie those people that buy from SparkFun and contribute to the forums- we had lots of people jumping onto the site, having never bought or contributed anything. A lot of people that just wanted free stuff- often to resell- got lucky and did so (plenty of twitter comments said exactly that). A lot of the people who contribute and could have used these items- did not.
      Worse- instead of just not getting something- people wasted several hours trying to get something. It would have been one thing if they’d just gotten a rejection- you win some- you lose some. Wasting time waiting for an absurdly slow site just offended a lot of people. I didn’t experience "sporadic outages” this morning- I got a total outage. The site never once loaded.

      • Wow, I am amazed at these naysayers! I fully commend SparkFun for this great event.
        YES, I am a previous SparkFun customer, and NO I was not able to complete an order of free stuff. But thats Okay!! Any time that I invested was by my own choice, knowing full well that I may not get an order. Nobody made me do anything.
        For those that think it should have been run differently, how about you give away 100k of free stuff to show us how its done? :)
        Thank you for the chance Spark Fun!!!

        • Couldn’t agree with you more. It’s amazing that SparkFun did something so extraordinary, and the “SparkFun loyals” suddenly have an overwhelming sense of entitlement, as though SparkFun OWES them something. So what if somebody you don’t approve of gets $100 worth of free stuff and you didn’t ? you’re not the one giving the money away. Besides, it’s only $100! If you can’t afford to spend $100, then you probably haven’t spent much with SparkFun in the past.
          Everyone knew only about 1,000 people were going to get a Free Day order, leaving many people empty-handed. And as much as this was intended to be an act of thanks for existing members, it was very much a genius marketing stunt to acquire new members.

        • The problem isn’t that people didn’t get stuff- everyone understood that there was a limited supply. What bothers people is the number of new people and resellers that didn’t know Sparkfun from a hole in the wall but who showed up to get free stuff. Great marketing perhaps- but definitely not the right way to “give back to the community.”

  • I have ordered from Sparkfun several times in the past. I really like the company, with BatchPCB, a lot of the breakout boards, tutorials, etc you do a lot to support the hobby community. I always wish I had known about you guys when I was still in school and had more time to tinker. I know other sites charge less for the basic components but I still order some of them from you just to help support the business. I even keep a sparkfun wish list for my self just waiting until I have to order from you so I can add in a couple cool things. I had my cart loaded up early and was hoping to get some cool stuff on freeday. I didn?t and I ended up feeling pretty frustrated and upset. I know I really shouldn?t be since you guys were just helping out. I was trying to think how to get back at a company I like and want to support but I am currently mad at for stupid reasons. So, in the same vein as desert bus for hope I am going to torture you with money. You shipping department now has one more order they have to fulfill ;) I like to imagine some unkempt guy with a 5 day old beard and lack of sleep blinking repeatedly as he tries to see straight enough to slap yet another shipping label on my box, not realizing he left the packing peanut gun on while it spills foam all over the room :)

    • Your imagery is pretty accurate. The boxcutters are a motley and haggard bunch, red-eyed and shifty in the best of times…but they rarely mix up an order.

  • This was a failure. Look at the stats. Look at how many American’s got in vs how many from other countries. While english-speaking geeks the world over have been trying, only those within close proximity had a real chance. The numbers get smaller and smaller the further away you go.
    Now, take a look at twitter. I counted over 100 people bragging that they were using botnets, bragging that they were going to sell their “winnings,” or that they had done some other dirty trick. How many upset, dissapointed and estranged geeks did you create vs. how many new customers have you gotten? I’ll wager that you’ve actually experienced a net loss in customers.
    Once more back to the stats. More than 110,000 visits. 1035 actual sales. 9% of your new and old customers made it through, while 91% were snubbed.
    Sparkfun, if you ever consider doing something like this again… please revise your plans. This did much more to hurt your reputation than it did to help you.

    • “Now, take a look at twitter. I counted over 100 people bragging that they were using botnets, bragging that they were going to sell their "winnings,” or that they had done some other dirty trick.“
      –Is there any proof that they won anything or did anything malicious? No….unless you have access to the SF servers or have seen the loot that these people got, it’s just internet TROLLS…there are quite a few…
      "How many upset, dissapointed and estranged geeks did you create vs. how many new customers have you gotten? I’ll wager that you’ve actually experienced a net loss in customers."
      –unknown how many new followers but I’m there is a mix of people who found something that they like and won’t necessarily base their main opinion on an event were they were getting $100 dollars worth of free stuff…

      • “Sparkfun, if you ever consider doing something like this again… please revise your plans. This did much more to hurt your reputation than it did to help you."
        – how exactly has this hurt their rep….please explain…. they were giving away free stuff and opened it to all….it got huge and a lot of people slammed their servers…
        Being a long time customer, I’m bummed I couldn’t get on the free wagon, but it’s not the end of the world because I didn’t get $100 dollars worth of free stuff that was never guaranteed to begin with…
        To me their rep is not tarnished by this event…I was amused by it in fact…I saw what was coming for the last few days as it was building up….but I’m not holding it against them….The did something for a community and if that community is this unforgiving, I don’t know…maybe we won’t have a next time where they could improve upon the events that unfolded today…

        • I’m just saying that this was negative PR and that page hits do not translate into $ very well. When most people can’t even get in to have a look at the promo, their experience will be negative. When they reach the final page within minutes and spend the next two hours trying to get their order to go through, they’re going to be really pissed off. Whether it’s conscious or not, customers will remember that bad experience and their opinion of the store will rest on it.
          I didn’t have space in the original post to mention that my credit card number was stolen during this event. I don’t blame sparkfun for this, but their security must have been zero-to-nil during the high-profile event.

  • Ok, so 111,493 page hits in 1:44, or 104min, works out to 1072.04 page hits per min or 17.8 page hits per sec. I’m surprised your servers didn’t melt ;) Congrats on the marketing value this had. I am no good at reading, and thought it was tomorrow. Dumb little me. It’s ok though, I still have my SFE christmas gift card. Here we go intro to ARM! Congrats, and long live SFE!

  • Great job, Sparkfun. I didn’t get my order through, but I enjoyed the spectacle. I’ll order some more parts soon, although maybe not quite as many as I would have with the $100 incentive. Sorry that some people are reacting so poorly, I guess they had unrealistic expectations of what the morning would be like. As long as you continue to shine with your quality products, information, and service, I’ll keep being a happy customer with or without fun diversions like this. Happy Birthday!

    • Almost forgot, it’s nice to be able to browse the site again. Yesterday and today were way too frustrating for those of us who normally hang out on the site all throughout the day.

  • Sparkfun, Thanks!
    To the whiners, how about you pony up $100K in free goodies!
    Next time, maybe just a student discount? 10% for college students and %15 for high school students. They could fax/pdf/email their school ID’s?

    • They could also use a school email address. That’s typically what companies like Digilent do.

  • If you think about it, the server slowdown made for a more even playing field. It didn’t really matter how fast your connection was; it was all a matter of mostly-random chance. If your connection attempt was perfectly timed it went through, otherwise it bounced.
    Regarding the issue of sponsoring projects; why not have a competition? It seems doable with a minimal amount of resources. i.e. Write up/post contest specs… contestants email entries in… Sparkfun staff picks top 20… drop some poll/voting code on the site… members vote… winner gets freebies for their project… and Sparkfun gets some more content in the form of a detailed writeup on the winner’s project.

  • I was ready for the submit button since last night at this time. I woke up and sat at the computer anxiously waiting to press submit, and when the time came, I did…
    Connection Reset
    Connection Timed Out
    I never did get my order though, but I’m not angry at all. What SparkFun has done is great. They’re a pretty small company from what I understand, and to give away… just give away $100,000 worth of stuff astounds me! That’s a lot! A whole lot! It was a very generous thought that will provide many with the tools and parts to come up with tomorrow’s ‘gotta have’ item.

    • So what am I going to do with it? I really don’t know, but this gives me the ability to do so much. I’m thinking of designing an MP3 player if possible, or maybe a very light weight computer, or a USB mass storage device that provides me with information about write speed, read speed, size, file system, and other statistics. Who know? I don’t even know.
      I’m really happy SparkFun.com had this, and glad that many people got stuff they’ve probably been eying for a long time, but never wanted to pull the trigger because of the expense. Maybe some people wanted to stock up on a bunch of LEDs, or maybe they’re making a really neat LED cube.
      In any case, great job SparkFun! You’ve benefited so many, and your prices are always great. Your employees seem spirited, and you put some of the Spark and Fun into my life.

    • I’m a college student going to Mississippi State University about to begin a semester of learning about Microprocessors. I ended up buying the stuff I wanted to get for free, but again, I’m not mad or sad in any way. I can’t wait until the stuff I ordered gets here! I ordered a graphic LCD screen and a PIC development board (the one with audio in/out, SD card reader, USB, Serial, and some other neat stuff).

    • Same here. One thing though…its $100,000 retail so about $30-50k of actual cost. Still a chuck of change but they can write it off as PR / marketing cost.

  • Its funny all these people who really feel SF was doing something good for them.
    SparkFun was simply taking advantage of thousands of people for financial and internet status benefit.
    I wouldnt be surprised to see that someone finds their tactics were illegal in some sense and get taken to court over it.

    • By illegal do you mean that your order didn’t go through but other people’s did?
      You have got to be kidding me. Sparkfun didn’t take advantage of anyone. If you really use your brain & think about it… Sparkfun is a business, and the primary purpose of a business is to make money. One necessary evil involved with running a business is advertising. So if Sparkfun has to spend advertising money to keep their business in business; what use of that money provides the most benefit to the customers? Paying advertisers for ad-space or giving away free stuff. Hrm… tough call

      • Use your brain and think about it. I forgot to mention this just so happens to be end of the year inventory tax time!! What a way to clear out all that stock AND hit the charts worldwide. Use the people of the internet to do it for you!!!

    • you make it sound like sparkfun is a for profit business!
      it’s almost like they’re in it for the money as well as the fun!

  • I don’t know why anybody thought that they would have much of a chance to get anything. According to the post, there were ~100K people logging on. Even if it was only $1 off there would still be people who wouldn’t get anything.
    As for those who think that it was poorly executed, let me tell you it wasn’t. Sparkfun isn’t made to take this many visitors at once (10x the normal). To put it in therms that the technically illiterate can understand: imagine you sometimes have 5 family members stay at your house (a brother and his family, maybe). Then imagine that you got 50 people staying over on a night. Just like you, your toilets would be spewing ****.
    If, like me, you didn’t get anything then you shouldn’t be complaining. Nobody made you participate, it was just your selfishness that made you think you would, and complain about it afterwards.
    Thanks Sparkfun for doing something completely different. I enjoyed the rush.

  • I accept that some people feel upset, but Sparkfun really didn’t owe them anything. We all came into this knowing it was a lucky-dip. When I got up at 2:45am this morning to try my luck, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I didn’t think my order would get through and I expected to be doing a lot of page refreshing. In the end, it took around 1 hour 40 minutes to place my order. When the success page returned, the current total was $99,987.50. That made me among the last 10 people to get through. Phew!
    Despite the comments on twitter and elsewhere, the servers were obviously not dead. With that many attempts for HTTP/S connections, the servers were never going to be snappy for everyone.
    Give Sparkfun a break - they did a good thing for over 1000 enthusiasts like you and I, and that can only benefit us all. Hopefully those who took advantage of the offer will ‘pay it back’ by documenting their projects online for everyone to benefit. I know I will.

  • Well you sure did get your moneys worth of publicity. It will be fun to see all the stuff on ebay in the comming weeks.

  • I’m a broke college student who found out about this site a few weeks ago. I was lucky enough to get my order through for a little under $100 worth of stuff. I’ve taken an intro course for micro-controllers but didn’t learn nearly as much as I wanted to. This provides me with an awesome opportunity I didn’t think I’d get. I’ll definitely be back should I need more components. Thanks SF : )
    It is unfortunate that there are those who would take advantage of this generous offer to make a quick buck off it. Wonder how many Arduinos will be up on ebay this coming week?

  • Great work guys! I don’t know if anyone will truly appreciative we all are for the experience.
    As for the complainers, shame on you. Please recognize that not only was this a promotional event for SparkFun, but it was also a means of giving back to the community.
    SparkFun is #1 forever :)

    • yeah, you can’t complain, you didn’t lose out, it was a free day and some people got lucky, those that didn’t haven’t lost out on anything.

    • Oops, that should read “I don’t know if anyone will truly be able to express how appreciative we all are for the experience.”

    • The problem, Gremlin, is that the first priority of free-day was supposed to be “giving back to the community,” not being “a promotional event.”

  • Congrats that it survived, but i don’t like even a remote hinting that the site was even close to being up, because i have one fast internet, with a huge bandwidth, and the site wouldn’t even load, with 9% of the time a unable to connect error, and the rest with a timeout error, so today will probably the only day i’m disappointed with sparkfun, but don’t stop, or be discoraged by all this bad feedback today ;)

    • My sentiment exactly. I love sparkfun and free day was awesome, but the site was effectively down for the whole ~2 hours (“slow” doesn’t really describe it). It would have been nice to see that acknowledged and a nice apology, like “Wow. We tried to beef up our servers, but you guys completely overwhelmed all of our expectations. The servers didn’t have a chance. We’re sorry for all of the frustration this caused. That wasn’t what we were going for."
      But I’ll assume that’s what you meant, anyway. :-) (I still think SparkFun is awesome and Free Day has only reinforced that.)

      • Looking at their bandwidth chart I think they simply ran out of ISP bandwidth.
        I am not sure what the ISP does when it is getting more bandwidth then will fit down the pipe. It may just drop the packets altogether. That would make sense for those timeouts, as the server probably never even saw the request. That would also explain why the guys that hit F5 constantly had better luck, because some of the request must have finally made it through.

        • I very much doubt they ran out of bandwidth, more likely the issue lay with Apache and it’s notorious inability to handle large numbers of connections without careful configuration. Especially with everyone spamming F5, options like KeepAlive being left enabled would have severely hampered site performance with the symptoms people were seeing- connections dropping or not even being established, which would be inconsistent with bandwidth saturation.

  • Now I have missed the cheapest tickets in the past, but I knew it was from getting to tickets.burningman.com too late, not because their server couldn’t handle the load, so it started spitting out cheap tickets on a completely random basis.
    It amazes me how badly you managed to screw up giving away something of value, with nothing to show for your money except massive amounts of ill will and former customers. I feel like you lied to me when you explained how your promotion was going to work, and I have no tolerance for that.
    – Doug Lippincott

    • Doug,
      I think you’re having a stupid emotional reaction and are trying to rationalize it by writing a long letter that you might think sounds rational but that is obviously not reasonable. It’s sad that so many have the same kind of mentality that you do. Let’s look at just a few of your ridiculous claims:
      “… with nothing to show for your money except massive amounts of ill will …” If you are remotely objective, you have to see that SparkFun’s achievement has created massive amounts of good will, too.
      “I do not believe 1000 people got ahead of me in the first 3 seconds you were open for business.” Isn’t it clear there were at least tens of thousands of people around the world trying to submit orders in the first few seconds? They were all as “first come” as you were.
      “… only to come up a loser with nothing to show for 6 hours.” That was your choice to keep trying after it was obvious there were many people doing the same thing. If the servers would have worked infinitely quickly, you still would have spent the first four hours and gotten nothing.
      - Jan

  • Truly, do you believe it is possible to spend more money in an hour and 45 minutes and accomplish less?
    My customer number is 31309, and I’ve left my cart open. I’m definitely still interested in the Saleae logic analyzer, but I will be buying it direct from Saleae, rather than you. I won’t ever again buy something from you that I can find anywhere else.
    As a side note, if you ever decide to do something like this again, talk to the people who run Burning Man. In about a week they will put 9000 tickets on sale for $210 each, and they will be gone in 3-4 hours, with a maximum of 2 tickets per person.. Those tickets will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis, with everyone able to see where they are in the queue as soon as they click the button that says they want to buy. The queue position is a number that steadily drops, and when it gets to zero, the purchase process will go very smoothly. No one will get timeout errors. Miss the window to buy $210 tickets, and you will pay $240 as part of the next group of 9000.

    • And don’t spark about having a low customer number. I’m 9174 and I tried but didn’t get through and I’m not pissed. I was happy for the opportunity. Climb down off your high horse and look at the big picture.

  • c) Given any potential new customers a horrible first impression. I had personally recommended SparkFun to 5 people, and now I will be apologizing to them for such a bad suggestion.
    Now there is something important going on here that you will miss if you aren’t paying attention. You didn’t owe me a $100 discount on the $170 order that was in my cart, but what you did owe me was honesty. You represented this all along as a first-come-first-serve opportunity. Well, I was probably one of the very first to submit my order, and I do not believe 1000 people got ahead of me in the first 3 seconds you were open for business.
    Ok, maybe it wasn’t 3 seconds. The 4 browser windows I had open all showed different count-down times, but I was definitely submitted within a second or two of the first one saying you were open.
    What you billed as first-come-first-served was in reality a game of chance, with the winners chosen by random browser timing. I played by the rules as you laid them out and did everything right, only to come up a loser with nothing to show for 6 hours.

    • Hey DougL, might want to read over the original Free Day post:
      https://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/news.php?id=305
      First of all, the words “first come first serve” NEVER appear, anywhere. Second of all, there’s this whole blurb:
      “Free Day will possibly create a maelstrom of site traffic, the likes of which our servers have not seen … We’ll do everything in our power to keep the site up but please understand that the site may go down."
      So you ASSUMED it was first come first serve based on your own misconceptions of how the internet works and got pissed that SF misrepresented themselves. Think about it: if 100000 people click the submit button AT THE SAME TIME and only ~1000 are allowed to get through, how do you realistically enforce first come first serve? You don’t get how high traffic situations work. Don’t blame SF, they did what they could to accommodate the traffic that comes from being the top search term on Google. They probably could have thrown tens of thousands of dollars at more capacity that wouldn’t be used after it was over but then it would end in a matter of minutes and you’d still be pissed, because they owe you something, apparently.

  • Since Customer Service refuses to confirm my e-mail will be passed along to their president, I’ll post it here (in 4 parts because of message-length limitations) in the hope he sees it.
    Just wondering – do you think there was anything you could have done to make your promotion more self-defeating? was up at 4 AM, California time and finally succeeded in getting the products I wanted to buy into my cart by 7:00. rom 8:00 until 10:00 I sat in front of my browser refreshing windows in an attempt to complete the order, but mostly what I got was time-out errors. wice I actually got to the screen to specify my shipping method, but clicking send sent the browser into never-never land, from which that session never returned.
    Congratulations. You spent $100,000 to:
    a) Prove to the world that you have no idea how to build an e-commerce site that can be scaled to meet demand, and
    b) Pissed off a huge number of customers, a large number of which (like me) will go out of their way to avoid ever buying anything again from Sparkfun.

    • DougL,
      As a commenter you’ve proven to the world that
      1) You have no idea how an e-commerce site works.
      2) No idea the cost involved in scaling to meet demand for one small moment of a site’s entire existence.
      3) You aren’t owed a $100 discount on the $170 order like you said. But what you didn’t do was actually bother to read anything about freeday and then have the balls to complain that you were ignorant on how it worked. That is not honesty.
      You represented this all along as a first-commenter who understood how freeday worked but had obviously never bothered to read any of SparkFun’s postings on how it would work.
      Shame on you.

  • To the haters and Sparkfun crew. While I didn’t manage to squeeze into one of those coveted first 1000 spots (not from lack of effort), I commend Sparkfun for giving us the opportunity, and as a result plan to complete my order anyway (although I’ll wait a couple weeks to let them catch up).
    I am not a returning customer, and in fact I had never even heard of Sparkfun prior to this event. However I intend to be a returning customer going forward, as a result of their obvious appreciation of their customers, and enthusiasm for what they do.
    To those complaining about the folks grabbing up free stuff only to hawk it on eBay…welcome to the world around you…you don’t like it, change it! Also, if you’ve never run an e-commerce site, trying to predict load when it can range from 1 to 1 billion potential customers….I suggest you give it a try before you cast stones.
    Congrats to those who made it through yesterday, and thank you Sparkfun for living up to your name!

    • I think what people are, IMHO rightfully, complain about is that they in fact didn’t get the opportunity.
      It is one thing to play the lottery and lose, it is a completely different thing not even get close to the lottery counter, because it was only open for a selected few ones.

      • They did get the opportunity….as did I, and I was equally frustrated that I was only to get a page or so thru the ordering process. It was NO different than the lottery…it was a crapshoot…a thousand people won, the rest of us didn’t. Thank them for the chance at some free merch and move on!

  • If you’re planning and relying on a lottery’s chance.. you’re not PLANNING you’re HOPING.
    Broke college student? I hear you. Trust me, I hear you, and I know it hurts. But if you can’t find a way to save $100 or earn it or just get donations from people, to save your thesis project doctorate whatever.. you might want to reconsider your situation in life and what your priorities really are. And yes, there are “genuinely unable to make any extra room in their pockets” people, but I doubt those people are the ones going “woe is me, FML”.
    Is it a slap in the face of die-hard SF'ers? It can be seen as such. Was it a way to get a helluvamount of site traffic and promotion? Yup. Are people going to resell some stuff who aren’t SF'ers or even tinkerers? Yup.. and that happens all through life.
    (cont)

  • Total came to about $112 I think.
    Well from the second Free day started until it ended, I was able to see the site a total of 4 times. Two of those times I was trying to get the checkout process started, and after a long wait and several refreshes, it just pushed me back to the main website and logged me out. This isn’t counting the timeouts or denials. Two other times it was just trying to finish loading the HTML but never completed.
    I tried using 4 different networks, two of them right from a console on fiber backbones, but never saw more than a few lines of HTML. I knew the servers were the bottlenecks themselves, just hoped the fiber would aid in some small way haha.
    Am I mad? Nope, I had a great time trying. I wasn’t out anything, and to be honest none of us were, even the people I’ve seen who said “I based my whole college thesis project on these parts” or “I planned months on a project and needed these parts now FML”. I’m sorry, that’s a bunch of crap. (cont)

  • I read a bunch of comments on here, hating SF, loving SF, and everything in between. Let me first say, I’ve never been a prior customer of SF. However, I have always checked the website and looked at all the great things I wanted to buy to further a project, start a project or learn something new. I don’t believe in registering for a commerce site unless I’m going to buy something, which is why I didn’t have an account until the day before Free Day.
    Always wanted to get an Arduino to help me on some of my “I wish I could do this” projects, and to prototype with. In fact, I want to build a homebrew underwater ROV just for the heck of it since I live near some bodies of water, and wanted the brains of it to be an Arduino Mega.
    I heard about Free day a month back, and kept waiting eagerly. Created an account for the first time the other night, put a couple things in my shopping cart (Arduino Mega, some RGB led’s I needed, and an Arduino Duemilanove. (continued)

  • The sad part is that I was hitting refresh on the wrong page! So close, either way I am now part of the large number of people who are considering just buying their cart of stuff anyway. Sparkfun rocks!

  • Pre-Free Day: Wow thanks SF, you are awesome!!!
    Post-Free Day: man, you !@#$%# SOB SF
    ??? —Sometimes you just can’t win…
    I got something from this free day, a broken F5 key…
    China, ¼ of the world’s population, and not a single item was won by someone in China. That’s an interesting stat.
    I enjoyed Free Day, except for those moments when I realized I didn’t get any goodies… awww.. just had one of those moments…
    What was I writing about again?

  • Unfortunately I wasn’t one of these lucky 1,035 users even I had everything prepared just for checkout. I could refresh first page three times seeing how fund decreased but checkout page gave me only timeouts.
    The whole game based only on pure luck like a lottery and as it took one and quarter hour I think everyone had possibility which is good. If this server had been ultra fast and served every visitor and fund had ended in fist five-ten seconds then it couldn’t been so fair at all.
    But still I placed my order (a little bit more than $100) one hour later when server worked like a charm again!
    Thank you for this chance! :-)

  • What a cool promotional event! I’m sad that despite near militaristic organization on my part, my strongest efforts were insufficient to get my order placed. But it’s no matter, it was a fun little game to play. Thankfully of me and my two buddies, one got his order in! lol.
    Thanks for the fun scramble SF!

  • I was another one of those who had a full cart last night and was ready to hit the button at 9:00. My wife and I refreshed on multiple machines for the duration of the giveaway. We didn’t get anything. IT WAS AWESOME!
    We got to see one of our favorite sites get tons of attention. We experienced the thrill of getting a page farther into checkout, the disappointment of server timeouts. Anyone who thought this was going to turn out differently was fooling himself/herself. Faster servers would have made the two hours of random people getting through into two minutes of random people getting through. Either way, you get exactly what was advertised - a chance.
    Way to go SparkFun! I’m a frustrated customer who now has a cart with $100 of stuff I’ll be buying some day. I’m glad that things went the way they did.
    Loyal SparkFun customers unite!

  • Customer3145: NOW YOU CENSOR THE FORUMS??!! by deleting a post i made about freeday, that’s pathetic.
    Were you the guy posting ASCII penises (penii?) on the forums? Yeah, those got deleted. :) The tone of this message suggests why you might have had a post or two deleted, too.
    Seriously, it’s their forum, and thus, their rules. But the Internet is big, and opportunities for you to speak are everywhere. Start a blog, or perhaps twitter your discontent over not getting your freebies. :)

    • no that was not it at all, i simply pointed out that they didn’t give back to the customers that made it a “stellar year” for them, But i guess their censorship worked, you cant see what I posted and think it was an ascii peen, Goodjob Spark you’ve pulled the wool over a lot of heads!

      • Well if you really want to bring things down the the level of “ascii peen’s” then I’ll be happy to oblidge… maybe they wouldn’t have deleted it if you had made it pointing directly into the mouth of an ascii picture of yourself!

  • I wish people would understand that it was a grand thing for a company like sparkfun to do this and I want to say thank you so very much…

  • After reading all the comments I would agree with one thread I saw several times: The original concept of “free day” was to give back. that would mean existing customers by my way of thinking. Opening it up to everyone created pandemonium. If you ever do this again I have a suggestion: create 1000 random numbers, perhaps 6 digit numbers. Give your existing customer base 30 days to submit a single 6 digit guess. In 30 days, announce the winners (the 1000 closest guesses). Completely fair, no server overload.

    • thats all i have been trying to say on the forum, But they keep censoring me and deleting my posts! to me it looks even worse if you cant just respond but have to delete! and try and hide how people feel??
      thats not right, I thought so much more of SparkFun before today.

    • See thats the problem: “by my way of thinking”. It wasn’t your way of thinking; it was Sparkfun’s. There are other people in the community than just you.
      This was just as fair. Sorry it didnt live up to your preconceived notions.

      • Yeah, the people that gave SparkFun that $100,000 to begin with, WOW you got one thing right.

        • See again it’s your opinion. They’re talking about “the whole DIY electronics community”. They never said it would be previous customers only, because then it wouldn’t have been a Free Day. It would have been a Free (To a Select Group) Day.

          • Technically it would have still been a “Free Day”. Free (to a certain group) Day would still fall under the umbrella of a “Free Day”. Free refers to the cost of the order, not eligibility. It didn’t necessarily have to be free to everyone.

          • To Chankster: Here is a quote from the Sparkfun page: “First and foremost, we want to give back. We’ve had a stellar year in 2009, and it’s all because of you. So please, have a beer (or a Stepper Motor Driver) on us."
            Did we accomplish this? We think so. This was Free Day’s primary goal because our customers are the biggest part of what makes SparkFun work."
            So you see, Chankster, it’s not just my opinion, it’s what Sparkfun SAID. When they opened it up to everyone they created pandemonium and didn’t really thank their customers. Other folks on here also made suggestions. If SF does this again I hope they come up with a better method next time!

            • Did you also happen to read this part?
              “Did we accomplish this? We think so. This was Free Day’s primary goal because our customers are the biggest part of what makes SparkFun work. Their innovation and creativity makes this "world” turn. In our opinion, the beauty of DIY electronics is its openness - this type of technology should be available to everyone to play around with. We thought limiting the promotion to just our prior customers would really be going against this notion. So we opened it up - to everyone. This left some people feeling jilted and some people ecstatic - but overall, we think this was a good thing not just for the people who got their order through, but for the whole DIY electronics community. "

        • Well no… they didn’t GIVE SparkFun $100,000. They purchased products… BIG difference.

  • I don’t know what was “exciting”, “entertaining”, “incredible”, “fun”, etc., about 2 hours of browser time-outs. IMO it was annoying at best. While the promotion seemed like a good idea on paper a month ago, the actual “sale” left a bad taste in my mouth which is now going to result in lost sales for you.
    I’ve purchased from Sparkfun before, but the general annoyance I feel after this is going to keep me away. The things I wanted today but couldn’t buy will be purchased from some of my other favorite vendors.
    To make it worse, all the self-praise the Sparkfun has cranked out for itself in the above text is just obnoxious considering that nothing worked today, except for about 1000 people. I haven’t seen such out-of-touch self promotion since the MS Windows Vista launch a few years ago.

    • Except for 1000 people?!? What did you expect everyone to just order an LED?
      1000 People * $100 = $100,000

  • Nicely done, Sparkfun! One heck of a promotion!
    I’m a bit bummed, I could have used those components for my ham radio projects, but that’s the way it goes. I’ll just have to save my pennies for another day.
    I’ll be back… :)

  • zach kurth: I think the servers were massive failures to this thing,
    i sat on the cart page and i clicked the checkout button a couple of times, order never went through, i will be uploading some videos to youtube very soon about what happened on my end of the line, and for those who got it to work, here is what actually happened to the less lucky,.
    the youtube channel is
    led235
    i will have the videos on before the nights end.
    feel free to comment as well,
    but hey, sparkfun did have success, so oh well

    VIDEO OF A FAILED ATTEMPT IS ON YOUTUBE!!!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs0-2fpL2n4

  • I want everyone to know how much Free Day meant to me, and I hope it meant the same to others.
    This was an incredibly fun/frustrating event. If it had just been some random coupon for 75% off, free shipping, or basically anything other than what they did, Free Day would have been another generic promotion.
    Sure some 100,000+ people didn’t get anything, simple math told all of us that $100 out of $100,000 is only going to be about 1,000 orders. And in fact they were cool enough to let orders roll over that limit.
    As my favorite twitter post of the day said:
    “synthemesc: i wonder if anyone would have liked it more (or complained less) if @sparkfun free day took 25 seconds instead.”

    • I mean it would have been a blink of the eye. And really all that anticipation would be gone… Imagine if you bought lottery tickets and all it did was print out a slip that said “you lost” for 99% of people.
      My personal journey was much more fun, I woke up 3 hours early this morning to start my day, drink coffee, wake up, so I could be ready. I rode my bike to work at 7:15 in the morning so I could make sure I was all set up. And then I joined the reloading maddness both on sparkfun.com
      And Twitter was more fun and useful than it had ever been before, it was incredible to watch as everyone shared their collective experiences/heartache at making it though the checkout pages. We were all going though the same thing, without being trampled in the entryway to a Wal-Mart or standing in the freezing cold.

      • And you know what, if people sell it on EBAY who cares? The people who buy it on EBAY have projects they want to do, and will get it cheaper than if they had bought from the site. So in the end more people making things, and that was the whole point.
        SPARKFUN you made my day! And while I am not going to buy my $100 bucks of stuff today, you did give me a few hours, a few days, and a few weeks of imaging all the cool things I would do with that $100 of geeky fun.
        Congrats on “Free Day” it was a success.
        Glen McKnight

  • I did have my cart loaded up and logged in, but couldn’t get through. sad for me. Thanks though SF.
    You know, I had been carefully choosing the items in my cart for a couple of weeks. Things I hadn’t bought before, because I didn’t flat out need them. But this allowed me to find some things that I might want, like a ClocKit and MetroGnome to build with the kids, hey that might be fun to get them into electronics. And now I’m sad I didn’t get what I’ve worked myself into needing. So I might go ahead and order them in the future, because now I need them…..
    Good free scheme I think, to cause customers to translate wants into needs, if they don’t get it for free.

  • Damn, I really wanted that power supply. Im certainly pissed I spent 45 minutes pressing F5 to no avail, and was late to work as a result. I am not pissed at Sparkfun though, more like the internets gods.
    Thank you for giving us a chance. Thank you for having a great site for electronics hobbyists.
    I have bought from you in the past and will continue to buy from you in the future, but you’ll have to wait till after tax season to get my monies.
    While I can recognize the great publicity generated from this event, maybe next time just do a sale or something… Thats how I was planning on treating it. 30%-50% off and spread over a week would be awesome.
    /$0.02

  • First of all, great job SparkFun for thinking of this idea! The only company I know that had a great year, and so decided to give back. Plus a great PR move, and especially clever so that people know the difference between Sparkfun and Sparc;)
    Reading these posts, it seems that what bothers many folks is not knowing why some got orders through, and others not (mine did not): the rate of orders increased very quickly near the end, so something was working better and better, but there was no feedback on IRC as to what was going on. For example, the page said “hitting F5 won’t help”, but some posts make it seem like it would have. I had exactly one page load in the two hours, despite starting with a full cart, all info, etc., and was frustrated not at the fact that my order didn’t go through, but that I didn’t know why it was working for others.
    Again, nice job, especially in preparation, and way to pull things together to even get through it!

  • NXTreme NXTreme: _ And if you lost 2 hours in which you could have made another $100 well, sorry:)_
    This comment pisses me off just as much as the other people. Some of us are full time students and don’t have the time nor the money to buy nice things. Nor do we have the $100/hr wage that you high and mighty people have.

    • You’re kinda missing the point with the comment.
      People were complaining that their time was so valuable and the time they wasted in front of the computer hitting refresh could have been spent elsewhere.
      The OP was making the point that if their time was so insanely valuable, they could have afforded to miss out and made a purchase at a different time. Additionally, the time they spent refreshing the site is nothing compared to the money they would be making off of their valuable time later, and a little time lost isn’t a humongous deal.
      The OP was not implying that everyone makes tons of money, I certainly don’t, but I still spent 2 hours this morning hitting refresh and hoping. Not expecting. It was fun.

    • I’m a pretty much full time student too. I also can’t really make any money at odd-jobs and such because I live in a country where there is no way I can get a job. I sympathize with those who don’t have a way of making money, I can’t even mow lawns because there is no grass where I live:) I can’t even shovel snow, to warm. I’ve pretty much had to survive on allowance and loving Grandma’s!

  • 111: Free day went exactly as expected and exactly as advertised. It is unfortunate that some people had higher expectations that were dashed. /2?
    Speaking like a guy who got the deal. Where exactly is advertised as 2 hours of torture. May not be fun for the winners to watch but I would say most would expect it to either be lucky or not in a relativly painless way.

  • U guys kick-arse! BTW, are you hiring? I’ll move to Boulder, and work for cheap. I am a damn good programmer… I can lift heavy objects … I can even balance things on my nose! I don’t need a desk, I can just sit on the floor. If you don’t need another programmer; I could just wander around the office & entertain people while they work. Let me know if you’re interested, I’ll forward my resume & pictures of balancing things on my nose.
    FYI for next year, maybe you should just give away free Arduino’s, or Mega’s. That way you could get more people in on Freeday & you would get a boost in additional sales on the sensors & accessories. Sort of like how printers are given away to generate cartridge sales. I bet the profit from the resulting sales would offset a big chunk of the promotion cost. Possibly enough that it would be feasible to have two or three Freedays every year!!!
    Think about it… microprocessors are like drugs for nerds; Once they get a taste, they only want more & more!

  • NXTreme: _ And if you lost 2 hours in which you could have made another $100 well, sorry:) _
    If you’re making $50/hr and you want to spend 2 hours to get $100 of SparkFun merchandise, that would have been pretty easy to do last week.

  • I won’t say whether I “won” or not, all I’ll say is that I’m extremely dissapointed, not with SparkFun but with all those people who are crying because they didn’t “win”. I started this thinking “I don’t care whether I get some free stuff or not. I know I will learn something anyways and, as they say, knowledge is power”. It was FREE, come on! It’s like the lottery only you don’t have to pay to get a shot at winning something! You didn’t lose anything aside from, at most, 2 hours of time. And if you lost 2 hours in which you could have made another $100 well, sorry:) There is no lack of ways to make $$. Go clean out your attic/basement, your sure to find plenty of junk that you could sell on eBay. I do sympathize with those who didn’t get part of the cake; It’s not fun to wait with all the stuff you ever wanted sitting in your shopping cart just to fail on getting your order in. But, you where warned. Please, SF did this for YOU and for everyone else around here. The only problem is that there where too many “everyone else’s” around here. One more thing. If you bought stuff just to sell it on eBay, SHAME!!!

  • Thank you so much for doing this. I tried to get in this morning to get some parts for my robot for the AVC but my browser kept timing out. I figured I would try today, and since I didn’t get in It means I will have to wait a few paychecks to get the sensors. Oh well it was fun.
    Thank You again
    Brian

    • I am also glad to hear Free Day has interested some people and gotten them started in electrical stuff and micro controllers. I would consider that a success.

      • Well, I’m one of those people. Thanks SparkFun! I never would have started on microcontrollers if you hadn’t come along!

  • I hope everyone posts links to their projects once they get started, community is what this is all about after all.

  • octanetripledax: _ I would have been totally happy, though, if instead of wasting thousands of dollars on new servers, you just rented some space on the Amazon Cloud. _
    I would have still loaded my cart last night, had my account ready by virtue of the fact that I already have an account, and I still would have checked out the second my time-server-synced clock clicked over past 11:00 A.M. EST. So would tens of thousands of other people.
    I really don’t understand the desire to vastly increase the rate at which a finite inventory amount is given away to a tiny fraction of the people who want it.
    Yes, it would have saved you some time. So would noticing the buzz to likely winners ratio and just not bothering to try :-)

  • This was a stupid computer trick. We were all lined up outside the website, like at Wal-Mart at 5:00 am in the morning for a limited number of door busters.
    Well, no surprise when the doors opened it was a total virtual chaos. It was just the blind luck of the internet draw to determined who got in. It certainly wasn’t those who showed up at the start time. The home page loaded exactly twice in 45 minutes and I never got to the shopping cart.
    What started out as a reward to the loyal customers, turned into a lottery with most people holding a losing ticket. It sure doesn’t make me want to click the buy button after I can get into the website (only after the free stuff was gone) from my shopping cart.
    Next time, offer something like 50% off up to a total of $200 for the whole day. This scales much better. This how everybody else does promotions.

  • In the last few days, I read the site and comments on other websites about Free Day and I almost elected not to participate because it seemed like it was nearly certain that the servers would crash.
    Right here on Sparkfun, they said “there will be timeouts.” But I loaded a BlueSMIRF Gold and some USB BT dongles into my cart to the tune of $98 and hit “Checkout” at 11:00:03 EST, and refresh x 200. I was sitting at my computer anyway, working on something else. Didn’t cost me more than a few minutes of actual activity to try.
    If Sparkfun had installed infinite server capacity, a thousand people with pre-loaded carts (like mine) would have had their orders placed within the average time it takes a human to quickly complete the order process… what, two or three minutes?
    Free Day would have been Free Three Minutes.
    And all that extra capacity installed just to support Free Day would never be used again. I think the folks who didn’t know that sparkfun.com was going to slow to a crawl today just weren’t paying enough attention.
    If you don’t like butting heads with people who want free stuff, don’t do it. We all know how it goes, always and forever. I almost never choose to participate because it always goes off like this.

  • I got through, so my opinion probably doesn’t count, but I personally can’t believe the whinging.
    Given the geek nature of the site, I was expecting to face scripted snipers purchasing all the free within a few minutes. I was surprised to get through at all, even having prepared in advance.
    How many of you complaining would have spent $100 if it wasn’t free? Go buy a lottery ticket and complain to them when you don’t win.

  • I had a notion my tiny order would be overwhelmed by traffic. Also my guess of 10:39 AM was pretty good.
    Before I embark on a little constructive criticism (of which I am sure you heard enough by now) comes the more important praise: GREAT IDEA! Thank you guys! My order didn’t make it but non the less I had the same chance as the others. THANK YUO SPARKFUN!
    Now don’t let the following remarks get to you. You still did more then most other companies but I have to say:
    1.) Advertisement is good but real charity does without publicity
    2.) Organisation was poor. Why not make it a whole freeday, throw every order of that day in a lottery and give people who don’t win the chance to take their order back. Maybe in advance by a checkbox or something.
    3.) Sell stuff for PBC fabrication ;-)
    Still greatfull you did it. Yeah, Sparkfun!

    • They were pretty open about it not being charity. Look at the original post, where Nate says he was inspired by Chris Anderson’s book Free. Which, if you bother to click the link, you’ll see is a book about how to make money from giving things away. Another good example of SparkFun being honest about the fact they’re here to sell you things - if you couldn’t work that out for yourself.

  • I wonder how many people got to the checkout entered their credit cards, checked out 50 times trying to get it to go through, charging their card in the process and the order never making it to Sparkfun because the server wouldnt complete it. OOOHH thats gonna hurt SparkFun if this happened and they get a bunch of chargebacks.

  • This was the perfect opportunity for me. I have zero experience with electronics but after seeing what people can do I thought I would give it a shot. I first saw that Sparkfun was having a free day in November and was able to read a few books about Arduino before the day came. So with an Arduino starter kit, a few tools, some sensors and a T-shirt coming my way I should be ready to start fiddling around. Plus with it being basically free at this point my wife is okay with me starting a new hobby. Because of this opportunity Sparkfun will always have my business. Thanks

    • Same here. :-) Been looking for a reason to get into Arduino, and now there’s a free Lilypad and Bluetooth Mate on their way over here..

  • This may be a sad statement, but this may have been the most fun on the internet I have ever had. Never thought that clicking refresh over and over could be more exciting than some of my favorite games. As for what I got (bluetooth dip module, blackberry trackball breakout and keypad) we’ll see if i can build a bluetooth keypad/mouse, and when thats done, the real fun will begin, with a steam punk digitizer and keyboard.

  • Happy Free Day, guys!
    Disappointing to those who didn’t get stuff and probably deserve it, but; such is life, I guess. :(

  • Sad I wasn’t able to participate in the fun, but oh well. Hope everyone who got an order through puts their goodies to good use!
    Congrats to SparkFun, Happy Anniversary, and thanks for the awesome day!
    P.S. The guesses graph link has an extra http in it.

  • I think I just realized what was going on here. This was all an attack on Sparc for their attempt at taking taking SparkFun’s name from them. Think about it, now that they achieved the levels they did today on the internet, Sparc will never get another hit from any search engine when the word Sparc is searched for. It will now show nothing but SparkFun.
    Nice move I guess!!!

  • I didn’t get my order in but I sure had fun trying. Well done!!

  • I assure you that there are other methods of randomly distributing 1000 $100 vouchers among 35,000 participants that would not entail the refocusing of so much valuable mental productivity away from other important economic activities. It is unworthy of Sparkfun.com to create a condition of net wasted X man-years among the 97% of those who got no benefit from their participation in the stress test of your servers. I implore Sparkfun.com to be environmentally and socially more responsible with the next giveaway event.
    May I also point out that there is very low number (my S.W.A.G. is 1%) among those who benefited from the vouchers who will even have the desire to document and share their projects. It seems to me that the way to get more projects shared would be to reward those who submit complete documentation that is usable by others, IMHO. 73

  • i would like to thank my mom and my sister for spending close to 2 hours on Sparkfun trying to get me stuff while i was at school. They were taking shifts so they could eat and take restroom brakes. After not being able to get on after 45 min or so my mom started calling the neighbors to see if they could get on. What a great mom! Unfortunatly I wasn’t able to get any free stuff from Sparkfun on freeday. But that’s okay because i enjoy spending my allowence at sparkfun.

  • Lucky customer from Texas here. It took me about 45 minutes to get thru, with about 200 reloads per page. (Well, maybe not 200, but certainly a lot.) I have co-workers who were also trying to get thru, some of them did, some gave up early. None of us were expecting to be able to get thru at all, so I was pleasantly surprised.
    I am NOT surprised at the negative comments here, mostly from the young folks who think they are somehow more deserving than the other 168,097 people who tried and could not make it. I know too many younglings who think the world revolves around them, and that everything should be handed to them on a silver platter (or in a free red box.) Perhaps they will someday learn to accept things with dignity and grace.
    Thanks Sparkfun! Keep up the great work!

  • It was good, guys, but of course disappointing that I didn’t get my order through. I’ve placed a few small orders to SparkFun before, and will continue to! You guys are still one of the best DIY sites on the web because of how much you really care about the community by sharing so much knowledge with us. So, thanks for that.
    I’m really sorry to hear that some people decided to misuse free day and try to profit off of it… it’s sad that a lot of the stuff didn’t make it into the hands of people who could really use it imaginatively. Oh, well… guess we can’t do much about that! Maybe some of those people will get the parts and actually decide that they’re cool enough to play with!

  • Loved the idea, but hated how widely distributed this was, it could’ve been a little more secretive. Its bad enough that websites (Hackaday) had it, but even the computer science forum at my university (carleton university) had a topic on this. Great for publicity for Sparkfun, but bad for starving students like me. I tried for at least an hour to even get on to Sparkfun and I could not even get the page to load. Great idea, a little sad i could not even try to get anything :(

  • Sparkfun staff,
    I am so thankful that you had a free day, I got the intermediate tool kit which I needed for school (and for my own projects) And I got the clockit for fun. But my teacher said we need to get our own soldering and debugging tools, and after paying for school I have so little left. I can not afford to get any food more expensive that Ramen noodles, or hot dogs made from who knows what. But this sale made it possible for me to get the supplies I needed for my education.
    So from now on when ever I need a part, I would normally get it from a different website (Hint it starts with ’D') but from now on I will buy my parts from you, because I am so thankful for your generosity and your way of thinking.
    As a gift for your free day generosity, I give you a lifetime patron to your website. And I am advertising everywhere I can for sparkfun.com now (on gmail and facebook status).
    I hope that free day will happen again in the future…
    Thank you,
    masselir

  • Merci beaucoup guys, I was among the lucky 16 from France ^^ !
    Best wishes for the new year

  • While I think Freeday could have been planned for a little bit better, it at least gave me something to do in my Materials class (also known as kill my F5 key). I didn’t get anything, but i guess it all just boils down to luck.
    One thing I definitely agree on though is that I think next time it should just be a random day with maybe a 1 day announcement. A friend of mine, who has no electronic experience, found out about it on fatwallet and at that point I knew there as very little chance of getting anything.
    Overall though, Good job on the freeday Sparkfun, it is nice to see companies give back to the community.

  • I was disapointed, tried for 2 hours to log in. The main page at about 1-½ was still reporting $30,000 out the door.

  • You guys probably did a nice job getting your servers ready but you failed miserably in your choice of ISP. I tried all day, finally got through once and the minute I went to place an item in my checkout basket, poof, connection reset.
    If you ever do this again I think you might want to go with someone other than Rockynet.

  • Nice recap, just how I like them (full of graphs and pictures)
    Free day was fun, even though i didn’t try to get one of those free giveaways (i didn’t even visit your site during the chaos). Just thinking of the mayhem you will cause was enough for me ;)
    thanks.

  • …so only one person in Greece got in. I could have been the second one. Oh well. I knew I could never make it through all of that traffic. I hope that some of the free stuff went to people who actually needed it, because I know I didn’t. Kudos Sparkfun for making these people happy!

  • This day was so cool, I really couldn’t afford the parts for my arduinome but free day helped me do it! Can’t wait to put it all together. I will be making a build log on my blog with photos and everything, so excited1 Sparkfun I love you :)

  • Damn this sucked for me, had the cart prepared and logged in beforehand and was ready for the second it started. Got at the way up to checkout, but just kept timing out until it finally loaded the page that said the giveaway was over.
    Pure luck on your connection I guess because I was there from start to finish refreshing constantly trying to place my order for the first time on this site.
    I remember there would be an occasional page that would refresh and show it halfway or updating. One refresh brought up the site as an all text no pics so that was one good idea they implemented in the mayhem.
    Anyway, in the meantime, Futurelec, a very good company that is well known and reliable with cheap prices on popular components should be on everyones list as a main electronic supplier during this slow period.

  • Free Day was definitely a frustrating ordeal, but I was able to get some much-needed sensors for the project that I’m working on. I’d only ordered from SparkFun once before, but the simple fact that y'all would attempt something like this has made me a customer for life. Thank you so much for the new toys!
    Mike

  • Thank you Sparkfun!
    I didn’t get anything from France, even hitting F5 for at least 2 hours (even when increasing FF timeouts)!
    I really think that geography on the network was the key.
    Don’t bother too much about complaints: only the people who didn’t make it will complain, you will never hear about the others!
    Netx time, you will have to think of a better way to reward your customers

  • Annoyed I didnt get through, and that some people are re-selling the bits. Hopefully some of them are poor students and will use the money they make to buy much needed books/beer.
    But then my project is just something I fancy doing, not something I need to do. Waiting for the Free Day did give me the chance to refine my choices, so maybe I will wait till the next one and by then I will have the ideal list

  • I can’t believe I got through - thank you guys!
    My two PicAxe chips + DS18B20 temperature sensors are going into automating the air vents in our house, hopefully saving hundreds every month in energy costs.
    The LCD screen will go on the controller board for my homemade aeroponics tank, which is already producing tomatoes and helping to clean the planet’s air.
    The hall effect sensors will be used to replace the reed-switch design in a keyboard I made to withstand the heavy wear and tear of producing Braille material for the blind.
    The Arduino USB board will be used to program Atmega 168 chips, which I will use to turn a set of broken toys into a programmable robot lab for a local elementary school.
    I know you’re getting a lot of flak here, but I want you all to know that these parts will be used well to help children learn, the disabled read, and make a significant dent in one household’s carbon footprint.

  • It’s nice to see this picture with a lot of young people smiling. Makes me remember myself back in school 14 years ago… :)
    Hey, who cares who won and who didn’t and who wants to resell it… I had to be far for my monitor most of the FreeDay time and later I couldn’t make through, so I won nothing, but it was a lot of adrenalin and a lot of fun, and Sparkfun is awesome!
    Good luck to all of you guys, doing great job!

  • Talk about frustrating, I had my order planned down to the last component. I didn’t have anything major, a couple of experimental parts and a couple of necessities. Right when the counter hit 00:00:00, I tried to check out and didn’t see SF again until around 11:00.
    Was I pssed? Heck yeah, it sucks to not get anything - when so many others are. Especially when there is an element that is buying $100.00 worth of products to resell.
    Am I gonna blacklist SFE? H
    LL NO! Because, even though I personally didn’t get anything for free - there are plenty of others (that will actually use the parts) that are gonna get their first chance to make something that they couldn’t afford before.
    Despite the fact that I had my order planned for about a a week prior to Free Day - and ended up buying the necessities at regular price, I have to commend SF for giving back!
    Don’t be mad at SF, be mad at the freeloaders and opportunists that clogged the pipes to make a buck off of SF’s generosity!

  • I have to admit, even tho I didn’t get my order in I still had fun. I would like to thank Sparkfun for doing this too, not alot of companys give away 100,000 for free.

  • I didn’t get my order in but this was definitely a lot of fun. Just the expectation you’ve created was great. Congratulations Sparkfun! You’ll have a great 2010 also!

  • Didn’t get in, but I did try for two hours.
    Had a fair amount of fun, and actually learned a bit more about the internet.
    As a broke college student, a gadgeteer, and amateur hack-n-basher, I wanted to say thanks to you folks. I’ve been reading message boards all day, and I really hope you listen to the praise, and discount the people who are hating on you right now. I wish I could have gotten some free loot, but I really appreciate the innovative way you gave it out (sorry, but this DDoS lottery was kind of a neat phenomenon to be a part of).
    Stock your shelves back up, when the student loans start coming in, I need to get some parts. Thank you.
    PS: If it ever comes down to it, I’d be happy to review organizations requests for tech assistance. It would be a great project to help me learn more about this great hobby/educational tool.

  • I understand that this giveaway was more aimed at the business end - get people interested in the site and such.
    However, I think the best thing to do would, of course after you guys make it back into some black numbers, make a new, similar promotion (perhaps at not so large a scale), limited to those of us stuck in high school or college.
    Timeouts have gained a whole new terrible meaning because of today ;)

  • “Cognitive dissonance” sums up my Free-day experience. I love the concept, I praise the philanthropic gesture, but 2 hours worth of refresh frustration just left me feeling aggravated. And truth be told, I can afford to pay for my own proto-goodies. So, Free-day and I had a love-hate relationship, but now it’s over… I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

  • I didn’t get past payment confirmation - not a big deal, I expected total madness.
    My advice for the future event: offer a deep discount (50% to 75% on everything), but not freebies. It will keep away random people who will resell their freebies on eBay.

  • A washed up company trying extort money from the new kid on the block.
    The most retarted lawyer move -eva.

  • Just to throw in my 2c…
    For me, it was a waste of time. It was also fun. I did spend several hours patiently waiting for a cart to move and hitting refresh, but that time wasn’t taken away from anything critical.
    I didn’t get my stuff, but I will probably make a purchase of around $60 next time I feel like spending money. I honestly didn’t realize all the cool stuff on this site. I’ve never purchased from here before, but I’ve worked with teams who’ve purchased parts from here, and have been considering a purchase for some time. So in my case, the marketing/advertising aspect is a success.
    Yes there’s some people who buy just to re-sell stuff, or who may buy stuff they’re going to end up not using. But I think that on the whole, most people who got stuff are the intended recipients- new customers trying to start projects or previous customers getting a thank-you gift.
    Thanks for the effort SparkFun!

  • So, can we expect to see the Sparkfun servers featured for sale in the “Dings and Dents” category soon?
    Even though my order didn’t go through, I think this was an amazing offer. You guys should consider hosting your site or parts of it in the cloud (Amazon EC2, images in S3, comments in simpledb, use CloudFront to host content closer to the users, etc.)
    Let’s do it again next year!

  • Like most here, I am annoyed I didn’t get anything, especially as I have bought things before but really we can’t complain too much, none of us lost out (with the exception of an hour and a half of refreshing) but as people have said, if you choose to do this again, make it for those who have ordered before and make it a massive discount rather than a free $100, therefore it’s more about people who want to use this stuff, not sell it on. (Oh I was gutted that the confirm page finally loaded at 1h 47m sigh)
    That said, I now only have one choice, I’ll just buy the $100 cart I intended to get for free :D

  • I liked the concept, but there was one big problem. There were too many people who don’t appreciate do-it-yourself electronics. It’s not that I didn’t “win”, not that I wasted hours of my life building the perfect cart and F5'ing, just that people that don’t deserve the opportunity beat me.
    You need to make the products worthless for reselling. For example, engrave something on them. It could be the buyer’s SparkFun account name, their password, or their billing address. Maybe cause some cosmetic damage to the parts. Regardless, people who want to make projects shouldn’t care.
    What do you guys think? I would love to see it happen again without all the people that don’t know even know what solder is.
    I was hoping to get stuff that I’ll never pay for. Some things would just be cool to play with, but I can’t justify the cost. I’m ordering a bunch of components anyway, from whatever the cheapest reliable seller is. The GPS module won’t be on the list though.
    Thanks guys, the atmosphere really was fun (especially the day before Free Day, hehe).

    • That would be really cool. I’d be showing off my cool cellular gizmo, then I’d pop it open, and be like, “See that? That’s my username etched into the board.”

  • Firstly, thank you for free day.
    Secondly, please don’t use gray text on a white background. How can you be so nice as to give hardware away, but then so mean on my eyes?

  • NStoney: Think about it… microprocessors are like drugs for nerds; Once they get a taste, they only want more & more!
    So says my PIC development board. And my homebuilt 4000+ point breadboard with ATMega328s all over it. And the AVRICE mark-two on my desk. And the copies of MikroPascal, WinAVR, AVR Studio, etc. etc. etc. on my computer.
    uCs are geek crack. Stay away, lest ye be hooked!

  • congrats to this promotion. tho i didn’t get any order through, i wasn’t really surprised. i had no expectations. it was fun to watch the icr channel explode, the twitter search going nuts and you climbing the google trends.
    i think most of all you have proven that the “Free” concept works. You might have given away 100K USD wort of stuff. but in return you got so much exposure and brand recognition worth millions of dollars in advertising. This will be a textbook example of good internet viral marketing.
    I guess 2010 will be a massive year for you. you have just became (internet) world reknown. congratulations.
    also nice to see many first time arduino and electronics user.

  • Hey I can log in now! Well I was one of the 1 million or so who couldn’t earlier but that’s ok. The whole thing was fun. Way to go Sparkfun! Keep up the good work and maybe you’ll do it again someday. I’ll be here if you do. Now to deal with my cart that’s still waiting. Hum…

  • just wanted to say thanks for the free day! as a first time customer i def will be ordering more from sparkfun in the future :D i ended w/things that i actually wanted and was planning on buying a mth or 2 down the road and for that i will always give sparkfun my future orders when price differences are negligible.

  • 2?
    - people reselling on e-bay are sociopaths.
    - free day would have been over in seconds if servers had been infinitely fast: expect to lose either way.
    - brilliant advertising
    - Will you guys make enough money in the next week to cover free day, by virtue of people who didn’t get the discount placing smaller orders ?
    - Sounds like you should see if you can fund a small sponsoring program for poor college students ( submit schematics, cartoons, get X dollars in Free ? )
    - got in at the end (10:44). I was watching the little progress bar advance the whole time wholly expecting disaster. I will now be able to make a prototype for a new do-it-yourself. I usually dumpster parts, and I am grateful for this (less bleeding and snow involved, (besides, where am I going to get a boost converter in the trash (though I did find a nice little MIDI board the other day))?).
    - Free day went exactly as expected and exactly as advertised. It is unfortunate that some people had higher expectations that were dashed.
    /2?

    • First, thank you, and all those like you, for continuing to inject some common sense into the discussion. FYI, free day paid for itself in a few hours.

  • Success? I can’t speak for Sparkfun as a company but from a user experience it was a disaster. Seems like the idea was barely thought through. I mean lets look at this from a realistic point of view. Sparkfun is a business, not your friend. Every decision is motivated by money and the bottom line. “Free Day” would not have taken place if it didn’t benefit Sparkfun. There are much SMARTER ways of “giving” back. I’m sure there are plenty of schools / clubs that would have loved to get some free hardware and would have actually used it and not put it up on ebay. I personally would rather have seen a nice blog post about how Sparkfun helped out some schools that teach electronics and then a follow up on the projects the built and the kids affected.
    My point is treat it for what it is, a big publicity stunt that may or may not pay off.

  • What a hoot! The IRC channel was insane.
    I liked the stats. I would like to see some stats about people like me. I purchased about half an hour after it ended. I clicked refresh for about half an hour, and then went to lunch (east coast). I did not get the free $100, but I ordered anyway.
    I did drop 2 things from my cart, but that was because I still intend on donating $100 to the local Humane Society in the name of SparkFun.
    Good Job folks; you rock.

  • I waited weeks for this. Weeks. This is the one thing I looked forward to before I leave for bootcamp. But even with the dual fiber optic T3 lines going into my house, your servers preformed like spark. It’s not all bad though, I did manage to get a login screen this morning, after waiting for an hour an a half. Thanks Sparkfun!

  • Thanks Sparkfun! I’m sort of new to using microcontrollers and freeday gave me a great opportunity to get some essential tools for getting started.
    Also, this was a pretty brilliant way of spending 100k. You got a huge amount of interest, performed the ultimate stress test on your server, and, best of all, made 1,035 people very happy.

  • I forgot:
    4.) Give every one who posted here a little gift on their next order. The will stop whining. Also they are the people who really care about you and won’t resell.
    Are there really resellers? It’s just sad an plain stupid.

    • No, they’ll NEVER stop whining. They’ll complain it wasn’t enough of a gift, or it wasn’t what they wanted, or they should have got a voucher so they could have chosen, or they shouldn’t have got a voucher because it’s not quite enough to get what they want and now they have to spend their own money too, or shipping takes too long, or it’s just an ‘insult’, or - even if they can’t think of any way it’s no good for them, they’ll start complaining about other people - too many other people got it who weren’t deserving, or not enough other people got it, or other people got theirs first.

      • EXACTLY. Some people will -never- be happy in a situation like this if they were among the vast majority of folks that didn’t get to place a discounted order.

  • Well I was up until 5am for nothing. I understand that it was free stuff but even so it was extremely frustrating, especially when my brother got his order (after I was the one that told him about it) and I didn’t.
    I think they definitely should have made the offer available only to customers who had previously purchased something from them (perhaps over a certain value or before the announcement was made) because the whole deal was ruined by leaches from those big deal websites and a lot of actual customers were left struggling in vain.

  • you made 1000 people happy, and many thousands completely mad with frustration, loosing hours clicking refresh again and again for nothing.
    Next time, please make a lottery, at least we won’t have to spend hours for nothing clicking refresh every 30 sec.
    bah.

  • I wonder if the servers had been fast enough to handle all browser requests immediately, how long this would lasted? Perhaps less than a minute for 1000 people to make that final click, in which case everyone else would have been quickly disappointed.
    I called in after 20 minutes to see if it was still going, and to my surprise it was. Basically this was a kind of lottery. I got mine after 40 minutes of mouse clicking. The slow servers made it more of a winnable challenge. I hope Sparkfun nets an eventual positive on this due to publicity.

  • This write-up is a little too sensitive to the complainers. This was promoted as a contest, and it generally worked out to be a fair game. I suspect that much of the negative energy is coming from the fact that the non-winner experience was to endure almost two hours of a broken web application, one of the more unpleasant experiences you can have on the web. As in, “Watch this video to the end before the time runs out and win a prize!” followed by two hours of “Buffering…"
    Assuming the slow load times were anticipated, and I’m not sure they were given previous write-ups about the new servers, there might be fewer complainers if the potential experience ("you’ll have to sit and hit reload quite a bit”) were explained up front. Back in the day, people understood that “the first 10 callers” contests involved a lot of busy signals and redialing, but only after they played a few.
    No doubt the length and engagement level of the event made it quite sticky from a PR perspective–and sincere kudos for that–but a better game would have a more positive non-winner experience.

    • “there might be fewer complainers if the potential experience ("you’ll have to sit and hit reload quite a bit”) were explained up front.“
      That’s exactly the case. This was billed as a "it’ll be slow, but it’s first come first serve” situation. This was NOT first come first serve but, in fact, completely random. If it was advertised as “This will be random, it has nothing to do with when you click the "checkout” button, the servers will NOT process you in first come first serve order" then I’d have no problem with this whatsoever. If it’s a lottery, then tell us it’s a lottery. We’re not complaining that we didn’t get free stuff, we’re complaining that you misrepresented what this actually was.

  • Yeah, I wasn’t able to get my order in but I still ponied up the 100+ bucks anyway. IE6 stops refreshing after 5 or 6 tries, that is including re-entering the address and pressing F5. I was hoping to leverage my work’s network connection but to no avail.

  • thanks for posting the recap and all that stats. Getting to see behind the scenes. You guys should sell those F5 replacement keys!

  • I didn’t get any free goodies.. but I had fun trying. Thanks for the promotion, and don’t pay any mind to the people complaining about what you did or didn’t do.

  • I think my favorite comment from the twitter stream was from someone who noticed all the hubub, but clearly didn’t know what it was all about, asking “wtf is a @sparkfun and why do you want it so bad?”

  • I got all the way through the check out process, did the paypal payment and it forwarded back to sparkfun to tell me the order was complete but it didnt say that. It just went back to the last page of the check out again. I freakin paid and the order didn’t go through. By that point it was around $96k so I went through the whole paypal payment AGAIN and it once again threw me back to the main page but then said “Free day is over”. So way to go sparkfun IT. Go back to hot wiring Speak and Spells and stay the hell away from servers. PS I sent your customer support people screen shots of the BS. That order was PLACED. Absolutely no reason it could not have gone through at that point other than a MAJOR F'up on your end. And you want to know why I’m so pissed? I lost my job and have a senior design project to complete, now with no components.

  • Was really disappointed in the whole affair. Granted, yes, it’s free stuff, can’t really complain too much; it’s not like they HAD to do it. I had an order ready to place this morning while I was in class (the wife sent it in for me), and she got to the page saying I qualified for the freeday promotion, and then most of the time it would just time out. The only time it DID go any further, it returned a blank page.
    An idea for next time? (if you ever do this again) Have a special off-site page, where the first 1000 people to login with SparkFun user names get a $100 discount code for use at checkout. A unique, one-time use number, usable on any order, say, from 24-72 hours later ONLY. That lessens the loading on the server for anyone who is willing to PAY for orders, and it also helps to reduce overall delays and traffic issues.
    Not having gotten the $100 just means it’s going to be quite some time before I can afford to start on any of the exotic projects I had in mind. Congratulations to those who DID get through…anyone who is planning to resell their free stuff to make a quick buck? You’re a loser.

  • SparkFun , by doing it this way, to everyone you are not promoting the hobby or your sales all that much as a LOT of those orders are from people who have no interest in electronics and are just going to post the stuff on ebay as soon as they get it. A guy at work today was trying to do this very thing, he doesnt even know what the word electrinc means, he just wanted free stuff to sell on ebay, like a lot of the people who got it will do.
    Should have just offered free shipping or a 25% off coupon or something for everyone. At least that way people who were really gonna use the stuff would have gotten it.

  • The fact that your server lasted the 1.75 hours during that insanity is an achievement in itself. Congrats.
    I as amazed that I even got some pages to load. Almost got to the end too. Oh well, it was fun playing.
    Thanks, it was one of the best web events I’ve seen in a while.

  • My shopping cart remains as it was last night :/
    I was mad, but then I read on and realized I was by far NOT the only one.
    Think you could maybe have free day once a month? :P

  • Outstanding ALL THE WAY AROUND!!!
    Over on the piclist forum there is an incredible amount of wanking about not getting FREE STUFF. And most of those doing the wanking are people with good paying jobs. Well, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out, wankers!
    This major ‘give back’ to the community was top notch. I hope Sparkfun reaps many benefits. I’m a long time customer and enjoy getting access to amazing amounts of amazing stuff. I ESPECIALLY like that they post schematics of almost everything they sell.
    For the record: I did not participate as I can well afford these toys.

  • Hey,
    My order is going to DigiKey or Mouser for this time.
    I’m frustrated but that’s not the reason … I won’t wait for more than 1000 to be packed before my order is prepared.
    After things come back to normal situation, I’ll be back for next orders.
    Best regards.

  • Also, I just looked at something else. It seems a LOT of product in there store is still there, and at the same levels it was before this started. Take for instance the Olimex 40pin PIC dev board with USB that comes with a 4550. This is a very popular chip right now, and to see it at the same stock status as it was before this is kind of fishy. Out of over 1000 orders and $100,000 spent not a single person bought this board.
    It seems after $100,000, their store should be almost totally empty on stock cuz I dont think they had that much $$ in stock listed on their site anyway at least not the popular stuff people want.

    • I’m in production, so I can’t speak to products that we don’t assemble in house, like the Olimex, but we did build our stock of popular items up tremendously in anticipation of today’s volume. However, it turned out that free-day orders didn’t follow previous trends when it came to item popularity. Thankfully, we still didn’t get killed on our assembled product, so I can actually go home before eight o'clock.

  • I’m in Georgia, USA. I couldn’t get in at all. I had my daughter in Fort Worth, TX, working for me. Didn’t quite make it, but had a blast trying. Lost absolutely nothing and had fun! Thanks!

  • Thanks Sparkfun, I had a good time trying for this, and I was happy to be one of the successful few. I look forward to playing with my new toys when they arrive; I hope this was successful from a philanthropic, marketing, and IT standpoint. Cheers.

  • I agree it was torture. Wasn’t able to get to my cart, but appreciate the gesture to help out the community. It was kind to say the least. Now that i can access the site i will be putting in BO’s for a couple things i need for my project.
    Dragonfli I agree it is sad that people are going to resell some of the items.

  • I’m one of the frustrated people who couldn’t get in and tried from 2 completely different networks. It only means it’ll take a little longer to get my project going.
    Congratulations!

  • I was so sad when I was trying to get my order in. I told all my friends about it (my brother skipped class) and then none of us got an order.
    What a frustrating experience and I’m so embarrassed that I told so many people and then nothing worked out for them.

    • Well, don’t you think telling many people is a stupid idea? With everyone you told about free day your own chance of getting through was reduced.

  • whoo! first comment…
    I was at it for two hours from multiple locations and was stuck at the VERY last step before the 100,000 were gone… sigh.

    • I hear you. I spent 1hour, 45minutes just trying to finish the check-out.
      I had it all planned out and I needed 30$ worth of stuff to create my masterpiece.
      Now to order it the old fashioned way I guess - but I’m going to wait a while for all these orders to clear first.

  • I didn’t get anything this time, but I am curious; will there be another one next year?

  • do you have plans for Free Day next year?

  • 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.

    • Yes, money from your previous purchases was used to help entice new shoppers. This happens every day with every product you buy. It’s marketing and advertising. When you made your previous purchases, did you expect that SFE wasn’t trying to make a profit? Or that they wouldn’t use that profit towards the overall improvement of their business?
      I was highly frustrated and disappointed on Free Day too, but only because SFE had set the expectation for the day as a First Come First Served type of event, and that’s not what it turned out to be.

  • murphy: _ It was an easy buck with the right sniping software or scripts._
    I am so disgusted that script-kiddies came to rob us! so, where is the map of showing where most of these packages went to. call the national enquirer. I want to know. :D

  • Congratulations for surviving the FreeDay onslaught of online traffic.
    However, here is another perspective on the IT statistics
    1035 orders in 105 mins
    ==> Only one order successful processed approximately every 6 seconds.
    Given that may people (myself included) had their shopping carts pre-loaded prior to the start of the event…
    This is a less flattering stat, and suggests that there are opportunities to improve system performance – especially if another FreeDay is to be planned.

  • Great job, Sparkfun!! Even though I had no delusions of actually getting my order thru, it was the “thrill of the hunt” that was enjoyable!!
    Let the whiner’s whine.. you can’t make everybody happy!!
    Now, however, I do have a complaint.. I have suffered carpal tunnel syndrome in several fingers from hitting F5 so often and am now incapacitated and unable to work… my lawyers will be contacting you shortly.. (just kidding.. couldn’t resist!)
    About the F5 keys, however; it would be great if you produced a number of F5 replacement keys with the Sparkfun logo on them.. I know I’d grab a few (free or not!!)
    Again.. great job and hope to see it again next year!!

  • The “bizzare form of nerd torture” is not over. My shopping cart had been full for 6 months(since immediately after my last order) waiting till I could afford these wonderful gizmos. I was up all night before free day unable to sleep from excitement, one of the masses in the #sparkfun channel. I hit F5 only every 2 minutes so as to avoid unnecessarily straining the server while staying in the hunt. For the first time, checkout screen appears. I click “try for free day”. Blank page, F5F5F5F5, too late. Place my order anyway, rent can wait this month. Today I come home from school and check the tracking #. Yaaaay! I have a lovely picture of the red box sitting in my apartment’s mailbox. Unfortunately that is all I have because it is wedged so tightly behind the lip at the opening of the box that I can’t get it out. AAARGH! So close yet so far away.

  • Yay, my Free Day box showed up today. Thanks, Sparkfun!
    I’ve already got the Lilypad up and running, and am on my way to figuring out how to get the Bluetooth Mate attached to it to talk to me. I’ll try to post a howto once I get everything working..
    Thanks again!

  • I tried to read through the posts but too many of them are complaints about not getting something that wasn’t promised to you.
    I’m relatively new to SparkFun (one previous order), and was hoping to stock up on somethings for some project ideas that I have. I didn’t ‘win’ any of the Free-Day money, but still place a smaller order for some parts!
    Congrats to all who did win, I hope the parts will go to good use and more/new tutorials are generated as a result!
    ;-> (cjh)

  • so I woke up early to wait in line on sparkfun at 9 am only to find out that the bidding didn’t begin at 9 AM Eastern…. ouch. Waiting for hours I had time to get my cart ready, but reluctantly couldn’t get my cart to load so I could check out. After the 100k went, I submitted my order and paid the $100 myself because after waiting for months for free day, I couldn’t let it turn into a nothing day. Alas my order was not free, but use my money to get a bigger server, and have a bigger free day!!!! maybe even a free week?? ehh????

  • I guess I’ll had to whatever has already been said. I have been a SF customer for several years now. I had filled my cart well before FD and was waiting for that final hour.
    As you said, “we want to get back to the community” so I was patiently waiting to get my free stuff.
    I didn’t get anything, though I tried hard. I kept getting blank pages. Of course I’m annoyed. I’m part of the first few customers of SF and from what I understand people just showed up on that specific day to grab free stuff, while I didn’t get anything.
    Now to me this looks like more an advertisement stunt than thanking the community. If you really want to give back to the community you shouldn’t allow newer accounts to benefit from free day, or have a pro-rata based on the how long people have been registered user. Also, provide a longer window to allow most people to get to your site.
    My cart is still full, I have no plans to check it out because I would feel used if I were to do so.

    • LOL stop thinking this was any kind of “Give Back”, this was a stunt to get the sparkfun name out there, they don’t “Care” about the Old customers that got them where they are now.

  • What Svalebror said.

  • I love you, Sparkfun. I didn’t get free stuff, but placed my order anyway a little later in the day. Now I wish you had a progress bar for the backlog. How far behind are you, and when do you expect to catch up?

  • The whole F5 key thing is actually quite sad.
    Lots of people pressing F5 which is the exact WRONG thing to do to get to the next page. F5 reloads the current page, not the next page that you want to get to.
    The correct approach, used by the people who actually got free stuff, was to click the relevant button for getting to the next page, eg cart/checkout.
    95% of the time it wouldn’t load. So you had to click the browser ‘stop’ button and click the cart/checkout button again and keep repeating that many times until you got to the next page. Then you could move on doing the same with the next page until you finally finished the order.
    F5 was only useful at the very start for getting the sparkfun main page to load. Once you got it loaded ya never needed to press F5 again, you just kept pressing the button to get to the next step.

    • Yeah, next time, mashing the F5 button over and over only delays/removes the possibility of completing your order. Each time you hit the F5 button, it starts a brand new request, and if it’s taking several minutes for SF’s servers to process the request, you keep resetting your window and only using the latest request. The way I got through, with an intact F5, clicked the button, waited the 5-10 minutes for the request to die. Pressed F5, clicked the resend button to resubmit the request, and waited. If you didn’t wait enough for the request to actually complete or timeout, you never would have known if you actually made it or not. It took like 15-30 minutes between each successful screen load, and normally 4-5 refresh attempts during that time.

  • Great publicity stunt, Spark Fun! Like most people, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones, though not for lack of trying.
    My shopping cart is still full - and I was just thinking - it would probably only take a discount offered to me to make me complete the purchase.
    Offer a 20% discount to all those who had non-empty shopping carts on the free day but missed out, and you’d probably generate another huge round of publicity, without it impacting on your bottom line too badly.
    I know I for one would complete the transaction if I got that offer ;-)

  • Free Day didn’t work for me. I am an SF customer. I was all set to order my stuff. Then I spent two hours getting blank pages. By then I had gotten really frustrated and realized that my time was worth more than the free stuff.
    I know you wanted to attract new customers, but the reality is that free distorts the economics too much. If you make something free, people will grab a handful just because it’s free, not because they actually wanted or needed whatever you were offering.
    I do applaud your goal of giving back, but perhaps next time (assuming there is a next time) you should do something like 50% off for a day, or random orders are made free. Either of those would still be a big win for people who really want the products, but would discourage the people who are getting it just because it’s free.

  • I tried in vain to be one of the twenty-seven lucky UK recipients of $100 of free goodies, but it wasn’t to be. However, I did place a smaller order the next day and it is already in the UK for delivery sometime on Tuesday! So much for the staff being overwhelmed with orders etc, either that or some have been working overtime.
    Great idea, but don’t let the thought that anything ordered since won’t arrive for weeks put you off from placing an order!

  • For me it was a dissapointment..
    I was able to checkout three times but didn’t get in time to payment page. Could you guys give a small discount to the people would tried hard but didn’t have any luck?
    That could make me buy those things! :)
    Also perhaps another idea for a future free day (I hope SF grows so hard after freeday that another server cluster is necessary :p) is to let people post idea’s of future projects. The best idea’s, voted by other customers, get the free things.

  • Free Day was great fun! - No, I didn’t get anything and Yes, I tried. For the whiners, it’s like playing the lottery with better odds, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
    For the students that could use the free parts, organize a group and have a fundraiser.
    As suggested in many electronic forums, ask for free samples from semiconductor manufacturers. You may not get the exact parts you want, so you may have to use some creativity in your design. Thats part of the fun of being a good engineer!

  • I?m in the UK. I spent over 2 hours continuously failing to login. I have a good broadband connection and figured I had as much chance as anyone else. Congrats to the lucky 1000. I wonder how many of them live outside the USA?
    I suppose it was inevitable that the servers would instantly overload. Anyhow, credit to SparcFun for the big giveaway. I guess those servers are marked ?tested? now :)

  • hmm that last image has a small mistake in it if you are going to trip some one up with a skate board you need to put it the right way up so they slide away giving you time to escape other wise they will just get up and chase you.

  • I am glad atleast some got something they needed.
    The shutdown at 8am kicked me and the others I know in Norway off the server and we could never log back in so that ended our chances. Noticing now that not a single order came from Norway is no surprise.
    I do agree with those suggesting that there should have been more of a reseller/freeloader-deterrent in the offer. That would have curbed the traffic a bit and allowed anyone to complete their order regardless of distance to server or bottleneck of connection. If it then turned out to be free, they’d be very happy. Otherwise atleast they wouldn’t have wasted 2 hours without even getting a normal order in.
    I just hope I’ll atleast get my last order that was supposedly shipped the 10'th december. So far it’s looking bleek. (Stupid x-mas mail probably clogging up the works!)

  • It was frustrating not being able to get in with the site mostly down during the contest… But I ended up ordering later in the day.
    I think Amazon may have a better approach with their Lightning deals and deal of the day. I think a lot of traffic would be generated by people coming in to see what happens to be on sale each day…
    Hint: 50% off on an Arduino Mega would be a good one to start with :-)

  • I really (really really really)needed 4 120VAC 30A relays and was going to try to snag them, but I could not even get on the Sparkfun webpage inbetween 11 and 1!

  • Thanks, sparkfun! i got a monocle, an arduino and a green laser. I’ll be making a robot using the laser and a gameboy camera for rudimentary machine vision, with an arduino brain.

  • This is a small company doing what it wants, and I commend them on following up on the offer. I dare not say it was not a hard day. I even took two hours off (paid) so I could try and get in on this deal and guess what? I did. I got what I wanted and even spent a bit more than the free amount. I am not a new customer to SF and even if I had not got what I wanted I would not away from using them again. In the end SF has great products, some you can’t get any place else, and for most if this keeps you from supporting a great company like SF then it is truly your loss.

  • It was a big sparking disappointment. I have no money and needed those bits badly for a university project. The deadline is soon and I cannot buy the stuff I need. I was ready and tried to pay right when it started but the site was useless. I’ve always preferred Sparkfun to British online shops. Well, not anyomore. Good bye Sparkfun!

  • I’m not sure of you have succeeded in “giving back”. In that case Free Day should have been an event for existing customers, organized in such a way that your customers do not have to waste several hours in front of their computers, only to be left with disappointment. I think you have mainly succeeded in having people create an account. But I guess that makes you just as happy, if not happier.

  • Free day is an amazing idea.
    Congratulations and Kudos on this successful event.
    But I think it could have been more fair, looking at the numbers/orders per country. I’m european and F5 just didn’t do it for me…
    Why not customers only? That way also probably a lot less stuff would be winding up on ebay. If that is the case anyway.
    I decided to go ahead and order my $100 cart anyway.
    Next month when I have enough money again :)

  • I wonder if those stats are counting all the thousands of hits they got that never got a response in any way shape or form. Should they count?

  • As the only Mexican customer who was lucky enough to place an order let me say in big capital letters and lots of exclamation marks: ??????THANK YOU SPARK FUN!!!!!! (the opening marks are free just for you pals, in the Spanish language we have plenty of them).
    I am really amazed for your Free Day… it’s uncommon to hear about a company giving away $100 with no restrictions at all… you are fantastic.
    As a side note… you should give a special gift to the client who placed the highest order ($425.42)…who incidentally it’s me :) (I have so much to explain to my wife); keep doing the great job you have done (and don’t hear the silly-angry people that don’t understand this was an opportunity of fun and celebration). Again: thank you so much.

  • C'mon guys… We are all engineers here! We were all stuck in the same electronic courses studying phasors and z-transforms! We were all stuck in the same classes with a 30:1 guy/girl ratio!
    We have to stick together. We cant be getting mad at eachother (or sparkfun) for server timeouts. Im mad I didnt get anything either, but Im not about to take it out on fellow engineers/computer scientists.
    Done.

  • In lieu of counting on these winnings, I work 20-30 hours a week in a lab while going to school so that I can afford to support my research. Its a small trade-off to pursue what’s most important to me. If there’s something you really want you have to go get it, never for a second feel entitled to the things you want.
    And if your one of those stock brokers making bank off this economy of ours I hope you sponsor a few of us broke college students trying to make this world a better place.
    P.S. Sparkfun doesn’t like long posts.

  • Sparkfun could easily hire an intern panel to handle the sponsorship concept. Many college students would work for little more than some free stuff. If Sparkfun wants to give back to the community, it should give to those who are designing the future of science and technology, not the average joe sniper to pawn around to us.
    The free day concept was huge, its a revolutionary marketing concept. If I had time I’d read that book Nate got the idea from. The author is clearly a genius.
    I tried logging in the night before just to brows products and look for a few new sensors. LOL. I couldn’t even get in. I started trying to log in at 8am Eastern and didn’t get the main page to load until almost an hour after the kickoff and only $6500 had been claimed. When the login timed out, many times, I gave up and went back to work. An hour later I try logging back in and $99,500 was gone. Interesting.
    It would have been cool to win something but honestly what can you expect. This is possibly the most disgustingly awesome viral marketing campaign in human history.

  • I have to admit, the concept of giving away $100k in free DIY electronics gear is awesome. Period. But I’m not without objections.
    I’m also a student working on a few projects that would have benefited from this giveaway- and almost planned that I would be in the winnings.
    The reality is that it was a no rules free for all where the entire internet came crashing down on Sparkfun. The sad thing is that a lot of gear is going to end up on eBay. The funny thing is this is how a lot of people operate. It was an easy buck with the right sniping software or scripts. Its like the people with the bidding software for eBay that snipe you 30 times in the last 3 seconds of the auction. Its like the major stock brokers moving their trading centers across the hall from wall street with a broadband data link to play the markets. This stuff happens.
    A lot of people feel entitled to a free day for their hard work, support, and loyalty to businesses. Entitlement is the sad joke of the paternalism age, little more, little less.

  • I was completely unable to get any response from the site from the moment it all opened until about 3 hours after it had ended. :-(
    I am not that upset (disappointed, sure)…I suppose I need a faster computer, or a faster broadband connection or both, still, this is the first time I have ever even heard of anything like this.

  • I just dumped and cleared everything in my cart. You thanked your IT staff for a day of chaos? In over four hours of trying, the page only loaded twice. That’s just sloppy IT practice, guys, and your staff should be taught the basics of how to use a load balancer.
    Or, better suggestion: Fire them for the terrible customer service we experienced yesterday!

  • russosv: Baloney. Try getting an FT232RL IC off of eBay. This site sells them lower than any other site on the web INCLUDING eBay. Maybe if you are buying LEDs or pin headers, but you definitely cant get everything cheaper on eBay.
    http://tinyurl.com/y87qe2c
    Sorry to pop your bubble, mate.

    • The point was– Guardianfox claimed a 79% discount on a $130 order. That’s not likely unless he was buying cheap stuff you can find everywhere, like LEDs.

    • Sorry to pop yours.
      US $4.55 Standard Int'l Flat Rate Shipping
      Read the fine print. That’s $5.55 for one IC. Try buying more than one.

  • Even though I spent 30 minutes at home hitting F5 (and so did my 10 year old son) and another 45 minutes of hitting F5 at work, in the end it was good fun and the checked out page loaded 5 minutes after the 100K was gone. Thanks SparkFun!

  • Also, i must say, some people i heard(or maybe less) are saying that this benififted plenty of people, i’m not as optimistic. Sadly i would say probably 1-7% of the people who got free stuff, likely were freeloaders trying to get quick cash by reselling it. And for others saying that this was to be for the devoted, i got on when it had $15,000, and got through after it ended, having one of the best connections in my city possibly. This should have been thought out more, because of the fact some people who got it may never come back to even look at the site after they get there orders :(

  • Got my 9 DOF IMU today. Thank you SparkFun!
    Alexei
    Ontario, Canada

  • Amazing Free Day :). Even though I was not able to submit my order, I loved the fact that there was one.
    Yes! I was frustrated at the site (NOT Loading) and then when my order had qualified, my browser crashing (damn Chrome), but I loved the spirit of the whole deal.

  • I’d like to say thanks to sparkfun for helping me, a broke college student, take my arduino projects to the next level. That WiFly shield is going to go to good use. I’ve visited sparkfun regularly for the past several months since I first learned about arduino. I’ve been impressed by the good nature and helpfulness of the community here, so I’m surprised and disappointed by alot of the negativity that’s going around. You’ve made me a loyal sparkfun customer for life.

  • I wish you had a graph for browsers and a graph for browsers that completed orders. Just a curiosity over which browser handles timeouts better…

  • but pages loaded
    No, they didn’t. Especially for those who couldn’t even get a TCP connection set up. You apparently have no clue how this Internet thing works.
    And the fact that 80% of the giveaways went to US orderers also tells a story. Foreign Internet users couldn’t get through, likely because your ISP has a piss-poor international Internet connection or maybe because you deliberately rate-limited them. For your foreign customers your pages didn’t load at all. But since when did you care about your foreign customers at all.

    • Of course pages loaded, they are non-US customer in the winning list…
      And since you don’t know which percentage of US customers where trying to get freebies, you can’t guess anything from the percentage of US winners.
      Anyway, since distance has an impact on ping and SparkFun servers are in the US, US customers would always be at an advantage, whatever the ISP.

  • First, THANK YOU SPARKFUN FOR FREEDAY even though it wasn’t free for me. Yesterday was pretty frustrating…next time have a 1 page checkout. 20 minutes per page with all the timeouts just doesn’t make for a fun experience. However, I got my order in and went through with it even though it wasn’t free. It’s stuff I need for projects anyway and I want to support a vendor with your customer service attitude.
    thanks again, Jerry

  • I’d just heard of SparkFun from on freenode because of FreeDay. I learned of the Bus Pirate; and even had about $130 in cart.
    FreeDay came, so -flood- for the site. As my first order, things of course went wrong. Suggestions:
    1) Put an entire order, shipping methods, address, credit card info, and any constraints (like must get the up to $100 discount for freeday) in a single HTTP GET uri API.
    2) A dry-run option for training and info validation (could be abused so only logged in account with logged attempts and some choke limit).
    3) I reduced my order to core items, and noticed that I could have gone to a page that had #1’s info but was part of the order process. Add a checkbox/entry ‘Only Place order if at least $X could be free’; then just that final to next page transition could be hammered. It would also let potential customers get that page loaded up in the before FreeDay opened and then just retry one page.

    • Even if the load would have been handled, or if you could do the order with one URL only, things would have gone faster alright. But you would have had the same ammount of chances to win since it would have been faster for everyone too.
      You still wouldn’t have your stuff, and the whole thing would have gone trough in 5minutes instead of 1h44

  • I was one of the people refreshing like mad hoping for a piece of the pie, but I never got through. I’m very poor so $100 is ton of money for me. If you guys do this again in the future maybe there is some way to keep it to people who aren’t just going to resell. Maybe people that have a few forum posts or throw in an electronics equation to qualify? Just some thoughts.
    I hope make magazine and hack a day have a flurry of new projects because of this free day. Thank anyways for giving 1,000 very lucky people a shot at this instead of wasting money on tv commercials or something useless. good job guys.

  • Well thank you sparkfun for an awsome give away. I am crushed that it took 11 minutes too long for all the reloading, after two hours I had high hopes.
    I have been wanting to start experimenting with microcontrollers for ages but can’t afford to get started with them- this was a perfct chance and I’m sorry to have missed it.
    My new resolution for the new year is to try and save up enough that I can place an order, it will just take longer than I would like

  • Alright!!!! I got my freeday stuff!!! Got it in less than 24h!! (23h 46min to be exact)
    Due to the large volume of orders, I wasn’t expecting that package for 2 weeks at least.

  • Spark fun thinks this was a success? The only thing they gave back to their community is hard feelings, sure they gave away 100K but I think they will loose in the end. If I were in charge of marketing and Heard “We can alienate 100,000 people in one day and make 1000 people happy at the same time” they would be out on the street. Their IT people are idiots if they think they came close to “staying up”…IDK… if I can find the items I need from another supplier, I am inclined to give my business to them, not SFE

  • Imagine my surprise today, a day after free day, when I tried to login and found the Spark Fun site slow. I tried to access my cart and got
    “SparkFun Electronics is Temporarily Closed!
    SparkFun Electronics has been temporarily closed while necessary upgrades are installed and configured.
    Please be patient and check back soon. We’re working tirelessly to make this down time as brief as possible."
    My cart still has the items I was unsuccessful trying to get on Free Day, when I received a bogus message that my credit card number indicated my card was not an accepted card type (I used the same card at the site a couple of weeks earlier without problems, it’s listed as a valid card type and I entered the number correctly because it went through just after the free day cut-off).
    Now that I can’t access my shopping cart at all, I’m getting the paranoid feeling Spark Fun doesn’t want me to have these items. Oh well, maybe the site just isn’t working as well as Spark Fun thinks it is. Sorry, guys, but that’s what it looks like from here.

  • Even though I didn’t end up with anything, I must commend sparkfun for free day. From a business stand point it was an incredible investment. Considering their markup, how much people spent over the $100k, site traffic, and how many new customers were generated, sparkfun has done well.

  • I find one thing funny about all this: So many people complain that the components are just going to be resold. I have yet once to see any post about anyone doing such a thing on any of the boards I read. Yet it is the assumed fate for free day items for people who unfortunately didn’t get in.

  • I hate to sound mean, but honestly, I think us returning customers who weren’t able to get anything, she maybe get a free t-shirt or something. That was one of the things I wanted really bad. As among an RFID reader, LCD, ATmegas, and a few other things to further a huge, voice-activated home automation project I’ve been working on (His name is Alex) Unfortunately, I’ve run out of funds.

    • This guy is on to something, I say we all pitch and see where this home automation project is going…

      • Wow, thank you. That means a lot to me. But I wouldn’t. I’m not so great at this stuff. I started the project as something to do, and a way to learn as I go, while creating something really cool.
        I skipped my first 3 periods of school hoping to get a few things, aha.
        If you’re interested though, here’s one of the first things I did:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSBOg357mQs
        Simple:
        Computer sends command to Arduino, Arduino sends command to relay, switches the power button, viola.
        Things have gotten more complicated since then.

    • This was NEVER about us returning customers!

      • I honestly feel a little ripped off. I know it’s not SF’s fault at all, nobody really saw this coming until a few days before Free Day.

  • Hmm, there is a “of” and a “like” missing in my comments…
    I hope sparkfun made a lot of profit because of this action… …So they will repeat (an improved** version) of it. Annual sparkfun freeday… Wouldn’t that be great?
    I like sirket’s idea of one-time-use coupon codes for randomly selected registered accounts.

  • part 2
    *BTW: I’m an electrical engineering student too. But the items I would have bought on freeday (if I got trough) where for hobby purposes. Started studying this year while hobbying for about 5 years…:).
    ** Some smart things said in the comments above and below this one could help with that. I sirket’s idea of one-time-use coupon codes for randomly selected registered accounts. Would save a lot of time and server load…

  • I didn’t get my order trough either. Couldn’t load a single page. Not the login page anyway, must admit thats the only one I tried…
    Well, it still was a nice action. I knew I had very little chance of getting trough. Only thing that’s bad is that people are reselling stuff they got for free… Ok, and that I wasted a lot of time… But that was my choice and it was worth trying.
    Sure, I’m sort of a freeloader too. I registered specially for this action. But not to resell! Electronics is my hobby*, and this was a (small) chance of getting some cool electronic parts and modules for free!
    I hope sparkfun made a lot of profit because of this action… …So they will repeat (an improved** version) it. Annual sparkfun freeday… Wouldn’t that be great?
    (comment was over 1000 chars, see part 2)

  • Does anyone else see the Hockey Stick Model?
    Watch out for ManBearPig
    How many new members joined on in the last week/month? I know I was one of them

  • I’ll just add my vote for the idea to randomly give away stuff, maybe even all year long. The Free Day does get you lots of free advertising but it also creates a bit of frustration and even anger for those that couldn’t get there orders placed.
    You could do a random free day/week. Randomly select 1000 orders to get $100 discounts on there order. It’d be a little less pressure on your IT guys too.

  • Besides the 104 minutes of hitting refresh, When I was loading my cart with goodies I now have a better idea of there product range. I really like the mini serial logger, this could be very handy in my up and coming projects. Tis good to see New Zealand got 8 wins.

  • Although from a user perspective it was a frustrating experience, the intent and deed from the perspective of sparkfun remains unchanged.
    There will always be people that abuse situations but that is no fault of sparkfun.
    I thank you Sparkfun for setting such a precedent thats unparalelled in the community. As a beginner its the thing that provided the motivation to make up my mind and get my first parts to start learning.
    I put in my order today (~$200) although i figure it will take ages due to the freeday craziness.
    In the future as an international customer what I would love the most is free shipping (i could have got a couple of arduinos if i didnt have to pay that)!

  • Its sad that i wasnt able to get through the site, my eyes were glued on the countdown timer and fingers poised to hit the keys then BLAM “ your connection timed out” the site wont load. I was going only for the arduino usb board which would start me on the road to the micros.

  • Thanks for a great initiative, I actually just wanted to order a few parts but got a very nice surprise when I saw that if I wait a day I may just get my order free and so I did!
    The pains of having to “re-send” my request several times over the space of about 2 hours was worth it when my order finally went through!
    I am busy reading the “FREE” book and I am finding it a very good read.
    I do agree about maybe changing the format if this is planned again in future. I especially like the idea of choosing random orders at random times and giving discounts or vouchers.
    Anyway it is stuff like this which turns “one time buyers” into loyal supporters! THANK YOU SparkFun!

  • It would be interesting to have the sales numbers of the days/weeks following Free Day compared to the days/weeks before, to know if people who couldn’t get their stuff for free bought them anyway.
    I know I did :D

  • Thanks for the opportunity for some free stuff. I wasn’t lucky enough to get past the last page of the checkout however I tried. Congratulations to those who did.
    The still was a fun exercise and it made me think about what I really needed Vs what I wanted and I had a really good look around the sparkfun web site. There are some things that I never thought would be useful to me that now I realize would be. I will be placing an order for those jumper leads shortly.
    The 7th was my Birthday too although it was the next day (3AM) here in Australia.
    Now there is no way I am going to moan and spark about missing out on free stuff. I would suggest that maybe there might be better systems to consider if you ever do this insane exercise again. However just the way it is has its own fun and charm and let’s not try to be to clinical to the point of losing that.
    Thanks again guys for the opportunity.
    All the Best,
    Jim Robertson

  • definitely not without some hiccups …
    Oh boy this was disappointing. I had a perfect strategy, at least I assumed. Hours before the start I filled my shopping card with items worth of 130$, then I was waiting for the start. Half an hour before the show it was already impossible to log in. Alone the log in took about half an hour. Then I tried for about 45 minutes to get to the content of my shopping cart, but it was impossible. 100eds of denials of service. Verry disappointing,…

  • It was fun to stay up late window shopping the last few days. The sensation was fun, free stuff or not. Turns out more free came anyway as it reminded me of a box of stuff someone dumped off cleaning out storage. Inspired, I found more than $100 free stuff there :-)
    Order placed tonight while disappointed by network performance on free day. The summary about how good it was is over the top/insensitive to a lot of people - bit of denial about the client viewpoint. At 5pm CST, no connect!? Good?!
    Get stoked about the reception, but “do something for others”? Set a “free” limit of 25 or 50 to spread it around?
    How many winners didn’t cart up a 100 to keep room for more to get a bit? The ebay generation goes for big free. IDK. It was cool, but less giddy gloss would be nice too. Maybe that’ll happen tomorrow when the champagne wears off and adrenalin stops pumping. In the end, it was cool even with the negative currents swirling all over it. Good on ya. Better next time?

  • I’m just glad I was confused and placed my $100 dollar order in December. I received everthing. I also learned on free day that Opera was better at getting pages to appear compared to IE and FF. After the time ran out, I removed the bluetooth rotary phone from my cart and purchased $35 worth of goodies. I had fun! thanks SparkFun.

  • Hey I just want to say you guys are an awesome company and it’s obvious you really care about customers and it’s not just about making money. I wish the whole world was like that. I didn’t get anything because I couldn’t get the page to come up but that’s ok. At least I learned a whole bunch about the stuff you guys sell because I was researching what I wanted for weeks in advance.

  • I didn’t get my order in (either), but I have good feelings about the whole thing. I was feeling guilty anyway about taking free stuff, since I’m no longer a starving student. In fact, maybe the rest of us could check an optional box during the year to donate for the next free day, perhaps one dedicated to students. Not that I’m volunteering to screen who’s a student and who’s not.
    As for broader impact, on the one hand: lots of attention. On the other: attention from people who don’t really need parts for themselves. Sigh…

  • I waited 3 months for this day, and the page didnt even load once before the 100,000 dollars marked reached.

  • Bizarre form of nerd torture indeed. I wasted at least 45 minutes today trying to get some free goodies when I should have been writing my thesis. If I don’t graduate I’m blaming it on Sparkfun. No free goodies for me, but it was all fun (in a weird sort of way) just the same.

  • Top search on the internet!? awesome! who knew there were so many people with a knack for engineering?
    What a hectic morning!

  • bad thing about this is that always there are those internet stuff geeks that know some hacking and connections tricks from servers or whatever :S

  • Sparkfun, your company is a sign of humans, in a world of cold hard businesses. No other business i ever saw did what you did today, so yes i completely agree that what you did was awesome. Unfortunately, the way you did it, i do think was slightly flawed, and unfortunately people who were excited to order items to use were not able to do so… I found out about free day they day it was posted because i check the site regularly. for the month or so in between the first announcement, and the actual day, i knew about free day, i was excited about free day, and i already selected what i wanted. I was very excited to receive my arduino mega for FREE considering its too expensive for me to buy, but its very much what i need in order to complete my projects. It very much upset me that i couldn’t put my order through, but finding out people just purchased items to resell them made me very angry. The best thing would have been to limit the free day to previous purchasers from the site, because that weeds out freeloaders. Yes, it may stink for the random electronic enthusiast who just stumbled on th site, but hearing that people purchased just to resell would have made it worth it to close free day to previous purchasers.

  • Congrats to the Aussies that got in, all I saw was a lot of Firefox error pages, and once the sparkfun home page in IE. I was logged in and ready to go in FF, but not IE. I even downloaded Chrome at 3:15 AM this morning (aka 9:15 Sparkfun time) to try and get in.
    Am I bitter about losing? Not really. I was trying to order some ‘nice to have’ stuff, and one of those “Arduino” toys to see what the fuss is about, nothing I really need (other than a few $ worth of header pins that I can easily buy locally).
    But I am really freaking tired today due to the 45 minutes I wasted from 3AM. I’ve participated in 100,000 person web sales before (tickets for big music festivals) that sell out in 5 minutes. That’s what I expected, not 45 mins of F5 mashing with only seeing a result once.
    Still, no such thing as bad publicity and all that.
    Any chance of a BatchPCB free day ? ;)

  • I agree that it was a stellar waste of my poor mom’s time. she sat there for 2 hours while I was at school, fretting over whether the pages would ever load. In the end, I lost. People lost. A lot of people lost. Hardly anyone didn’t lose. I was majorly bummed when I didn’t get mt order in, but thats not what really bugs me. What bugs me is how ill-prepared for Free Day SparkBum-mer was. My mom couldn’t ever get past the credit card page! Ind the end though, all is not lost. Sparkfun is still here. And very happy, is seems. Now the only thing that I am still PO-ed about is that a bunch of the cool stuff in my cart that I couldnt wait to get, sold out (digital calipers, ect). I did, though, buy up about 30 of the blank proto boards last night, because at .25 a piece, I knew thew would be gone before you could say “Server Crash”

  • “But pages loaded"
    Er, what?

    • Pages did load.
      Not for everyone, but they did load for a lucky few. And that’s what it was - luck. Not some conspiracy against you, or you, or you. Luck.
      You didn’t lose any money, just some time (or possibly sleep) that you were prepared to waste anyway (or you wouldn’t have kept pressing F5).
      If you are really serious about electronics and/or hardware hacking, just get back to working on your next project.
      If not, continue to complain about the massive injustice of it all.

  • @dragonfli - I knew this would happen also…it angers me so much!! Its such an incredible shame that people would greedily take what is free only to sell it to make a few bucks. I went through the trouble of organizing parts lists for each member of my schools robotics club, arranged for them to leave class early so they could make their order and disrupted another class (who’s teacher is our clubs supervisor)…but all for nothing. long story short…none of us were able to order…the checkout page kept timing out… =(
    Perhaps the solution Sparkfun is looking for is to offer their products at a discount…but not just to anyone. School robotics clubs (like mine) and DIYers (like me) could send in requests specifically detailing what they are attempting to build, why they are building it, their motivation etc. And perhaps receive a certain % discount off their total order…I mean it is Supporting Creativity, Education, and self-motivated learning…

  • PS : If I’d known it was all over in 1h 44m 50s, I could’ve gone to bed much earlier !

  • I’m dejected - the site didn’t load even ONCE. Out here in India, I tried from 9:30pm local time till 1:30am in the dead of night, and my F5 key really wore out, but no luck! God knows I really needed some of them parts - there’s not much chance to get them here locally in India, and usually, the shipping to my location costs more than the parts are worth, so the 100$ credit would’ve REALLY helped. Flip side, I noticed ONE lucky guy in India did get lucky !! Wonder how he managed.

    • I understand your pain, but hey think about this… a lot of this stuff is coming from China, and you are a heck of a lot closer to China then we are! I’m sure you could source a lot of what you need from there, at least until they open the SparkFun: Middle East Division

  • I spent 1:45hrs trying to get thru check out. Every time I got in (which was only five times total) I couldn’t get through to the next step. Time-outs suck.

  • I got to the shipping page and that was it, and I was one of those pingers.
    Hello are you there? … Timed out
    Hello are you there? … Timed out
    Hello are you there? … Timed out
    You were there yesterday?
    Oh well my credit card will give me some free money… until the end of the month.

  • lol, freeday just showed me that I need to study a lot and get a nice job and get money to be rich and do not lose my time with this kind of stuff…
    a rich guy would go one day before and buy all he want in 5 minutes while I took 2 hours to get my page on the choose shippment method and than get an error…that because I had make my cart before the site lags, like 2 am MST or something…
    sparkfun did upgrade on their servers but everyone lagged… the site was very very laged and that shows there were a lot of people trying to buy but in 5 minutes noone got any order… and I believe if there were no lag, the freeday would end like 10-11 am MST or something…
    you know, that was the best way for sparkfun to get more famous if that was possible… congratulations for those luck guys (3 from brazil, my country)…
    also for the guy who got the bet stuff :P

  • When you’re waiting for a website to load and you hit F5, it creates (yet) another request and puts you to the back of the line (I think). I was counting on most people not knowing that and furiously hitting F5. Sure enough - I had 3 pages to load - and got them all to load and was able to place an order. 2 timeouts, 3 10-15 minutes page loads.
    Thanks sparkfun for the fun day! Can’t wait to play with my new robo-pal!
    I’m curious - what were some of the more popular product. The most popular was the LEDs, but only one person ordered them. What was the most popular by distribution of orders rather than quantity? It’s still showing 11 of the robot I ordered in stock, but I thought it would be one of the more popular items.

    • It makes sense, it terminates your existing connection. If the server or network dropped your connection, you will want to manually create a new connection than wait for it to time out.
      Also, sometimes the main HTML page loads, but, say, the CSS file, or some other media times out, then the page gets pretty crippled, and you have to refresh.
      Though, I’m sure a ton of people were doing it excessively.

      • See I disagree here. I think what was happening is that the connections werent even making it to the server.
        I was using firefox and whenever I refreshed the status bar would say “Connecting” which I believe indicates that my browser is awaiting an acknowledgment that my request was recieved. So what I did was keep hitting refresh until it said “Connected” which I believe indicates that a TCP acknowledgment was received from the server saying it got my request. At that point once the request is sent and acknowledgment is received then the TCP connection is open and SHOULD be ok (aside from being bogged down by all the other people trying to initiate a conversation with the server, hence the 10 min page loads you mentioned). Now that TCP conversation is only 1 request to the server, so I had to go through 3 or 4 of those to get all the way thru order confirmation.
        I just had an interesting thought though… if everything past the cart page were done in AJAX, users could potentially have had a better experience. ie. even if the ajax request failed the cart page would still be displayed (less frustrating then error pages) and errors could be handled in the javascript

  • Hey, Thanks again, I am one of the brazilians ; )
    As I have already said on my previous comment, the parts I bought will serve to build a USB solar charger, to finish a robot and to toy with a serial graphic lcd.
    Well if it was not for free day, I would have been able just to buy the robot parts, which I will split the cost with my friend.
    Thank you SparkFun, I will always think of buying from you when I don’t find parts in my city, well I already did that before, anyway…

  • I would like to know the data on the most popular browser/isp connection. I tried frantically every browser I had. Safari,Firefox,Opera,Camino all averaged about 1 time connecting to the site, but never could get all the way through checkout. Chrome got close, it made it past 3 page loads. In the end, none ever were able to get us some parts.

    • I don’t think browser would have much to do with it, it would still be interesting demographic info though.
      ISP might have significant impact though…

      • i steal my internet from the taco shop downstairs and i got through, so clearly my entry was accepted because it smelled like tacos.
        yeah, i think isp has something to do with it

      • I think mobile platforms recieved priority as a freind at work was able to connect every time on his Berry. He was just using it to see the time and $$ update. This is a network thing though, not SparkFun.

        • That makes a lot of sense, routers normally give phones and such devices priority because with a web page a few dropped packets means a slow page, but with voice a few dropped packets means a dropped call.

  • A thought for next year (my, the assumptions we make :)… randomly pick 1,000 registered users (not limiting it to buying customers) and give them $100 gift certificates or credit. That way SparkFun reaps the benefits of tens of thousands of new users who register at the site in the months before FD_2K11 (and hopefully buy something at some point)and none of us will ever again draw spousal aggro for sitting home frantically banging the reload key instead of going to work. “It almost loaded that time honey! Just 5 more minutes and I’ll go in, I swear!!!"
    You guys rock :)

  • I think your sales analysis might be a bit off… I ordered COM-08532 (x2). :) So… 147?

    • Agreed: five of them were in my order as well.
      SparkFun: thanks for an entertaining time. The IRC channels were a hoot. :)

      • You’re both correct - my query was pulling the most of one product on a single order, not all Free Day orders. Turns out it was the Mini Push Button Switch at 254 units! Post updated, and thanks for the FYI.

  • I started trying to log-in at 08:40 Mountain Time, I never even got the Log-in page to load until about 10:50; by then it was over. Why did some people get better connectivity than others?

    • Probably people who knew what links were those that submit info and were forging packets and injecting code, so they didn’t have to load the site from SF’s servers.

  • It’ll be interesting to see Google Anayltics’s take on the event, though I’m sure the GA javascript likely didn’t even get loaded in most cases… I know a number of people were stopping the page before it finished loading. The only real way would be to dump the serverlogs into a parser.

  • Steve15141: This was a stupid computer trick. We were all lined up outside the website, like at Wal-Mart at 5:00 am in the morning for a limited number of door busters.
    Well, no surprise when the doors opened it was a total virtual chaos.

    That’s exactly what I had in mind when I heard about Free Day. I’m a bit surprised at the number of people who didn’t expect it to be a virtual trampling with a high ratio of empty-handedness to success :-)

    • And this is why I’m amazed at the vitriol from the folks who didn’t get anything (like me). Seriously, did everyone that’s upset about how this went down NOT realize the servers were going to be pounded? I -knew- SFE was DDoSing itself, and was only off by four minutes on my end-of-run guess as a result. :-D

  • I thought it was awesome, although the site was too slow to get anything. I came very close a couple times though to getting the discount, but timeouts were a nightmare.
    In the future, get more servers or more bandwidth, whatever was the problem this time around. It seems that the database queries were taking forever. I look forward to your next day of giving back to your customers, because I’m staying one.

  • Do not do this again !!

  • Started at 8am PST with the computer already logged in to SparkFun.com. It took me an hour to get 3 items into my cart. Then spent another hour trying to get checked out, but the money ran out before I could even get past the shipping method page. Two hours wasted with nothing to show for it, and certainly no good impression of SparkFun’s technical expertise. I’m still a loyal customer, but, as far as Thank-You’s go…

  • once again life teaches me to never hope for anything…maybe ill get an arduino 6 or 8 months from now..guess till then my dog-bot plans are going back in the closet..ahh well, maybe y'all are planning something for next year?

  • well… i apparently wasn’t the only one in my school that knew about this, there was such a large number of students on sparkfun the schools internet server went down due to overload. Sad :( well anyways congrats on keeping yourself running maybe next upgrade is to the Apple X-Serve? It works great for my video editing class, loads of bandwidth, don’t crash maybe they’re not a bad option

  • In my opinion this pissed off more people than made people happy. That may or may not have been a good idea. There could have been a better way. Regardless I still purchased over $200 without a discount.

  • Congrats guys
    I can’t write much without getting sarcastic so I’ll just leave it short. It will be interesting to see in the next few months how this effects you guys: if the negative PR will hurt you in any way or if the newly generated publicity will more than offset it. I will be staying tuned - its the best geek soap opera on the net…

  • I was rather disappointed. I stayed up until free day was on in my local time and then spent two and a half hours adding three items to my cart with about a 1 in 25 chance of the page loading only for my order to be thwarted by some part of the checkout process that decides to reload the page every time you try and access it :(
    Hopefully you’ll do this again sometime with some much beefier hosting backing it up.

    • NO, beefier hosting just means it will end in 1 minute 45 seconds instead of an hour and 45 minutes.
      It needs to be an entirely different game!!!

  • Even though I wasn’t able to get my order in, it was still fun (and slightly frustrating) trying. The closest I got was to the “confirm order” button at which point the server timed out and when I refreshed it, it brought me back to my shopping cart. By the time I went through the links to buy it again, the $100,000 limit had been reached. I think that was an hour, 44 minutes and 50 seconds of pure adrenaline rush. Hopefully there’ll be a rush of new projects coming out and being featured here!

  • Not entirely sure why people are complaining, it was pretty fair in the end - some people got in, some didn’t. Thanks SparkFun :D

  • I think the servers were massive failures to this thing,
    i sat on the cart page and i clicked the checkout button a couple of times, order never went through, i will be uploading some videos to youtube very soon about what happened on my end of the line, and for those who got it to work, here is what actually happened to the less lucky,.
    the youtube channel is
    led235
    i will have the videos on before the nights end.
    feel free to comment as well,
    but hey, sparkfun did have success, so oh well

  • Maybe the marketing dept is thinking “Bad publicity is good publicity.” Your pass customers will probably think you are the greatest and still buy from you. 1000’s of people are aware of your existance (so thats good)…but most of those that tried for hours just to get a blank page will probably never buy from you.
    I can afford to buy components and do spend $100s every few month for part so not getting the $100 of free stuff won’t stall my projects but I for one will never make a purchase because of what we experienced today.

  • Wow I cant believe 8 New Zealanders got in… I sure didnt. Only got to the shopping cart! What a shame the servers couldnt have held up better, I feel sorry for my uncompleted robot… He was really counting on this.
    Thanks for putting this on though guys!

  • Thank you from Italy sparkguys, I’ll give you feedback about the project built with you gift!

  • Didn’t get my order in, but I am happy to participate in the insanity anyway! Well done SF, I look forward to many more years of awesome…

  • As a new customer and someone who was there the second it started, yet couldn’t complete the checkout process in that ~2 hours, I have some feedback for you.
    Your checkout process really should have been on another server. There are various ways to pick who gets to checkout but I mean, letting everyone? That’s crazy and very frustrating. Sure there is a scramble to get stuff into carts and click on checkout, but why allow everyone trying to checkout battle with the same traffic? Makes no sense.
    Also, as a new customer during the checkout I was prompted to make a new account. Once I did, I was redirected back to the home page…got to be kidding me! Considering that each click cost me another 15 minutes, making me click on the cart and checkout all over again was awful, and the final nail in my already slim chances.
    Great idea, bad execution. In terms of success? Need to set the bar higher.

  • That was one of the most painful online experiences. Would have been better off to raffle off $100 discount to 1000 lucky users. Yes free is free. Not being the lucky ones to get in on it is okay but the ordeal will left alot of bad taste on peoples minds. Like what others say…wonder how many of the 1000+ customers will actually use any of the loot.

  • The saddest part of this whole thing is knowing that many of the people who “won” are not electronics enthusiasts at all but rather people who got here from a link on hackaday.com and will list the stuff they “bought” on eBay five minutes after UPS delivers it.

  • As one who’s final page loaded at 11:46, nerd torture is a bit of an understatement. Here’s hoping that the $100,000 in marketing doesn’t overwhelm the store for future orders.

  • I have to first say thank you for helping me out jumpstart some electronics projects. I have always had an interest in learning microcontrollers and this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get started.
    I only stumbled upon sparkfun but you have now won a loyal customer. My girlfriend also tried but was unfortunately unable to get through. We both still had a blast though and really appreciate the fact that you guys did this for your customers.
    To all those out there that are angry that they were not able to get through, that was of course to be expected. Short of Google there is really no way they could’ve handled the kind of traffic that $100 worth of free electronics creates. Just think that the simple fact that they did this is amazing in today’s world and hey, who knows, maybe there’ll be a repeat =D.
    In short, congrats and THANK YOU ^_^

  • Im from New Zealand, yep got up at 4:30am for this, had my cart prepared, yet after 2:00 hours the furthest I could get was the shipping page. But of a bummer but w/e I guess I was never meant to get any free merch. Lol btw mine would have been the smallest priced order as I didn’t want to pay loads of shipping.
    Well this was one way of increasing sparkfuns popularity, not sure about there reputation…

  • There were definitely a lot of negative comments surrounding free day, but I hope that won’t stop SF and others from trying similar stunts in the future. I’d like to think that the complainers represent a (very vocal) minority. You guys did a great job, and anyone that expected more simply wasn’t being realistic. Thank you for your generous gift and your hard work!
    To those who weren’t able to get an order in: That’s a bummer, but there wasn’t enough for everyone, and we all knew that going into this thing. It still sucks, but I would humbly suggest that you spend your energy innovating instead of complaining. Show us what you can do without $100 of free parts. Be awesome.

  • Can’t wait for freeday 2011, with inflation adjusted totals of $100,000 per order, $1,000,000,000 max.

  • I think its pretty cool that this events has google trends has sparkfun listed as “volcanic”

  • Like so many others, all I could get was the home page, once about every half hour! I had everything ready to go, just needed to click the “buy” button! I’m amazed at the number of hits you guys got. Even if you had the fastest servers in the world it wouldn’t have changed the outcome. 1000 customers succeed out of perhaps 100,000 or more trying? Well it was fun anyway, a great idea, and I hope the folks that got their goodies enjoy them! By the way, I couldn’t find beer to add to my cart anywhere! Once you guys get caught up with things I’ll go ahead and order the goodies sitting in my cart.

  • Did my best to make that 28 from the UK but didn’t get through to your site once. Admittedly I had to use google’s cache to even find out what it was all about after spotting the tweets, so I was never very likely to succeed! Reading through some of the comments I do wonder if a self funded #freeday might be worth a try- I bet most of your customers have a bunch of stuff they’re never going to use. Help them swap?
    Time for a spot of window shopping now your site’s back up!!

  • Congrats guys!!, I didn?t get anything either but what a time, that was more exited than a roller coster ryde!!

  • Sparkfun Freeday was posted up on Slickdeals and Fatwallet. We were hosed from the start

  • Would changing the browser timeout length have any effect on the distinction people are pointing out between “servers are slow” and “servers are not slow, they’re DOWN!”?
    I should have thought of that this morning. :)
    I finalized my cart yesterday, but this morning some items I had removed were back in. I thought that was interesting–reaaaally slow responses to previous add to cart requests? Or the database getting mixed up somehow?
    Thanks in any case!…I didn’t get any free stuff, but it was fun to watch and I have some well-researched project ideas now, just have to save up a little longer.

  • Thanks so much for doing this! I was able to complete my order and I cannot wait to come pick up my box o' stuff! Thanks again, this was so much fun!

  • So having learned from the experience, are you ready to go again next week? ;)
    While I didn’t catch any free stuff it was a great event, thanks for giving us all the chance. It was instersting to hear the buzz around the globe as it happened too.
    Best regards,
    Colin

  • Free day was going to be the first time I ordered anything from sparkfun. Then I tried to put an order together and it bombed out real fast so I gave up. Oh well. Still fun to watch.

  • 1064 total customers served out of 110k trying. I guess it beats giving everyone just under a buck. Still, I wish I’d managed to get an arduino and character display, but so it goes (there’s always Christmas). In my experience, the site wasn’t too bad until I tried to get to the ssl pages. I’m kinda surprised the last person through the door didn’t get less than 10 bucks off though.

  • I’m glad to see the pregnant lady has a Nalgene bottle in her hand! Congrats guys! I didn’t get anything done today, too busy watching the whole ordeal.

  • Thanks guys - the xbees will be a real asset to my messing around with arduinos,
    Good to see that 7 other New Zealanders got their orders in as well :)

    • Not bad for 5am huh? :-D
      Cheers SparkFun, you’ve given me my first Arduino!!


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