Free Day: T-Minus One Week

Free Day is only a week away! Are you ready?

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Wow, time really flies! It seems like just yesterday we were eating turkey and watching the leaves change. Where did December go?! Like it or not, 2012 is here and with it comes one of the craziest days here at SparkFun - yes, we're talking about Free Day!

Free Day 2012 is a week from today - that means on January 11th, 2012, you will have a chance at winning a $100 share of a pot of $200,000 worth of SparkFun credit. Here are the basics of Free Day:

The Rules: The give away starts at 9AM MST and is limited to $100 per person. Each winner will get a gift code that can be used at SparkFun within 60 days.

Stipulations: In order to participate, you must register an account on, and use a modern browser with JavaScript and cookies enabled. (Sorry, Lynx!)

The System: We're doing away with the quiz system of 2011 and trying to return to a give-away system that is as simple as possible, but can handle the load of the Free Day crowd. The system will randomly give away the 2,000 gift codes (2000 * $100 = $200,000) throughout the day. For example, if we set up a 7 hour giveaway window, we should see a gift given away about every 12 seconds. We will allow people to try for the prize as many times as they'd like, but we will have a basic system to prove you're not a script.

That pretty much sums it up! If past Free Days are any example, Free Day 2012 will be an intense and fun day. Remember the event starts at 9 AM on January 11th. Best of luck to everyone! Cheers!

Comments 74 comments

  • EvilGenius121 / about 12 years ago / 3

    HAHA. Just misread your banner up top for site downtime. Thought it said the 11th.... :) :)

  • jchalo99 / about 12 years ago / 3

    please add pst to the when it starts.

  • EvilGenius121 / about 12 years ago / 2

    Ok, I must be totally obsessed with free day or something, because last night I dreamed it was thursday the 12th and I forgot all about free day. I woke up and went to check my ipod to see what day it was.. Thanks for the sleepless nights, sparkfun!!! :(

  • gdahilig / about 12 years ago / 2

    Free Day! Awesome! I just got an Arduino for Xmas and am a total electronics Noob. Have been putting together my parts list ever since. The funny thing is I bought my daughter an Arduino starter kit for Xmas and my wife bought the same for me! She couldn't help but noticed how much I wanted one too!

    Looking forward to Free Day, whether I score on a coupon code or not!

  • Member #228967 / about 12 years ago / 2

    There is no age limit, correct? My 11 year old is looking for his own Sparkfun cash, and wants to try on his own.

    • Correct! Anyone with a Sparkfun account can try for it.

    • It's more likely that it's per user account, otherwise that would, as you say, upset people on large LANs, WANs and VPNs...

  • Popa / about 12 years ago / 2

    Question - are you going to restrict to one gift per IP? I've got a few coworkers that I've told about this and we'll all likely be trying to get through.

    • Question - are you going to restrict to one gift per IP?


    • Yahya / about 12 years ago / 1

      Smart phone, home boy.

      • Popa / about 12 years ago / 1

        Yeah I tried that last year. Didn't work out so well for me. I spent about an hour and a half trying to get onto their site from my cell and got nowhere.

  • Member #129778 / about 12 years ago / 2

    Free Day is my birthday this year? How thoughtful of you, Sparkfun.

    Now I just have to win?

    • TECH GEEK / about 12 years ago / 2

      Today is my Birthday!!! =D

    • Member #109708 / about 12 years ago / 1

      It's my 17th anniversary. So, um, SparkFun... Could you please have the window end before, say, 6:30pm CST? Otherwise, this might be my last anniversary. :)

  • cborrero / about 12 years ago * / 1

    Way to go guys!!! Electronic Design published an article on February 22, 2012 about DIY Electronics Kits, where 80% of the article talks about sparkfun. Thank you guys for your hard work, to help us, Hobbyists and Engineers get back to the roots of electronics.


  • Manneh / about 12 years ago / 1

    Whoa! How did i manage to miss this? o.O

  • MoeHoward / about 12 years ago / 1

    consider adding the following rule:

    "By participating in Free Day, you forfeit all rights to complain--on any medium--if you didn't win anything."

    and call it the 'No Winning, No Whining Rule'


    Good luck everyone; see you at the checkout queue.

  • So all I have to do is login and hope I get randomly picked?!?

    • EvilGenius121 / about 12 years ago / 1

      pretty much that and refreshing a page as fast as you can read if you won or not...

      • refresh my account page or the main page while I'm logged in?

        • EvilGenius121 / about 12 years ago / 1

          I think the main page. or they might put out a special freeday page. no one is really sure yet! :)

  • David Arrrrrrrr / about 12 years ago / 1

    It may be too late for this year, but the "prove you're not a bot" part sounds like a job for recaptcha (and they are free).

    • Colecago / about 12 years ago / 1

      recaptcha's always mess with me. I get upside down words, random greek characters, math symbols, super and sub scripts, foreign words that are mashed together and unreadable, cursive, etc. I always get the worst recaptchas.

  • TylerD / about 12 years ago / 1

    I don't understand what you are supposed to do to enter... (so im already a registered user so what do i do? )

  • Wylly / about 12 years ago / 1

    I'm not sure if I have understood how it works. In order to participate you only have to visit the webpage (and be pretty lucky) or placing a new order during that time?

    Also, a suggestion to make it easier as you sell worldwide, how about a clock showing the time left for the free day to start? That would definitely be much clear and it is an exciting banner to see every day when we open your web :)

    • PaulGroenendaal / about 12 years ago / 2

      Since they don't have one here I created my own timer with some help of google and a guy with a website called 7is7 :)

  • icyfyer / about 12 years ago / 1

    Man, I LOVE Free Day. I sat there for HOURS last year, trying to burn down the SparkFun data center, and got a cool 10$ out of the whole deal. I don't think it gets any better.

    Someone cue the whiners and sore losers to enter from stage left.

  • Missing school this day... please do it on a weekend or something!

  • MoriFi / about 12 years ago / 1

    Really no Lynx, mann that's my primary browser.

  • I will be at CES!!!!!!!

  • Calif / about 12 years ago / 1

    How does it give away the gift codes? By reloading

  • Bigbrother / about 12 years ago / 1

    Dang! I read it was the 12th so I asked for that day off..

    Another freeday missed.

    • PaulGroenendaal / about 12 years ago / 1

      I thought it was the 12th too! But it's at 5pm here so no worries for me. If you asked a day off for a (small) chance on winning 100$ on electronics it's a good idea to apply for a different job with better wages on the 12th. :)

  • mdot / about 12 years ago / 1

    We will allow people to try for the prize as many times as they'd like...[snip]

    Did I miss a post where the actual action of "we will allow people to try" was explained?

    • Nope. We're keeping it under our hats until the day of. It's nothing terribly fancy.

      • mdot / about 12 years ago / 5


        I was worried that there was a whole SparkFun Secret Society that operates much like the Free(day) Masons, or (LED) Illuminati.

      • SparklessInSeattle / about 12 years ago / 2

        A gentle request, please?

        Could the method of trying, whatever it turns out to be, be generally compatible with surfing the website, skimming datasheets, reading tutorials, and drinking in the wonder that is That would make it time well spent!

        I would be tempted to participate even if I had to just keep clicking a picture of the Michelin Man, but I'd rather not feel too much like a lab rat trained in how to get a piece of cheese...

        • 172pilot / about 12 years ago / 1

          Thats what made last year so cool.. chatting with other freeloaders trying to figure out the right technical answers, surfing the tutorials, etc.. It actually got me interested in some new stuff to spend my free money on.. Obviously I'm going to participate this year, because $100 is $100, but if the object is just to refresh a page, I'm wondering if we're going to just be stress-testing some cache somewhere, or maybe their internet connection, rather than the real processing power of their server farm.. Oh well, I KNOW they know what they want to accomplish, and I'm happy to take the money either way..

        • Thanks for the kind words regarding the site in general.

          Sadly, the constraints we've set ourselves for this time around (low overhead and simplicity of implementation) have dictated a fairly lab-rat-like experience.

          This is always an experiment; next year might well be more interactive, depending on how this goes.

  • PaulGroenendaal / about 12 years ago * / 1

    If you aren't sure what 9AM MST is in your place, use wolframalpha :) (it gives you a nice clock with the time in your place) Or check this countdown (correct me if I'm wrong):

  • dsatterf / about 12 years ago / 1

    I guess all I will see this Free Day is 'comp01:~#' :-(

  • Blueblast88 / about 12 years ago / 1

    so thats 11 eastern right?

  • Comrad_Durandal / about 12 years ago / 1

    Sounds awesome - assuming Sparkfun's website won't be 503 Unavailable the entire time. :)

  • I've amended Emcee Grady's post with a few extra stipulations. If you have any further questions, ask away; I may or may not provide useful answers, depending.

  • DrPhibes / about 12 years ago / 1

    How many registered users are eligible? Just trying to work out minute to minute probability.

    • By Free Day, I expect we will be a bit shy of 300000 registered accounts. This is probably not a very useful number, since many are dormant.

  • tomdavies / about 12 years ago / 1

    This is the day before my gcse, and instead of revising like mad I'm going to be sitting in front of a computer refreshing every 5 seconds..

    • Kevin Vermeer / about 12 years ago / 6

      Keep your priorities straight: This is pretty awesome, but it's just $100. Pass your exam, and you can have your own, personal free day! Well, it won't be free, but you'll have money you wouldn't have had if you'd spent the day refreshing

      Seriously, check the opportunity cost. How many of us could work for 5-10 hours on Free Day, make $100, and buy stuff on a less busy day? I suspect quite a few. And yet, we'll be here.

      • Marty200 / about 12 years ago / 5

        And how many will be at work getting paid trying for free stuff?

        • I won't be getting paid because I have to be in school so I plan on going to the purpose room at 11 and staying for study hall and lunch. Then I'm racing home after school lets out and trying some more (assuming I haven't already won anything)!!!

          I'm so excited to be able to participate in free day this year!

      • tomdavies / about 12 years ago / 1

        I suppose you're right, revision it is :/

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