Member #134773

Member Since: May 19, 2010

Country: United States


I started playing with electronics in the mid-1960s, and with computers shortly after Neil Armstrong took “one small step”. I got a degree in CS in 1980, and started working then as an engineer.

  • I should add that there are “managers” who view SparkFun (and others) as being places that (WRONGLY) can’t possibly supply goods of high enough quality to allow orders from their companies, but they won’t bat an eyelash at approving an order to DigiKey.

  • There are some “professional” electronics folks (for some value of “professional”) who don’t go to, but do visit DigiKey’s web site. Some of them may find it a handy device. And even if DigiKey actually sells them, I believe that they represent some revenue to SparkFun.

  • I suggest you go read DigiKey’s history (you’ll need to click on the “Company History” tab). They, too, started by supplying parts to hobbyists, and have evolved into one of the largest parts suppliers in the world (currently #7 worldwide). But they still welcome orders of 1 or 2, though admittedly, on some things, it can actually cost less to buy 10 than to buy just 1. (OK, there are some things, like 1/4W resistors, that have a minimum quantity of 5 or 10, but those are still only a few cents for the package.)

    I very much wish SparkFun luck on following DigiKey’s lead; just NEVER FORGET the customers who gave you your start. (I’ve seen many companies abandon their original customer base. It’s very frustrating for the “little guy”.)

    I’ve been a DigiKey customer since about 1973, and can only think of three times I’ve contacted their “customer service”, and one of those was to praise their packing on a box that literally had been through a train wreck with none of the electronics having been damaged. They were quick and cheerful about correcting the problems.

    I haven’t yet had occasion to order a hundred or more of a single item from SparkFun, but it’s nice to know I can. (It’s been my experience that companies like Arrow really don’t want to talk to someone who isn’t likely to order less than $1000/year or so.)

  • One advantage of having grown up in the 1960s was being able to get some useful things by tearing dead zinc-carbon batteries apart. And Radio Shack had a “battery club” that would get you a free (zinc-carbon) battery each month.

    I still have some 9V battery tops I salvaged from dead batteries to use as connectors (soldering on wires) in projects.

  • Digi-Key has two listings for AAAA alkaline batteries (and abut 30 for battery holders!). But the batteries are a bit pricey, especially considering the amount of energy they hold. (Search for keyword AAAA under “Battery products”.)

    Also, if you have a Batteries Plus Bulbs in your neck of the woods, they have AAAA batteries listed on their web site. (They’re also great for things like laptop and cell phone replacement batteries, as well as for [mobility] scooters.)

  • One other tidbit: Adafruit announced the RFM69s and breakout boards a few days ago. Their version of the breakout boards have on-board 3.3V regulators and level shifters (in case you’re wanting to put them into a 5V system), as well as provision for adding uFL or SMA edgemount connectors in case you want something more than a wire antenna.

    There are advantages to both versions.

  • Just remember that if your operating it under your Amateur license, you have to have it transmit your callsign as “plain text” at least once every 10 minutes.

    It also seems to me that you might want to avoid running “high power” radios on the same band, as I suspect it may be possible to fry the front ends by overloading them (e.g., hitting the transmit button on your 50 watt mobile 70cm rig while in the garage with only a couple of layers of wallboard and maybe 20 feet of air between the mobile antenna and the RFM69). Yeah, the 433 MHz version is down in the parts of the band that the bandplans reserve for “links”, but the bottom of the voice repeater portion is only 7MHz, or less than 2%, away.

    While we’re on the topic of Amateur radio, I noticed over on the Adafruit website a few days ago that “Lady Ada” (Limor Fried, founder of Adafruit) went to take the Technician test, and ended up passing that, the General, and the Extra Class in the same session. Congrats to AC2SN (found on!

  • “Androgynous” would be an alternative to “genderless” that the spell checkers might like, though Google searches suggest that both are valid words.

  • For things like the adhesive bar pins, craft stores like Michael’s or JoAnne’s often have coupons in the Sunday newspaper or the junk snail-mail for around 40% off any one item.

  • Here in the U.S., craft stores like Michael’s or JoAnne’s usually have the adhesive bar pins, in packages with fewer than the 144 listed in the on-line link (and at a lower price). Also, check the junk-snail-mail and the local Sunday newspaper, as they often have coupons with about 40% off any one item.

No public wish lists :(