Member Since: May 20, 2010

Country: United States



Rocket Scientist

Spoken Languages

English, Klingon

Programming Languages

Whatever best gets the job done, usually C. My favorite language was Modula-2 (look it up).


WPI, CU Boulder. Degrees in aerospace engineering and computer science.


Spacecraft systems engineering, embedded systems engineering, low-level firmware, 3D graphics and animation, and troubleshooting (but real trouble shoots back).


Hacking (the good kind), scuba diving, dumpster-diving for obsolete hardware, anything that flies (from bees to the Space Shuttle), birdwatching, sending stuff into orbit and beyond.



SpaceX's newest rocket is almost ready for its debut. And it's a monster.

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A look at what PRS/A+PRS competitors will be facing on September 17

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Sweeping legal changes are afoot that could change the hobbyist airspace for years to come. Your input can make a difference.

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CubeSats will soon be traveling beyond LEO, and are available in a new compact size. We check in with the people pushing the limits.

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On April 5th, teams from around Colorado will try out their miniature Mars rovers in the Great Sand Dunes.

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How to handle the child for whom disassembling their toys is more fun than actually playing with them.

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SparkFun returns to the AIAA Small Satellite Conference with more people, more stuff, and export-controlled sombreros.

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What did you do on your summer vacation? These students are launching experiments on government sounding rockets.

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You've just finished your new project. Before you apply power, here are a few tips to keep the smoke in.

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Mike and Pete take a road trip to an innovative aerospace conference to find out more about the final frontier for amateur spacecraft makers

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Rock-climbing researchers use clever dataloggers to solve a migration mystery and help save a species.

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Your Personal Black Box

Inexpensive sensors and storage are giving us the ability to record our lives, revisit the past, and sometimes solve mysteries.

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Sam Berrada dropped by to show off the sign language to speech system he designed. Did we mention he's in the 8th grade?

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LilyPad ProtoSnap Plus Activity Guide

December 7, 2017

Learn how to program in Arduino with the LilyPad ProtoSnap Plus. This guide includes 10 example activities that use the pre-wired LilyPad boards on the LilyPad ProtoSnap Plus.

LilyPad ProtoSnap Plus Hookup Guide

October 5, 2017

The LilyPad ProtoSnap Plus is a sewable electronics prototyping board that you can use to learn circuits and programming with Arduino, then break apart to make an interactive fabric or wearable project.

Powering LilyPad LED Projects

December 17, 2016

Learn how to calculate how many LEDs your LilyPad project can power and how long it will last.

Hobby Servo Tutorial

May 26, 2016

Servos are motors that allow you to accurately control the rotation of the output shaft, opening up all kinds of possibilities for robotics and other projects.

RFM69HCW Hookup Guide

April 29, 2016

The RFM69HCW is an inexpensive transceiver that you can use to create all kinds of wireless projects. This tutorial will help you get started.

LilyPad Pixel Board Hookup Guide

September 16, 2015

Add changing colors to your wearable projects using LilyPad Pixel Boards.

Cackling Apple Head Witch

October 30, 2014

Make your own cackling apple head witch to scare all of the trick or treaters this Halloween!

LTC4150 Coulomb Counter Hookup Guide

September 18, 2014

A "Coulomb Counter" is like a gas gauge for your battery. Here's how to use it.

BMP180 Barometric Pressure Sensor Hookup

January 9, 2014

The BMP180 is a barometric pressure sensor, this tutorial tells you how to use it.

TSL2561 Luminosity Sensor Hookup Guide

December 27, 2013

The TSL2561 is an light sensor that's very inexpensive for the accuracy it provides. Here's how to use it.

Getting Started with the LilyPad MP3 Player

May 8, 2013

The LilyPad MP3 Player is an amazing little board that contains almost everything you need to play audio files. You can use it to create all kinds of noisy projects, from MP3 hoodies to talking teddy bears. Your imagination is the only limit! This tutorial will help you get started.

What is a Circuit?

February 6, 2013

Every electrical project starts with a circuit. Don't know what a circuit is? We're here to help.

Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI)

January 14, 2013

SPI is commonly used to connect microcontrollers to peripherals such as sensors, shift registers, and SD cards.
  • You don’t know the kind of escalation that can cause. We’ve hooked up such things to car batteries.

  • Belated thanks for chiming in; it’s always good to hear from the original engineers on a part!

    We do connect the POL signal to a pull-up resistor on the board as you can see on the schematic. We’ve also endeavored to inform users (through this guide and silk on the PCB) that the maximum battery voltage is 8.5V. Please let us know if you noticed that we’re violating either of these criteria; we certainly shouldn’t be.

  • Yes; you connect the out+ and out- to the hardware you’re powering. (See the diagrams on the “Connecting the Hardware” page.) The Coulomb Counter board then sits between the battery and your hardware, measuring the power your hardware is using.

  • I’ll often take off in one direction and fall over as well. I don’t know why either.

  • Hi Rachel, you certainly can. They may run slightly quieter than the 8 ohm speakers, but if you turn up your volume a bit they should work well.

  • I don’t think the weight of the roadster will be a problem for this rocket. ;) In fact the car is so far below the advertised capacity, it’s probably going to have to throttle way back to keep the car from leaving the solar system entirely.

  • I can’t speak for everyone here, but I’m thrilled to be working at SparkFun. I’ll also just leave this here: I know a number of people who work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the forefront of space exploration. When I told them I started working at SparkFun, they were incredibly excited for me, which blew me away.

  • Very cool! But I’m starting to worry about Hord.

  • Thanks for doing that. :) Aerospace engineering is an interesting mix of English and metric units; typically (but not always) metric for flight and astrodynamics parameters, and English for machining. When the two are mixed, you need to be very careful. I recall someone asking Musk himself why everything at SpaceX wasn’t done in metric, and he replied that because many of the large machine tools they use are antiques (so were built to English standards) and last forever, it wouldn’t be cost-effective to replace or modify them.

  • I wouldn’t say “competing against,” since Orbital and SpaceX were both awarded ISS Commercial Cargo contracts by NASA, that they are both actively fulfilling. But you’re correct in that Orbital Sciences (now Orbital ATK) was the only other small company to successfully challenge the US satellite launching industry, which had been dominated by large defense contractors since the dawn of the space age. Orbital’s air-launched Pegasus rocket was the first privately-funded rocket to reach orbit (in 1990), which is why I said that SpaceX’s Falcon 1 was the first privately-funded ground-launched rocket to reach orbit (in 2006). The differences are the growth in launch cadence SpaceX is currently achieving, and the reusability factor, which may allow Musk to reach his stated goal of reducing the cost of spaceflight by 10X or more.