Member Since: March 1, 2011

Country: United States

Today we learn about etching PCBs at home, on the cheap and quick! We even get a little fancy with it!

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Experiments in weatherproofing electronic circuits by forcing them through an unmodified document laminator.

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When SparkFun went to DragonCon 2014, I saw an opportunity to become a robot.

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Reverse engineering a $30 MaKey MaKey derivative with good intentions (but no attribution)

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Just in time for Arduino Day, we're bringing you the magic of infographics.

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...in a long line of wonderful and necessary scams.

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RFID is getting under Nick's skin...

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What happens when people do bad things with good tech?

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"What would you say... you do here?"

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How and why we built a tiny Internet of Things apartment at SparkFun HQ.

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Can biometric data help shed light on panic and anxiety?

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In this final installment, we talk about the completed workspace from parts I and II

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Wondering how to organize all of the tools and materials in your workspace? Look to the pros for inspiration!

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A few notes on the inner workings of Nest's new smoke detector

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Back to "The Future!"

Revisiting an earlier post about The Future and getting a little direction.

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SparkFun in 3D

An update on our efforts to provide 3D models of popular SparkFun parts

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What happened to our enthusiasm for "The Future," and how is the Maker Movement bringing it back?

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Find out how and why we're modeling our products in 3D... and how you can help!

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Build your own Vacuum Molding machine and start making plastic parts in your home shop!

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Nick covers for Rob as we wave 'hello' to some new products!

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While the media team is away, Nick and Dave take matters into their own hands for a unique new product post.

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Turn your week around with some revolutionary new products.

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It's time to brighten your day with a glowing line-up of new products.

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ESP8266 Powered Propane Poofer

March 15, 2016

Learn how Nick Poole built a WiFi controlled fire-cannon using the ESP8266 Thing Dev Board!

Making Music with the FreeSoC2

August 14, 2015

Create a synth keyboard with the FreeSoC2 from SparkFun.

Ludus Protoshield Hookup Guide

July 30, 2015

Get started with the SparkFun Ludus Protoshield and Ludus Protoshield Wireless!

FLIR Lepton Hookup Guide

March 26, 2015

See the invisible world of infrared radiation using the FLIR Dev Kit and Raspberry Pi.

Light-Up Father's Day Card

June 9, 2014

Light up your dad's day with this electronic pop-up card!

Teardown: DDC Mobile X900

June 3, 2014

Nate picked up a bricktastic phone in China. Let's take it apart!!!

Interactive Hanging LED Array

April 10, 2014

Learn how we converted 72 lightbulbs into an interactive LED array for our conference room.

Teardown: Misfit Shine Activity Tracker

April 3, 2014

A quick tear down of the popular fitness tracking device, the Misfit Shine.

MYST Linking Book

March 18, 2014

Create your own Linking Book from the classic computer game, MYST

Build an Auduino Step Sequencer

March 6, 2014

Make a Step Sequencer using an Arduino, the Auduino firmware, and a handful of hardware.

Nest Protect Teardown

January 15, 2014

See the inner-workings of the new Nest Protect in this SparkFun Teardown.

Recreating Classic Electronics Kits

January 13, 2014

100-in-1? 500-in-1? It's up to you when you build your own Science Fair style experiment board!

pcDuino Crowdsource Kiosk

January 9, 2014

Getting People to do your job for you (badly) with some chocolate and a pcDuino!

Building the HUB-ee Buggy

September 6, 2013

Let's build the HUB-ee Buggy: A simple robot based on the HUB-ee wheel system!

Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

August 12, 2013

Learn the basics about LEDs as well as some more advanced topics to help you calculate requirements for projects containing many LEDs.

The Uncertain 7-Cube

March 8, 2013

The Uncertain 7-Cube is a non-committal, less-than-helpful, but also entirely honest fortune teller. Simply ask it a yes or no question, give it a nudge, and the 7-Cube will dutifully inform you that it doesn’t have all the facts and doesn’t feel comfortable making a guess.
  • You’re completely right about drilling before you etch.

    Also, your tips about making pins do double duty as vias and also using clipped leads as shunts are really great. I’ve found all kinds of uses for clipped leads.

  • Awesome, let me know how that goes! The only thing to worry about when it comes to carbon is that it’s conductive. Theoretically, the resin should shield the fiber from conducting directly to your components but I assume it will effect the dielectric of the board, so certain RF or power circuits might really not like it.

    The woven Kevlar I used here is actually Kevlar in one direction and carbon in the other and if you push test probes into the board, there is indeed a very conductive layer of carbon fiber (corner-to-corner on a 2" square board I could get as few as 50ohms)

    That being said, selectively adding bundles of carbon fiber to a glass or Kevlar layup might be an interesting way of building resistors and variable resistors.

  • Thanks for doubling down on this, it is super worth saying again for the people in the back.

  • NEVER!

    I figured it out, our image carousel doesn’t gracefully re-size images. I got rid of the offenders.

  • The prodigal son returns to comment!

  • I’m afraid you’re right, we can’t force anyone to be a customer and we’d never want to because building a healthy, positive online (or offline) community is about letting people self-select and self-identify based on their preferences.

    But wherever you end up, please remember that there are real people and stories behind every blog post and every project and almost none of them have intent to harm you or bore you or otherwise cause offense. Mike was really excited about this project, because it is stupid and it was a welcome break from hard engineering. We also thought it was a really good example of how you can have a lot of fun and get big effects by using inexpensive consumer goods in non-conventional ways. Mike and I spent a good chunk of time after hours just hanging out at the office and talking about the project, getting everyone together to shoot the video was nothing but a fun time (as the video no doubt conveys) and at the end of the day it felt like a callback to SparkFun’s prankster days (a few examples are in the blog post) which made our videographer, Gregg, feel really good about it. Also, Mike got to reverse-document a piece of consumer electronics and talk a little bit about how the circuit works.

    All of this is to say that you are of course entitled to your own opinion, and you don’t need to like our content or buy our products, but you’re not entitled to shame our staff for work that we’re all proud of and had fun doing. You’ll get very little mileage out of people that way.

    If you choose to hang around, and we really do hope you will (because who hasn’t felt this way about a website that they’re fond of before? I know that I have) we’re sure that you’ll find more stuff that you’re interested in. Sure, this is an eclectic blog and not everything here will be interesting or even appropriate for everyone. But what we can promise is that it won’t ever be vulgar and that it will always be motivated by an interest in how things work, how things are made and how to have fun with science and technology… even if sometimes that fun is a little dangerous.

    If we don’t hear from you again: Happy hacking, Kevin, and let us know what you’re hacking on anytime, we love a good project :) We’d like to think that your interest in all-ages education and nurturing curiosity are right in line with ours and it’s nice to know that even the customers that may not agree with our voice or our sense of humor at least share that common attitude.


  • Your project sounds awesome!

    The pull-down resistor actually solves both of the problems that you brought up. If you attach a large resistor between the ‘wiper’ and ground, it will connect the softpot’s wiper to ground whenever you aren’t touching it. When you are touching it, the resistance of the softpot becomes low enough that the pull-down resistor basically disappears. Now, since you know that the softpot will always be connected to ground when you aren’t touching it, you can write a few lines of code to check if analogRead(softpot)!=0 which would mean that there must be something pressing on the track.

    If you’re concerned about not being able to use the zero position of the slider, just remember that your program can be made to think that “zero” is anywhere on the device. You can create a new virtual zero slightly in from the extreme edge of the device. For example softpotValue=map(analogRead(softpot), 20, 1023, 0, 50); would give you 50 discrete touch points above the device’s actual ‘0’ position. In this case, you would check to see if analogRead(softpot)!=0 and if that’s true then you know you have a touch event, then you would run the map function and check softpotValue to get your touch value. If you’re not touching it, there’s no touch event. If you are touching the very bottom end of the device (where analogRead(softpot)==20) then your softpotValue will be 0

  • The throwie seems to be completely watertight, the only thing you have to watch out for is the sharp edges of the LED package or leads that might punch a hole in the laminate.

  • Yup! The ones I have are really similar to this but I get them in multiple sizes on ebay for dirt cheap. Hard to say how the quality stacks up.

WiFi Poofer

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Claw Machine

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Chameleon Box

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Captain America Shield

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Elastolite parts from the glowing Captain America shield build.


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Space-Age Science Fun

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AVC Sales Booth

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HUB-ee Buggy

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Everything I used in the HUB-ee Buggy robot build for the...

Button Kit

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This is the parts list for the Retail Button Kit (RTL-11439)

McMurdo RC

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Bare Minimum for Remote Control. You’ll need some wire and...

ProtoShield Kit

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SparkFun Inventor's Kit for Arduino

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Tool Kit - Intermediate

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Tool Kit - Deluxe

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This is the list of items included in the Deluxe Tool Kit...

Tool Kit - Deluxe (Old)

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Tool Kit - Intermediate (Old)

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