SparkFun will be closing early at 3:30 Friday 5/27 and remain closed Monday for Memorial Day (5/30). Orders placed after 2pm MT on Friday (5/27) will process and ship out on Tuesday (5/31).


Member Since: June 29, 2011

Country: United States



Boston Area IEEE Robotics & Automation Society http://www.robotics-boston.org/

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  • The 555 Timer is not useless, and can be fun.

    It is, however, mostly useless, and is rarely a professional solution to anything… do note, however, that rare things do happen.

    555 Timers are rarely the most appropriate IC for timing applications, even when eschewing microcontrollers. Often, Schmitt Triggers are a much more appropriate choice; they’re even much easier to use. By comparison, 555 Timers are needlessly education-y; fine if you want to learn something, but if you just want a good circuit, they’re usually the wrong answer to a problem.

    Other specialized timing ICs exist as well that more correctly solve timing problems for a given circuitry problem at a given price-point.

    See similar articles here, which appropriately point out those ICs and circuits that, in practice, are simply more appropriate in most circumstances than using 555 Timers:

    http://electronicdesign.com/boards/555-best-ic-ever-or-obsolete-anachronism http://www.ecteducation.co.uk/index.php/2010/04/hello-world/

  • The correct answer is always both.

    The first version of a board you try should always have header pins pre-installed on it, until you know how the board behaves well enough to understand if your soldering job is at fault for a circuit’s misbehavior. Once you understand the board, you use it to prototype a project.

    Sometimes, when you’ve got a particular project in mind, you want to prototype with particular types of headers attached. So your next boards you will want headerless.

    When you’ve finished prototyping a project, and you want to install a board into a project in a finished form, you’ll again want a board without headers attached. So you’ll buy another board without headers attached.

    As you finish more and more projects, you’ll eventually use more boards without headers than the ones you prototype with… unless you accidentally destroy or lose your prototyping boards.

    New boards are always going to start out header-heavy, in order to guarantee they can be experimented with properly. But the mark of a useful board is that the number of headerless boards will rise during the lifetime of the board, rapidly outpacing the headered boards, because it keeps being permanently installed into projects. It’s not the “total sold with headers vs. total sold without headers” over time that matters… It’s those two numbers over time that you need to track.

    Also, it’s important to remember that Arduinos completely throw off your numbers, because most newbies only come to SparkFun after they’ve already learned a thing or two, usually with some other Arduino. Another thing that will throw off the numbers is, the fancier the components, the more likely someone is to spin their own board for a complete project rather than solder your board down, just because the expertise they are required to have to use that component allows them to.

  • A sad orphan holds an empty Sparkfun delivery box

    Please sir… can I have some more… ?

  • The Lego Train Tracks Full Rundown video is missing.

  • I scoff at your meager hacks. Soda can stoves are PRO. https://youtu.be/fbHHQrh9m58 http://www.thesodacanstove.com/alcohol-stove/how-to-build.html

  • The tutorial materials pertaining to formatting SD Cards are naive, wrong, and potentially damaging. The One Laptop Per Child organization did intensive investigation into the performance of SD cards, because their installed base depended on them. Please see this document they posted on the matter, and conduct a proper investigation on how to correct your tutorial accordingly. I would start with contacting the SD Card Association, and the major manufacturers, and asking them what their preferred formatting procedures and tools are. You will no doubt be shocked at the differences from the ham-fisted approaches currently implemented in the Mac, Windows, and even Linux utilities you are currently recommending.

    This tool appears on the SD Card Association’s website, probably for damn good reason; asking the SD Card Association should tell you when and where you should and shouldn’t use it.

  • All it took was hijacking Atmel’s tour truck to bluff my way in, but I did it! I’ve got Sparkfun’s latest prototype!!!

  • Agreed on the header thing. And it needs another pot for the speed of the return stroke, too.

  • Don’t forget the IEEE’s Women In Engineering (WIE) group: http://www.ieee.org/membership_services/membership/women/index.html

    1. Interrupt Driven Programming How to build software that actually reacts, instead of just waits on a polling loop. Why this can be critically important, particularly for events that might be missed in between polling loops. Talk in depth about interrupt priorities. Compare an Arduino, which cannot do nested interrupts, to smarter processors, which can handle multiple nested interrupts. Point out that just about no processor can do multiple simultaneous interrupts, regardless of how many cores it has, due to being on a single system bus, rather than a switched fabric; notable exceptions to this, if any.

    2. Hard-Real-Time Software What Hard-Real-Time, Soft-Real-Time, and other varieties of “Real-Time” mean. What this means for which C standard libraries to use, and POSIX compliance issues. Implementing a Hard-Real-Time system on baremetal. Implementing Hard-Real-Time with one or more Hard-Real-Time OSes.

    3. Complete HID Device development The complete process of HID Device development, from start to finish. Implementing:

    4. Buttons
    5. Digital Joysticks
    6. Analog Joysticks, Analog Pedals, & Analog Triggers
    7. Trackballs & Mouse sensors
    8. Capturing data from sensors
    9. More experimental examples

    10. Designing for Manufacturing & Reliability What does Sparkfun do to squeeze the most value out of its manufacturing? How should footprints and PCB designs be changed to be cheaper and more reliably manufactured?

    Also, check with your local IEEE Section: http://www.ieee-denver.org/ And Technical Society Chapters: http://www.ieee-denver.org/technical-societies/

    They will no doubt have some very relevant advice.

No public wish lists :(