SparkFun will be closed Nov 26th and 27th for the Thanksgiving holiday. Orders placed after 2:00pm MT on the 25th will ship out Monday the 30th.


Member Since: October 30, 2007

Country: United States

  • Shawn Pez

  • Pete contemplating how much better this plane would look with red flames instead of blue.

  • Nearly 500 bucks for what amounts to very few blocks or things you can do with them. Even looking at ModRobotic’s website reveals some pretty simplistic and boring recipes, usually the same sort of “wheels with sensor in front” type stuff. It’s not surprising though, given only 52-blocks in the package. What is the appeal of something like this above something like Legos? At least with Legos you can buy a lot of the “glue” to plug in between the more expensive specialized brain and sensor components. With this, you get very little “glue” to make much. Four wheels? Some corner blocks? A couple flexy blocks? Give me a break. The fact ModRobotics feels the need to mention the steel spheres in the kit really shows that there isn’t much on offer here.

    The target audience appears to be parents or school teachers (not the kids) who don’t give much thought to whether their learning toys will have much lasting power with their kids, but have a budget to waste. This is just so dumbed down, esoteric, with so few items in the box – and at such a high price (average $9.20 per block!) that doesn’t promote buying a lot more “glue” blocks – that maybe its only purpose is to force its users to look at other products (like Legos) because of the severe limitations of this product line.

    If this product is to take off, ModRobotics needs to offer more of its glue blocks for dramatically cheaper prices. Charging $480 for 52 blocks is ridiculous, and doesn’t leave much to the imagination even if only because there’s so little to work with.

  • That’s really the problem here: how do we know that these are actually good, tested cells? Are there discharge graphs? Are they all from the same consistent supplier (sometimes even they don’t know if they’re still good). There are so many poor quality LiPo cells, especially off eBay or out of Hong Kong, that finding a reliable, tested source is important. Some scammers even put a tiny LiPo battery to test as 3.7-4.2V, but the rest is just sand. Some sources go bad too, as the supplies are inconsistent.

    If you really care, you may be better off buying name brand AW or Panasonic brands if you can find certified sources. They’re pricey, but if you need that capacity and reliability it might be worth it.

  • Yet, what do you earn when those of us go to Amazon.com or DealExtreme, or just Mouser/Digikey (for much better bulk prices), and find nearly all your products there? Will you just be a show-room website?

    Also, you guys don’t have to offer free shipping on every item on your site. Adding it to orders that involve cheap-to-ship items like breakout boards at lower might be the answer. Even then, as Member #515294 mentions, you charge some outrageous prices for components that should be much cheaper to begin with. It’s hard to have much sympathy for your shipping charges in such cases.

  • I’m disappointed. I had hoped that your announcement was going to be the opposite: to reduce the free-shipping threshold. Yes, if you have to, this “free” shipping could and should be baked into the price of the products, especially those that are bulky or heavy.

    The problem is that you guys miss the point about what “free” shipping does from the customer’s buying perspective. Though the buyer may end up spending the same amount of money in the end, due to this “shell game” as you put it, it encourages “impulse purchases” because the buyer doesn’t feel the need to consolidate purchases just to save on shipping. It also means that people visit your site more often to buy goods – keeping your company in the active memory of your buyers. In effect, “free” shipping isn’t all about the bottom line, it’s about the side effects as well. This is the genius of Amazon Prime.

    The excuse about disliking the “shell game” of baking shipping costs into the products is naive, and despite the “honesty” it doesn’t earn you much good will. We all know what the real prices are; you’re just losing out on extra sales. Maybe it’d make a difference if your prices were substantially less sans shipping charges, where we’d actually care about a price increase. Or maybe if most of the products you sold were extremely rare or exclusive. In both cases, however, the answer is a “no”. Your products are found much cheaper (even including shipping) from places like Amazon, online Hong Kong sites, Digikey and Mouser – and even Adafruit, who doesn’t charge an outrageous $1.50 per breakaway header. Nor are your shipping charges all that reasonable to begin with. A whole $4 to ship a $3 break-out board with no ESD components on it via USPS first class mail? Give me a break.

    So let’s face it: you need all the help you can get. Your competition has far more resources at their disposal, a selection that nearly matches or exceeds your own, much better prices, and greater mindshare as people use them as the go-to shop. You don’t want to become the BestBuy of the internet where people go to see the reviews and then go to Amazon or somewhere else to actually buy the product.

    You really ought to be decreasing the threshold of free shipping so that people buy stuff more often from SFE. Increase the prices of expensive-to-ship items, or exclude them from the free shipping deal if you have to. What matters is that people want to buy from your site rather than the alternatives.

  • What is the point? Why don’t you just go donate to the EFF or whatever charity directly if it’s so important to you? It seems like a roundabout method of donating, unless your ultimate plan is to give SF a way to claim the donation on their taxes.

  • “Late at night if you’re really tired you can cuddle up here on this ESD dispersing sleeping mat for a short nap.”

  • As others have mentioned, adding diagonal braces will solve nearly all the wobble problems and you can remove all the center-connected vertical/horizontal struts as they’re redundant. Something like this should work: http://img229.imageshack.us/img229/3319/90312485wi2.jpg

    This is another decent design:


    As in the second picture, you can put that bottom center straight piece in there to provide additional rigidity. Usually it doesn’t affect your chair’s movement as it won’t go that far under the workbench anyway.

    For your hutch, just put some diagonals on the sides, and shorter corner braces (e.g. http://www.theenglishjoinerycompany.com/images/brackets/Gallows-Bracket.jpg) near the top so they’re out of the way.

    Basically, put diagonal braces wherever your structure suffers shearing.

    For the bench surface: consider buying some heavier material for the surface so that you don’t suffer as many vibrations and you could even drill/clamp into it. A plywood surface is sometimes a bit too thin. Solid wood is nice, and you can round off the corners somewhat. Also consider adding hard-points for heavier equipment such as bench vises.

  • That H2OhNo! is a solid product offering, and represents the best of SparkFun: a small board incorporating a relatively exotic sensor, a programmable microcontroller, an LED and sound-emitting device, and even the means to power everything. All this for a reasonable price and support too. Keep it up guys!