Member Since: March 8, 2008

Country: United States

  • I'll defer to people with more marketing knowledge than I have, but I suspect if you ask someone to donate to "somewhere," they're not going to be as receptive as if you ask for their help on a specific thing. A donation that goes somewhere else is all well and good, but asking someone to defer their free shipping and give it to someone else feels like a very tangible thing to the user. "I'm not helping The Cause, I'm helping a person. Someone else will be sitting at the checkout screen just like I am, and will get free shipping because of my help. Oh how I remember the good old days when I was a broke student programming Z80s by candlelight with a programmer I made myself, using electrons I grew by hand..." Maybe it's just my psychology, which is questionable to begin with.

  • I hear you, and you make a very valid point, but I counter with the following: I'm far more lazy than cheap. Am I going to go seek out a student, or volunteer at a local school, or put up a Craigslist posting for my old hardware? Eh, probably not. But if I'm ordering from SparkFun and have the shipping options of "free shipping," "ground," "next day," or "pay someone else's shipping," I would probably go for it. No real added complexity on the front end, just another radio button.

  • Heck, I'd be willing to pay for shipping even if it just went toward someone else's free shipping. I'm an engineer, earning a comfortable salary, and I don't mind paying a $10 shipping charge to help some broke high school student get ahold of some hardware. I wouldn't demand verification of where the money goes; I would simply hope it might do some good elsewhere even if it's just someone who isn't willing to pay S&H. For the greater good (the greater good.)

  • Southern California:

    JK Electronics in Westminster (Don't let their outdated website fool you, it's a great mom-n-pop shop. Mom and Pop are usually in the back of the store doing the accounting while their son manages the front).

    Orvac Electronics in Fullerton and Pasadena.

    North/South CA: Marvac Electronics in Costa Mesa/Santa Barbara/Sacramento.

  • I was out there in 2004 as well (managed to go to all three launches). Absolutely the most inspiring thing I've ever witnessed as an engineer.
    Where are you building your plane? I'm working on my own in Corona. I too have been thinking about DIY electronics for my homebuilt, most specifically an engine monitor and data logger. I have to overhaul my engine before it will fly, and I would love to have its complete life logged from the new 0-hour to evaluate performance and trends over time. I'd also like to toy with an air data display and maybe even integrate an IMU at some point (non-primary instruments and non-IFR of course!).

  • I love it! I especially like the idea of having the boys play a tune on the Ocarina. That dimension of interaction makes the whole operation its own puzzle video game. Never mind sitting in front of the TV playing songs on a virtual flute, make them do it for real!
    With some serious planning and effort, you could put together a Myst-like quest for kids around the house and yard. I am definitely doing that when I have kids! Better get started today...

  • I picked one of these up at my local electronic shop a few weeks ago (did someone import a whole lot of these surplus recently?). Sadly mine didn't have the SparkFun logo. I'm a hobbyist who has made due with Radio Shack specials for soldering irons for the last several years, so this was my first controllable station.
    I've been very happy with it so far. It heats up quickly and has allowed me to do SMD parts without issue. Haven't checked tip temperature accuracy and can't vouch for how steady it holds it. A little trial and error lets you dial in a comfortable working temperature pretty quickly. The tips are proprietary I believe, but the line card is pretty extensive.
    One thing to note: I got mine for $20 from my local shop (normally $30-$40 like this one). This is because there is a plastic collar that more or less holds the whole iron together. This probably should have been made of metal, because the shop has had several come back with that part broken. It's easy enough to fix (I overwrapped a broken collar with string and epoxy), but it might put some people off. Then again for the price, it does its job just fine.

No public wish lists :(