Member Since: January 28, 2009

Country: United States



I started at SparkFun in September of 2007 as an assembly technician. My experience in electronics had consisted of only running sound equipment for my band and fixing the occasional broken guitar cord. After only a few days on the production floor, my skills with a soldering iron improved dramatically, and I was building beautiful little widgets. It wasn't too long before I started wondering how all these circuit boards actually worked. Whenever I had the chance, I would walk across the hallway to the engineers and ask for 5 minutes of their time. I learned words like micro controller, source code, op amp and many more. I was hooked.

My first project was an analog headphone amp. It was something I could use as a performing musician. This has since kept me busy on week nights (and most weekends) as I've grown my own business around audio products for musicians.

While perfecting my headphone amp design, I got into other DIY projects too. Before long, I was in my front lawn with my laptop and a few servos. I was hacking my sprinkler system. With some active pressure control, I was able to make my sprinkler shoot a perfect square. My neighbors thought I was a crazy :)

Little did I know that taking this position at SparkFun would open my eyes to a new favorite creative outlet, DIY Electronics. I get super stoked about a lot of things, but from the moment I felt that initial spark of interest, I knew this was something very special. I was learning tools that would allow me to truly harness my inner inventor.

In the last few years I have focused my energy at SparkFun to designing more efficient testing equipment and providing feedback to the engineers on how we can better design for manufacturing and testing. I can hardly call it a job, because I love it so much :)


QC Manager

Programming Languages

Arduino, Tera Term Scripts and Batch Files.


Rock On Audio


Incline High School (Lake Tahoe), Squaw Valley Academy, Cate High School, Golden West (Huntington Beach), Cal State Long Beach, CU Boulder, Sparkfun University




A nice fillet and clean layouts. DSP, particularly the Sigma Studio stuff from AD. Thermal updrafts and circling in them. Remote control Airplanes - Electric in the parking lot and Slope when the winds up.


http://www.rockonaudio.com, http://www.phillewisart.com (that's my bro!)

Check out this Qwiic-based jukebox using Qwiic RFID and Qwiic MP3. Follow along with the video and hookup guide to build your own!

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Guest author Kelly Small shares his experience with the evolution of test controllers from the 1980s through today.

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Join us for part two of our in-depth look at testbed design at SparkFun. Here, we focus on the hardware design choices for our in-house testing tool, the Flying Jalapeno.

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Join us as we give some insight into the progress made in SparkFun’s testbed design over the past eleven years, and an in-depth look at our most recent production testing tool, the Flying Jalapeno.

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Let's take a closer look at the quasi-random sequence generator for the Simon Says Trampolines project, and how a buggy first attempt was improved!

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A re-creation of our Simon Says Soldering Kit using trampolines, spot lights and a ton of new sounds!

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Join us for an epic journey into design for manufacturing, voltage spike suppression, stress testing, hex file analysis and more!

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While designing our new Simon Tilts Through Hole Soldering Kit, we ultimately found that the best solution for the tilt sensor involved creating a custom plastic part. Here is the story of this project - including a couple interviews with the people that helped us along the way.

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Dunk Tank Hack

In addition to the ongoing robot competition at AVC 2013, we included some carnival-type entertainment for the attendees. We rented a dunk tank, triggered it with a swiveling mallet, and challenged people to play "Trampoline Simon Says".

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Build a Qwiic Jukebox that is Toddler Approved!

March 29, 2019

Follow this tutorial to build your own custom jukebox. Note, this is designed simple and tough for use primarily with toddlers. It's also a great introduction to SparkFun's Qwiic products!

AVR-Based Serial Enabled LCDs Hookup Guide

August 2, 2018

The AVR-based Serial Enabled LCDs are a simple and cost effective solution to include in your project. These screens are based on the HD44780 controller, and include ATmega328P with an Arduino compatible bootloader. They accept control commands via Serial, I2C and SPI. In this tutorial, we will show examples of a simple setup and go through each communication option.

Pi AVR Programmer HAT Hookup Guide

July 26, 2018

In this tutorial, we will use a Raspberry Pi 3 and the Pi AVR Programmer HAT to program an ATMega328P target. We are going to first program the Arduino bootloader over SPI, and then upload an Arduino sketch over a USB serial COM port.

Raspberry Pi Stand-Alone Programmer

March 8, 2018

This tutorial will show you how to use a headless Raspberry Pi to flash hex files onto AVR microcontrollers as a stand-alone programmer. It also tells the story about production programming challenges, how SparkFun came to this solution, and all the lessons learned along the way.

Binary Blaster Assembly Guide

March 13, 2014

Learn how to assemble and play the Binary Blaster Game from SparkFun Electronics.

Constant Innovation in Quality Control

December 11, 2013

In this article, we share our recent advancements in quality control. Along with making our tests more thorough, we have also made them more efficient and robust.

Simon Tilts Assembly Guide

December 3, 2013

This tutorial will guide you through assembling your Simon Tilts PTH Kit.

Simon Says Assembly Guide

January 20, 2011

No matter what flavor of the Simon Says Through-hole Soldering Kit you've purchased, this tutorial is here to guide you through the entire build process.

Simon Says Experiments

October 21, 2010

So you've built up a Simon Says kit? What next? This tutorial will get you up and running with Arduino software, guide you through a few example sketches, and send you on your way to create your own. Careful, this stuff is highly addictive. :)
  • With the walls of full stacks and pyrotechnics, I'm guessing it should do a great job detecting Angus too. Thanks for this post title, xtopher. Such a classic.

  • Thanks ReverieQuest! Graham and I have been really enjoying it. And now all his friends want to make them. I'm gonna have to host a workshop.

  • Thanks 773!

    Aha! Genius! I love the idea to use conductive tape. I imagine this approach might end up looking a bit like a testbed. I have a little experience with those :)

  • Nice write up Eric. Thanks! The creation of an extra reference layer will come in handy!

    Here are couple of my favorite commands:

    use -*;

    This will clear your design from using all libraries. After running this command, then I will usually run the command "use" again, which will open the library manager, and then I can find the libraries I want to use (usually only the SparkFun Eagle Libraries).

    ripup @;

    This will rip up (aka un-pour) your polygons. Useful, when you are routing and removing the solid pours can make it a bit easier to see your traces.

    Thanks again!

  • Hey hydronics, Sorry, no. This will only play one MP3 at a time.

    If you want to layer tracks, you can use the Tsunami Super WAV Trigger. I recently used it on a project that needed layered sound and, although a bit pricier, it works flawlessly!

  • Looping in my head all morning: "What's good for a snack and fits on your back?"

    Thanks a lot Chris!

  • Nice work troubleshooting that TiVO! Funny how it so often comes down to a bad cable, dead batteries, or something wrong with the power supply.

    We kill many micro-B USB cables in production. The culprits are the test procedures that require plugging in a cable to test the product. I remember when I was a tech, as a cable would get older, there was a special touch where you could apply just the right pressure at an angle and get it to work for a couple more weeks. But inevitably, they end up in the E-waste.

    We are releasing more and more products with USB-C connectors, which I am pretty stoked on. I'm hopeful that these will last much longer. The connector on the cable end seems more robust, but only time on the production floor will tell.

  • Hey 773, Thanks for chiming in here. It's not very often that I think about temperature range when designing the micro controller section of a board. Usually, I'm only thinking about temperature when working with power layouts, resistors/LEDs, and especially a linear vreg.

    I once had a product "work" for many years, and then started seeing returns and realized that my power input linear vreg was heating up too much, and if in the right conditions (hot day in a black enclosure), it wouldn't survive very long. Thanks for the tip, and I will make sure to keep temperature as an important variable to consider in all aspects of design.

    Glad to hear that we are most likely gonna be fine with the 3.3V logic and 16MHz crystals. These Flying Jalapeno testbed designs will very rarely (if ever) leave our production floor, so at least we have that going for us :)

  • Hey dksmall, Good point about the jumper. It is definitely pretty hard to see what's really going on with a design without a schematic. Sorry I assumed that the "VCC" would imply the logic level for the micro. This is what I have learned and is probably pretty bad practice. It looks like there is much more to learn about VCC from the discussion on this post about the difference between VCC, VDD, VEE and VSS.

    I'll admit, I should have thought through my challenge a bit more before posting it in the end of my part 1. It was sort of a last second thing I thought of while writing the end of my post, and wasn't originally planning on doing a "contest". Looking back on this, I should have posted the schematic as well (maybe even the eagle files). But for what it's worth, I was really amazed by what everyone was able to understand and point out other flaws from only looking at the picture, and I truly appreciate all of the conversation!

    Also, thanks for the tip about AVRFreaks. I remember visiting there many years ago, but it seems to have fallen off my radar lately. I will definitely be checking that out some more.

  • Hey 773, I was hoping you'd chime in here. Thanks! Hope your appointments go well, and we look forward to reading your feedback! I'll be watching my inbox :)