Sparkfun Autonomous Vehicle Challenge

I just got back from the Sparkfun AVC. It was a blast! I shot a lot of video, but that will take a while to get processed edited and uploaded. In the meantime here are the things I thought were cool on the ‘factory tour’ with a few AVC shots thrown in.

This pond instill fear in a lot of AVC owner/operators. Strangely enough the airborne division didn’t seem to mind the water as much as the trees.

This lil guy broke down the day before the big race. Sigh. It’s not easy being autonomous.

Known for it’s blazing speed, Bluebot held it’s own. It eventually claimed first place in the DNF division!

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Missed out on Sparkfun free day? Buy it anyways!

So, like many of my readers I spent the morning watching firefox time out on sparkfun’s website. Eventually the clouds parted just in time for me to see the ticker go from 70k to 98k, to 100k. Just like that the first ever (annual?) sparkfun free day was over. I was bummed. Then I started thinking about it. Everything in my cart was something I wanted, and I did have a good time this morning, and I had a good time thinking about what I was going to get, and why. I have always thought sparkfun is a really cool company, and the fact that I can’t get this stuff for free isn’t going to stop me from buying it.

Right now there are probably a few thousand people still crashing the gates of trying to get in on free day. It is over. They rewarded us with the chance to get free stuff. I personally am going to thank them by buying it anyways.

Thanks Nate, thanks Sparkfun!

Yeah Sparkfun! Pure WIN.

sparkfun kicks ass

So this post is a big shout out to Sparkfun Electronics. Not only are they an interesting shop that has tons of stuff I would love to tinker with, but they give really good customer service as well!

Recently I ordered a bunch of stuff from them, including a few temperature sensors, thermistors, and an rf transmitter/receiver pair. I ordered, they shipped, and then fedex delivered it to my front porch where it was promptly stolen. I was super bummed to come home and find nothing. I had the whole afternoon off and I was planning on putting in some serious geek time in the basement. Needless to say, fedex dropped the ball by leaving it at my front door (on a busy street, less that 3 feet away from the sidewalk) and some jerk ended up with an envelope full of stuff they probably promptly threw away.

I left a message on Sparkfun’s site and filed a claim with fedex. Paul Robinson from sparkfun got back to me fairly quickly (he even tried to call(!), but I wasn’t around) and they shipped out a replacement order.

I was initially really down about not having anything to play with over the weekend, but this is honestly the best-case-scenario considering it wasn’t sparkfun’s fault that the package was stolen from my porch.

So thanks, sparkfun. I appreciate it, and keep up the good work!

Two more things for icing on the cake, my package arrived today(YES!), and I asked Paul a question about hackerspaces in boulder during our emails about the stolen package. He said he didn’t know of any but would pass it on to someone who would. Yesterday I received an email from Nathan Seidle, the CEO. I love the fact that their customer service provides service, I love the fact that they wanted to make it right, and I love the fact that their ceo took time to answer my question.