I admit it: I'm a total geek. I love electronics, programming, 3D art, vintage Apple hardware, and whisky. I'm always juggling half a dozen projects. I also enjoy documenting it all: my successes, my failures, my experiences... and everything geeky along the way.

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SparkFun Goodies | Kevin Rye.net - Main

Kevin Rye

Geek Extraordinaire. Yeh, I said it.

SparkFun Goodies


I had some Christmas cash that was burning a hole in my pocket. I decided to hop on SparkFun and see if there were any goodies to be had. I already needed a few things for some upcoming projects, so I figured I'd try and see if I could get my order up to $60 bucks so that I'd qualify for free shipping.

You can never have enough microcontrollers. I really do try to throw one in every order. There's nothing worse than not having one and having to spend an additional $5 in shipping just to get one. That's paying double for something that could have just been thrown in any order.

With that said, I picked up two more 28-pin ATtmega328s. SparkFun has them preloaded with the Optiboot bootloader for $5.50.

I also picked up 3 SMD ATmega328s in a TQFP package. They're only $4.25. That's a $1.25 cheaper and they're about a 1/3 of the size. Granted you'll have to build in ISP and FTDI headers into your project, but they should still save a ton of space.

I just might have to make a new Bare Bones Arduino with an SMD ATmega!

In addition to the 328s, I also picked up a few ATtinys. I grabbed 3 ATtiny84s and another ATtiny85, just to top off my stock.

The ATtiny85 is only $2.84. The ATtiny84 is only $2.95. So for an additional 11 cents, you get twice the I/O pins. They both come with 8K of flash. The ATtiny85 is a great space saver. It's great if you only need a few pins. The ATtiny84 is great when you don't need a ton of code space, but you need a few more pins than the ATtiny85s can provide. The ATtiny84 probably would have been a better choice for my 7490 clock redesign. If I had used an ATtiny84, I wouldn't have needed to multitask one of the pins with a jumper.

So there's enough microcontroller goodness in the house to keep me busy for a while. I might go ahead a make a new programming shield for the ATtinys. I might make something that can bootload 328s, 84s, and 85s.

Since all those microcontrollers were only about $35 bucks, I needed to keep shopping in order to hit that $60 free shipping mark.

As luck would have it, SparkFun started selling a new super-huge breadboard. I was just looking at breadboards last week. Fortunately, I didn't pull the trigger. I really like the size of this one.


It was only $19.95, and it's a whole row wider than my biggest breadboard.


Still, I needed to drop a few more bucks to qualify for free shipping, so I looked around at some miscellaneous stuff and happened upon their heat shrink kit. Now, that's something I always find myself needing and never seem to have.

It was only $7.95 for a bag of 95 assorted 10 cm long pieces.


It doesn't look like a lot in the bag, but once I dumped it out into one of my parts bin drawers, I was very happy with the amount of heat shrink.


Along with the ATmegas, 5V DC adapters are something that I seem to always need. At $6 bucks a pop, they're one of the more expensive parts of most of my projects. So I like to order them ahead of time and have them on-hand when needed. There's nothing worse than having a completed project, but no power supply for it. I'd probably end up robbing one from something else. The next thing I know, I'd have a ton of projects unfinished and in pieces.

I really like SparkFuns's generic 5V adapters. They seem to power pretty much anything I throw at them. They've never overheated and I've never had a single one die on me. They're pretty small and lightweight. I like how they don't have any logos or branding on them of any kind. Very no-frills. They're perfect for any hombrew-DIY project.


I had pretty much hit the $60 mark, but I needed to order another DS18B20 temperature sensor for the upcoming Bare Bones Arduino V3 Temperature Shield. I told my Dad I'd make him one, so I'd need another sensor.


I was very happy with the way that the Tesseract came out, so much so that I really wanted to do something with the leftover LED Display Board that I had. I though something with a mix of red, yellow, and orange would look like fire or something. I have a few red and yellow LEDs that I've pulled from various things over the years, but I figured it would look that much nicer if I just ordered a set of all-new LEDs for it.

With that, I ordered 5 red and 4 yellow LEDs. It should be a quick and easy project. Since I'm only using 2 PWM channels, I could probably get away with putting the Tesseract code on an ATtiny85.


I'm sure the hardest part will be finding something cool to put it in. It might be time to design a cool enclosure and finally try out Ponoko's 3D printing service. Maybe a Minecraft Red Stone lamp?