Monthly Archives: December 2021

SparkFun’s 2021 in Review

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

As a reminder, SparkFun will be closed on Friday, December 31st. We will reopen at 9:00 a.m. MST on Monday, January 3rd. Happy New Year!

Another year, another look back at everything that has been accomplished over 52 weeks. Sure, it was another weird year, but I think (in my personal opinion) that it was leagues better than 2020 overall! Regardless, at Midnight tonight we will bid farewell to the 21st year of the second millennium and welcome in 2022! In celebration of the new year, we decided to take a look back at some of our favorite products, projects and tutorials. It's a bit surprising to think of everything that happened this year, so let's jump in and take a look back!

Find out some of the things SparkFun got up to in 2021

Rob joins us to show off all of our awesome projects for the year. If you want to look into any of the subjects he talked about, scroll down and look into them with greater detail!

You may recognize Elektor - we’ve partnered with them on a few things recently. What you may not know is that a while ago, we had a special meeting with the great folks at Elektor (in the Before Times, when you could grab an espresso in person), leading to us teaming up with them to create a SparkFun Edition of the popular magazine.

The Raspberry Pi Pico is a low-cost, high-performance microcontroller board with flexible digital interfaces. It features the RP2040, which marks Raspberry Pi's first microcontroller designed in-house. Pico provides minimal (yet flexible) external circuitry to support the RP2040 chip.

It's a colossal feat to have sent a rover to our neighbor, the big Red Planet, in search of whether life has ever existed on Mars. While the majority of the high-tech toolkit aboard the Perseverance rover is proprietary to NASA, there are also on-board projects that utilize new, open source hardware and software that are equally as available to everyday hackers as they are to NASA. The Ingenuity helicopter, which aims to demonstrate the first powered flight on Mars, especially utilizes open source technology.

The SparkFun 2D Barcode Scanner Breakout is a nifty little breakout board featuring the DE2120 barcode scanner module from DYScan. The DE2120 reads 20 different barcode symbologies (both 1D and 2D) using a camera coupled with on-board image processing to identify and decode everything from UPC codes to QR codes. The module also features two LEDs: one for illumination and one to project the red line that you're used to seeing from laser-based scanners.

Over the last year, we have endeavored to create the most affordable, yet highly accurate, real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning options currently available. SparkFun RTK Surveyors are enclosed and ready to use GNSS receivers for millimeter-level positioning - and the best part is, no programming required! We've created a page that explains the differences in each version and makes it easy to access popular RTK Surveyor resources.

MicroMod is a solderless, modular interface ecosystem that uses the M.2 standard to mix and match your choice of processor with specific Function Boards or stand-alone Carrier Boards. MicroMod Main Boards are specialized carrier boards that allow you to interface a MicroMod Processor Board alongside one or two Function Boards. Function Boards add a certain functionality to a Main Board.

With a clear view of the sky, the SparkFun Artemis Global Tracker (AGT) allows you to send and receive short data messages. Leveraging the Iridium satellite network, it works anywhere in the world, including the polar regions, far beyond the reach of WiFi and GSM networks. Maybe you want to transmit pressure, temperature or humidity readings from the top of a mountain? Or use it to send data from a traveling balloon sat? Or use it to control your remote equipment out in the field? Or receive alerts if your equipment is moved out of or into a geofenced area? Perhaps you need to communicate in an emergency, when other networks might not be available?

Earlier this year, we were excited to share a video by GreatScott! We've been fans of GreatScott! for a while, and we were thrilled to co-sponsor a video of his with Elektor showcasing the JetBot. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out his review of our popular JetBot AI Robotics Kit.

Alie highlighted her crazy experience co-hosting the Arm DevSummit TV show and shares her can't miss sessions from the event.

Special thank to Alex Glow for the creation of the "DOOT!" button. It all started with our MicroMod boards and it really helped us lean into some bad silk to help us create our SkeleBoard this last Halloween!

Geeky Faye is a maker, artist, cosplayer, filmmaker, and more (Quite frankly we'll be surprised if there's something they can't do). And this year, they dove into the SparkFun Inventor's Kit!

There is so much more that we haven't been able to touch on and we compell you to look further into more of 2021's posts, projects, and products. Like Rob said, there is, literally, no way that we could have accomplished everything that we've done this year without you. Thank you!

Let us know what your highlights of the year were. What products, posts and tutorials did you love? What was your favorite Rob and Avra video? We'll see you next year, and thank you for your ongoing support! Here's to 2022!

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Makers You Should Know

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

One of the best parts of our community of makers has always been just that - the community. Not just traveling to events to see the latest and greatest that companies had to offer, but to get together with old maker friends, meet new ones, and to talk, laugh, share ideas and drinks; we had opportunities to really know that we were a part of a great collective. The past two years, those communal events that we love have all but disappeared, but our sense of community and the desire to connect still exists. Now is a great time to digitally find new members of our community, follow them, connect with them, create a wider group of peers and friends, and give ourselves that much more to look forward to once we get back to IRL events.

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The competitor's tent at the SparkFun Autonomous Vehicle Competition was always a favorite maker's meeting place.

I’ve put together a list of makers and engineers that I’ve only met online, but am really looking forward to meeting at a gathering in the future. This is a very short list, and you may already know most or all of them. May they inspire you to look further, see who they’re connected with, and expand your circle of maker connections. So here, in no particular order, are…


Earlier this year, we worked with Allie (@GeekyFayeArt), an amazing artist in multiple mediums. They wanted to be able to add electronics to their already impressive array of skills, and it’ll be exciting to see what they turn out in the coming year.

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Allie (aka GeekyFayeArt) is a multidisciplinary artist who is now adding electronics to their creations.

Billie Ruben (@BillieRubenMake) is another great person to follow. An amazing maker based primarily in costume, couture, and 3D printing, Billie’s superpower is her altruism. She hosts a youtube channel that focuses not just on what she does, but also on other makers. Her “Meet a Maker” series allows her to have “chats with cool peeps who make things”, and helps bring more awareness and support to other makers in the community, elevating the maker community as a whole.

Another great maker is @HannahMakes. She describes herself as a “Maker of frivolous things. Teabag dunking robots, shoes that call you an Uber.” You know, the usual stuff. Her builds are always solid and creative, and her videos are a joy to watch.

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A triumvirate of talent: Hannah and Allie join Billie for one of her Meet a Maker episodes.

Danielle Boyer @danielleboyerr is another maker whose altruistic side matches her maker side. A great young educator, activist, and inventor, Danielle is the founder of The Steam Connection, a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting technology into the hands of young people who historically have not had access to it, with a focus on education and opportunities for indigenous youths. She has been named both a 2021 MIT Solver and a 2020 L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth for her work.

A roboticist you probably know by now, thanks in part to his recent cover appearance on Make Magazine, is Jorvon Moss. @Odd_Jayy is a self-taught roboticist from Compton, whose continuous stream of mechanized eyewear and companion bots are as beautiful as they are technologically impressive.

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(L)Danielle Boyer wearing a Jorvon Moss original. (R)Jorvon Moss also wearing a Jorvon Moss original.

If you want a glimpse into the future of STEM/STEAM, look no further than @STEMillie_. An aspiring scientist and engineer, Millie has a penchant for cars and power tools, and continues to be an inspiration to girls in STEM everywhere.

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One of the great up-and-coming #GirlsInSTEM, Millie's ebullience and passion for STEM are clear in everything she does.

If you’re more STEAM leaning, wanting to make sure there’s art in your STEM, two more of my favorites are Debra @GeekMomProjects and Mohit @MohitBhoite. Debra, a technophile and lateral thinker, believes that LEDs improve everything, and she had an expansive show of projects to back up her claim. She’s also designed a beautiful necklace clasp/battery holder that uses magnets to keep jewelry connected and powered. Mohit is as much a sculptor as a coder, and his medium is wire. He uses wireframe not only for the circuitry of his builds, but for the structure as well, and the results are beautiful.

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Debra (@GeekMomProjects) surrounded by some of her amazing blinky creations.

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Mohit Bhoite's (@MohitBhoite) precision wire bending creates the perfect union of form and function.


If you have young ones who are interested in STEAM/STEM, there are a few folks I can definitely recommend, as the bulk of their work is designed to teach, inspire, and engage kids. @BrownDogGadgets uses a lot of paper circuits, bristlebots, and interactive circuits that offer kids simple designs that they can create (usually with an adult) quickly and easily. Even the more advanced builds, like the singing Christmas Tree, use a micro:bit for control, keeping it simple enough for kids to build and program.

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With projects aimed at a younger crowd, @BrownDogGadgets keeps their builds as engaging as they are informative.

Another great resource to follow to get or keep kids excited about STEM is @KidsInventStuff. Helmed by the amazing Ruth Amos @RuthAmos and Shawn Brown @ShawnMakes (two more people you should definitely be following), these two incredible engineers and inventors take a different tack to get kids excited about STEM/STEAM. At Kids Invent Stuff, Ruth and Shawn issue challenges to kids, with specific parameters, although the parameters are usually pretty flexible. As an example, the current challenge is a Winter Invention Challenge. The only real design rule for this is that it has to have something to do with winter - something that will keep you warm, something that makes spending time out in the winter weather more fun, pretty much anything winter-related. Kids of all ages send in ideas and drawings, and these two makers set about creating the winning idea. From a sneeze-activated flamethrower helmet to a bike that feeds you cake as you ride, these builds and accompanying videos are always a joy to watch, for both kids and adults, and always keep children excited about technology.

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Ruth and Shawn from @KidsInventStuff in front of one of their builds, a dinosaur robot that cleans your floors!

This is such a cursory list, but it’s a starting point. There are so many others that you should check out, too. @glowascii, @witnessmenow, @sophywong, @BlitzCityDIY, and @KittyArtPhysics are just a few that come to mind. Check them out, follow them, support them, see who they follow, and if any of those connections speak to you, follow them too. But above all, keep this in mind: When a maker starts sharing their projects online, they are sharing a part of themselves, and with that comes a certain vulnerability. Choose your words and your comments wisely and with kindness. I guess what I’m really trying to say is be nice, and happy hacking!

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Get Started with the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

It's the last Product Post of 2021! We start this Thursday Product Post off with the new SparkFun Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Basic Kit. This updated kit utilizes the new Zero 2 W, rather than the original Zero W, while still providing the same starting platform - perfect for beginners wanting learn how to use the popular Raspberry Pi format. Following that, due to popular demand, we split our IR Emitter and Detector into two separate parts (in case you need different quantities of each). Other than this split, they are the exact same parts that you know and love. We wrap the week up with a rather simplistic screwdriver that was designed with our growing MicroMod ecosystem in mind. This screwdriver makes it easy (and wallet-friendly) as possible to swap out Processor and Function Boards.

One last bit of information before we take a closer look at this week's new products: SparkFun will be closed on Thursday, December 23rd and Friday, December 24th in observance of the Christmas holiday as well as Friday, December 31st for New Years. Please keep in mind that any orders placed after 2:00 p.m. MST on the 22nd of December will not be processed until we resume normal business hours at 9:00 a.m. MST on Monday, the 27th of December, 2021.

Now, let's jump into this week's new products!

SparkFun Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Basic Kit

SparkFun Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Basic Kit


The Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W can be a bit tricky to set up with its unique power and cable requirements. That's where this kit comes in. The SparkFun Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Basic Kit provides you with everything you need to get started with this successive Pi, all without breaking the bank.

SparkFun Qwiic MP3 Trigger

SparkFun Qwiic MP3 Trigger


Sometimes you just need an MP3 to play. Whether it's a theme song as you enter the room or a power song when you are working out. The SparkFun Qwiic MP3 Trigger takes care of all the necessary requirements, all you need to do is send a simple I2C command and listen to whatever is on your micro SD card. Utilizing our handy Qwiic system, no soldering is required to connect it to the rest of your system. However, we still have broken out 0.1"-spaced pins in case you prefer to use a breadboard.

Infrared Emitter

Infrared Emitter


An Infrared emitter, or IR emitter, is a source of light energy in the infrared spectrum. This Infrared Emitter is a light emitting diode (LED) that is used in order to transmit infrared signals from a remote control. This simple device operates at 940nm and works well for generic IR systems. This emitter is driven up to 50mA with a current limiting resistor as with any LED device.

Infrared Detector

Infrared Detector


Meanwhile, an Infrared detector is a detector that reacts to infrared (IR) radiation. This Infrared Detector operates at 940nm (like the emitter above) and works well for generic IR systems including remote control and touch-less object sensing. Using a simple ADC on any microcontroller will allow variable readings to be collected from the detector.

MicroMod Screwdriver

MicroMod Screwdriver


This pocket-sized screwdriver has a magnetic tipped Phillips head. The screwdriver is perfect for use in the SparkFun MicroMod ecosystem and it's use of M.2 screws.

That's it for this week. As always, we can't wait to see what you make. Shoot us a tweet @sparkfun, or let us know on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn. Please be safe out there, be kind to one another, and we'll see you next year with even more new products! Happy Holidays from everyone here at SparkFun Electronics!

Never miss a new product!

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Last Shipping Deadline is Today!

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Shipping Deadline

If you need any items in time for December 24th, please have your orders placed by 2 p.m. MST today, Monday, December 20th. Choose either Overnight (Next Business Day) or Two Business Days when selecting your shipping option at checkout. More details on holiday shipping guidelines can be found here.

Image of a SparkFun red box under ice with text of 2021 Holiday Shipping

Upcoming SparkFun Closures

As a heads up, SparkFun will be closed in observance of the upcoming holidays on these days:

  • Thursday, December 23rd
  • Friday, December 24th
  • Friday, December 31

Please note that customer service will be unavailable on these days.

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Video: Demo Program on the Pololu 3pi+ 32U4 OLED Robot

via Pololu Blog

This video steps through the demo program on our new 3pi+ 32U4 OLED Robot. The Pololu 3pi+ 32U4 OLED robot is a complete, high-performance mobile platform based on the Arduino-compatible ATmega32U4 MCU. The demo program shown in this video highlights many features of the 3pi+ including bump and line sensors, full 9-axis IMU (three-axis gyro, accelerometer, and compass), micro metal gearmotors and encoders, three user LEDs, and a 128×64 graphical OLED display.

This program ships on all 3pi+ OLED robots, both the assembled and kit versions. It is also included in the example sketches in the Pololu 3pi+ 32U4 Arduino library. More information about the 3pi+ demo program can be found in the user’s guide here.

Welcome Facet: A Complete, Field-Ready GNSS-RTK Surveyor

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Hello and welcome to a most propitious Friday Product Post here at SparkFun Electronics! For the last year, we have been releasing a whole line of enclosed RTK Surveyors for highly accurate geospatial coordinates, and now we are happy to release the culmination of our efforts. Meet the SparkFun RTK Facet, a fully enclosed GNSS receiver for centimeter-level positioning!

One last bit of info before we get to the new products (this will be important for anyone who wants to pick up a Facet before the holidays): As a reminder, Monday, December 20th by 2:00 p.m. MST, is our last day to place orders and receive items in time for December 24th. Orders must be shipped using Overnight Shipping or Two Business Day shipping. More details on holiday shipping guidelines can be found on our 2021 Holiday Shipping Guide.

Facets are a surveyor's best friend!

SparkFun RTK Facet

SparkFun RTK Facet


The SparkFun RTK Facet is your one stop shop for high precision geolocation and surveying needs. For basic users, it’s incredibly easy to get up and running. For advanced users, the RTK Facet is a powerful and flexible tool. With just a few minutes of setup, the RTK Facet is one of the fastest ways to take centimeter grade measurements. By connecting your phone to the RTK Facet over Bluetooth®, your phone can act as the radio link to provide correction data as well as receive the NMEA output from the device. This is exactly how $10,000 surveying devices have been operating for the past decade - we just made it easier, smaller, and a lot cheaper.

Under the hood is an ESP32 WROOM connected to a ZED-F9P, as well as some peripheral hardware (LiPo fuel gauge, microSD, etc). Housed under the dome of the RTK Facet is a surveyor grade L1/L2 antenna, which is the same element found within our GNSS Multi-Band L1/L2 Surveying Antenna. The built in antenna has an ARP of 61.4mm from the base to the measuring point of the L1 antenna and an ARP of 57.4mm to the measuring point of the L2 antenna. The RTK Facet is programmed in Arduino and can be tailored by you to fit whatever your needs may be.

Qwiic Blower Fan

Qwiic Blower Fan


Sometimes you need to move a little air around. Whether for active cooling or ventilation, a tiny fan can make a big difference. However, a tiny fan also has tiny wires which can make it difficult to work with. We've remedied this issue with the Qwiic Blower Fan by mounting said fan to a board along with the mating flat-flex connector, a voltage booster and an ATtiny-based driver so you can power and control the fan over the Qwiic bus.

That's it for this week. As always, we can't wait to see what you make. Shoot us a tweet @sparkfun, or let us know on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn. Please be safe out there, be kind to one another, and we'll see you next week with even more new products!

Never miss a new product!

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