Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Contests & Saving Money: RFduino, Road Tests, Special Buys And Reduced Prices

Tonight's post has four items that may be of interest to someone who wants to build something cool or save a few dollars on parts for MCU projects. First, we have two 'build something cool' opportunities.

Symmetry Electronics and their ecommerce division, SemiconductorStore.com, are sponsoring a design-build contest called "We Know RFduino." The idea is to design and build something with RFduino, make and upload a video about your project, then promote the heck out of your project to get a lot of people to watch your video. The video with the most views in September 2014 wins $1000. There are also 2nd and 3rd place prizes. Everybody who participates gets a $25 store credit at SemiconductorStore.com when the contest finishes. (Here's a link to their Kickstarter campaign for a little background on the component.)

Four reasons for Humboldt microcontroller users to consider entering this contest are:
  1. Just for participating, you'll get a $25 store credit at the SemiconductorStore.
  2. If you win 1st, 2nd or 3rd place, you could win some cash.
  3. If you've been wanting to build an MCU project with wireless, this could be a good excuse.
  4. Having Humboldt people participate in this contest is a good way to promote the microcontroller community in the area. Even if you don't win, you might meet one or a few new people from Humboldt who are interested in MCUs.
The second 'contest' type MCU activities are the Road Tests at element14. The Road Test webpage at element14 says:
"RoadTest is a group dedicated to testing and reviewing new products. RoadTesters are chosen from element14 members who apply to test equipment and volunteer to write a review. The equipment provided to reviewers is mainly development or evaluation kits for microprocessors from manufacturers such as Texas Instruments, Freescale and Microchip. Test equipment is also occasionally featured with equipment from Agilent, Fluke, TTi and Tektronix. More recently the reviewers have been given other demonstration boards from traditionally analogue manufacturers like Analog Devices, Linear Technology and Maxim."
For more details, go to the Road Test webpage, look over the different Road Tests that are currently open, and if none of them sound right for you, keep an eye on new ones that come up.

Ed Smith made a good comment to me when we were talking about one of the MCU-related contests. He suggested that before you enter a contest, make sure the benefit you can get from participating in it is worth the cost. If you get a free $20 part and end up spending a bunch of additional money and / or time that you otherwise might not have spent, maybe the 'contest' wasn't worth getting into. Caveat emptor.

In the 'saving money' category for tonight's post, the first item is Jameco's 'Special Buys Outlet.' I got an email today from Jameco promoting their Special Buys. I looked at some of the stuff in their outlet, but I haven't done enough electronics to know if those are good prices for things lots of people actually want, or if it's clearance racks for items which have very narrow appeal. Check it out and see if there are any items you can't live without...

The other 'saving money' item for tonight's post is another element14 item -- their 'reduced prices on popular development kits & evaluation boards' special deals. John H sent me a link to this, so I wanted to pass it along to others who might benefit from it. The primary items I thought may be of interest to people in the Humboldt Microcontrollers
TI HAP-TOUCH BoosterPack
Group are the two Texas Instruments (TI) BoosterPacks. At least Ed and Nick have worked with the TI MCUs and these might be good prices for the HAP-TOUCH and Fuel Tank BoosterPacks if they're something they've been wanting to get. Again, my lack of electronics buying, or at least price-watching, means I don't know if these are super deals or just ok prices.

If you know of other MCU-related contests or good component pricing that you want to share, please send links to arcatabob (at) gmail {dott} com. Thanks!


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