Good deals on Arduino Nano clones


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/04/24/good-deals-on-arduino-nano-clo.html


#2

Arduino Duemilanove

Good name for a super villain.


#3

How about $2.17 with free shipping?
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1PCS-Mini-USB-With-the-bootloader-Nano-3-0-controller-compatible-for-arduino-CH340-USB-driver/32859196868.html

If you don’t mind being a non-Arduino clone, running at 3.3V, but still being able to be programed in the Arduino IDE, how about a blue pill for $1.89?

There other issues with the blue pill, like they have more memory, native USB, more featureful I/O, much faster processor, and they support in circuit debugging with a separate debugging adapter. There’s more info about them. Fun extra credit: you can use a blue pill as the in circuit debugger for another blue pill by loading it with the STM debugger firmware, Black Magic Probe, or other software.


#4

Last lot I bought were about $4 AUD (Delivered). Exchange rate has changed but still cheap:

https://www.gearbest.com/arduino-nano-_gear/


#5

Does exploring the rabbit hole that deeply count as red-pilling with a blue pill in this context?


#6

What is this, a circuit board for ants?


#7

Cheap or not, ANOTHER driver from some cheap knock off hardware. Anyone know how this driver behaves mixed with other serial device drivers?


#8

And a lot of low quality, too.

Not all clones are created equal. You can get decent and inexpensive clones that are high quality but I’m skeptical of any clones that are this cheap.


#9

I haven’t needed an extra driver when using CH430 boards on Windows 10 and recent Linux.

Rumour has it that the CH430 chip is one of the reasons that the clones are cheaper- it avoids the licensing needed for FTDI chips (as in genuine Arduinos).


#10

If you are goning to buy clones, buy them really cheap in your favorite chinese webstore (I like banggood.com), not Amazon.

And if you’re looking for an interesting new chip, check out the new esp32 dev boards. Dual-core, built-in wifi and bluetooth, lots of memory and all the pins you know and love :slight_smile:
For $6.59 including free shipping on Banggood.com: https://www.banggood.com/ESP32-Development-Board-WiFiBluetooth-Ultra-Low-Power-Consumption-Dual-Cores-ESP-32-ESP-32S-Board-p-1109512.html?rmmds=search&cur_warehouse=CN


#11

While I agree and really like the ESP32, it’s geting pretty far from ‘Arduino’ in archetecture and compatability. They are amazing chips, no arguing that.

Personally, I don’t buy boards that have actual FTDI chips on them. After the crap they pulled with their broken driver that tried to brick clone chips, they’re not welcome in my hardware. That said, I use Linux and I’ve never had a driver issue with any of the many USB to serial chips.

Do you have any data to back that belief or are you just projecting your prejudice?


#12

Why skip over the excellent Adafruit offering at only $12.50


#13

What prejudices of mine are you insinuating? I really want to know.

But since you asked I’m speaking from personal experience here – and with electronics it’s often wise to be wary of “too good to be true” prices for things. For a board to be priced so cheap, it’s pretty much a given that corners will be cut.

You can run into problems that are simply annoying (poor silkscreening is pretty much a given), to aggravating (non-standard or counterfeit USB controllers, questionable solder quality, fake or counterfeit Atmel chips), to dangerous (fake safety certifications, no protection against frying the USB controller on your computer, no short circuit protection, crappy power regulation is very common on the cheapies).

I’ve personally used homemade Arduino-like boards (it’s not hard to make your own), bargain basement cheap clones, counterfeit boards, good quality clones, and the real deal.

I’ve never had issues with the quality clones or the genuine boards. There’s always something wrong with the counterfeits or cheap clones – maybe not something immediately obvious, either. I wouldn’t use a cheap clone or counterfeit on anything that’s important. Don’t take my word for it, though – go on places like eevblog.com and electronics.stackoverflow.com and read more on why the super cheap clones can be a risky proposition.

But, I guess I’m just projecting my prejudices here.

Now, that’s what I’m talking about. A reasonably priced clone from a reputable seller. Yeah, it’s not $3 but I have a high level of trust that Adafruit wouldn’t put their name on something that’s garbage.


#14

On your ‘more info’ suggestion for the blue pill they have a section on what to do if the vendor didn’t bother to use the right resistor value:

The USB standard requires a 1.5 kΩ pullup resistor on D+, but this board is known to have a wrong value (R10 on the board). It ships with either a 10 kΩ resistor or a 4.7 kΩ resistor, but it should be replaced with a 1.5 kΩ resistor, or put an appropriate resistor value (e.g 1.8 kΩ) in between PA12 and 3.3V. It is also true that some PCs are tolerant of incorrect value so, before you change the resistance, you can try if it works in your case.

That’s separate from the “known issues” section; which outlines poor mechanical durability; bad grounding practices, and the inability to safely establish a USB connection when on an external power supply because a Schottky diode would have been too hard on the BoM.

None of this is to say that cheap stuff is necessarily a bad value(indeed, the ability of Pacific rim mystery-merchants to deliver handy little boards with passives and connectors and stuff for slightly less than the microcontroller on that handy little board usually costs is downright magical); or that you will necessarily avoid a parade of embarrassing problems and egregious shoddiness from classy respectable outputs that charge a factor of ten or two more and(if they bothered with good documentation, which is distinctly an ‘if’ would refer to the problems as “errata” because they are classy like that); but it’s not mere bias to note that…aggressively value oriented…designs are often not without their compromises.


#15

What I’ve never understood about the cheap 'n dreadful USB->serial world is why the assorted mystery vendors went to what seems like extra trouble to get a worse result.

The straight FTDI clones, at least, I can understand the logic behind: much better margins if you can pass them off as the real thing; and a lot of the FTDI parts included some nonstandard-but-very-handy GPIO pins and similar.

For just ‘can approximate serial; probably not at RS-232 voltages’, though, what’s the appeal of having to go to the additional trouble of writing your own driver(that your customers will probably consider to be of negative value; since installing untrusted drivers is risky and software capable only of emitting Chinese language error messages has a poor reputation); rather than targeting USB CDC class compatibility?

For some reason that’s overwhelmingly what happened with USB MSC(aside from a few vendors with ‘security’/‘encryption’ features, though even those were often handled by the “pretend to be a CD drive with an autorun.inf” method); and mostly what happened with USB HID(though, outside of basic mice, keyboards, and controllers the odds that USB HID is being used as a convenient transport for vendor-proprietary data that is then munged by their program, keeping the driver out of the kernel but not eliminating the need for a driver); but USB CDC got very little love. Some cellular networking dongles; but less attention than I would have expected for something that seems like the perfect solution if you just need a functional and well supported, if uninteresting, option.


#16

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