Arduino clones received – pics and discussion
I am a big proponent of Aliexpress / Ali Baba along with other reputable Chinese drop shippers. There’s many a things I couldn’t afford to do if I had to buy US everything… and there’s even quite a few things I’d not be allowed to purchase because of bad laws. But, I digress.
On December 2, I put in the purchase order for 2 Arduino UNO clones. They clearly say UNO, but are absent all Arduino logo and trademarks. Cool. I don’t like to buy material that clearly rips off the names, so I stay away from “Arduino UNO” branded goods, as they well, aren’t.
And I just received the 2 UNOs I ordered yesterday.
The kit didn’t come with the required USB B cable. Big deal.. It’s not like I don’t have 10 or so of those cables. One nice thing about these are that I also received 4 10-headers. Awesome. I can never have enough of those.
So, how did the Chinese get this Arduino clone so cheap? We’ll have to look into the board a bit further to figure that out.
The first thing’s obvious: There’s no Atmel (8/16)u2 serial-USB chip. Instead, there’s a Chinese chip, a CH3400. Makes sense, as the Atmel chip goes for $4.30 in single quantities. That’s more than the entire board! But some people talk about driver issues. It seems like if you run Windows or Mac, you’re going to be hunting for drivers which may or may not work. Fortunately, we Linux folk already have a generic USB-Serial driver for any device that implements it. So, everything for us just works. Yay Linux! There’s also a 4 pinholes in a header line to reprogram this chip, I’m guessing. It’s labeled X1.
But for the others, this is the lsusb output: 1a86:7523 QinHeng Electronics HL-340 USB-Serial adapter
Next off, there’s no DIP socket/DIP chip. It’s a pain, as I like using my Arduino (and clones) as programmers for Atmel chips. But I also know there was a shortage going on. And frankly, SMT profile does make sense in cutting down cost. Sockets are expensive (in a $3~ board).
Next thing is the LDO voltage regulator. According to my SOT chip silkscreen, it says it’s a AMS1117 5.0 H1418 (PDF). I’m unsure as to how to check if it’s the “real thing”, given recent Reddit posts of exploding LDO VR’s . So I’ll just have to consider it close tolerance to 5V.
Next is the crystal. Peculiar – 12.000 MHz (16 HMN 1311). A quick search didn’t shoe me the crystal, but I know the reference design calls for a 16.000 MHz crystal. So, possibly underclocked.
I also notice the block of pins ready for headers above the ANALOG section. They’re broken out in a really nice section, seemingly ready for solder and simple connections. Nice and convenient. And lol on the “ISCP”. Simple acronym spelling mistake.
I can also appreciate on this board more than reference: for each of the main pinout female headers, there’s holes for you to attach your own male headers as well. I really like that.
Also, the soldering job on the boards are quite well done. There’s one pin on the ICSP that needed (in my opinion) a tiny bit more solder, but it still works perfectly fine.
The downsides: Shipping. The shipping cost was “free” (read: amortized within the good). I’ve no problem with that. But the shipping time was 13 days, from China. That’s awesome if you need X Arduino-compatible devices in a few weeks. But if you need one now, there is Radio Shack (cringe… cant believe I just said that).
The other downside is you are not purchasing devices from Arduino.cc . They were the ones who started the super simple platform using Atmel chips that brought physical computing to the masses. And their official builds are rock-solid. I am just poor, and get by with the 90% solution.