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.

I power the first on up, and there’s no program aside the Arduino bootloader loaded on the ATMEL Mega328P (AU 1436). Ok. So I load BLINK. Works perfectly on both.wpid-img_20141216_081944.jpg wpid-img_20141216_082015.jpg

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.

wpid-img_20141216_075541.jpgThe 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 . 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.


W00t: Local hackerspace member Steve made IoT Bathroom occupancy light

I’m a member of Bloominglabs here in Bloomington, IN. A good friend of mine, Steve, made an “internet of things” bathroom occupancy light. He’s always doing something awesome with embedded systems, and this is his newest exploit. Not only that, but he brought us a great Instructable to boot!

As for me, I ordered 4 ESP8266’s from Ali Express. They’re 75MHz cpus with 802.11bgn with 2 GPIO pins.. for $3 ! I still do not have them in yet, but I’m already looking towards IoT as well. We’ll see what we can do with cheap, powerful IoT.

Snapfish hatred! Warning – rant

My wife and I were married October 11. Awesome! Yesterday we just go photos of our wedding. +800 pictures… Yeowsa!

So, we figured Snapfish would be a good place to have a photobook made. My wife has seen their quality. They’re awesome. So, on to the website. We upload lots of images. LOTS. Engagement, wedding, yadda yadda.

She’s better at aesthetic design than I, so she did the bulk of the work. We spent 5 hours today doing it.

We get home, and hop on the computer to finish the book. NOPE!

Snapfish decided to not save 3 of the 5 hours of work because: browser failure, server failure, autosave failure. But their chat people were apt to blame us for not saving! And yet, why have an autosave feature if it doesn’t work?

When we went to chat to resolve this, YOUR chat people blamed me and my wife for ‘not saving’. So, why have autosave when it does absolutely nothing????

Oh well. She recreated the work on , and she’s about 1/2 way done within 1 hour of working on it. Talk about Snapfish failure. And were we were, going to recommend others if it worked well for us.

Got Kankun wireless plug

Today, I received a Kankun wifi Power adapter. I purchased it a loooong time back, back in early November. I saw this HaD article that prompted me to go find a dealer.

So, today, it FINALLY comes in…

IMG_20141213_145330Came with no packing,except for the hard shell the device resides in. Good thing it wasn’t harmed.

IMG_20141213_145400There’s the device, and all the insides of the box. It has a nice little printout. All English, and good English at that. The QR code lead to some Chinese APK, but the permissions on the file were reasonable. The plug itself is about 20 mm thick, not including the plug. There’s also a button in the upper left as well as 2 status LEDs in the lower right. The whole device is devoid of any screws or fixtures, and appears to be heat-sealed. It looks professional.

IMG_20141213_145636And here it is, with power applied. It starts up a wireless metwork 0K_SP3 as itself as an Access Point. Cool. I connect to it, not letting it hit the internet. I already know the thing has OpenWRT loaded on it, so I’m keeping it segregated until I know its phone-home abilities.


And there it is, functioning by turning my power to my laptop on and off. You can SSH into this device with root/p9z34c  . And from there, there’s plenty hacking to be had.

As for now, I am off to family, to imbibe in wonderful drink and food. And I’m damn hungry! Geekery makes me very hungry!wpid-screenshot_2014-12-13-15-03-08.pngwpid-screenshot_2014-12-13-15-13-04.png

And there is what it looks like when I try to connect from my phone to the plug… via SSH.

So far so good. I’ll be seeing what I can do with this. And I know it will be a lot.

Well, Hmm. “Project Tango crashed”

I’ve had to reboot maybe 8 or so times after gtting the device prepped according to Google. The hardware is interesting and very cool. Is it ready for prime time? I don’t know yet. This screen is my most familiar:


And then it crashes. Yuck. But…. After rebooting, and SUCCESS.

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This is the program Project Tango Explorer. It has 3 modes: Area Learning, Pointcloud, and full diagnostics. The area leaning is what seems to crash consistently on me.  I tried to map areas and it usually fails on about 2-5 minutes with Tango crashed. I moved on to pointclouds.. and that’s what you see up there. The thing has an infrared laser on it.. And weird! I’ll be submitting a video shortly through Youtube. It looks like it’s a Time of Flight laser, given the interferometry pulses.

Received Google Project Tango. Unboxing!

Well, it’s been a while since I posted here. So I might as well go for the absolute beta, state of the art kickass coolery!

Introducing Google’s ATAP Project TANGO.

It’s a 3D tablet/phone that just came out to select peoples in the world, and I have one (through work)! I’m getting it unboxed right now.


Cool logo.. but really, we’re not here for the logo! So, what makes this special?



At the top, there are built in structural scanners like what you’d see in a Kinect. Except it’s integrated within the unit. I’m updating firmware right now and going through setup, so stay tuned….

More pics:

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Yes, I’m like a kid in a candy shop. This is awesome!!!!!