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Topic: Knock off Arduino Uno board? What are your thoughts. (Read 729 times) previous topic - next topic


What are your thoughts on knock off arduino uno boards?


What's your definition of knock off?

The Arduino is an open source/hardware platform.

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There are five types of boards:
  • Official: Authorized by Arduino to be sold using Arduino's trademarks (Arduino, Genuino). Purchase of these products financially supports the Arduino company.
  • Clone: Identical hardware to an official board, but not sold using Arduino's trademarks. This is perfectly legal and acceptable because the Arduino boards are open source hardware. Purchase of these products do not financially support the development work done by Arduino employees, which we all benefit from.
  • Counterfeit: Boards sold using Arduino's trademarks without authorization. In addition to not financially supporting the Arduino company, these may cost them money due to the users asking for customer support from Arduino.
  • Derivative: Similar to an official board, but with some modifications. These are more in the spirit of open source hardware than a clone, since the official design was improved upon (for some definition of "improvement"), rather than just doing a copy/paste.
  • 3rd Party Original: A unique design not based on an official board.

When you say "knock off arduino uno", that implies a counterfeit. However, the most common unofficial boards referred to as "Uno" are actually Uno derivatives. These are derivatives because they use the CH340 USB to TTL serial chip rather than the ATmega16U2 chip used on the official Uno. The benefit of that change is the board can be made and sold for a lower price because the CH340 is cheaper than the ATmega16U2. I also have seen Uno derivatives that have the nice extra feature of a plated through hole next to each of the pin headers to allow you to easily solder wires to the board.

I like to see people support the Arduino project by buying official products. I also understand that, when working with a limited budget, the cheaper unofficial boards are very attractive. If you're benefiting from the work Arduino does without giving back by buying Arduino products, you might consider one of the other ways to support the Arduino project:

I recommend not supporting the people who sell counterfeits. If you're going to buy an unofficial board, it's much better to buy from the people who are following the rules instead of trying to pull a scam. What kind of quality and support can you expect from someone manufacturing and selling counterfeits? If you see counterfeits for sale, you can help Arduino by reporting them to trademark [at] arduino.cc.

The cheap boards may end up being a false economy if you end up wasting a lot of time dealing with faulty or substandard hardware. With a cheap board, there is always that extra level of uncertainty. Is that problem you're having caused by a bug in your code, a bad solder joint on the board, a counterfeit chip on the board... This is more of a problem for beginners, who are usually having problems enough even without throwing extra complications into the mix.

More information:


  • Derivative
  • 3rd Party Original

I like to further differentiate between those vendors who actively contribute the the Arduino community in one way or another (PJRC, Adafruit, Sparkfun, others) vs those who are just selling hardware (numerous eBay and AliExpress vendors with CH430-based derivatives, but also some who have wooed various retailers, but don't otherwise seem very supportive (OSEPP comes to mind?)


Clone boards should typically all work identically to officials, but make sure you get one with a DIP format ATMEGA328P chip, don't get a derivative which uses a different chip and also don't buy boards with an SMD soldered small format 328P chip. Either of those can be troublesome for specialised debugging or if you ever burn out a chip and need to replace it.


make sure you get one with a DIP format ATMEGA328P chip, don't get ... an SMD soldered small format 328P chip. ... can be troublesome for specialised debugging or if you ever burn out a chip and need to replace it.
Good point.
  • using all SMT technology is one of the things that permits derivatives to be cheaper (all machine assembly, only one "reflow" soldering step.  This is why some cheap boards come with the header pins un-soldered.)
  • "Specialized debugging"??  I'm not sure when a DIP is needed for that.  And most people don't do it.
  • If your cheap board is less than the cost of a replacement chip, who cares if the chip isn't replaceable?  (People do buy official Nanos, Zeros, MEGAs, and etc without DIP chips.)

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