*censored* Chinese ripoff arduino clones.


I've just spent over 2 hours on ebay trying to get myself a leonardo or micro and keep finding the cheap knockoffs...

anyone else have this problem? or is it just me?

How do I avoid the knockoffs?


Well - there's a difference between a knockoff, and a counterfeit Arduino.

Basically, a knockoff can be identical to the Arduino - it just can't have the word "Arduino" used as it's name, or on the PCB, or any of the other copyrighted logos and such used by the seller and/or manufacturer.

For instance, if I took the Arduino design, and copied it (poorly) as exactly as I could (logos and everything - or maybe even some stuff shifted around or such?), and then marketed it as "Arduino 2014" or such - that would be considered a counterfeit Arduino. Too many examples of this out there.

Now - had I took the design, made up PCBs, had a purple resist mask used, put my own logo on it, and called it the "cr0shduino 2014" - and then said in the marketing/adverts "compatible with the Arduino Uno (tm)" - that would be a knockoff, and as long as I was careful with my wording and design, it would be fully legal. Something like this can be seen in Seeed Studios "Seeeduino" and such. A really great design that they don't try to pass off as the original Arduino - but rather an evolution of it.

Finally - and the best way to approach things - if I made a custom shaped board with headers completely different and laid out in (maybe) a better manner, put my own logos, etc on it - then called it "cr0sh's epic embedded controller" - then (again) said in the marketing/adverts "compatible with the Arduino (tm) development environment" - that would also be legal - but not a counterfeit, and not a knockoff - but rather my own compatible product. There are more than a few robot controller boards out there that do this; they look nothing like an Arduino, but basically work the same as one (though you can't usually plug shields into them).

So - how do you avoid the counterfeit ones? Make sure the seller isn't selling a board with any logos or such that even look suspiciously faked or whatnot. If the seller isn't saying "compatible with the arduino" or such language - that is, if the seller is trying to mislead people into thinking what they are selling may be a genuine Arduino - then bypass that one. You might also alert the Arduino team about it (not that it really will help anything - they can get Ebay to pull the auction - but 5 more will sprout up almost instantly - a non-winnable game of wack-a-mole).

If you want to avoid the knockoff's too - then just avoid everything that doesn't look like a real Arduino. Study what a real Arduino looks like, and carefully evaluate the sellers claims - and the price. If the price isn't somewhere near to what Arduino is selling them at (for cost - so figure maybe a 5-10 percent markup at places like Sparkfun or Adafruit) - then it is likely a fake - no matter how good it or the packaging looks.

If you really want to avoid this issue - skip Ebay - and purchase only from Sparkfun, Adafruit, or whatever other recognizable vendor there is near you. You can even purchase directly from Arduino.cc itself:


Nice overview cr0sh . Also from the Aduino website

How to spot a counterfeit Arduino

I don't agree with cr0sh's use of the word "knockoff", which to me indicates some kind of underhanded intent, no different from a counterfeit. Since Arduino is open source, it's totally legit to use that source to make a board that is 100% technically like an Arduino. Indeed, a board could only ever be compatible with a factory Arduino if it was a 100% technically identical. Making a device 100% to the factory-issued drawings and specs, is not a knockoff, it's just open source at work.

The illegal part is, as cr0sh says, the use of logos and the like. That's when you get a counterfeit (or knockoff, same thing afaic), passing something off as from the factory when it's not, even if it's 100% technically compatible.

I've just spent over 2 hours on ebay trying to get myself a leonardo or micro and keep finding the cheap knockoffs.

Real Arduinos are sold via a limited number of distributers (listed here: http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Buy ) Why would you expect to be able to purchase one on eBay? (At one time, Arduino was apparently really picky about who they allowed to be distributors, which is one of the things that led to "freeduino." But that was in the distant past. (Both of the vendors who were active in the Freeduino project have been official distributors of real arduinos for years now...))

thanks guy

A lot of info there. Cr0sh - thanks for the overview, I had red the arduino overview, but its always nice to see a diffrent view :)

I should probably elaborate a bit more on my original problem. I've got 3 official boards (leo, uno R3 *2) and a clone (with dodgy PWM, spi and serial). Now I want to do a few more permanent projects.

I have no problem with the people who make arduino compatibles, or even ones that are basically the same just re-branded. My problem is one like this where no only are they trying to pass off as arduino, they mess up the pinout so that, in many cases, I'd have to rethink my project to adjust the pins I use.

Final thourght, I probably shouldnt have been posting, when I've been up 48 hours with less that 3 hours sleep because my little girl is teething.

I’ve got a (hem) few SeeedStudio 328 and Mega boards, they are freakin awesome!

JST power connector instead of the barrel jack, much better for an “embedded” project.

Also the Seeed Mega brings out ALL the I/O pins, amongst other things, I can get my Nootropic video experimenter shield working on a Mega, which a “real” one can’t do.

best way to not get crap, is to not buy crap!

cyberteque: I've got a (hem) few SeeedStudio 328 and Mega boards, they are freakin awesome!

Next on my list after the micro (probably 2 or 3) I want to get :art:

cyberteque: best way to not get crap, is to not buy crap!

True, true. Its just trying to find the decent stuff amoung the crap can be a job and a half at times. Particularly when finances are low :(

Just to add to my outrage. I ended up buying 2 micro's and 3 nano's off ebay, They were advertised as originals, but ended up being clones, and don't have a bootloader on... so now I've got to get them bootloaded too...

You can get a Real Arduino UNO from Radio Shack for about $28.


Just don’t buy their overpriced kits.