All; I hope I'm not going to start a war here but I have a question about the Arduino boards. I'm looking to pick up an Arduino Mega 2560 rev 3 and did a search on Ebay. There seems to be a pretty big discrepency with prices between "Genuine" boards and clones made in China. So my question is this. Are the clones really 100% clones or will I have problems with them down the road? Thanks in Advance; Frank
Honest answer is "who really knows ?"
Based on the amount of people that have driver problems the Genuine thing is better. Taking the Voltage input issues seen recently then the CLONE is better. If you are a MAC user the Genuine article is less of an issue. If you want Quality over Quantity then the real deal is often better. Are you new to electronics and likely to let out the magic smoke ? Only you know for sure if you are going to play and stick too many volts somewhere it should not be.
We could put the pros and cons into an awful big list but at the end of the day it would be your choice and the money available to you as I have both and the only real thing I would say about clones is that they produce more noise in an electronic sense than the real thing.
Old adage is "You pay your money you take your choice"
The clone will most likely be fine but the manufacturers are definitely trying to build them as cheaply as possible, which may mean substandard/counterfeit components and no quality control. My experience with buying the absolute lowest priced clones over the years has been around 5 garbage boards out of 60. I also have a few that they swapped pins 0 and 1 so they're incorrectly marked but they work fine other than that. So even with a ~10% rejection rate I'm still way ahead financially. Also, I don't know what kind of rate I would have experienced if I had bought 60 official Arduino boards, I'm sure it would have been less. However, I spent a good deal of time trying to troubleshoot these errors, time has value too. When you're a beginner this can be especially problematic because you don't know whether the problem is something you're doing or bad hardware. It's very nice to have a certainty that the hardware is working correctly so you can narrow down the cause of the problem.
Keep in mind that the extra cost of the official Arduino products is not only for the hardware but for the software also. Arduino pays an team of developers who are constantly working on the IDE, web editor, libraries, and hardware cores for the benefit of the entire Arduino community, whether they use Arduino products, clones, counterfeits, or alternative 3rd party hardware. The cloners contribute nothing to this development while benefiting greatly from it. You might consider buying at least one official board or donating whatever you feel is appropriate: https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Donate
You can also help the Arduino project in a non-financial manner by donating your time to submitting code contributions, publishing libraries or example code you've written, providing support for other Arduino users on this forum and elsewhere, improving the Arduino Playground wiki, etc.
Thanks to the both of you for your feedback. I can't thank you enough. Regards; Frank
Are the clones really 100% clones or will I have problems with them down the road?
You never know, unfortunately. Most of them seem to be pretty good, but they're usually sold by pretty clueless "store owners", so if you have problems there isn't really anywhere to go. Look for a store that seems to specialize in tech gear, rather than one that also sells jewelry and sex toys...