How rugged is Arduino?

Hi,

What are the chances that an Arduino board will lock up or stop working if they are continuously powered for years and never turned off, only put to sleep when not required?

Thanks

What is the electromagnetic environment of the place where it would be placed? What kind of box you will use? What kind of board you will use? What kind of power supply you will use? What are the inputs and outputs?
Do you know what is an watchdog? In your application you can use this?

As you may see, I think, that is not a easy answer.

Reliable and rugged are to different things. arduino is very reliable within its specified operating conditions. Outside of its Safe Operating Area- all bets are off. What specific application did you have in mind?

I plan on using a Atmega328 to control some LEDs and motors. This will be setup outside in a plastic box. It will awake on the press of a button and be put to sleep when not required, it won’t be powered off. It will be powered by a 3.7V lipo battery with a solar panel. I will use a standalone chip setup.

What you mean with this?

Jamal:
(...)
I will use a standalone chip setup.

What you mean with this?

(…)
I will use a standalone chip setup.

Like this http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Standalone

Like that, I don't think it will be very reliable. Use at least an watchdog and a proto-board.

I will base my design on the link describing the standalone chip, but i will make a PCB instead.

Should i use a watchdog timer for reliability?

Jamal:
This will be setup outside in a plastic box.

What range of temperature and humidity?

What range of temperature and humidity?

These are pretty rough figures,
Temperature: 0 - 50 degrees Celsius
Humidity: 40-85

Should i use a watchdog timer for reliability?

Yes, absolutely. Never assume that it can be made to never lock up. ESD, nearby lightning strike, stray cosmic ray, etc.

Should i use a watchdog timer for reliability?

Yes, absolutely. Never assume that it can be made to never lock up. ESD, nearby lightning strike, stray cosmic ray, etc.

Thanks a lot. Is there anything else that should be used to improve reliability?

Short, clear, code. The hardware affects the reliability, too.

Jamal:
Should i use a watchdog timer for reliability?

The watchdog timer prevents that the application "get stuck" for apparent no reason. So, yes, is a good idea use an WDT when you need the application to be reliable.
The other things that I tried to say are things that can leave the application to have strange behaviours like start working with no reason. (or start working when you are next to the box and you receive ans SMS in your cell phone) All this things not depend of the "Arduino board" or the "Arduino chip" it self but from different aspect of the environment (or better electromagnetic environment, like I said in the reply #1).
When a manufacturer sell an electric/electronic device (at least in the EU or the USA) he must do a lot of tests to his equipment to ensure that it respect some rules (CE/FCC) and is for example that is immune to some ranges (and amplitudes) of electromagnetic noise. Did you ever notice that the PC (or mobile phone or tablet, etc.) have one plastic box that is painted with metallic ink or is lined with some metallic sheets?

So, if you want to have sure, you need to do a very good hardware project, a very good firmware project, and you must do the EMC tests to your equipment.

If is enough to you to have "almost sure", do everything but the EMC tests :slight_smile:

Many thanks for all your responses. It has really got me thinking.

Cheers

Another thing that people use to make stuff last longer is encapsulation material. Either make a mold or get a potting box put in your PC board and fill it up with encapsulation epoxy.


This is what we do. We have a mold, bolt in the hardware by the connections and fill it with encapsulation epoxy. It pretty much takes the environment out of the equation. Unless you nuke it.

Hope this helps.

-jim lee