Interesting Idea! Community Built Arduino

Hi everyone!
Last night I had an epiphany. Can the wider community come together to build a pro Arduino. With the wider knowledge and input from the Arduino team, can we build a successor (or similar) to the Arduino Uno. This could make development and documentation easier for everyone. Additionally, this could make for a closer (hopefully) community. People can add the features that they want, get it checked and if voted high enough, can be added to the system. As this is a team effort, this could turn out to be something big. I'm thinking something like a cross between the Arduino Uno and Mega/Due. Some super powered system. This could be cheaper than the official Arduino Board prices (no offence Arduino Team) as it is crowd developed and done for free. The board would have what the community wants and serves as a system that fits most people.

My idea is that we use KiCAD (as it is open source and sort of more commonly used) or EAGLE (its dying) to come together, and get stuff done. Like previously mentioned, we could develop individual parts, and get stuff done by voting on what we want and don't want added. It would have to be checked by seniors and pros (not even me!).

Finally, this entire project has to be approved by the Arduino team and given a budget (and other such). I don't want to be the sole team leader but instead give other people exposure to such projects and something to do while the world is under chains (lockdown...).

I'll appreciate any constructive criticism and encouragement. This is my first post so please be kind...

If it's done for free, then what is the budget for?

The production budget.

This is a very cool idea!

Better to just collaborate on an open source board design and then let the community handle the production (e.g., order boards on their own, manufacture a batch and sell them on Tindie et al, crowdfunding). This sort of thing has been done many times already with open source hardware projects.

This idea of involving the Arduino company is bound to make your idea impossible.

I wanted to make it a Arduino Board with community input. The production budget is a way of the Arduino team supporting us. In response to @pert , I wanted to make it Arduino as it what people feel comfortable using and do.

Have you looked an Arduino pro mini, already out there.

$3 to $5

not aligned with my concept. i have three at home...
its four years old and ancient. we need something that people can comfortably use and has current features. again, no offence to the Arduino Team...

Expand on what’s new.

What do you see the final design might include ?

I quite like the MKR series but my (unrefined) idea is that we get a board with

  • 40(ish) GPIOS
  • BLE (4.2)
  • Wi-Fi
  • GPS
  • Lots of docs
  • Robotics and intermediate user oriented
  • External PCB Solderable
  • Works with Adafruit/Sparkfun and Arduino products to make the lifecycle work

Most importantly, a all star team is needed. Please eMail me at
bala006@sjacstudent.qld.edu.au if you are interested. We will have a team of around 10-20 working on the actual thing but need some people to test it, beta work and have their secondary (not less important) input. I'm trying to make this fair so we probably will use Discord to group everything up. I am in the AEST time zone though so stuff will be a bit tight if most of the team is in America but that's alright. But like I said, email me and I'll reply really quick. I'm thinking this should take around a year or so but you all know how the SLS rocket is going right :wink: .Look forward to your responses (and emails...)

The idea is valid, but there are a lot of boundaries to satisfy a diverse user community.

  • processor core & speed
  • memory, flash, RAM and EEPROM
  • physical size
  • power budgeting / regulators
  • connectivity - USB, network, serial…
    …and more…

Do you retain shield compatibility? I’d say no… allowing more future compatibility and form flexibility (and 0.1” symmetry)

  • finally ringed in by a sell price.

Maybe a family of three or four boards - like the UNO, MEGA family that share a core and some basic foundations, but the peripherals on each board are a step up.
Basically code compatible, but easy enough to bring newbies in.

Like your description said, thanks for being an optimist. I thought that the community could assist and vote for the processor. We probably (like you said) won't retain shield compatibility, it restricts lots of board designs. We will start with one board that resembles the Nano and MKR series. It'd be quite simple(I think) but I need some expressions of interest to kick this project off...

To the OP, out of curiosity, what Arduino boards have you got and what projects have you completed on which boards? Also the same question about non-Arduino boards.

I guess I'm the OP.
I've got a couple Nano's, Uno's, Mega's and hopefull a RP2040 Nano. I've done some robotics and PyTorch projects. I've used the RPi and Google Coral extensively and some other stuff.
I sorta do random stuff and done a couple of PCB's but I'm not too sure if they actually count as projects. I wanted to do this out of frustration from other projects and lots of money. I wanted an inexpensive(that's pretty much what the Arduino does, ik) Arduino that caters for the intermediate class as the Uno and Nano sorta cater and work for beginners. I'm not too sure. I think that once a team has been assembled, this kinda thing around the definitive purpose would be sorted out.

The concept is sound and Arduino IIRC has done some similar projects in the past.
Not all such projects make it to fruition though.

Building by consensus / committee is fraught with so many pitfalls

Have you looked at the most recent boards from Arduino ?
Admittedly some are tailored to certain segments but there are still some quite nice boards.

You mention robotics but that is an area smothered in Arduino from basic to advanced boards already. It is not really a niche that needs to be covered.

STM and such have taken a huger bite out of the CNC market so that is no longer as viable as it was.

AI is still a pretty wide market so boards more concerned with that aspect may still be viable.
ML part of AI and AI itself is above most beginners though.

Having backward compatibility can hinder products in terms of manufacture and programming so that is something to consider too.

Just think a lot more would need to be refined and specified before anyone would commit.
Do wish you luck though.

I guess the main part is that an allstar group gets together in a Discord, works together and asks the community for feedback. What people want gets voted on. I would love to have you on my team - bala006@sjacstudent.qld.edu.au
I do know that people have tried similar stuff but by robotics mean that stuff works for the kinda stuff that James Bruton does as such. It has to be a successor to the almighty Arduino Uno but not completely destroy it. The reason that people have smothered the Robotics section is becuase there is no set standard that we want to set via our board if this ever takes off.

I'm sort of doubting the outcome of this project but lets see :slight_smile:

Just thinking a bit more…

The project could be a number of different ‘motherboards’ that support the most common functionalities plus easy to connect i/o like @crossroad’s projects.

Some motherboard features overlap, some with prototyping areas, some specifically for serial / servo, i2c / spi projects etc You’ll never satisfy everyone…

But then, depending on the project requirements, you could plug in a different processor daughterboard - like a nano, on up to the larger 1284 chips and onward as you need more cpu FLASH or RAM.

Using good design, theee could be made ‘mostly’ interchangeable, yet the processor modules could be used in custom boards by the individual developer.

So you mean shields on top of popular boards....I haven't seen @CrossRoads projects before, I'm new.
Like shields that people crowd design or additional MCU's on top of popular boards to add functionality, I'm dumb, I could be missing the point please let me know what you mean?

Also, as a general comment, how would I go about doing this project, as in software to manage and collaborate the team?

@crossroads does useful i/o shields, but I’m suggesting application shields with a common processor footprint to drop in the processor of choice…

a bit like the seventies and later when we had the S-100 buss and PC/104 embedded systems.

Plug & Play development systems!

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You can see some of the boards I've developed here
http://www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17
Like this Atmega1284P board with SD card, DS1307 RTC with battery backup, onboard or offboard USB/Serial adapter, RS232 buffer for the 2nd Serial port, standard Uno header for shields, screw terminals for all IO, and prototype area, layed out with a 315/433MHz RF module in mind or a DIP chip.