Is Arduino suitable for a Full Production gadget?

So I've spent the last year developing and testing my gadget and now I am 3d printing the case for it.

I may go for an Injection Moulded unit depending on cost, but here's my question...

Is it right to carry on using an Arduino Pro Mini inside my gadget and sell it as such on a website??

I mean, it works fine. and once I get the case looking professional, no one will really know what's inside.

And what if someone opens it up and sees a stock Arduino Pro Mini inside? Will they feel cheated?

Or should I be looking at moving away from the Arduino to a pure Custom PCB design specifically for the job?

Has anyone else had experiences like this or sold their gadget based on Arduino technology?

I'd love to know!

thanks

https://www.arduino.cc/en/main/FAQ#toc10

Until you have built several devices and put them in peoples hands, you have merely debugged the device. The public will actually test the device and if you are nice to them, they will give you feedback and tell you how they actually put the device to a test.

Paul

@jremington thanks. I've read that page before but never fully understood it.

Do I have to reveal my code if I want to use Arduino Tech in my project?

skyboyflyboy:
@jremington thanks.
I’ve read that page before but never fully understood it.

Do I have to reveal my code if I want to use Arduino Tech in my project?

Do you want free help?

I've read that page before but never fully understood it.

If you intend to make and sell a product that involves incorporating other people's products or intellectual property, it would be very wise to consult a lawyer with the appropriate background.

I don't see any issue if the Arduino is just part of the project - it's just a component, just like all the other components that are included. You buy it, you resell it. It becomes a different story if you want to advertise it as "based on Arduino", or "Arduino inside".

The code is a bit more of a minefield. Many libraries are BSD licensed, no problem there. But if you want to use GPL licensed libraries you may have to make the source of your code available as well. This is a tricky bit, if you're planning on keeping your source closed avoid GPL (maybe safest even LGPL) licensed libraries.

skyboyflyboy: And what if someone opens it up and sees a stock Arduino Pro Mini inside? Will they feel cheated?

Ask the person that opened it up.

Or should I be looking at moving away from the Arduino to a pure Custom PCB design specifically for the job?

Depends on the product and the volume. Advantages include lower production cost in high volume (all SMD components make for easier production) and more flexibility in and smaller overall design.

skyboyflyboy:
And what if someone opens it up and sees a stock Arduino Pro Mini inside? Will they feel cheated?

Why would you imagine that? :astonished:

You might have to rewrite a library or more if you want to close the code. You have to include any changes you made to the Arduino IDE+tool chain.... if you did, you'd know it.

The Pro Mini can be gotten pretty cheap. Can you beat that?

I wouldn't give a monkey's if I opened up something and there was an arduino in it. I found a gadget I liked, for a price I felt was fair, and bought it. Do I care if what is inside is an arduino, a proprietary pre-programmed chip or a tiny chimpanzee making all the magic happen? Not a jot.

Put this into a another context. You buy a MK4 dinglehopper all singing all dancing laptop. You open it up and find that all the chips say "Intel" on them. Do you feel cheated?

I don't think you'll land in hot water for selling whatever it is you have come up with (what is it?), I mean I can't envisage you are going to go to huge volumes and full scale production but if you do, then I would imagine you would have to plough money into marketing, product testing, the whole works.

Alternatively you could just set the arduino in black resin and tell no one what is in it.

They're not paying for a "stock" pro mini though, are they. It's chock full of your cunning code that does stuff for them. They're paying for the benefit your gizmo brings to their lives. Maybe it makes their home more secure, maybe it runs their factory more efficiently. They make a decision (perhaps sub consciously) based on cost vs benefits: there could be a 555 or a Cray inside, it's irrelevant. Do the benefits outweigh the cost to them?

About 40y ago a farmer pal of mine sold electric fence shocker thingies to his neighbours. The electronics were trivial and he bought a load of old car ignition coils at the breaker's yard very cheap. He had the same fear that if anyone opened it they would think they were ripped off.

The solution was simple and cheap: a "Warranty void if seal broken" sticker across all the joins on the box.

Thanks guys, that quite encouraging now.

Basically I've only used the "Stock" arduino. Not modified any source code, just wrote my own code to make it work.

I had thought of Open Sourcing the whole project just for the sake of sharing with the world. Not sure yet...

So on to my next question.

Is there a standard procedure that I should follow in terms of testing for Fire safety, Robustness, etc? Or the "CE" European kitemark? How do I get one of those, and do I really need it?

cheers

skyboyflyboy: Is there a standard procedure that I should follow in terms of testing for Fire safety, Robustness, etc? Or the "CE" European kitemark? How do I get one of those, and do I really need it?

There are standards for electronic stuff that is sold in most places in the World, and it varies depending on where you are selling.

If you sell stuff that does not comply with appropriate standards then you are likley to be breaking the law.

Its not an area where there is a simple A,B,C approach to complying to standards, if you have no experience in this area you propbaly need to employ a professional engineer to advise.

Anything that is an RF emitter can require a lot of (expensive) compliance testing.

Also if your selling stuff make sure you have adequate liability insurance.

I was working in a farm recently installing cat 5 cabling. One of the cables was to a door entry system. Inside the control box was a Raspberry Pi.

If you were to total the cost of all your parts on a spreadsheet. Allow for shipping. Allow for some time to assemble and test. If I were to buy your device, for $10, I would figure I am buying parts for little more than the cost, Fantastic deal. If it were $100, I would figure I was paying for someone who, I would assume was a trained professional to write bulletproof code and offer a plug-in working unit and not feel slighted. and a really good 'user experience' easy to use. If it were UL or the correct agency in your country, then the cost of getting the approval is expected to be added to the cost.

As a business suggestion, I would suggest you spend some time searching on similar units and see if anyone has something that is close and at what cost.

As a comparison, I looked at a BBQ Smoker controller. small fan, blow air onto the coals to get hotter. Shut an air damper to allow to cool. Many are over $200, some are $35. Packaging and fancy website increase the value and cost.

As a hobbyist, my choice is to spend the time to make the thing, or buy one that works so I can focus on other things. If I found a mini inside I would laugh and not feel slighted because I know that the choice really is if the thing has a $3 Atmel chip or a $2 ARM processor

You would do very well to look up the Standards for CE. They should be available on Euro Governments sites, and need a level of expertise just to understand. That mark will not be cheap, it pays for civil "servants".

Without the mark your sell market will be very local, friends and family.

What might surprise many starters, is the fact that case, switches & connectors will often add 30% or more to the BOM cost of a project. Electronics are cheap. Power is expensive, making it pretty adds more, then putting it in a glossy carton adds even more.

Assembly (time & cost) add more again. Nothing is free.

Somewhere in there you have to grab a slice of the pie as reward for your design, prototypes & coding effort.

Honesty, knowledge and Balls of Steel are all important.