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Soapbox: My Top 10 Favorite Arduino-Compatible “Clones” and Derivatives

Soapbox: My Top 10 Favorite Arduino-Compatible “Clones” and Derivatives

My article last week about Arduino counterfeits (as in companies actually using the Arduino name, logo, and trademark) and selling them as real Arduinos had some lively debate. Opinion articles are always interesting, because you get a huge spectrum of comments. A variety of opinions were represented for sure: there are folks who think it’s OK to counterfeit because trademarks can’t be enforced all the time around the world. It was also suggested we can’t have or promote open source values like sharing our code and designs and still value intellectually property like trademarks, patents, and copyrights. I don’t see these as incompatible thing: open source works because it’s built on copyright as just one example. This is completely compatible with running a successful business, too, and Red Hat is a good example.

I also heard a few “open source hardware is doomed” comments because we cannot protect our IP. Maybe that will eventually be true for all hardware, but I never met anyone doing really great OSHW who assumed there was any protection possible for the physical bits. Nothing is slowing down the innovation in open source hardware. There are plenty of industries that are basically “open source,” like fashion and food, that are thriving without protection besides trademarks and copyrights (maybe patents, but not really). I think we’ll be OK :)

Anyway, instead of letting a few commenters imply I was down on Arduino “clones,” I’m going to do a top-10 list. A “clone” is sometimes called counterfeit and vice versa, but since the two words are sometimes interchanged I’m going to call any “clone” an “Arduino-compatible” just to be super clear. I make a living co-designing, developing, shipping, and supporting Arduino accessories as well as Arduino-compatibles with Limor “Ladyada” Fried and have a nice collection, including an original Arduino I’m trying to get the Computer History Museum to display.

Why are these compatibles on this list? I really like Arduino-compatibles that add value; that’s my opinion and I think that’s what most OSHW makers are doing. By “add value” I mean it’s not just a straight-up identical copy of something or using a trademark from someone else, but instead the creator has actually added something more and shared their design. Maybe it’s lower cost, maybe it’s a new feature, but there’s actual real value added. At the end of the top-10 list I have compatibles that MAKE sells or ones that Adafruit or myself have worked on; I didn’t think it would be fair to put them in a top-10 list, but they’re part of my favorites — skip those if you believe they’re only there for any other reason. Don’t forget to add yours in the comments too.

Here we go!

Pt 948
Diavolino from Evil Mad Science: Super low-cost Arduino-compatible. It’s $13.

The LilyPad Arduino by Leah Buechley: A microcontroller board designed for wearables and e-textiles. It can be sewn to fabric and similarly mounted power supplies, sensors, and actuators with conductive thread. I liked this so much, but wanted more features, so I’m co-designing a wearable Arduino-compatible called the Flora.

Freeduino5 750Px
Freeduino is a collaborative open source project to replicate and publish Arduino-compatible hardware files. The Freeduino Eagle SCH, BRD, and Gerber production files allow users to create boards that are 100% functionally, electrically, and physically compatible with Arduino hardware. One of the first efforts to have an Arduino-compatible.

Nanode Ethernet Enabled Arduino Board
Nanode is an open source Arduino-like board that has built-in web connectivity. It’s a low-cost platform for creative development of web-connected ideas. The Nanode was developed in the U.K. by Ken Boak in cooperation with London Hackerspace.

The FreakLabs Freakduino-Chibi is designed for rapid prototyping, experimentation, and deployment of wireless designs at low cost. It has an integrated wireless radio for an inexpensive wireless prototyping system.

4744921096 8Dc51633A1
Seeeduino Film is an Arduino-compatible development platform for space-sensitive projects. It’s flexible and super slim. Maybe my #1 favorite.

The Teensy is a complete USB-based microcontroller development system, in a very small footprint, capable of implementing many types of projects. It’s super small, and the support from the maker is legendary.

ProtoSnap series from Sparkfun: This is a clever why-didn’t-I-think-of-that design. Each ProtoSnap device comes shipped pre-wired and ready to use — all you have to do is program them.

Sanguino: A red-colored microcontroller board based on the ATmega644P. Handy when you need more horsepower.

Illuminato::Genesis by Liquidware: Arduino-compatible, 42 I/O pins, and 64K code space for bigger DIY projects. Liquidware, in my opinion, makes the most beautiful, dark, gothy boards out there.

Photo Zoom1-3
Not in the list because I’m connected to them in some way, but they’re in my favorites. Boarduino: one of the first Arduino-compatibles made to fit on a breadboard, designed by Ladyada. And the new Menta that Ladyada, myself, and MAKE developed together. It fits in a mint tin with a huge prototyping area.

OK, post up YOUR favorite clones, er, Arduino-compatibles in the comments!

45 thoughts on “Soapbox: My Top 10 Favorite Arduino-Compatible “Clones” and Derivatives

  1. Ken says:

    The way to make money with OSHW is to provide great service, like Adafruit and Sparkfun. Actually great service is my number one criteria. The tutorials are great for EE’s like myself as well as noob’s.

  2. raster says:

    I really like the Diavolino and have used them in a few projects. It’s main selling point is definitely the price, but I love the folks at Evil Mad Scientist too, because they’re awesome people.

    I also like the Teensy, which is super-small, and super-cheap. So even though it’s not open source hardware, it’s definitely got a place on my workbench.

    Adafruit’s Boarduino is another one I’ve used, and is actually the first Arduino kit I assembled. It’s a good choice for the breadboarding stage of any project.

  3. raster says:

    Oh, I think Seeed Studio from China has also put out some interesting Arduino-compatible boards (Seeeduinos.) And yes, they’ve actually made specific design changes for various reasons. Their board are also pretty cheap, and Seeed Studio seems to be a good open source citizen.

    1. danoverholt says:

      Yeah, Seeed Studio is nice. They have had some improved Arduino board layouts for sale for quite a while now, and have just recently started producing the latest version of the Create USB Interface – the CUI32Stem, an Arduino-language compatible open source board that has been improved by the open source community:
      ( this board is now compatible with the Grove system of open source sensors / actuators: )

  4. biff says:

    I have used the Diavolino on several projects now. It has worked great. The price is unbeatable. My only complaint is that area wasted on it with those strange loopy traces could be better used for some prototyping area. In the future I will buy the EMSL target boards and feel better about it. The new Menta looks promising and I will probably consider that one as well.

  5. Chris O'Brien (@obriencj) says:

    I love the RBBB (Really Bare Bones Board)

    Dead simple to throw together for little projects, and you can easily trim off parts of the board you don’t need.

    1. james says:

      I agree. Super cheap, super small, and you can cut off the parts you don’t need. I.e. if you don’t need a voltage regulator, out it goes.

  6. Soapbox: My Top 10 Favorite Arduino-Compatible “Clones” and Derivatives FreakLabs says:

    Ha ha ha. Open source hardware is doomed, my ass. If anything, it’s growing. In Tokyo Hackerspace, I’m putting out super-niche designs that I think almost nobody would be interested in. I can crank them out because the building blocks are OSHW circuits and OSS libraries. I get tons of inquiries into the designs and people keep asking me if I’m going to sell them. The answer is usually “maybe” since there’s a lot extra in prepping a design to be sold. But in general, if you look at niche markets, there’s plenty of room to improve things with OSHW all over the place. Some examples of designs that I get inquires about: RGB balloon illuminator with integrated accelerometer + wireless, portable battery powered wireless EL wire controller, PID controlled water bath for cheesemaking, PID controlled aluminum block heaters for chocolate tempering. All of these are ultra niche, are way more expensive than they need to be, and just require stitching together a couple of OSHW blocks. Anyone that says OSHW is doomed can suck it and watch as I temper my way to chocolate heaven using it :)

    1. Phillip Torrone says:

      best comment ever.

  7. paintyourdragon says:

    Solarbotics’ Ardweeny is on my personal fav list. It’s a $10 kit with parts that piggyback on top of a 328P DIP microcontroller…cheap, tiny and inherently breadboard-able. I call it the “popcorn Arduino” because it’s inexpensive enough to buy several at a time and not feel bad about having them tied up in projects.

  8. Russ Nelson says:

    In addition to fashion and food, the law itself is open source. You can’t copyright a legal case.

    1. Phillip Torrone says:

      russ – yup! things not protected by copyright: titles, short phrases/expressions and names, ideas (methods and systems) works by the federal government, works without authorship/facts, fashion, choreographic works, recipes, standard things like calendars, rulers, etc.

      i do not think schematics are likely protectable by copyright (and you can always reverse engineer). however, the layout file (mask work) are protected for 10 years.

      lawyers and legal experts feel free to correct any of this of course.

      the thing is, open-source hardware (and all hardware) in my opinion never has and never will have strong protection. we have limited ways to make sure it’s clear who makes it (trademark) and there might be some patents here and there – BUT – we all need to provide more than the physical bits. things like service, support, community and just being fast/nimble & innovative matter the most. just my opinion :)

  9. Rob Daggett says:

    Freaklabs, your awesome. I want to learn pid. For my self leveling gimbal. Also while not a arduino the gadget gangster is shield and pin compatible propeller based board. 4

  10. David Harvey (@davidharvey) says:

    The Seeed Studio Stalker is a great basis for a wireless sensor node: Arduino compatible, with built in real time clock, XBee socket and micro SD card slot for data logging.

  11. Jeff Saltzman says:

    Since looking for a “just right” board a while ago, I’ve maintained a spreadsheet of every Arduino-compatible boards I can find, currently 147:
    Save your own copy for easy sorting and exploring!
    My current backlog of boards to put up is Menta, Femtoduino, and ReaDIYmate. If you know of ones not listed (or listed ones that are not available), please let me know!)

  12. Over 147+ Arduino-compatible boards « adafruit industries blog says:

    […] via MAKE. Filed under: arduino — by adafruit, posted April 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm Comments (0) […]

  13. Adam says:

    I like the Goduino II, it’s an Arduino Uno clone and a motor driver in a very cheap and minimalist package.

  14. Ant-TV says:

    I have seen two boards on exhibition of electronic components:
    Microchip ChipKIT UNO32 ™ and ChipKIT MAX32 ™ ?

    Inside 32bit MIPS M4K arduino-compatible microcontrollers and several I/O Shields
    (programmed through Arduino IDE)

    I never used them, but they looks interesting!

  15. intangi says:

    I’ve been following the development of the JeeNode for a while, you definitely have to check it out too.
    He’s somewhat standardized on a module interface and is using the i2c buss pretty heavily to daisy chain sensors and other mofules together quickly and cheaply: I think he also designed the RBBB which I’ve used:

    His blog posts are quite informative for the microcontroller hackers out there :)

  16. intangi says:

    Definitely take a look at the RBBB and JeeNode by JeeLabs.

    The JeeNode has built in wireless, and has standardized on a module attachment layout that’s cheap and easy to use with rapid prototyping and you can daisy-chain modules together via i2c.

  17. fraguada says:

    I am going to also put in my vote for Jeelabs Jeenode Family! I usually use the Jeenode SMD, though the Jeenode USB is great to use with LiPos. Also, the Jeenode Micro is a handy little guy for remote nodes. The whole family talks via the RFM12b radio and the excellent library written by Jean-Claude W., the creator of the Jeenodes!

  18. Paul Campbell says:

    Here’s what we use to teach soldering in our Makespace (

    At one level it’s a simple blinky light project designed to be assembled by beginners at soldering, at the next it’s an arduino clone, there’s an FTDI serial connector – beginners can blink other lights – finally it also has proto pins and can be mounted on a proto board

    Feel free to steal the design, boards are available at cost

    1. Paul Campbell says:

      BTW we also have a makerspace project this year – it’s an underwater research platform we’re doing in conjunction with one of our members – it’s essentially a mega2560, power control for dimming LEDs for illumination, and for driving lasers (yes lasers!) and a USB hublet to tie in the other – all for taking pictures of mud

      all will be OSHW of course

  19. RechargeCar says:

    Check out our ‘Macchina’ project – an Arduino-compatible designed specifically for car hackers. The Macchina is based on the Mega2560 with all OBD2 protocols, a bigger power supply, and closer to automotive specifications.

    We are almost done designing our second revision and are looking for people interested in becoming a Macchina Developer to help create some useful libraries.

  20. oneguythought says:

    I like EtherMega
    Mega format (lots of IO), a small prototyping area, onboard ethernet, switching regulator so can run on higher voltages.

    1. Aubrey says:

      +1 The Freetronics boards and shields are all super quality and genuinely address particular issues or add functions to the Arduino concept. Freetronics also adds a lot back to the commuity. Also check out their Leostick.

      1. John Boxall says:

        Absolutely. The Freetronics gear is excellent. Their EtherTen ( leaves the seperate Arduino and ethernet shield for dead.

  21. Tim Hoffman says:

    I will put my hand up for the JeeNode. The builtin of the RF comms is ideal if you want remote control and monitoring. I have them controlling solar lights with remote control, wireless relays, pump controllers. Just totally awesome.

  22. Karl says:

    We (Akafugu Corporation) have taken over development of the Xmegaduino project, which aims to integrate support for the Atmel Xmega line of processors into the Arduino IDE. Xmega processors are a pretty neat evolution of the Atmega processor line. For instance, the ATXMega32A4 processor runs on 32MHz and features goodies such as a two channel 12-bit built in DA-converter, 5 USART, 2 TWI/I2C, 2 SPI and 16 PWM pins.

    The XMegaduino project is currently in beta, and supports several common xmega-based boards. The latest beta is in sync with Arduino 1.0.1-rc2.

    It is available here:

    We’ve also made our own board that uses the Arduino form factor, called
    Akafuino X. It uses the ATXMega32A4 processor. More information is
    available here

  23. MAKE | What’s Different About the Mintronics: Menta? says:

    […] Soapbox: My Top 10 Arduino-Compatible Clones and Derivatives. Share this: Pin ItLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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  25. Vasyl Yudin says:

    Check my new clone:

  26. Why do DrawBots draw on walls? | MakerBlock says:

    […] means this is an extremely cheap project.  An Arduino is only going to set you back about $30 and clones are as cheap as $15.  I picked up two of Adafruit’s motor shields on sale for $12 each, but they’re […]

  27. » Shrimping it – Arduino Hackery On The Cheap Matthew Hughes says:

    […] IDE based development tools to the schematics of the device itself. That has resulted in a deluge of Arduino compatible clones flooding the market. Now, these are fairly cheap. But what if you wanted to go even cheaper? What […]

  28. vouvoume says:

    Maybe some of you want to look into tinyUSBboard ( It may not be the prettiest, but it has an onboard USB-Interface and maybe is the cheapest and easiest arduino compatible clone?

    Have fun!

  29. Diego says:

    Phillip, what do you think of the Moteino ( I haven´t tried it yet, but I thought it was a great compatible, given their low price and small footprint, but mostly because of the wireless connectivity!

  30. J Hare says:

    Hey Phil! I’ve been reading make magazine and buying bits from adafruit for a couple years but never made the connection between your two incarnations! Thank you so much for writing this article, it ties in great with a new project I’m working on involving your new eTape liquid sensors on the adafruit site.

    How you so awsome?


  31. The MOST guaranteed way to NOT buy a Fake Arduino (The Story of Pizza-Duino) - Open Source Hardware Group says:

    […] MOST guaranteed way to NOT buy a Fake Arduino (The Story of Pizza-Duino)"}]);"trackClickOnOutboundLink","link_5457529d1218e","Article link […]

  32. Dave Sunhammer says:

    So, I just have to argue a point.
    As the Arduino hardware itself is “open source”
    “Open-source hardware shares much of the principles and approach of free and open-source software. In particular, we believe that people should be able to study our hardware to understand how it works, make changes to it, and share those changes. ”

    I would contend that a “clone” and a “counterfeit” are definitely NOT the same. And here is the TLDR right up front… = Clones don’t charge you brand name prices.

    If it is ok to make a clone as the original company has stated it publicly then any copy is just a clone. That some “companies” in China would stamp the Arduino logo on the board, there is the counter-fitting.
    Why is this bad?
    Buying an Arduino brand Uno board directly from Arduino will cost you $22 + vat. Buying a clone from China will cost you $8 to $14. Buying a clone made in China with a fake Arduino logo will cost you $22. It is the deception that is bad.
    Now, one may argue that because even the hardware is open source then what does it matter?
    Well, some people really have a thing for branding. Even IF Arduino says “please copy our stuff” some people still want the original. It is like Levi Jeans. You really want to pay $50 for some Target brand knockoff that some sewed a Levi label to? Why not? Both will cover your #$% in public.. Deep down you just know you payed $50 for $12 jeans. Way to manage your money.
    I’ve got no problem buying an off-brand Uno, or clone. But I find out you painted on a fake logo so you could double the price. Yea, we are not going to get along.
    Anyway, my 20 cents on the difference between “clone” and “counterfeit”/

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  34. Thierry Mormentyn says:

    Hello Phil, could you take a look at this one ? We could send you 1 piece as a sample
    Sorry only in french

  35. Jason Selph says:

    I love how at the end of the list you included your Ardy-klone and said it wasn’t on the list… I don’t fault you at all and think the Menta is awesome!! Just sayin’ lol KUTGW!

    1. Tony says:

      No, he’s saying that it IS on the list, but NOT because he’s connected to them.

  36. sola says:

    Arduino UNO R3 clones seem to have become super-cheap recently (~ $5 with shipping).

    An example:

  37. Shamik Rudra says:

    This one is Single sided PCB design for Arduino UNO compatible board. USB connectivity and auto power source selection circuit is also present in the board. Board name is Inventor UNO. It is possible to make this board at home also.

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