The Arduino Uno Disappointing Failure :(

by on Sep.30, 2010, under Arduino / AVR, Electronics

I was excited receive my Uno today in the mail, the packaging was nicely designed.
This excitement quickly faded when I picked up the Uno for the first time….

The following describes my disappointment with the new Arduino Uno…
Be sure to click the photos and view them closely

“What the hell is that?” …

I said as I looked closely at my Uno.

My arduino uno has a tooth on the side? Did they do any quality checks before shipping these out? This is a sign as to the more quality problems I found on my board…

Why is the board a reddish orange color on the sides?

The answer makes me sad :(
It looks like the board was not properly routed right and the Italian manufacturers skipped quite a few corners to make these boards as cheep as possible :(  The rough edges actually scraped up the sides of the packaging during shipment. This can also be caused by using dull or cheap routing bits many board houses will reject a board that is this poorly routed… yet for 30$ our italian friends still sell us them..

The edges are really quite jagged and sharp. I bet you could cut a steak with one.

This is what a properly routed board should look like! Smooth and not jagged!
I then noticed another problem with my Uno when i went to plug a shield in that had very small tolerances in the arduino pin spacing…

Yes the header is not soldered in properly, it is so bad that the two headers are almost touching! My cat can solder headers straighter then this.
Then I took an even closer look at the board…

They wanted to make the arduino uno fcc approved… so they used octagonal pads for vias… If my knowledge is correct then these edges can make more noise then a standard round via. There are also many traces that are poorly placed and have very zig zag patterns with non rounded corners…
The Vias are also drilled no so center …
Another no so much problem but more pet peeve  is the use of non standard round pads for surface mount components with no silk screen markings to tell you that a part should go there and it is not a test point.

(bare Arduino Duemilanove example)

This WTF has continued from the earlier arduino designs. I dare you to attempt to build a bare board without looking at the eagle files to see what pad goes to what.

Now there is this gem of a failure, look closely at the 2 vias. Yes that is exposed copper, the result of the board house trying to be cheep and use as little solder mask as possible…
Don’t get me wrong, I like the arduino project as a whole, but when you pay 30$ for a board with this many problems you feel a bit shafted.

Update: here

29 Comments for this entry

  • avatar
    Joby Taffey

    Excellent investigation.
    I’d assumed that the FCC approval and cost downs were about getting Arduino into schools.
    But, not with those edges…

  • avatar
    Tony T

    Wow. This is indeed disappointing. Especially as the new Arduino was meant to be an improvement on the last, i.e. they learnt from their failures and feedback from users to improve the next one. Clearly not.
    This kind of corner cutting and the snub to the clone manufacturers and distributors with the new USB chip and the restrictions shows this ‘Open Source’ project is clearly all about making a fast buck.

  • avatar

    The misaligned headers is the worst part– makes it pretty much unusable with shields. Return it?

  • avatar
    James Lewis

    Where did you get the second to last picture (ardinowtf1.jpg)? My board doesn’t look anything like that. The via on the SOIC is in the wrong place, the silk screens don’t match anything on my board.
    My headers are aligned quite well. There is no exposed copper on the Vias near No orange marks anywhere on the edges. I will agree the overall routing is much rougher than other PCBs.
    Your board looks to be the exception and not the norm.
    Where on Earth did you get your information on the Via shape? With that logic, no electrical element (landing pad, pin, etc) should have polygon shapes. They should all be round.

  • avatar

    Jesus, you’re buying a proto board at a cheap price. You should be glad that this is an isolated instance and not the norm.
    If you’re that concerned about these things you need to get back to reality a bit.

  • avatar

    I forgot to mention that I DO work in an electronics factory that builds boards and systems that do everything from anti ice, to control landing gear on planes many of you have ridden in.
    I could take the time and show you how while they are not what we would consider target, they are considered “passable”.
    There are international standards for these types of things and I don’t see anything that doesn’t look like it wouldn’t be “passable”. It could look better, but I’ve seen worse flying around in airplanes, so quit your belly achin.

  • avatar

    >>Tony T
    Citation required

  • avatar

    GoldieDpimp, it’s not that the product is unusable, the previous version looked considerably more professionally made. $30 is a pretty high price, considering the TI LaunchPad costs less than $5 to purchase, probably even less to manufacture. I would assume the Arduino does not cost much more than that to manufacture. If they’re cutting corners (like using a cheaper PCB manufacturer) to get a higher profit margin, then they should at least find one that delivers the same product quality, since they’re still charging the same amount per board (my Arduino Duemilanove also cost $30 when I got it, and it looks beautiful).
    This is the kind of quality I would expect from BatchPCB, or some other one-off PCB manufacturer, not a commercial product.

  • avatar

    Ironically, Jess, boards from BatchPCB (fabbed by Golden Phoenix) generally look a *lot* better than the Arduino board in the photos here.
    Also, to add to your list of quibbles: picture one looks like some pretty poor de-fluxing, too. :)

  • avatar
    Massimo Banzi

    I’m the co-founder of Arduino.
    We have written a step by step reply to the content of this post.
    If you have received an Arduino board that was not up to par with our usual quality we apologize but that doesn’t represent a general issue with every UNO made.
    We would like to inform all your readers that your reseller offered you a replacement board and even a refund. Every reseller is bound to a contract where they replace faulty boards immediately and no questions asked. please talk to your resellers or directly to us.
    here is our response

  • avatar

    hi folks, to get the disclosures out of the way i founded hack-a-day, i work with MAKE & adafruit and i’ve met the arduino team many times and consider them friends as well as pioneers in open source hardware.
    now that’s out of the way – i think it’s always good to share information and work towards better products, the personal attacks and name calling aren’t needed though.
    the arduino is an open source hardware platform and it’s doing ok – with maybe 200k units out there they’ve done a great job publishing everything, keeping up with demand and in my opinion – very high quality. i say high quality because i’ve personally handled about 10,000 or so arduinos in some way or another and while there are rare issues, they are really really rare.
    these arduinos are used thousands of times a week per customer, plugging stuff in and out, doing crazy things, going to the desert, even space. the quality in my opinion has always been fantastic. the support more so.
    in this example, the arduino team quickly responded with a post on their site, very publicly. they went through each photo and issue and explained what may or may not be accurate, or what can be done. and as always they offered a refund and/or a replacement, no questions asked.
    moogle didn’t give anyone an opportunity to resolve this, he didn’t contact the arduino team or allow the reseller to replace or refund it. in the sparkfun IRC channel he also claimed the he was offered “$30 to keep quiet” – that is not true, i asked him about this when i saw it he told me that he didn’t mean to say that and since apologized.
    i know it’s fun and easy to go lynch mob and score points for criticizing, but arduino is not a giant company, it’s a handful of hard working people trying to do good and i think doing a great job for their customers. if there are issue the arduino team will take care of it, and i think their response here, their site and their forums demonstrates that.
    out of all the orders i’ve seen go through MAKE & adafruit (and others) the arduino team has always been the best to work with as far as suppliers go – from keeping the resellers informed to excellent customer service when it’s been needed.
    so folks, be good to each other – debate is good, fair critiques are always welcome – i know the arduino team and everyone else in this great DIY electronics community value them – just be kind to each other, ok?

    • avatar

      Let me make this clear.
      The arduino team or any who distributes the arduino had nothing to do with the 30$ offer, It was some random troll (or trolls) who I had to delete several comments off from my blog.
      Example of such trolling that occurred that I missed
      The bowels of the internet are not meant for man to see.
      I am sorry for the trouble that came to be.

  • avatar
    Glenn Henley

    Being critical is easy – being constructive is more difficult. This is a fantastic open source project with an outstanding community. Look for ways to add value rather than writing tabloid-style blog posts.

  • avatar

    +1 for pt
    -1 for moogle
    first think then type.

  • avatar

    I tried to post this on the arduino blog here:
    but I got the old “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”
    A more serious problem with arduinos that you may want to blog about:

  • avatar
    Johanna Riechers

    I’m grateful for you because of this fantastic articles. You genuinely did make my day :)

  • avatar
    Ian Tindale

    I took a look at, and a feel of, my Duel Mini Love, and it’s rough too. In fact, compared to the prototype shield from China that’s sitting on top of it, the proper Italian-badged Ardiono is much much rougher round the edges than the comparatively smooth (on two edges, and not quite so on the other two edges) Chinese prototype shield clone.
    I don’t think these issues have suddenly appeared as a result of the Uno’s production — Arduino’s have probably always been like this but we haven’t noticed until now.
    Maybe there’s a market in rubber bumpers that fit round the edge of the pcb. Or maybe it’s a feature, to aid in avoiding dropping while handling. After all, you wouldn’t want it to be too smooth, would you.

  • avatar

    Vgroove man… thats why the edges are sharp.
    Hi volume boards dont get routed.
    Out of allignment drill holes? so what?
    Poor layout, yes.

  • avatar

    I would expect a second, perhaps a third testbench with more results. Whatever they are.
    Personally I would have FIRST documented everything, THEN asked for a swap.
    After the swap I would have considered a blog post.
    This blog post tells me two things:
    1) Arduino is so so famous that everybody is enthusiast to share something about it (also think about xkcd strip
    2) there are some pre-concepts: everybody in the electronic industry knows that defective assemblies happen; product managers have to balance expensive QA with return policy, 0% defects is an asyntotic function of $. This blog post shows hostile pre-concept: ONE board represents ALL.
    3) there is a frequent reference to “Italian”. It seems to me that the nationality is mind-associated with “fail” and “defective”, in this post. I hope this is just a coincidence. I am Italian but this kind of association between a nationality and an adjective is, to me, superficial and to an extent racist.

    • avatar

      Cernio, you’re obviously an IDIOT, arduino has traded on the italian connection since its inception, one of the reasons being they’re supposed to produce better quality boards. To equate someone saying italian in a negative fashion about arduino to a rascist ahows how ignorant you truly are. After much consideration I still conclude you are an IDIOT.

  • avatar

    I don’t know the exact motive of posting such things but, in my openion,
    Arudino Uno is GREAT.,
    After receiving it, i learned,
    I2C, SPI, Interrupts,
    Interfacing of 16×2 LCD,PIR sensor,LDR,DC motor and list can go on and on.,
    Shortest time I took to build project of temp. (LM35 and LCD) on 8051 (89V51RD2 to be more precise) was about 8 hrs…, with arudino it was done in less than an hour., I think it is great.
    I would still recommend it as fastest prototyping kit (I ever wroked on :-))
    You don’t expect arudino to be part of airplane control system…,
    Do you???

  • avatar
    Jo Blo

    That’s why I don’t regret having paid $20 on a Mega2560 from China (DealExtreme). Probably mine has more quality than the original Italian Arduinos.

  • avatar
    Marius Myburg

    My first Arduino that I bought recently, was exceptional quality. I specifically looked at all the above-mentioned ‘issues’, and found none on my Arduino board. In fact, if anything, my Arduino Uno board was of exceptional construction and quality.
    That was just my experience, and I have no issues with what I bought – I am very happy. Perhaps you were unfortunate enough to have bought a cheap(er) replica of some sort. Whatever happened – this post is unfair to the Arduino and those who produce Arduino.

  • avatar

    This is not even a real Arduino Uno its a counterfeit. 90% of the ones you find on Amazon and eBay are counterfeit, this is the sad nature of buying them on these sites. I have a real one bought through an authorized retailer (NKC Electronics) and a counterfeit claiming to be made in Italy from amazon and their is a HUGE difference. The Chinese ones look thrown together. If you ever get a counterfeit, send it back immediately. The Arduino group has threatened to sue any authorized vendor if their selling counterfeits with their logo and trademark on it and claiming to be an original. Only ever buy them from authorized vendors – their the same price now.

  • avatar

    electrostatic problem with arduino uno pins so frustrating!

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