State of the Arduboy

(Erwin) #21

I would always order the kit version of anything. Even if the price does not worth it. I can do a better assembly than the factory, leaving a screen angled or with a fingerprints on the inside (humans! why do they still use those things in factories?).

Not sure about a kit version of the current arduboy though…

(serisman) #22

Maybe I am missing something here, but if the stated goal is a lower cost version, how is creating a pre-built custom breakout board going to cost much less to manufacture than the current Arduboy boards?

The Pro Micro has the benefit of massive volume and Chinese economic games that have reduced the price to barely more than the ATmega32U4 itself. A lot of the homemades already use this board. The biggest challenge is the non-standard pins. @Mr.Blinky’s homemade boards package makes this easy to get around, but with the inconvenience of having to re-compile everything. If the Pro Micro was used in an official kit version, hopefully we would get better/easier compatibility. If I remember correctly, the .arduboy package format even supports having multiple .hex files meant for different versions.

So, my vote (for a non-solder version) is the Pro Micro, with a 1.3" SH1106 OLED display, both of which are cheap and easy to breadboard. There could still be an un-populated PCB that could be used when ready to move off the breadboard. It would be nice if the PCB had support for the all the common OLED display sizes (1.3", 1.54", 2.42"), so the user could choose which they wanted (they don’t all need to be included). Also, the PCB should breakout all the pins so it is easy to hack-in other expansions. It probably should include a flash cart as well. Maybe design the standard kit around (3) AA or (3) AAA cells. The user can always modify to li-ion on their own if desired. It might be hard to design a case that would fit everyone’s needs, so maybe don’t include one by default. There can always be a library of 3D printable designs for various options.

I would still be interested in knowing how much cheaper you could produce a kit version of the existing Arduboy as well. Something that isn’t pre-soldered or pre-assembled.

(Scott) #23

As I said to begin my post:

(serisman) #24

One of these might work as well:

They are slightly more expensive than the Pro Micro boards, and not quite as breadboard friendly, but they do break out all the pins to headers making it easier to maintain binary compatibility.

If easy drop-in compatibility with a breadboard is required, a simple adapter PCB could be included. Or, just include and use ‘DuPont’ cables to make the connections to the other modules.

A PCB for the input buttons that could easily plug into a breadboard would be nice as well.

If binary compatibility and low cost is required, maybe drop down to including only the 0.96" SSD1306 display by default (, but leave room on the PCB for the larger but more expensive and less compatible displays.

(Kevin) #25

Yeah these would be based off of pro-micro modules with pin headers.

Basically my plan is to go upstream of what everyone has been doing. Instead of ordering off ebay or Aliexpress I will actually go to China and order several hundred units directly from the vendor and have them kitted together.

Actually I am a bit afraid that the new import taxes may make this unfeasible. Unless I can find an import code for like an educational electronic kit, there is a good chance of the loose components being subject to a 25% import tax being brought into the USA. There are some other funny ways to bring them in but I would never do them and certainly would never admit to doing them publicly online.

(Scott R) #26

This could also lead to an uncomfortable trip and some awkward x-rays.

Customs fees will also be a factor practically nothing slips through to the UK from the US.


“I swear all I had was a bag of chips!” … x-ray shows hundreds of atmega32u4’s inside the smuggler where the sun don’t shine.

(serisman) #28


Do you know any more details about when the new rules are supposed to fully hit? So far none of my small AliExpress orders seem to have been impacted.

The cancellation of the shipping arrangement is also going to have an impact on things at some point. Or, will the Chinese find other ways of getting us cheap goods somehow?

(Kevin) #29

There is an exception for packages less than $1,600

(serisman) #30

Oh nice. I wasn’t aware of that. That should mean that hobbyists are still ok.

(Pharap) #31

The implication being that you aren’t human. Cyborg @eried confirmed. :P

Little historical anecdote:

Once upon a time in Britain there was a heavy tax on ‘models’ (e.g. model ships, kit models etc) so to circumvent it a company who made silver statuettes put hinges on the wings of their pheasant models and made the head removable (revealing the inside to be hollow) so they could class them as ‘toys’ or ‘vessels’ and avoid the tax.

Split the shipments into lots of smaller packages?

(Erwin) #32

I don’t see that implication. Because: non sequitur

(Pharap) #33

Non sequitur you say?


I didn’t see those before. Thanks for the link. You can’t stick them on a breadboard though.

Sounds like a good option to me too.

more compatible and saving more then $1 will make that the most likely candidate I think.

Using the 0.96" display in combination with a Pro Micro offers a choice to build a 100% code compatible version or one using the alternative wiring and extra features (Maybe I should rename the alternate wiring scheme to arduboy kit wiring :thinking: )

Just wear your Jedi robe and wave your hand :sunglasses:

(Ramon Moorlag) #35

How about a high-end Arduboy?
Larger LCD, wifi, bluetooth, vibration?

(Simon Merrett) #36

That’s a shame - I don’t know if iot is a big deal for this kind of device but I understand that it is you who will be managing the risk so will have put more thought into this decision than I have. I think 2 player with IR would be cool and perhaps easier to implement than RF links.

That is good thinking. I have only just seen this thread but last week I was messaging manufacturers on alibaba about whether they could open up their devices for people to put their own games on. Language difficulties (not complaining - I can’t speak a word of Chinese) aside, I didn’t get far. They said they could put my own game on at the factory and showed me a photo of their programming cable but opening it up after delivery for new games was not on the cards, unsurprisingly. I was asking about this sort of device, which even finding a supplier of the enclosure could be a good start.

(Simon Merrett) #37

Definitely thinking this would be nice. I understand that proper haptic feedback requires nifty techniques like reverse driving the motor to brake it and cause sharp buzzes, rather than just turning on and getting (relatively) long periods of vibration. So I will go for something simple to start with but I can see it needing a proper haptic drive circuit eventually.

(Kevin) #38

@SimonMerrett for what kind of project? Something you are working on?

I think the key is not looking for any value add from the factory that I’ll have to find someone who is already making a similar product and then do the schematic for them. I guess ultimately I do want a unique case but that’s probably the easiest part.

I’d really like to take a swing at all the other items I mentioned in the header post but doing a esp32 based device with usb-c seems like it could be pretty great.

(Simon Merrett) #39

@bateske I was originally looking for a games console I could give to my small children and control the simplicity (and violence levels) of the games on it. This led me to the gamebuino / arduboy community.

I have a design for a SAMD21G18 based diy arduboy in schematic because like many engineers we want to diy. Just sorting out the component footprints before I can take a stab at the first spin of the PCB layout. I was attracted to the SAMD21 because others had worked on it codewise and indicated they’d be willing to help with SW if I can get the HW going. Other than a bit of sunk design time, I’m not averse to an ESP32 version.

As far as the approach to the console manufacturers, I’m on a wonderful holiday at the moment and with limited time with PCB design software, my mind wandered. Slightly curious after Naomi Wu gave a talk in China about open source so I decided to see if there was any give if I asked for them to let me know how to flash their systems. I wasn’t thorough or persistent - just asked a couple of agents for companies which looked like they were manufacturers rather than distributors.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on case design / sourcing - doesn’t seem to be easy to me!

(Scott R) #40

I would be up for screenless Arduboy in microcard format with a few more buttons and Bluetooth. It could make a great travel and mobile device controller. Kinda like a credit card sized 8BITDO NES30.