Why does Arduboy Cost so much?

Ok this thread is going to open up some about what most companies don’t share, and that is how much does it cost to make their product. But the truth is, you can find this out very easy because of the open source nature of the Arduboy Product.

I won’t answer any direct questions looking to narrow down exactly how much Arduboy costs to make. But if I chose to share stuff, it’s because it’s pretty easy to find out anyways.

The reason I’m sharing this because I’ve got a new goal to try and make some hardware that is as cheap as humanly possible. McDonalds happy meal engineering.

Arduboy is expensive because of, in order of most to least:

Seeed Studio’s overhead for managing the production, and distribution ~ 20-30% of total cost
Labor Costs ~ 10 - 20% of total cost
OLED Display ~ $2.50
ATmega 32u4 ~ $2.50
LiPo Battery ~ $1.00
Packaging ~ $1.00
Everything Else ~ $3.00

So, developing my own distribution model would theoretically be the largest savings here, but my goal is to partner with Seeed so that massive quantities and not large margins are the goal. The labor costs can be reduced significantly because there is a lot of fiddling with the OLED ribbon connector, inserting the buttons, and most importantly the screws. The screws themselves aren’t that cheap, I think they are about 5 cents each, but it’s costing about 50 cents to pay someone to install them.

Going with an LCD screen, ARM processor, and a coin cell or AAA battery will save almost $5 from the BOM (Bill of Materials). The Everything Else category can probably be reduced to around $1.00 by using cheaper materials. From there, it’s mostly volume. I think around a million units is the real key inflection point.

Anyone out there made a million units of something can give advice?

I think I want to do a new kickstarter for this, but video documentary of the process being a bigger part. Possibly that is one of the rewards, or a patreon is possible also. I’d like to get the people from Vice or Verge or some other online blog to get involved too.

Anyone want to join the quest?


My vote would be for the STM32F103C8T6 (or one of the equivalent ICs like: GD32F103C8T6). They are really cheap, have Arduino support, have pretty good specs (72 MHz, 20 KB RAM, 64 KB flash, etc…), and have good hardware peripherals like multiple SPI and I2C interfaces with DMA support. I believe they can also execute code out of RAM which when paired with a SPI flash chip could open up support for apps that are larger than the built-in flash (although that might be complicated to manage).

Potentially, what kind of help are you looking for?

Well, really anything. Right now I need access to people who have been involved with making dirt cheap hardware.

Then I’ll probably go to China again and if anyone has done that before, would potentially be cool to join forces.

Mostly I think I could use a person to follow me around with a video camera when I’m over there. I didn’t do that enough last time, and considering I know my way around just a little bit might be more productive now.

Tell them NOT to use the golden tactile buttons.

They’re not real gold, or even gold leaf.
It’s just metallic paint, probably made from iron pyrite or mica.

I think he means the gold plated snap domes, which are actually gold. The PCB also uses gold ENIG finish both are slightly cheaper than their non-plated alternatives but doing this increases the cycle life well above 100,000.

Also, not using gold plating on the snap domes leads to sometimes getting poor quality button presses (you have to press harder to actually register a press, not what you want for a game system).

But the snap domes being plated does double triple the price from around 5 cents to 15 cents for the button matrix.


My 10 cents worth? That’s money well spent.


Hmm so they are actually just plated …
disappointed …
Thought they are solid gold …
What about the Micro USB? That was also gold (or gold plated, at least)
Or perhaps it is the ultra-slim PCB? (and the “cool drawings” on the back)

If they were solid gold they would not snap, gold is too soft to do anything mechanical.

The USB is also gold plated.

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