Next generation Arduino manufacturing problems?

[The Moogle] just got his new Arduino Uno; wow, that was fast. What should have been a happy unboxing turned sour when he took a close look at the board. It seems that it exhibits several examples of sloppy fabrication. The the lower-left image shows unclean board routing, a discolored edge, and a sharp tooth sticking out from the corner. The shield header shown in the upper left is not flush with the board, resulting in a weaker physical union and a crooked connection. There are vias that look like they’re not be centered in the solder mask, and areas where raw copper is exposed.

It saddens us to see this because the original Arduino boards were so well manufactured. Keep in mind that this may be an isolated case, and as of yet the company hasn’t been given the chance to swap out the board for one that has passed a more rigorous quality control inspection. But if you’ve already ordered one of your own, take a close look and make sure you’re satisfied with it upon arrival.

Not sure what we mean by next generation Arduino? Take a look at the new hardware that was recently unveiled.

Update: Here’s a direct response from the Arduino blog.

Update #2: [Massimo Banzi], one of the founders of Arduino, took the time to comment on this post. It details the organization’s willingness to remedy situations like [The Moogle] encountered and also links to the recent Arduino blog post.

Comments

  1. redbeard says:

    How about the fact that they’re so hell bent for leather to use everything AVR that it shows up as a ttyACM device in linux (the source of a lot of the problems with the launchpad). You’d think somebody would have tested that. Though, c’est la vie.

  2. redbeard says:

    also, this is dead on. i pulled it out of the package and without thinking ran my finger across the side and got a big fiberglass splinter.

  3. xeracy says:

    LA VIE!

  4. Mudo says:

    New manufacture…

  5. Mr Obvious says:

    “Keep in mind that this may be an isolated case, and as of yet the company hasn’t been given the chance to swap out the board for one that has passed a more rigorous quality control inspection.”…

    But hey, let’s not have that stop us casting FUD around the intertubes.

    Oh Hackaday, how soon you forget that you are dependent on the Arduino… :)

  6. adam says:

    this sucks i was really excited about the uno. i’ll probably stil end up getting one though.

    btw, a few weeks ago i got a duemillonove(sp?) from sparkfun for a project and when i unboxed it one of the shild headers was also bent i thought it just got bent during packaging and straightened it out maybe the ne manufactuer is making them too, i never thougt to look at the solder mask, but the edges were clean

  7. osgeld says:

    yea 1 yutz so far has bought a board from “somewhere” (they wont say other than its a “repairable” company) and its crap

    BURN BURN BURN!!!

  8. dbear says:

    FUD?

    An honest review (with photographic evidence) is hardly a FUD campaign.

  9. Tom Hargrave says:

    The first two issues are minor problems with their board vendor. I’ve been a Engineer in the manufacturing business for years and have seen both of these issues. We would use the boards and provide feedback to the board house. The routing issue is probbly caused by a dull bit. The off center VIAs are actually just a shifted solder mask.

    The third issue – the connector not seated needs to be fed back to them because it is their issue.

  10. xorpunk says:

    “Yo dawg I heard you like Arduinos”

    Only Arduino can make a 1 wire LED circuit look relevant and remotely interesting.

  11. biozz says:

    are they still made in Italy? there known for there nice manufacturing

  12. I received a new mega yesterday and my first impressions were similar.

    I’ve posted photos here: http://chemicaloliver.net/arduino/arduino-manufacturing-problems/

  13. no, which is the problem….

    /italian

  14. JB says:

    Made in China now? :P

    Damn quality! Let’s make it cheaper!

  15. That is just not acceptable. There where normally two quality checks. One at the board fab and one at the assembly. That exposed copper is NOT acceptable! The whole design has “flaws”. Arduino make fast but good an Arduino Duo!

    http://www.arduino.cc/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1285887736/0

  16. UltraMagnus says:

    hah, I guess it isn’t just china that can churn out crap. You pay all that extra for Italian manufacturing and still get rubbish.

    /me waits for Chinese clones to be released next week

  17. Tom says:

    I don’t know where Hack a Day got the idea that the Arduino boards used to be well made, I personally though they were notoriously bad, as a TA at a university we’ve ordered many Arduinos and although none were sent back for quality, they were all very slap dash.

    The headers were often bent, the IC would sometimes clearly have been put in at a cock-eye angle, we’ve had the USB metal housing fall off too.

    Overall they work but they are clearly not what I would consider well made, especially with the aforementioned rough edges.

  18. Luke says:

    Hopefully this is an isolated incident. Otherwise I’ll be buying the Chinese copies, though would rather have the money go to the people who keep the project going.

  19. mowcius says:
  20. George says:

    @UltraMagnus: Me too. The Freeduino PCB I got from Seeed a couple of years ago is fabbed absolutely perfectly. Creating a well-made, aesthetically-pleasing PCB isn’t rocket science.

    Maybe Arduino plan to release a $50 “Premium Edition” for the really OCD fanboys? :D

  21. walt says:

    can someone tell me what happens if the copper is left exposed? i’ve made PCBs and never tinned the traces. they work fine, but I now worry about their longevity.

  22. mowcius says:

    “Otherwise I’ll be buying the Chinese copies, though would rather have the money go to the people who keep the project going”

    Well this is being enforced more now so there are less to be found. I would just recommend a nice derivitive board. Especially if you don’t need shield compatibility you can get some really nice ones.

    See this page for more info (Uno not included yet):

    http://www.duinoaday.co.uk/hardware.html

  23. mowcius says:

    “can someone tell me what happens if the copper is left exposed? i’ve made PCBs and never tinned the traces. they work fine, but I now worry about their longevity.”
    See this other post by moogle:

    http://wtfmoogle.com/?p=1455

    If they connect to another metal they can corrode. Over time they will probably go green also.

    Mowcius

  24. Tom Hargrave says:

    They wont corrode and they won’t go green. If anything the copper will turn dark just like a penny does and it wont hurt a thing.

    These boards like all other moderb boards are manufactured with solder mask over bare copper. It is common to have some bare copper somewhere on a board and as long as the copper does not cause a solder bridge it’s a non-issue.

    Tom

  25. Mooreslaw says:

    “There are vias that look like they’re not be centered in the solder mask”

    Who’s writing this? ESL? No wonder HAD is looking for writers.

  26. mowcius says:

    “They wont corrode and they won’t go green. If anything the copper will turn dark just like a penny does and it wont hurt a thing.”
    If they get in contact with another metal then depending on the metal it may corrode.
    If it is pure(ish) copper then it will go green.

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/If_copper_turns_green_from_oxyegen_gas_why_don%27t_pennies_turn_green

    Mowcius

  27. Addidis says:

    Still surprising they failed so well.

    Honestly if just the headers were messed up thats one thing. But there are so many inconsistencies.

    When you think about it the most important thing that makes an arduino an arduino (aside from the bootloader) is the headers. This product is aimed at newbies. And yet the one thing that makes it what it is (the headers to attach other things) didnt get a second glance at the shop.

    This is like a handicapped convention on the third floor with no elevator.

    Pretty surprising they would allow this to ship.

  28. svofski says:

    Exactly which of the listed nonproblems affect LED blinking, or anything else done with Arduinos? Does a misaligned via hole really hurt you that much, seriously? Splinters? Hell, better not turn on that soldering iron, someone might get hurt.

  29. walt says:

    “These boards like all other moderb boards are manufactured with solder mask over bare copper. It is common to have some bare copper somewhere on a board and as long as the copper does not cause a solder bridge it’s a non-issue.”

    What about the exposed copper on home brew PCB’s which won’t have the solder mask?

  30. RE:comments, IMHO if you’re complaining about the package, you’ve failed to see the point. It’s one thing to note the decline in manufacturing quality, it’s quite another to call this a show stopper.

    A similar complaint in the ’90s may have gone as such:

    “i can’t see what the big deal is with computers, the cases are all just thin sheet metal with poorly cut sharp edges… and they’re just so… beige”

  31. grenadier says:

    Picky Picky.

  32. mowcius says:

    You have to remember that people seemed to want beige back then.
    Nobody wants crap boards now.

  33. Dosadi says:

    I definitely agree that Arduino’s quality control has always left something to be desired. My Arduino Diecimila arrived with no solder at all on one of the header connections. I thought these things were wave soldered?

  34. George says:

    @mowcius: It’s not that nobody wants crap boards, just that nobody wants to pay *premium prices* for crap boards. If these were $16 or $18 each, a bunch of cut corners would be justifiable; everyone understands the idea of “built down to a price”.

    They apparently couldn’t even get the idiosyncratic pin spacing correct, though. That’s just… yeah.

  35. Shadyman says:

    I got a Freeduino clone of an earlier one, and it is beautiful.. Rounded corners, etc, and it was a kit, so the only person I had to blame for assembly was me :)

    The board was done quite well, though.

  36. Anton says:

    My brand new Uno has all these problems as well.

    Lots of bare copper, including some places along the edge of a trace where the solder mask was too thin. All the Vias were bare copper and poorly centered.

  37. Xb0xguru says:

    So wait – are you saying the product is faulty? Does it work as described? Yes? What’s the problem here? So it’s not something you could put in a glass case as an excellent display of good PCB creation, but unless I’m mistaken, code doesn’t really care what the hardware looks like. Maybe take off the geek specs for a second, eh!

    @redbeard – running your finger along any PCB is an accident waiting to happen. If you do this on a regular basis you’re bound to get a splinter. Maybe the lesson here is don’t do it?

  38. Addidis says:

    @svofski
    Well if the headers are messed up that DOES effect plugging in the shields it is made to use right? If you actually read the posts, there are links showing how bad the headers are assembled. Yes most of it is cosmetic. But if they are going to do such a piss poor job of putting on the headers and need to save money or time in FAB then ship it with them unattached. The customer already has to rework the board so why not just save the time and effort all together during fab ,,,

    Thats right the reason is the arduino is made for nubies . That is why there are headers so the user doesnt need to solder. So assembling the board this poorly defeats the entire purpose of the board.

  39. mowcius says:

    “Thats right the reason is the arduino is made for nubies . That is why there are headers so the user doesnt need to solder. So assembling the board this poorly defeats the entire purpose of the board.”
    Well at least on the mega, the holes are in the wrong place for the headers so you have to bend them to get shields to fit in…

    “but unless I’m mistaken, code doesn’t really care what the hardware looks like.”
    Pretty much the whole point of these boards is to put shields on them so if you can’t even do that as the headers aren’t right, then the code will care cos it can’t connect to that shield you just purchased :p

  40. Trollicus says:

    Wow, all the people attacking arduino’s (not the quality issue the arduino itself)

    Yes, they need to do some serious quality control. But even though I have never used them myself(I make my own AVR based circuits though) they are a good BEGINNER platform, or for someone who doesn’t have the time/knowledge/tools/skills needed to create their own circuits they allow quick prototypes to be made.

    I have seen some projects that are way overdo to drop the arduino and move to a custom board, but hey, there is something to be said with sticking with what you know.

    It’s nice that this product has encouraged many young people to learn about micro-controllers in a simple to use package.

  41. fartface says:

    looks like the same shoddy quality I have dssen from all other Duino boards.

    Granted I have only bought 60 of them, far less than the other guys here, they must buy thousands at a time.

    My experience is they are low grade, and always have been.

  42. ClutchDude says:
  43. Tom Hargrave says:

    Hey guys, this is a $30.00 controller card not a $1000 laptop and that’s far less than the cost of a nice dinner with your spouse or a friend!

    For $30 retail they gave to cost about $10 to manufacture and they have to be running thousands at a time.

  44. Jack says:

    The “company” you mean that italian private “non tax paying” organisation running out of some garage?

    I bet they order every part from china, probably from some blackmarket store too without paying VAT.

    So what do you expect :-)

  45. osgeld says:

    1000$ laptop is bound to have the same issues, heck at my work we get 1000$ boards in that we are expect to snap apart along a line of drill holes

    stuff happens, if you get a funky board contact your seller or the arduino team, dont go making a big ass stink over it (while including problems and photos of a knock off previous gen board mixed in, the smd pads)

  46. Hello

    I’m the co-founder of Arduino.
    We have written a step by step reply to the content of the original post.

    If you have received an Arduino board that was not up to par with our usual quality we apologise but that doesn’t represent a general issue with every UNO made.

    His reseller offered him 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 http://bit.ly/bY36KQ

  47. Reed Keroce says:
  48. RadBrad says:

    Call me a heretic, but why not just drop an actual AVR on a breadboard and code in real C or assembly? There will be no errors to deal with that way beyond those you make yourself in code and wiring!

    Ok, my hands are up now… fire away!!

  49. Joby Taffey says:
  50. biozz says:

    @RadBrad
    the point of an arduino is quick fast and simple prototyping with limited or no external hardware

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