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.

119 thoughts on “Next generation Arduino manufacturing problems?

  1. @jake – you’re not likely going to be a professor, or inspire the generation of scientists and engineers with the comments and attitude you’re posting on a site that was conceived to help others (it’s why i made hack-a-day).

    if you’re not proud enough of your own words to stand behind with your own name or where you “put people in their place” then you’re not likely going to do much in this world.

    if and when you ever do something valuable and productive you’re proud of, feel free to drop me an email. but we both know it won’t happen. who knows perhaps you’ll think about this and reconsider your strategy for inspiring others.

  2. Hahaha, you’re quite inspiring there, pal.
    I could keep going back and forth with you, but it sounds like you feel one way and I feel the other. I don’t know where you went to school nor if you ever had the opportunity to teach, but because of your opinions I will assume that you didn’t. My statements hold true. Where do you think I got my opinions from? The profs that I’ve worked for in the past. Good profs. Smart, and well liked (by the good students, at least). EE/ECE/etc should be as hard to get into as the medical field (ok not that hard, but you get the point). Instead, nowadays, almost any idiot can get a EE degree, and that’s just wrong!!!

    I encourage those who try and do their best. I encourage those who don’t try to try and do their best. I give up on those who refuse to try, and if I had my way, they would be dismissed from their program. I have little tolerance for laziness, as you can probably tell ;)

  3. @jake – prove everyone wrong and show something you’ve done with the students you claim to have encouraged, so far you haven’t – post a link, have a student post how you “put them in their place” and they’re so much better off now. surely there’s a parade of super EEs because of your tough love anti-dev board regime.

  4. Hmmmm. I guess I struck a vein. Sorry.

    Let’s drink a beer and forget about it? I will never reveal my name on this site. No way!

    If I ever *do* send ya something, it’ll be under yet another identity and yet another proxy ;)

  5. I think there is a more serious problem with the Arduino boards. The USB and External power is not switched correctly and can allow voltage and current to flow into the USB port of your computer:

    The arduino team was alerted to this earlier than this blog about the cosmetics. Why have they goone to such great lengths to address this issue and not the more serious one?

  6. Ohs!t! This is showing up on the most commented in the last 30 days. Pt, if you really are who you say you are (and have admin powerz), I won’t be offended if you delete my off topic back and forth. I might bitch a lot, but I still like your site, and I don’t wanna tarnish your front page <3

  7. @pt you mention a lot MAKE, HaD and adafruit.
    Well neither HaD and (especially) MAKE have nothing to do with EE, as for adafruit arduino is their cash cow.

  8. if business can somehow increase # of customers it will, this why we start to see schools that use Lego Mindstorm and etc. for their enginering classes. And this doesn’t matter since it is already too late for US, most IT fare gone to less wealthy but better educated countries, all what left for US is burger flipping and lawsuits/medical fraud

  9. Just my two cents, which, I’m a novice, its just a hobby two and a half years ago I finally decided was time to get involved in. I didn’t know what an arduino was, I didn’t know what most things were, and from what research I did, I ended up with a pickit2 and low pin count dev board. Thought uC’s sounded pretty neat, and I have programming experience, albeit web stuff, and some vb6 at that point, but being able to program the electronics, seemed like a good place to start. It took me a while to get the hang of assembly, compiling, downloading the file, and making useful programs, but eventually I have learned the ropes, and even moved up to using C instead. I have never used and arduino, so in no way should I probably be commenting on them. But from what I get out of these debates, once stripped down to the core issues, is that its pre-made, and there is lots of ready made software out there for it. Which, I did struggle a lot finding examples on the internet, to help me get the hang of programming. So it might have made life easier for me starting out with one.

    What I get from the two sides of this debate is. One side is saying, as if this was a math class, you need to show you work, no calculators. That if you want to get a good understanding, you need to learn the basics, how to bread board the uC, and what is required to make it run, which end of a cap goes where, how to solder it all up, etc. Which, is basically how I learned, I had a dev board, but quickly learned to solder up my own, cause it was much cheaper than buying the dev boards over and over, if I wanted something permanent.

    The other side is saying, its a good starting point, to get people into electronics/hacking/etc. That it provides a place where you can start doing stuff right away, and then when you get that down, and want to move on, you can then move into making your own stuff. Using the math example, you show off the neat things you can do with math, then let them branch out deeper into the subject. Also, there is a point, when you start using the calculator, cause you know long division and don’t need to go over it any more. The project at hand, is much bigger than learning the basics, and in development its nice to have something quick and easy so you can move on to the bigger picture.

    To me, both ideas are completely valid, and not in conflict with each other. What is, is who is using it. I would fully expect someone going to college to major in designing electronics, to be able to set up their own board, in their sleep, its the basics, every subject I ever took seems to be like that, hammer in the basics, then build upon those. As far as people that aren’t going to be electrical engineers, and instead, want to use electronics, as part of something else they are making, or just like the idea of it being their hobby, where they’re not going to have teachers, where Google is going to be their mentor for the most part, it seems like this is perfect starting point for them. If they want to dig deeper they can, if a blinking led amuses them to no end, their you go. Also, I think the arduino’s simplicity, is just good marketing for getting people involved, its a steep learning curve, this takes the scary formulas in datasheets out of it, until people work into a better understanding of everything. It gets people in the door, helps them from not getting frustrated and finding something else to do. Which, is good for any business involved, not just the ones being represented here, and if you like cheaper prices, and more availability of parts, good for anyone involved, as the hobby becomes something business’ are interested in providing for.

    Sorry it was so long, I spent most of my university time in philosophy classes. Hard to say anything with out it running long. Also, thanks to everyone, its a hobby I really enjoy.

    Real name is Jason.

  10. @PhilKll
    Well spoken, sir.
    I do not have a problem with using these “arduino’s” to learn how to use an uC, and I have stated that again and again. I guess 99% of my frustration comes from kids who are *supposed* to be learning to become engineers, but instead they take the easy route, copy others work on an easily attainable platform, then want some recognition for it as if they have done anything worth speaking of.

    It’s great that you were able to stumble your way through the basics, and that deserves a lot of respect IMO. Your statement about classes with calculators is a good example, my problem with a lot of the kids I’ve encountered is that they never progress beyond the “arduino” phase, and actually learn something.

    It’s these damn kids, I tell you! *grabs cane*

  11. After reading Jake and pt conversation I would say that both of you guys need some time off from your computer.

    Personally, I’m a MoS in CS student and I started using Arduino as an entry point into the low level programming and hardware prototyping.

    I started from the super basic stuff like blinking an LED and then it evolved into stuff more and more complex: I’m now designing my own IMU and I already designed a breakout board for a digital accelerometer:

    Arduino actually opened my path into all of this and I’m really happy that this has happened.

  12. Summarise: Electronics can be used both by EEs and hobbiests. EEs shouldn’t be lazy and only use Arduinos but should learn how it all works, they’re supposed to be EEs after all. Hobbiests can be free to use Arduinos so we shouldn’t say otherwise. Also people have different opinions and it’s hard to see it from the opposing side in the middle of a heated exchange. :-D
    Disclaimer: I haven’t made any electronics of worth, just a bunch of half done project left all over my desk. But it’s the Internet so i’ll submit comment :-)

  13. Jake is nothing but a sophisticated troll, now let him be and return to the subject, seriously.

    “hello i am ____ i do ____ and i don’t like your ____ because people who use them are ____”

    Insert about 100 angry comments in response to this.

  14. I recently bought an Arduino to play with. I have always been on the fence about them, but decided to give it a go. Even before it came, I have always been worried about the headers being soldered in straight. As a PCB designer, I know that one of the most difficult things to design and build correctly is anything that utilizes two or more headers. They have to be soldered exactly perpendicular to the board, in order for anything to plug/unplug correctly. It’s just a poor design.

    Sure enough, my Arduino came from SparkFun and the first thing I noticed was ONE of the four headers was soldered in, laying to one side. I couldn’t even plug in a wingshield. The only way I could fix it was to use hot air on the bottom side to reflow the solder on the header and shift it straight. Even doing this before on similar boards and being careful, I still managed to melt the plastic spacer on the header some, but it wasn’t bad.

    I just hope the flaws found on the Uno units are isolated and are not batch wide.

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