XKCD takes a swipe at the Arduino

This XKCD comic takes a playful swipe and almost everything, including the Arduino. We’ve heard people claim that we have some sort of favoritism toward Arduino, and we don’t. People just submit a LOT of projects with them. But there is one point that we’ve seen a few times that should be addressed. In our categories we have an “Arduino hacks” section. That will not be going away, again, because we get so many submitted. However, shouldn’t we also add some categories for other stuff? Should there be a “pic hacks” category, or maybe just “microcontroller hacks” category?

Let’s not making this an Arduino bashing thread. Instead, give us some good ideas on other categories you would like to see for sorting.

[via littlebirdceo]

97 thoughts on “XKCD takes a swipe at the Arduino

  1. @Chuckt

    Ahh is because some people comments refers to arduino as a microcontroller and the microcontroller is really the AVR on the arduino board, well is my point of view :).

    I don’t think that Hack a Day reject microcontroller hacks that aren’t arduino.

    Ultimately, there is a search here at the top of the page that can be used to find PIC projects and if the people that love the PIC want some attention like arduino, why not do more projects with the PIC and post it? so the PIC can have its own section.

  2. Arduino haters are just elitists, nothing less, nothing more.

    Posted at 11:35 am on May 8th, 2010 by CorporalAris

    Nah we just hate people that make electronics without any clue as to how electronics work. I have seen many projects where an Arduino was used instead of TTL or god forbid, a capacitor timer. BTW had thanks for the recent TTL projects.
    That, and HAD will often have a convenient link to the adafruit kit, lining the coffers of one of the lesser board -etcher (friends) of theirs. I think this is where the hate comes in. Also the fact that people keep asking for this content to be slabbed over to another category and are immediately slammed as hate speech/trolls by other users. I don’t know how they should change it overall, but I’m glad we can all agree Arty is a joke.

  3. I see the Arduino is the Swiss Army Knife of the electronics prototyping world. Not -excellent- any anything in particular (damn those useless screwdrivers!) but excellent when you need (as carbuncle mentioned) TTL logic levels and its the only thing around, or a servo test rig, etc. etc.

    But hey, that’s not to say its not also ‘the easy way out’ for building stuff, just its not what you’ve got, but how you use it. :)

  4. I’d really like to see you guys stop posting such stupid crap all the time that are far from being hacks. There is so much “filler” on this site that it’s crazy. About %50 of the “hacks” are not hacks but just extremely simple things to do.

    If I were to submit all the stupid shit that I do on a daily basis, you guys would post it all and I would be famous for doing stupid and simple things.

    How about the hack of using my empty beer bottle as an ash tray, or the hack that instead of using toilet paper I use baby wipes to wipe my ass. Those are “hacks” by your retarded standards.

    Seriously, you guys need to get a better clue and stop post arduino crap and stop posting simple stupid shit. You guys should be smarter than that.

  5. Looove the KXCD ‘toons. Spent hours browsing.

    OMG! @ the huge ball of resistors. Teachers have actually made me calculate stuff like that for exams.

    My old guitar amp has just such a collection of 1/2 watt resistors in the screen supply ‘coz I didn’t have a suitable power resistor to hand, but a box full of 33k’s.

    They’re not a replacement for knowing what you’re doing.


    My gripe is that too many HaD Arduous-based projects would be trivial WHATEVER processor they were running on. Flashing a LED? Toy cars as a switch? It’s like gushing parents who insist on showing you their baby snaps, and speaking as an old computer obstetrician …

    Right off the top of Google;
    “NEAT HACK definition. 1. A clever technique. 2. A brilliant practical joke,
    where neatness is correlated with cleverness, harmlessness, and surprise value.”

    “CLEVER”. Not “epic bloody FAIL”.

    This term originates from way back when just about everybody was programming Altair op-codes directly in octal, hex if they were lucky, and assemblers were a distant luxury. It was great praise to look at someones code and call it a “neat hack”, generally because of a clever approach that got around system limitations.

    You can even make a brick shithouse fly if you bolt on a big enough engine. The cunning application of a simple device like a 555 might be worth +10 Internets on the “neat” scale, while the trivial application of a complex device like an Arduious should be worth -50 (because it is so much more capable the “hack” and “neat hack” benchmarks should be set much higher).

    Even with hobby projects there is a place to ask if the same result could be got with cheaper, more common components, fewer interconnects, less power, etc. Could the task be simply done using hardware (like a thermostat), or does progammability add something critical or significant (like a PID thermostat)?

    I see lots of tips about how to connect hardware to PIC’s and SBC’s, but not a lot about coding tips for various machines and tasks. Flashing a LED might be a very neat hack if it was being done in only three lines of code, but I suspect it might pass unnoticed on HaD.

    tl;dr many hacks aren’t “neat” enough; coding “neatness” goes unnoticed.

  6. For the Arduino Haters, how about the next time an arduino hack or project comes up that you’re going to write a nasty arduino comment on, instead go make a project in some other platform. PIC. ARM. x86. Whatever. Then come back and tell us all how cool it was that you did a project that wasn’t in arduino. People are making things and writing them up. You’re not, so STFU.

  7. @blue carbuncle

    “Nah we just hate people that make electronics without any clue as to how electronics work. I have seen many projects where an Arduino was used instead of TTL or god forbid, a capacitor timer.”

    You use TTL? You kiddin’ me? I had to dig a mine in my backyard so I could form my own transistors out of germanium and draw my own copper wires. So you use these fancy shmancy IC’s and you think you know something about electronics. And that makes you better than someone who uses an Arduino?

  8. I dont use arduinos because of their cost. They are awesome little devices, with a HUGE community behind them. Personally my first learning device was a basic stamp. (if i could go back and do it again i would use arduino, but thats with what i learned from the basic stamp).

    All of my projects use Microchip PIC. My reasons are as follows:
    1. samples
    2. Loads of free tools (mplab ide, firmware packs etc)
    3. Various SUPER affordable programmers. (pickit2 being my mainstay)
    4. Incredible service from microchip the one time one of my dev kits failed (lost a button on a PIM and they replaced the entire PIM over a year past purchase date , with a PIM with better hardware on it. I have about 2k$ worth of devkits one button is the only issue ive had.

    That all being said , the arduino is an awesome little device.

    I would like to see more PIC related things. Personally have a midi controller I could write up and contribute. PIC cost about 10 $ to get up and running (minus parts to interface to the project) where as an arduino is 39 – 89 $ . Thats my motivation. Its not that arduino are not great devices , theyre just over priced in my humble opinion and stop many from hackin it up.

  9. I like the arduino as a first uC. It is easy to learn, however it is overpriced. I like it as a first prototype, with dedicated hardware coming after I’ve more or less debugged the general hardware concepts. That’s my 1.5¢ worth.

  10. I’m not sure how you guys are storing posts and such, but if you’re using SQL you could use a FOREIGN KEY based system for doing tags. Filtering that way would be a piece of cake.

  11. You use TTL? You kiddin’ me? I had to dig a mine in my backyard so I could form my own transistors out of germanium and draw my own copper wires. So you use these fancy shmancy IC’s and you think you know something about electronics. And that makes you better than someone who uses an Arduino?

    Posted at 9:17 am on May 9th, 2010 by 1000100 1000001 1010110 100010

    You wear your onion on the left or right side of your belt sir?

    My whole house is powered by a gigantic germanium diode array ;)

  12. @caleb

    >@those with great ideas on new tagging structures,
    >We’re not re-writing the way wordpress works. Just >looking to improve the category listings.

    nobody asked for that. There are several thousands of plugins for wordpress… I searched there a multiple choices to enhance search, tagging, etc.

    Its not like I wan’t it so badly I can live with scrolling throw the arduino posts up to the “this-can-easly-kill-you” posts… I just thought it might make your lives easier and create less flames on the comments lists.

    No need to code or recode something.

  13. Are there really this many people complaining about the lack of dynamic linking on Hackaday? Debating the usefulness of an Arduino? Claiming that it’s not a “hack”? Inadvertently admitting that they’ve never seen an episode of SNL, MadTV, Craig Ferguson, David Letterman, or Conan O’Brien?

    The comic (need I quote Webster’s here?) placed the Arduino on there with the tag “Arduino, just for blog cred” because Arduinos are the hot topic on many tech blogs nowadays. This kind of observational humor is the basis of almost all American comedy. It has nothing to do with Hackaday, Arduinos, or Jimmy Fallon’s tech-savvy self.

    And as an additional two cents, I love the 11 kg inductor tossed in there, the Batman symbol, Holy Water, and the numerous short circuits (“Omit this if you’re a WIMP”). I’ll definitely be making a circuit with the Batman symbol on the PCB and sending it into Hackaday.

  14. @1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101
    You use TTL? You kiddin’ me?

    as a designer I try to use the most suitable component for the task. That’s not “Arduino bashing”, it’s called “good design”. It’s also called making do with what you’ve got in the junkbox. And anyway, most Arduous/PIC I/O is Stone Age discrete *RTL* ‘gor blimy shock horror!

    If a 7400, 555, or even a 6L6, is the short answer to a problem then it is downright perverse to take a very long detour via a PIC unless you have very good overriding reasons. Yes, even germanium devices still have applications where they are the *ideal* component.

    Your position is more infatuated/theological than pragmatic/technological.

    A key problem here is the notion that new technology has to be “instead of” (and in manufacturing it often is), but in one-off home hacking it’s “in addition to”. Today the hacker has a huge range of components and techology cheaply available to select from, and there are more than enough project constrainst without giving fashion a veto.


    @1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101
    And that makes you better than someone who uses an Arduino?

    Who ONLY uses Arduino (or where a 555 would be more *appropriate*). Suck it up. There IS a difference between knowledge and ignorance, between experience and lack of it; it’s simply that you get a better view from the crows nest than the deck. It’s called sagacity.

    When the newbie infatuates lift their gaze they will see there is a whole world of technology and good design out there. The XKCD ‘toon is making exactly this point. Any idiot can do donuts, but that’s not the car’s fault.

  15. @ Tane, LOL, me 2 :)

    But I would love to see a PIC section. Not that PIC projects are superior to Arduino ones, but I just like PIC’s and getting a little tired of al the Arduino projects…. -_-

  16. @blue carbuncle

    Thanks for catching the humor :)


    Sorry the humor was lost on you. I used TTL for years before dabbling with uC’s. Even now, my first instinct is to think through the logic of circuitry in terms of D-flops, NANDs, and the amazing 555. My Gray code scratch pad is usually laying on top of my Arduino (I think its still under there…hmmm).

    I completely agree…don’t use a sledgehammer to kill flies (Arduino haters would probably call it more of a ball-pein hammer, but whatever). Also, that huge stockpile of 74xx I acquired years ago does no good in the junk box.

    Learn to laugh, learn to live.

  17. I have a serial single-side arduino that I built from scratch (etched the board and all) for about $10, but now I mainly use it as an AVR breakout board. I program it via ICSP using AVR Studio to write software in assembly. I don’t despise the hardware, in fact, I love AVRs. I just despise the Arduino software/Wiring in general. I love the granularity that assembly affords, and when higher level stuff is needed, avr-gcc is win.

  18. 1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101
    It is rare when we find folks with a sense of humor and brains :)

    I wear mine on the left to denote my participation in the “Run the Irish out on the Rails” festival of ’09 lol.

    And the germanium diode array is functional but can’t really power the whole house lol. I got the idea showing my nephew how to build the classic “toilet paper tube” radio and thinking if one germanium diode can suck the sweet energy of radiowaves (which there is an amazing overabundance of nowadays lol) then a bunch with a transformer and simple voltage regulator can turn microvoltages into free volts. Right now there are about 300 linked together outputting around 120-130 volts (the diodes seem to make each other “sing” and drift with the way I have it built and it actually fluctuates the volts quite a bit sometimes, but a cap bank and battery bay would tame that problem I think. I’ll take a pic of it today with the Voltmeter but the thing looks like someone spit a loogie on a spiderweb lol.

    Keep on keepin on :) And keep those darn kids off your front lawn and precious germanium :) They would just spend it on Bazooka Joe comics to read while walking downhill one way to school ;)

  19. @blue carbuncle

    “I wear mine on the left to denote my participation in the “Run the Irish out on the Rails” festival of ’09 lol”

    That could be the funniest thing I heard this month, Holmes! (makes me wonder which role you had, lol).

    Thanks, bud!

  20. @DAVE, have you tried tuning your toilet-paper-tube energy-harvesting device to different frequencies? I wonder what it would take to harvest fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field.

  21. The sad thing was the whole town was Irish until they got drunk and started hitting each other with axe handles. Once everyone was covered in blood, the onion belt location was the only way to tell the “good-uns” from the “tiefin ne’er do walls”. From thence we get the saying “A man without an onion is a dead man without an onion”.

    Glad ya dug it :)
    Happy Monday :)

  22. Hah that’s way more than just a swipe at Arduino. He’s got a 555 timer in there too (but with a little different part number). I remember when the diy sites gave credit anywhere that a 555 timer chip was used, regardless of whether or not it was applicable, or overkill etc. just like the arduino is nowadays. I am just so happy the 555 timer days are mostly over–you can do just as much and more with a TL082 op amp chip. I have nothing against arduino, its just an Atmel AVR with the frequently used companion parts gathered together on a board.

  23. PocketBrain I haven’t. Right now it is simple booming AMs that seem to spike it the most. I haven’t ruled that out, as I am a Tesla enthusiast and Theremintard, I can assure you that would be right around the corner. Essentially, you could have a much smaller array with a nicely stepped transformer to power a dumb oscillator/AM transmitter and make a hamster wheel of generation once the start up energy had been stored up enough. Again, you really need some sort of power conditioning like a cap/battery buffer with volt reg to have any kind of regularity. Messing around with old analog synths I can tell you that many things can cause those things to go out of tune. We’ll see how it goes though. It is more of a proof of concept at this point and just kind of for giggles. As a matter of fact I had some random mass grounding for some reason (probably my messy soldering work swelling) but I unplug it when I’m not at home because the wife would kill me. I recommend building one yourself and check the microvolts in your area and see if you have any better luck. I have about 30 diodes attached per tuning tube that was wound by my lazy arse in a most unbecoming fashion. Holler if you want any help though. As for “more power” bigger is better with this device it seems so a better antenna with better reception and better connections and more diodes would generate more power up to their rated safety points and so forth. I originally came up with this idea like I said with my nephew and it just sat for a while. I made a videogame for my hack n slash crazy wife that had a submarine of escaped nazi scientists that would use this array to draw power from active sonar pinging and turn it into electrostatic “caterpillar” drive type system so they could escape to the last part of the game. You essentially drove your sub into the sonar lol. Year and a half later I just was messing around again and built a quick one and finally hooked up the voltmeter instead of the piezo speaker. Whew. :)

  24. @blue carbuncle
    Currently, I am trying to wind a flat coil that could be inserted into a photo mouse pad to act as a primary in an air-core transformer so I can recharge my Bluetooth mouse wirelessly (using an oscillator powered off USB). Maybe I’ll take that on a trip around the house once wound just to see what kind of juice I get.

    p.s. the photo will be of an arduino, of course. Man, I gotta get me one.

  25. Pocketbrain I’m not sure if you mean you are building a “chargepad” mousepad ala powermat or a wireless “charge anywhere from the air” kind of thing. That is the hope that eventually my lazy old butt can shrink the thing and make self-charging cellphones. It would be hard to make it efficient though or very small AND efficient as the transformers would be the bulky part. A flat coil transformer would be great in that arena :) I’m honestly not too adept with bluetooth or even the minute components of some of today’s cellphones (which the devices processors could handle something perhaps)but I’ll have to do some reading. Best of luck man :)

  26. I mulled over this comic post for about 30 minutes when it came out over a week ago and nearly cried laughing at some of the components. My favorite was the short over the 240V AC source that says “omit this if you’re a wimp.” XKCD Rocks.

    To topic, I think general tags like game hacks for ALL the game systems would be great, that way I can look at all the game system hacks in order of date instead of clicking on each one.

  27. @blue carbuncle
    I made the spool I will wind it on; it’s flatter than a mouse pad, so shouldn’t be too difficult to incorporate it. I will replace the AA batteries in the mouse with AAA to make room for the transformer secondary and a bridge. If I wanted to get fancy, I could have the mouse communicate over the power link to let the mat know the batteries are full. Maybe with a PIC, but I have an idea how to do it analog. And yeah, it’s a chargepad, specifically for the mouse, but no reason it couldn’t be used with other gadgets.

  28. Pocketbrain sounds good :) If you get a rechargable 9v and crack it open the AAAs inside are a little smaller than conventional AAAs. Might save ya some space, might not. Best of luck with the pic programming and getting everything crammed together ;) Sounds like you are on the right track though!

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