False Claims On Kickstarter: What’s New?

Kickstarter and its ilk seem like the Wild West when it comes to claims of being “The world’s most (Insert feature here) device!” It does add something special when you can truly say you have the world record for a device though, and [MellBell Electronics] are currently running a Kickstarter claiming the worlds smallest Arduino compatible board called Pico.

We don’t want to knock them too much, they seem like a legit Kickstarter campaign who have at time of writing doubled their goal, but after watching their promo video, checking out their Kickstarter, and around a couple of minutes research, their claim of being the world’s smallest Arduino-compatible board seems to have been debunked. The Pico measures in at an impressive 0.6 in. x 0.6 in. with a total area of 0.36 sq.in. which is nothing to be sniffed at, but the Nanite 85 which we wrote up back in 2014 measures up at around 0.4 in. x  0.7in. with a total area of around 0.28 sq.in.. In this post-fact, fake news world we live in, does it really matter? Are we splitting hairs? Or are the Pico team a little fast and loose with facts and the truth?

There may be smaller Arduino compatible boards out there, and this is just a case study between these two. We think when it comes to making bold claims like “worlds smallest” or something similar perhaps performing a simple Google search just to be sure may be an idea.


56 thoughts on “False Claims On Kickstarter: What’s New?

        1. If you are going for “ease of use” then I would think the advantage of being small is kind of more of a back-burner specification rather than an important deciding factor.

  1. Reminds me of the many many times that Hackaday itself has used a misleading title that makes some claim easily disproven with a 10 second search…
    Ohh well, buyer supporter beware.

      1. I’m extremely impressed either way, but can’t find the thickness for either one. Way too tired to search for it anyway…

        I’d buy some giant board instead because I suck at soldering, LOL.

  2. I’m in my sixth decade, and by now I understand what is life’s small crap not to sweat, advertising wank isn’t it. Anyone who actually need the x of anything and depends on advertiser, with doing research, will realize disappointment, deservedly so. Anyway isn’t one dimension being left out to make the claim, and comparisons? So what is the volume, how about the weight? ;) .

      1. mine worked actually pretty well.


        Till she slapped me so hard for my slurping mouth glare that the magic fairy dust all was splattered around. After that the goggles only worked on my grandpa.

  3. I think their claim is accurate if you note they have an AT328P as the processor instead of an ATTiny85 or similar. I could build *something* out of an AtTiny10 and add it to the IDE but it wouldn’t really be an Arduino.

    1. “… and add it to the IDE but it wouldn’t really be an Arduino.” YES IT WOULD. Arduino is the ecosystem, not the software, not the hardware, not the bootloader, not the logo. Arduino is it all together. So techinically even a PIC16F *possibly* running an Arduino bootloader and being programmed by the Arduino IDE *IS AN ARDUINO*

  4. Something you didn’t take into account is arduinos usually can accept 5-12v because they usually have a voltage regulator, your ‘smallest’ does not. it will fry at anything above what the uC is rated. Also the one that is ever so slightly bigger has a better processor and more GPIO broken out, heck even the regulator is is broken out so you could just use just for that if you wanted.

    Yes you are splitting hairs.

    1. Also you could just slice the header pads in half, suddenly it’s a ‘castellated pads’ feature and it’s now the smallest board again, just saying, But then it’s not necessarily the sturdiest breakout board anymore.

      1. Wouldn’t know about that – I was referring to the article itself. There’s nothing like pointing out a minor (and incredibly insignificant) flaw in a kickstarter campaign to drum up interest…

  5. The claim is not false. The other board measures 0.7″ along a certain side, while this one measures 0.6″. Looking at maximum dimensions, this board is smaller. If that happens to be the metric that your project depends on, this board certainly is going to fit where the other will not, making it smaller in a very real way.

    Granted, the tiny difference is unlikely to make or break anything, but calling it false does not fly either. If you define smaller as having less surface area, the other board is smaller. If you define smaller as having the smallest outer dimensions, i.e. fitting in the smallest space (for instance, an enclosure), this might very well be the smallest.

    But hey, nothing sells like a little controversy in lieu of actual news.

  6. Dubious fact: the world´s most uninteresting HaD article is not his one. Time always proves there is something more dumb to pop up here.This Jack Laidlaw seems to be a pen name for the horrendous Brainoff Bench

      1. In fact, HaD is penned by a single very productive sufferer of multiple personality disorder. I don’t get let out of my cerebral cage very often; usually it’s Jenny stealing the show. But when I do, you better believe I take the chance to write a bland and mediocre article that’s either clickbait or old news that someone else thought of once.

  7. > …after watching their promo video, checking out their Kickstarter, and around a couple of minutes research…

    And this is what’s wrong with tech journalism these days.

    You missed the µduino. You missed the DFRobot Beetle. You missed the trademark issue, that led to a rebranding of the “Arduino Pico” to just “Pico”. You didn’t fact check the existence of [MellBell Electronics], did you?

    Instead, you’re sticking to the important stuff: “Look, I can google even something smaller with Arduino on it!”

    Thanks for no service at all.

    1. You are very welcome,
      I mentioned in the article it was a case study between the two boards as I knew there were other boards out there that could also beat the size. I didn’t miss anything, The point of the article was Kickstarter campaign’s have a habit of making claims that are outright falsehoods.
      It had nothing to do with trademark issue’s, the existence of every single board that was smaller than their one or the existence of [MellBell Electronics].

      You are probably right though I mean I know HackaDay is free and all but I should have flown over to MellBell Electronics, got a full interview on video with a camera crew and posted that too. Perhaps then you would be happy with your FREE “service” that you pay nothing for but complain so much about.

  8. Eh…in the grand scheme of things, semantics. If this were a large conglomerate, making boastful blatantly false claims, that would be different. We hold them to a higher financial standard on top of their organizations reputation. These KICKSTARTERS, get a pass. If we are going to parse apart a single “worlds smallest” claim then I can also say that your headline (read as such) makes it seem at first glance that this product and group is being deceitful. When in actuality it is a decent project, DOES what it ‘claims’ (perhaps not ‘is’) and is pretty damn small.

  9. If you actually needed something that tiny, wouldn’t it be better just to use the same Atmel chip they’re using, but on a PCB with your other stuff on it? And have the USB connector on a separate board connected to some pads or something. Bearing in mind the point of Arduinos is to breadboard or solder them yourself, being tiny is a complete arse pain. Who’s their intended market?

  10. My next Kickstarter won’t be until my Rivicamer desktop scanner arrives. It’s months overdue, no contact since June, but after many people complained, KS agreed… to send them an email. Tah-dah. I asked for their *other* contact info, and KS responded only with generic canned replies since then, to send the Rivicamer people an email;- gee, you think they aren’t aware already? So be very cautious of KS- they have the scammer’s back, not yours!

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