Jan 2, 2011

I bought an Arduino through eBay. It appeared to be very similar to the Boarduino, Adafruit’s multi-version ATMEL kit. It’s a tiny thing, a little larger than an Arduino Pro Mini, which places in the category of a wide postage stamp. The kit arrived and I discovered that someone had already affixed the DIP sockets to the board. This was okay by me, except that it blocked the installation of a resistor –which I ended up putting on the bottom side of the board in a left handed SMT kind of mounting procedure. When fired up the unit also failed to work, a definite negative.

I wrote a nasty article here on my blog¬† about the kit not being ready for prime time and heard shortly from the owner of Analytic Tools, the company that made the Arduino. He was mortified by my scathing review of his product. I explained that I really had no stake one way or another, I wasn’t out to get him I was just sharing my experience. He asked for the opportunity to send me another Anarduino –and threw in a FTDI adapter for a USB cable.

The new kits arrived quickly and this time the kit was what I was expecting. The directions were reasonably clear (he has them on his Analytic Tools website) and the board assembled in about 15 minutes. There are so few parts it’s hard to mess it up. This time when I attached my FTDI cable to it, the device accepted programming and worked just fine. I tried out the FTDI breakout, a DIP chip sized tool to adapt USB serial to (obviously) FTDI. It worked too, but I managed to somehow kill it off a few days later while monkeying with an XBee adapter. Beats me what it did. I went back to using my Adafruit FTDI cable, which adapts USB in the cable connector. It has worked faithfully every time I use it, which is often.

As to the Anarduino, it’s a good little board with some good things going for it. I would suggest it if you are into kit building your own tools and components and need a small footprint.¬† I have no idea what went wrong on the first Anarduino. I suggested that perhaps someone had started to assemble the kit and realized they had just buried the resistor pads and stuck the kit back on the shelf. I was the unlucky sap who got it. But I’m told that isn’t likely so I’m left with no explanation other than stuff happens. Analytic made it good and did so quickly, and I hand it to them for that.

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