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There are countless boards called "Arduino compatible board". Some of them have specialized hardware features such as WiFi, SD card readers etc., but most of them seem like plain Arduino copies to me.

Sure, they are a bit cheaper, but for me the price difference doesn't make me favor the money I'd safe over the potential issues I have yet to discover.

Question: What are the benefits (or disadvantages) of Arduino compatible boards (the ones without the "extras") in general? Do you know an Arduino compatible board that you would recommend for some extraordinary features?

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Arduino compatible means that you would be able to use the boards directly with the Arduino IDE and you can use most of the libraries and examples that come for the official Arduino Boards.

The official Arduino boards comes with a standard set of features that are infinitely expandable, but sometimes you have constraints for a project and you need a board that you can easily adapt to a project, the compatible boards come handy in those place. For example, you can use Ardupilot to control UAV's and has a lot of sensors on it with a very small form factor but you can still code it with the Arduino IDE, you can use Femtoduino (which is an arduino board the size of a coin) for very small projects.

Another simple reason for using the compatible boards is that a lot times they are cheaper than the official Arduino Boards (see Sparkfun Redboard)

You should be able to use any Arduino compatible boards without any problems but it would be better to go with a reputable supplier rather than a supplier in China to ensure that you get a good board that works without any problems.

4

While Arduino is an open source system, "Arduino" is a trademarked name and may only legally be used for products from the Arduino's originators or licensed suppliers. Arduino are quite clear about this requirement - see here - Logo and here Trademark and here What makes an Arduino board an Arduino? and FAQ

As a result, compatible microcontroller boards are legally required to NOT identify themselves as being "Arduinos", so the term "Arduino compatible" is about the most that even an Arduino-identical clone can claim.


As karan notes, some Chinese sourced Arduino compatibles "have issues".
however, I have had no problems at all with Arduino compatibles manufactured and supplied by this Chinese supplier. As well as the basic devices they sell various interface boards (shields) and related equipment. Prices are astoundingly low, free postage is included in many cases (about 2 to 3 weeks delivery time to New Zealand) or you can pay for courier delivery. I buy Nano or Pro-Mini compatibles devices - usually in batches of 10. As you will see - Nano compatible costs $US3 each in 10's. Pro Mini compatible is currently $US1.68 each in 10's. !!!
Uno compatible here is $3.80 in 10s. The voltage requlator may be a different type than than on 'real' Arduinos (but work OK) and versions with a USB-serial bridge IC use a non FTDI IC and you need to source and load the correct (freely available) drivers.

NB: (1) I have NO commercial connection with this company except as a very happy customer.
(2) I'd expect you to have no problems with these or other products from them but I of course have no responsibility for what they sell.

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