7 Arduino alternatives under 10$

Published by Aakash Kumar on

7 Cheap Arduino alternatives

Intro

Maybe you need a board with more performance, or with a Wi-Fi, or an RF module, or a Bluetooth, or GPIO pins, but with on a tight budget. Don’t worry all these boards are under 10$.

Arduino Clones

Ya, clones.
Arduino clones cost up to 1/10 of genuine Arduino. And yet functionalities are same, just some differences like Arduino logo on the back and some beauty.

Some of the best Arduino clones are listed below.

Click image to buy from Banggood

Arduino UNO R3

It is the most popular Arduino board around. And most probably you know about it.
It will cost around 2.7$ in following links.
Buy now from Banggood
Buy now from AliExpress

Click image to buy from Banggood

Arduino Nano

Just same as Arduino UNO R3, same features, by the way exactly the same microcontroller. And much smaller than UNO R3.
It will cost lesser than 2$ from the following links.
Buy Now from Aliexpress
Buy Now from Banggood

Click to buy from Aliexpress

Arduino Pro Mini

A bit smaller than Arduino Nano. Comes in two variant — Atmega168 and Atmega328 (Like in UNO R3).
It will cost around 1.8$.
Buy Now from AliExpress
Buy Now from Banggood

Buy this from banggood (Mini leonardo version)

Arduino Leonardo

Nothing, It’s a UNO R3 but can be recognized as a computer mouse or keyboard.
Buy Now from AliExpress
Buy Now from Banggood (Micro Version like pro mini)

Click to buy from Aliexpress

Arduino Micro

Basically an Arduino UNO R3 but smaller (Like Arduino Nano) and some more pins.
Buy Now from AliExpress
Buy Now from Banggood

ESP8266 – 12F/E Based Boards

Click image to buy from AliExpress

It is a high-performance microcontroller chip with Wi-Fi !
It’s a lot faster than Arduino UNO R3, Nano, Pro Mini, Micro.
But programming ESP8266 board is a complex process.
Using ESP8266-12F/E based boards are recommended, it simplifies the process of programming.

Specs Comparison to Arduino

Buy NodeMCU from Banggood

  • Clock speed 80MHz compared to 16Mhz
  • A memory of 128 KB compared to 2 KB.
  • Flash size of 4 MB including EEPROM.
  • Programmable by Arduino IDE, lots of libraries are also available.
  • Other frameworks are available for programming in other languages like Python, JavaScript, Lua and with more development features.

NodeMCU

Click image to buy from Banggood
  • A most popular ESP8266 12F based board.
  • Comes with a programmer.
  • Cost : 2 – 2.5$
  • It provides all the pins ESP8266 12F board has.
  • All logic pins ( except RX and TX ) are 5V tolerant, means you can connect 5V signal to these pins, and can also provide 5V output.
  • One major problem I faced, it’s programmer wears after flashing many times, like above 40 times. The solution to this issue is to use OTA Update (Flashing/Uploading sketch/firmware on the air i.e Wi-Fi).
  • Costs 2 – 2.4$.
    Buy now from Aliexpress
    Buy now from Banggood

Wemos D1 Mini

Click image to buy from AliExpress
  • Also one of the most popular board.
  • Don’t expose all the pins of ESP8266 12F/E microcontroller chip, but exposes all necessary pins.
  • Powered and programmed by micro USB, the external voltage can be from 7-12 V.
  • Pins are not tolerant to 5V and obviously don’t output the same.
  • Header pins are not soldered to it.
  • A lot smaller than NodeMCU.
  • Various shields like temperature sensor, relay, etc are available for purchase.
  • Costs 1.2 – 2.5$.

Witty Cloud

Click image to buy from AliExpress
  • A board with a really nice concept.
  • Programmer and ESP8266 12F are separate, so when you want to program it, just attach it to the programmer base.
  • It’s really small (like wemos).
  • Not 5V tolerant.
    Buy from AliExpress
    Buy from Banggood

ESP32 Based Boards

  • Well ESP32 is a great microcontroller chip, packs a lot more punch (Seriously) than ESP8266. It’s a bigger brother of ESP8266-12F/E.
  • It runs on a 160 or 240MHz clock speed compared to 80 and 120MHz.
  • It has a dual core processor as opposed to a single core.
  • 520 KB of memory.
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
  • And a huge array of GPIO pins, i.e up to 32 GPIO
  • Pins, including 12 Analog input pins.
    I don’t want to talk about each ESP32 based boards because there’s a lot of boards out there with interesting features like camera, external antenna, sd card, inbuilt display, bigger flash memory.
    I will list some with a very short description.

NodeMCU ESP32 Dev-Kit

Click to buy from Banggood

Just a simple and good NodeMCU.
Buy from AliExpress
Buy from Banggood

ESP32 with Camera

Click to buy from Banggood

It doesn’t comes with programmer inbuilt.
Programmer is needed for uploading firmware to it.

Buy it from AliExpress
Buy it from Banggood

Wemos D1 Mini ESP32

Comes with a programmer inbuilt.

Buy it from Aliexpress
Buy it from Banggood

ESP32 with Lora and antenna

Click to buy from AliExpress

Lora is a long range wireless communication protocol.

Buy from AliExpress

Lolin ESP32 with OLED

Click image to buy from AliExpress

STM32

It is a family of 32-bit microcontrollers based on Arm® Cortex®-M processor.
A small board and excellent performance. One the best board you can get in this family is STM32F103C8T6.

STM32F103C8T6 Devlopment Board

Click to buy from AliExpress
  • It is the popular board in the STM32 family.
  • Runs at a clock speed of 72MHz.
  • 64 KB flash and 20KB memory.
  • 32 I/O Pins, including 15 PWM pins
  • Doesn’t comes with a programmer, means you will always need a programmer every time you want to upload new firmware.
    But there is a way to upload new firmware without a programmer, requires a programmer initially. Check out this great video, click here.
  • Not all pins are 5V tolerant, only a few pins are. Rest operates at 3.3V.
  • Costs 1.8$ to 5$.
    Buy from Aliexpress
    Buy from Banggood

RF – Nano

Click on image to buy from AliExpress
  • Don’t bother the name, it’s not from Arduino. But it looks like Arduino Nano.
  • It comes with NRF24l01+, which is a 2.4 RF module for wireless communication.
  • NRF24l01+ has a range up to 100m without antenna, and more with an antenna.
  • It has the same specs as Arduino Nano. But costs more (more than NRF24l01+ and Arduino Nano clone separate), You can get it for 3.8$ on AliExpress with it’s showing 1$ shipping to my location. Or you can get it for 7-9$ on AliExpress and Banggood.
    Buy it from AliExpress
    Buy it from Banggood

DigiSpark

This vendor sells Arduino like products, but most of them are very small and cheap also.

DigiSpark Attiny85

  • As the name suggests it is a board based on Atmel Attiny85.
  • It comes with a programmer, just plug and program.
  • It’s compatible with Arduino IDE.
  • Its documentation can sometimes difficult to understand. Sometimes simple things like digital output, PWM output is confusing in their documentation.
    Buy from AliExpress
    Buy from Banggood

Atmel Attiny Product Line

Well, this is not really development board like Arduino or NodeMCU. The reason I listed this because it is small and it doesn’t require external oscillator or circuitry to run, just 2 wires for power.
However, to program, it needs a programmer to program it, or you can use the Arduino board as ISP.
Some of its great products are (Specs only)

Attiny85

Storage: 8KB
Memory: 512 Bytes
Analog Inputs: 1
PWM Pins: 5
Clock Speed: 20Mz
Price: Around $0.80 for dip version.

Attiny13

Storage: 1 KB
Memory: 64 Bytes
Analog Inputs: 1
PWM Pins: 2
Clock Speed: 20Mz
Price: Around $0.60 for dip version.

Attiny2313

Storage: 2 KB
Memory: 128 Bytes
Analog Inputs: 1
PWM Pins: 4
Clock Speed: 20Mz
Price: Around $0.80 for dip version.


Aakash Kumar

This is Aakash Kumar, most of the time just gone in playing with those little modules. Most of them got burned, blasted and some got passed through my intestines. Interested in embedded systems, gaming, and electronics, pursuing B.Tech. in Electronics and Communication Engineering and still in a play.

0 Comments

Leave a Reply