Arduino Clone Review: RBBB

I have built several versions / clones of arduino. In this post I'm reviewing the first one I built in 2009, the "RBBB". This board is offered by Modern Device and has been designed by Paul Badger. I exchanged emails with the author, it seems that the author had used some archaic PCB software on Apple platform. The PCB revision I'm reviewing is Rev "C".

Layout: The first thing I noted was a very unprofessional PCB layout with acute and badly angled tracks. Some of the vias are so small that could have drove the overall PCB costs high. The power connector size is not standard the author has used small power connector. Both R1 & R2 are narrow packages, they are probably meant for 1/8 watt resistors. The 1/4 watt resistors barely fit on those positions. Vertial resistor footprints could have been used to save space. I like the use of standard push button for reset. These tactile buttons are low cost and are freely available.

Schematic: The schematic is simple and I'm glad the USB/Communication hardware (FTDI - expensive chip) is decoupled with the board. In this bare Arduino PCB, I think that the power LED should have been avoided. If there was enough space for an LED, why not connect the LED to pin 13? At least blink and PWM experiment could have been feasible without connecting any extra hardware. The Power circuit could have been simplified and could be improved.

Overall: I like the small sized PCB and unusual white solder mask. The PCB was priced economically and was electrically sound. Good soldering instructions. If I was a serious Arduino builder, I would stay away from this design. If I was a novice in a hurry and space crunch, I would build this otherwise not.

In my next post I will review next Arduino Clone.