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There are a lot of different Arduino clones of varying quality on the market. Obviously they are mostly equivalent to the standard ones, so hopefully the majority of questions should be widely applicable.

However, there may be cases where a clone's features, layout, and/or spec deviate from the norm, whether by mistake or by design.

Should this site include questions which relate to specific clones, or would that be off-topic?

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    I think they should be on-topic here... there isn't really a better site for them on the SE network. – apnorton Feb 12 '14 at 13:14
  • What happens if they don't use the Arduino IDE / Wiring language -- think ElectricImp? – Matthew G. Feb 12 '14 at 14:37
  • I didn't think Electric Imp is an "arduino clone" – sachleen Feb 12 '14 at 19:48
  • @sachleen No, indeed, it's not. I am curious about how these not-Arduino, but similar area boards will be handled. Like, Pinoccio is shipping an arduino library, but also a whole web based software stack. – Matthew G. Feb 12 '14 at 23:58
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I think they should be fine. Most clones are just the same thing with extra, or removed, features.

I've also noticed, especially on /r/arduino that a lot of people get an Arduino without knowing its a clone. There's nothing wrong with that, and denying them the ability to ask questions would be no good for this site. Especially since we need people to ask questions to keep this site alive.

One thing we can do is require people to mention what board they are using. This can be in the question and/or tag. That way there is no confusion.

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[Terminology note: in this answer I'm using the word "clone" as the original poster used it; most of the devices he and I are discussing would be called "derivatives" in the Arduino taxonomy.]

Yes, clones are absolutely on topic. "Arduino" most often refers not to specific hardware devices but the ecosystem that allows people easily to play with a lot of different hardware and software, usually (but not always) using the Arduino IDE. Much as "PCs" quickly evolved to a general set of platforms with a lot of characteristics in common rather than a specific set of machines built by IBM, Arduino from the beginning, with opening of the specifications and designs, been aimed at this; the official introduction states:

All Arduino boards are completely open-source, empowering users to build them independently and eventually adapt them to their particular needs.

The commitment of both Arduino (the company) and the semi-official (SparkFun, AdaFruit) and unofficial community to this is demonstrated by:

I personally think one of the most beautiful projects I've even seen in the the Ardunio SE is Nick Gammon's torch locator, which involves nothing at all found on arduino.cc except the IDE, yet shows so much of the spirit of what Arduino is: useful real-world interaction, a good smidgen of hobbyist-level EE knowledge (the analysis of the expected lifetime), and "we don't need no ARM CPU running Linux to do this." (The original question also hits many of these points, too, particularly with the novel application.)

Arduino has always been about experimentation and playing with not just the official things supplied by Arduino itself but with almost anything anybody can make that can be fit into the ecosystem. "Clones," made for many different reasons, and ranging from almost exact copies to very different things, are clearly a part of that.

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    I think you meant ATtiny rather than "ATmini". Good answer +1! – per1234 Apr 3 '17 at 0:05
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    Yes! Thanks for catching that. I've edited the post but, for things like this, you should feel free to edit other people's posts, too. – Curt J. Sampson Apr 4 '17 at 1:54
  • I normally would do an edit but, unlike the regular Arduino Stack Exchange, that feature is disabled for me on meta. – per1234 Apr 4 '17 at 4:45
  • Oh, so it is for answers not your own! Thanks for pointing that out. – Curt J. Sampson Apr 4 '17 at 11:15
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    @CurtJ.Sampson - don't re-edit your past misrepresentation of the Arduino website into this. What you link is not instructions for creating a "clone" - but rather a functional alternative on a breadboard. The actual Arduino policy on "clones" is here: blog.arduino.cc/2013/07/10/send-in-the-clones – Chris Stratton Sep 22 '17 at 18:55
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    I am using "clone" in the sense the original poster used it, not in the particular and strict definition used on the page you referenced ("there may be cases where a clone's features, layout, and/or spec deviate from the norm"). As I said, if you have an issue with this, make your own answer to claim that what the original poster and I are talking about are not "clones." – Curt J. Sampson Sep 23 '17 at 23:21
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    @ChrisStratton: I've removed (again) the change you made to my answer and added a note explaining that the original poster and I are using a fairly loose definition of "clone." (We have good reasons for doing this.) Please don't re-start your edit war. – Curt J. Sampson Sep 23 '17 at 23:40
  • Hmmm, might sound petty, but I think I would have to agree with @ChrisStratton. The link is not how to make a clone (as in a Chinese clone, for example) but how to build a Barebones Arduino on a breadboard. The term Clone is generally used for a commercial rip off, whereas the term Barebones is generally used for an ATmega328 on a homemade PCB, stripboard/vero/ breadboard. I would assume that the former is the sense in which Peter (the OP) meant by clone, and certainly how I read the question - until I saw your answer, which IMHO uses the term "clone" rather misleadingly. – Greenonline Apr 23 at 6:32
  • @Greenonline So what if I make a rip-off of the Arduino design, change it by building it on a breadboard per the article on the Arduino website, and sell that commercially? Is that a "clone" now? If "clone" dicussions were disallowed, would it be ok for me to discuss that breadboard here because I built it myself, but not ok for someone else to discuss that exact same breadboard if I'd sold it to him? – Curt J. Sampson Apr 23 at 8:07
  • You would be selling a barebones Arduino kit on a breadboard, not a clone. You have not cloned an Arduino board design, with the PCB that it entails, per se. There is a lot more additional circuitry on a Arduino board (be it Uno, Mega, Micro, Mini or what have you), than there is on the barebones/standalone breadboarded version that you link to. Besides, I never stated that we can't, or should not, discuss clones here. I own exclusively clones, never bought an original. The issue is that you call the standalone a clone, when it isn't. Nowhere on that page is the word "clone" even mentioned. – Greenonline Apr 23 at 8:35
  • @Greenonline That it's on breadboard instead of a PCB, has different parts, whatever, all come under "there may be cases where a clone's features, layout, and/or spec deviate from the norm, whether by mistake or by design." If you have an issue with calling things like that "clones", you need to take it up with question poster, not me, since I am simply using the terminology he used in the question. If you interpret his terminology differently, you ought to post an answer of your own explaining things in that light. – Curt J. Sampson Apr 23 at 11:02

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