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What to do with surplus dev boards

I’ve been using Arduino boards for a few years now and it re-kindled my interest in microcontroller systems after having worked in the field quite a few years ago. Since then I’ve also used various Arduino compatible boards, shields and d-i-y boards, I’ve created libraries, published code and generally had a lot of fun with them. I’ve also used the ethernet connected Arduino compatible Nanode, dabbled with 32bit ARM architectures of the mbed products, tried the BeagleBone Black, had a brief affair with the Raspberry Pi and other development boards. With all these dev boards I’ve acquired quite a collection. With new boards coming along almost monthly and a change in my focus to more wireless connected devices, there is always something new to try. A lot of the older boards that I have stopped using still have a lot more life in them and would make ideal tools for a novice to learn about embedded micros if they find the purchase of new kit is outside of their means. Or for a small community group providing educational services based on Arduino and similar hardware. This is no way an attempt to undermine any sales of new boards but a way to provide new life for surplus boards. I’d urge everyone to buy at least one original Arduino board if you can afford it to show your support and enable them to continue the good work they are doing.

In the past year I’ve already given away at least 2 Arduino compatibe boards, the most recent was to a fellow attendee of the Thingmonk conference last year.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has a large collection of boards that are feeling unloved and gathering dust in a box or drawer. After a few exchanges on Twitter I started to have an idea.

The Idea

After seeing the replies to my initial tweet it was going to be a difficult choice of what to do with the boards, who to send them to and what was a deserving cause. The replies included donating them to:

  • Local Hackspaces or Makerspace list of UK based spaces here
  • Schools for extra-curriculum clubs
  • Arduino workshops
  • Community projects
  • Just sell them on eBay
  • Give them to the first person who puts their hand in the air and says Me…Me…Me…

I’ve no idea if this is already being done anywhere in the UK or even the world. So lets see how much interest there is.

As it’s Arduino Day on 29th March 2014, celebrating 10 years of the Arduino I’d like to propose a global Donate a Dev Board scheme or event. The name probably needs work as I’m no marketing expert. There are numerous events going on around the world so this would be an ideal opportunity to share your used boards. If organisers of these events, or even if the Arduino ‘management’ would give the OK or even promote the donation of used boards to worthy causes this would help encourage less privileged people and especially youngsters to take an interest in this exciting world of Arduino and embedded micro controller boards. Although the idea is not limited to Arduino boards, they are ideal for teaching novices the basics and beyond. The range of mbed boards I would say are aimed more towards the more experienced user and are ideal for someone who has experience of the Arduino platform and wants to expand their knowledge and create bigger and better things with a more powerful platform.

The only rules I’d suggest for the dev boards being donated is that they must be fully functional, come with their original bootloader and sockets must not be damaged. Any shields donated must also include a link to where the new user can obtain the required library if it is not part of the core IDE.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to attend an event, as much as I’d like to, so in support of this I have a number of boards that I’d like to donate. These are listed below.

Arduino Day 2014

My Boards

I have a number of Arduino, Arduino compatible and non-Arduino boards including:

2014-03-11 20.07.33

  • Arduino Due (not pictured)
  • Arduino Bluetooth
  • Mbed FRDM-KL25Z
  • Mbed NXP LPC800-MAX
  • ENC28J60 based ethernet shields for Arduino (x3)
  • 2.4″ TFT LCD Touchscreen
  • LPCXpresso 1768 board, not mbed abut uses version of eclipse ide
  • FEZ Mini .NET micro framework based

I’m sure I have more if I start digging deeper!

What’s next?

I’ve presented my idea, other ideas and suggestions are welcome. There are still a lot to work out, like who gets what, how to send or deliver it, who would run a scheme locally (hackspaces?), support etc. What’s the best way to continue this? Create a google group?

Comments appreciated.

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