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.

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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.
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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.
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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$.
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Arduino Leonardo

Nothing, It’s a UNO R3 but can be recognized as a computer mouse or keyboard.
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Arduino Micro

Basically an Arduino UNO R3 but smaller (Like Arduino Nano) and some more pins.
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ESP8266 – 12F/E Based Boards

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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

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  • 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.


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  • 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$.
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Wemos D1 Mini

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  • 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

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  • 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.
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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

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Just a simple and good NodeMCU.
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ESP32 with Camera

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

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Wemos D1 Mini ESP32

Comes with a programmer inbuilt.

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ESP32 with Lora and antenna

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Lora is a long range wireless communication protocol.

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Lolin ESP32 with OLED

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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

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  • 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$.
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RF – Nano

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  • 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.
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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.
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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)


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


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


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.


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