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Cheap Arduinos Thanks to the CH340G Chip

If you are enthusiasts in search of cheap electronic components on Ebay, you will have noticed the appearance of new Arduino clone models identified as CH340G in recent months. These boards are much cheaper than other Arduino models. In this post, we will talk about these new cheap Arduinos thanks to the CH340G chip.

What is the CH340G chip?

The CH340G is a new USB/TTL converter, which replaces the ATMEGA16U2 and FT232RL. At first glance, it should be much cheaper (I estimate between 2-3€) because the appearance of these models has drastically lowered the prices of clone Arduino boards.

Of course, the rest of the specifications and features remain exactly the same. These new clone boards are not only compatible, but are, in practical terms, identical to the “original” Arduinos.

Remember that Arduino is an open source project, so these generic boards are perfectly legal. What would be illegal is to identify them with the original logo, or not to indicate in the advertising that it is a clone board.

This small revolution has made what we discussed some time ago in the post What is Arduino? Which model to buy? sufficiently outdated to require an update.

Currently, the price of the Arduino Uno R3 Atmega 328P has dropped to 2.80€. The Arduino Mega R3 2560 falls to 7.5€. Meanwhile, the Arduino Nano v3.0 Atmega 328P 5V 16Mhz is sold at the irresistible amount of (hold your drool) 1.95€.

Needless to say, at this price, my favorite board is no longer the Arduino Mini Pro 2 (1.70€), but is now the Arduino Nano v3.0 as the favorite battle board, given the convenience of having an integrated mini USB port, and not needing an external programmer (as the Arduino Mini Pro v2 does).

How to recognize a board with CH340G?

Recognizing a board with a CH340G model is really simple. You can quickly check it by looking at the chip, as indicated in the following image.


If you do not have the physical board because you have not yet bought it, it is normal for the ad to indicate if it has a CH340G chip. On the other hand, if you are going to buy an Arduino and it is very cheap, similar to the prices I have indicated, it most likely has a CH340G chip.

Be alert, some manufacturers will take advantage to sell these new boards at the previous price. Although it is not a scam, because these boards are fully functional, you will be unnecessarily losing a few euros.

Getting our Arduino CH340G board to work

As we have mentioned, these boards work just like any Arduino, so all functions, tutorials, and programs for Arduino will work without any problem. The only thing necessary is to install the CH340G driver so that the computer recognizes Arduino as a USB device.

The drivers for different operating systems are available on this page CH340G Drivers, or directly at the following links for Windows Driver CH340G Windows Xp, 7, and 8, and for Linux Driver CH340GLinux.

Simply download and run it, and you can use Arduino normally, programming it with the Arduino IDE, and of course with serial port communication.

Download the code

All the code in this post is available for download on Github. github-full