Author Topic: Ebay electronic Modules Index  (Read 2678 times)

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george65

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Ebay electronic Modules Index
« on: February 11, 2017, 06:35:27 PM »

There are a great variety and range of cheap electronic Circuit boards and controllers on Ebay.  Most have very vague explanations and descriptions usually written in poor chinglish which makes knowing what the board actually does and it's function or purpose somewhat difficult at least for Plebs like me.

I was wondering if there is some site where these boards are all explained more clearly so knew can know what to look for or what a certain board actually does so one can asses if it's what they need for the job in Mind?
there are so many boards that seem to be fit for the purposes I am interested in but other things that indicate they maybe something else and after reading descriptions for the same part from different sellers, you're not actually sure what the hell the thing does.

Any sites out there that anyone knows of that explain them in clear and precise language?

SparWeb

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2017, 03:07:52 PM »
If you can track down a manufacturer website, or a datasheet, you may have a chance.
Have you explored the development/eval boards on Digikey?  Even if the selection isn't as vast, at least you know what you're getting.
There are many other hobby electronics sellers that can be found on the internet that stand by the gadgets they sell. 
I've bought from Solarbotics and got excellent service every time.
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

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Mary B

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2017, 04:16:43 PM »
Ask here and post a link to the item if you are not sure. Several of us are electronic technicians and can help.

Warpspeed

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2017, 11:12:25 PM »
It must be pretty difficult for Chinese businesses to deal with foreign exports to every country around the Planet.

How would you like to have to write some very simple instructions in Russian, German, or Chinese ?

george65

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2017, 02:39:26 AM »
It must be pretty difficult for Chinese businesses to deal with foreign exports to every country around the Planet.

How would you like to have to write some very simple instructions in Russian, German, or Chinese ?

International trade and selling products in  many countries is hardly a new thing. Appliance, electronics, Vehicle and medical manufacturers just to name a few have been doing it decades.

How would I like to do it?  Piece of cake! Farm it out. There are companies that do this all day long. I no more have to speak Swahili to sell in Africa than I do Russian to write a basic description of the Goods I manufacture. As a huge part of their market would be English speaking, It would be the first priority language they would have over their own.
Also, these aren't little family Businesses. They are huge enterprises turning millions a month in some cases. They sell the same product for years and tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of them.

Not a case of cant afford it, more a case of too lazy or cheap if anything.

OperaHouse

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2017, 03:23:49 PM »
The problem with these ebay type sales is the sellers have never eve seen these items.  I bought some from Malaysia and they came directly from China.  These sellers are fronts I believe to often get money out of the country they live in. Some China sellers only want payments in Canadian dollars. Although prices seem cheap, you have to pay paypal currency exchange fees.  I bought two PWM motor speed controls that look almost identical, but they are slightly different. If you say, put a wire here, the one someone buys will have a slightly different layout.  I often buy from a vendor that absolutely has no directions of how to use and search endlessly for some vendor that has some explanation. I'd be happy to work with any manufacturer.  Better explanations should increase sales.  It is hardly unlikely you would ever find a seller that cares.  Most boards arrive with a bang and then almost disappear in a year.  There are tons of youtube videos where people buy things and review.  The trouble is finding the right words to find them.

george65

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2017, 05:50:52 PM »
The trouble is finding the right words to find them.

EXACTLY!

I find so many times I don't know how to describe what I am looking for and can't figure out what they mean either.
Just this morning I was looking at something that was clearly a thermostat and it was described as a "Voltage controller". I spose in that way you could call a switch a voltage controller.... or a diode..... or a transistor....or....

Your supposition about getting money out the country could explain something.
I have noticed a LOT of sellers lately not delivering goods ordered. Had a couple last month. They refunded almost instantly I complained.
I was a bit slack with looking at feedback.  Looked at the numbers rather than the individual comments.  It seems anyone not in the 99.5%+ Range with the volumes they sell could be suspect.

As well as me not getting the things I ordered, over 200 other people didn't get theirs that month either.  The fact I have been buying a bit of electronic stuff from China and some of it is here in a fortnight and others is here in a month or never tells me its not the post that's at fault when you see numbers that high from one seller and the occasional one from a bunch of others.
It's clearly some sort of a scam or deliberate but I could not work out what the benefit would be.
I guessed there would always be a percentage of people that would forget what they ordered or would never ask for a refund anyway and this would be worthwhile for the sellers.  When they literally make an issue of 5% discount if you buy 3 $4 items, they must be scratching for every cent.

 I worked for a Chinese run company for a while and they would certainly haggle over a $3 discount on a $300 bit of gear and that was on retail prices here!
I really don't think the owner of the place could understand why the customer shouldn't be charged a 2nd lot of delivery fees when the warehouse stuffed up and sent the wrong item. There were many things they just did not understand and EVERYTHING was about price.
I started selling on the incomprehensible basis of service and reliability ( which was a constant uphill battle with them) and added a margin to the existing price list to cover the extra things I did.  Took about a week for them to think I had some sort of sales super powers as I went out and revived one dead account after another and brought back an order from each one on the first visit but it was nothing more than doing everything they didn't.   Basic rule of sales, they buy the person, the product and the price in that order.

I left over an argument with the Boss. He was smart in that he always sourced new and useful products. He got onto this one thing and secured all the distribution rights and straight away I could see it was a real winner. As usual, he had next to no margin on it.  I gave one to one of my clients on loan to test and priced it 4X what the boss listed it at. Client comes back the next day and orders 20 of them. This was almost $500 a pop, not a $2 thing.
Week later he orders another 20 and so it goes. My profit ratio is over 32% across the board, (Some things we made less than 1% on) the next best in the company was 6%.  The other jealous order takers complained and the boss said I could no longer sell at higher prices I had been.  His reasoning, because the other "sales" people whom were nothing more than order takers couldn't do it and were giving him a hard time because it wasn't fair to them. Clients knew I sold at higher prices than the others and were requesting that I handle their accounts regardless and the other slackers didn't like that. How the hell he worked out that me being able to do what they couldn't and make more money for the company was " unfair" was beyond me.   

I offered to train the rest of the order takers how to do the job for which they were there for but was told they didn't need to know how to sell.
Yeah, Right!
I asked For a base pay rise that would equal what I had been getting and increasing, to cover what I'd loose in commissions and was of course denied so I walked. About a year later the guy rang me to come in for a chat. He had started up a new company and couldn't get it off the ground.
He wanted to know If I would go out and rep it for him?  He wasn't prepared to let me run it for him my way on the back end so having to work his way was not something I felt I could do and make the enterprise fly so I had to pass. I would have liked to give it a go very much. The idea was solid, I just knew the execution would shoot it in the foot.

The owner was a nice, decent guy and personally we got on well, but his ingrained business ideas were just not right in the western market which I still don't know how a smart fella like him couldn't see.

Working for that company wasn't just a job, it was a life experience I'll never forget. Every day was like living in the twilight Zone and looking over your shoulder because there HAD to be a candid camera Hidden somewhere. Sadly, there wasn't.

I'm trying to go back and buy from sellers that have proven reliable even if they do rip me off for .50C more than the other guy is offering them for.  :0)

george65

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2017, 08:10:39 PM »

I found a board I think may do for an application I have but would appreciate any knowledgeable input and translating from Chinglish.

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Charging-Discharge-Voltage-Monitor-Test-Relay-Switch-Control-Module-DC-12V-G9Q3-/141825470221?hash=item210574ef0d:g:wlsAAOSweuxWQxbA

What I would like to do is have this board connected to my batteries that are fed by the PWM Controller from my solar panels.
When the voltage drops too low, I would like this to kick in my UPS which is connected to the mains to supply power and charge the batteries up if need be.
This means if the appliances I have connected ( fridge, jug) drop the battery voltage too low, such as at night, this board will kick in the UPS mains power and it will take over till the sun comes up in the morning and the panels are developing sufficient power on their own.  Of kick in and out as needed for clouds etc.

I was thinking to run the board to an SSR but it appears I should be able to connect the 240 to the board direct on the output as the UPS won't even do 5! and the relay is 10.
One thing that does seem a bit double Dutch in the specs is it says the supply voltage is 12V and the test Voltage is 0-30 but the supply and the test seem to be the same terminals on the board.  Maybe error in the specs?

It would also appear that I could use these boards to voltage monitor to switch in appliances.
If the fridge and my hydroponic Pump were running but the sun was out and the voltage was still up, I could have one of these Kick in the jug to use the excess power and kick out if the voltage dropped too low.

Extra points question...... Could I use an arduino Type voltage divider ( without the arduino) to supply a voltage in the up to 30V range of the board so I could sense either the input TO my grid tie converter from the panels, OR, or the output going back to the grid so I could switch other things like say a water heater when I knew the inverter was back feeding or would/could I use one of the little Current sensors instead? My little panel setup is only making about 1000W max and about 6-700W most times I look at it but If I can monitor and trigger off that somehow, it would be great.
I Could set my PWM controller to limit the power to the average I get and if I back feed a little that's OK, as long as I can switch things in and out to limit their consumption to within what I'm generating.

Thanks for any and all input.

SparWeb

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2017, 09:49:12 PM »
Hi George
Translation isn't necessary.  The meaning of words like "Loard" are plain as day.

 ::)

I always ask myself: if this component packs it in, what else could it kill at the same time?

If you're prepared to assemble a SSR and an Arduino I don't see why you'd need that board.  Firstly, can you trust the connections that carry high voltage?  Putting 240 VAC on a little wafer board trace is not the same as putting 5VDC on it.  Secondly, who knows what the set points in that little chinese board do?  Do they drift over time... changes in temperature... maybe resetting to a awful bad value every time power is interrupted...  Both of these matters are out of your control if you buy those little e-bay boards.

To do this safely with an Arduino, invest in a shield board, put some of those miniature relays on it, and use those to control the power relays or SSR's that switch the appliance power.
Your Arduino program can be simple on/off with measured voltage, or it can have some lag between turn-on and turn-off so that the switching doesn't excessively cycle, or it can have all sorts of nuances like time of day, input from sensors like photocells or multiple voltage meters...  the level of complexity is really up to you.
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

System spec: 135w BP multicrystalline panels, regulated by Xantrex C40, DIY 8ft diameter wind turbine, regulated by Tri-Star TS60, 800AH x 24V AGM Battery, Xantrex SW4024

george65

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2017, 12:56:03 AM »
In answer to your question of why i'd need the board and in extrapolation, why not build something myself, the answer is clearly Knowledge and ability or to be more precise, the fundamental lack of.

Either here or on another board, someone put up a sketch for an arduino that does exactly what I want.
It seems though while the knowledgeable go to a lot of trouble to work things out for morons like me, they also seem to have a thing about putting up schematics as to how and where it all connects and what to use to do it.  I went and got all the parts I needed to do that setup ( or thought I did) but after some significant hours, still have NFI how to work it out.

I understand that those further advanced with this are probably trying to make people learn for themselves and that's fine, but Geez Louise the jump from complete beginner to building something simple and useful is a big one for me. If I had the schematics for a few things then I could see how they hook up and I would be able to learn and transition that to other things. I have looked for hours for something that does this and there is nothing I can find and understand at my Dilettante level of knowledge at this point.

 I'm looking for a new house later in the year and I imagine a little table in the corner of the shed of the new place with a power supply and general electrical/ electronic crap where I can sit and try to get my head round it.
Given the diminutive size of places and the land they have these days and the insanity of the prices here, I can well see myself having to get rind of all my stationary engines and other outdoor interests and something like arduino and solar may be all there is room to bemuse myself with.

 For the moment though, these appear to be a solution to the aspiration to set up something I and others could do. As far as the boards reliability and potential for Damage, that is a very valid point I'll admit I have never considered.  Having now acquired and used a few different types of these boards, I'm pleased to say I have never had a problem.  No, most of them don't carry mains voltage because with everything that needs it, so far I have just had the board drive an SSR I enclosed in an electrical box and had it to all the mains voltage work. Perhaps that was a good idea I should carry through?

As for what the moard may do when reset or if it drifts, well in this particular case, not a whole lot of problem.  Because I'm using a PWM controller which has proven great over the last 3 months, the voltage can't go high and it's already set to cut out on the low which it does.  The UPS I would be connecting through the board also has high and low cutouts, they are just lower than I want.  At worst the batteries could go to 23.5 but they are only old car batteries I am using to play and learn with so not the end of the world. The UPS doesn't charge as high as I'd like either so it's not going to cook anything.

In this case which may be different to all others, the potential for danger and killing anything else is minimal. For $7, the financial risk is also tolerable.

The main thing to me is, is this board going to do what I want?
All the others like it I can find have the same questionable instructions for this " loard" .  :0)

OperaHouse

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2017, 04:37:39 AM »
This is a good find, how does one even find it with that title. At least getting closer to what I've been trying to find that could be recommended to people.  It is a window comparator.  Besides the wiring diagrams being wrong there is no explanation of the settings.   If it has hysteresis it could work.  I've bought these temperature controllers for $3 that would be great.  Thought about a voltage to temp conversion circuit that would make them work or reprogram the board, but who needs this crap in their life.  I'd buy one and see how it works.  Search other ebay  listings as they might post the manual.

Found this description.
When board connected the power supply, IN signal terminal connected the measured voltage, then display the measured voltage value;
Short press K1 can enter setting threshold voltage, 6 times for a cycle(former 3 times are for lower limit and the other 3 times are for upper limit);
When the measured voltage is lower than the lower limit or higher than upper limit value, the relay works and the buzzer alarms.
In the range of setting value, the relay stop working and the buzzer will not alarm.

Another one defined the "three times"  better as each digit.

Searching under  the similar title there is another product with notches on the side and case that is designed for charging applications.

« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 04:53:14 AM by OperaHouse »

george65

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2017, 07:16:30 AM »

 
Quote
Besides the wiring diagrams being wrong there is no explanation of the settings. 

Did you mean on this board Specifically?  If so, could you tell me the right way to wire it?

Incorrect wiring Diagrams might explain why I blew the hell out of another board on Tuesday. The wiring just didn't make sense to me and I searched all I could for another diagram but they were all the same. I literally procrastinated and tried to work it out for an hour as it just didn't add up to me. Sure enough, hooked it up and checked and rechecked, lit the thing and sure enough, not only magic smoke but flame and sparks too and it was only on 24V although clearly rated to 100.  I'm pretty sure rather than the meter being run from one source and the sense from another set of wires they were some how feeding from one and reversing the other.

Complained to the seller the thing grenaded and it WAS wired as per specified and of course they are arguing and asked me if I was a qualified electrician to wire this equipment.  I asked what his qualifications in electrical engineering were to judge mine? They told me to go to a shop to get help with it. Yeah, Right!!!  ::)

Pretty sure the replies I am getting are cut and pastes by someone that barely knows what "hello" means.  Ah well, bought a lot of these different boards and this is the first one that's had a problem. I'll get another and try to set up an isolated supply as it worked OK when I did that, just blew when I wired it as per instructions.

Quote
If it has hysteresis it could work.

I thought about that and if i could wire it through one of those little delay type boards. Trying to figure their functionality out is another mystery.
I would like the voltage switch to fire the timer board which would be set for say 30 Sec to allow the panel to bring the batteries back up if the voltage fell to far.  As the Solar controller would have turned the load off such as the kettle, the panels could bring the batteries back up to voltage and the controller would re fire the " dump" loads as it does now. If the voltage stayed low, the UPS would kick in to bring the batteries back up and power the essential loads ( fridge) but would not get to the voltage that fires the Dump load.

I have noticed this last week of showery weather that the panels can be producing 16A one minute and a minute later when a cloud rolls in, 3.5A.
The Voltage switch board would also fire the UPS up at night and shut it off when the sun came up sufficiently. This would maximize solar power use while still maintaining supply on cloudy days and at night.  With a second board behind the first, a water preheater could be used to also make use of any excess solar voltage.

I'll probably get a couple of the voltage controllers and one of the timers and see how they go. I'll report back if anyone is interested and I don't blow the guts out of them as well if the wiring instructions are wrong.  :0)

Bruce S

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2017, 07:30:16 AM »
george65;
Can you put a pic of the "wiring" diagram? I tried looking/purchasing right up to the point of seeing "doesn't Post to USA :-(.

IF you have a pic of the bottom of the PCB too , that might be helpful.


BTW: If anyone can lead you down the path of Arduino OperaHouse can  ::).
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DamonHD

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2017, 07:36:18 AM »
This really is the kind of area where an hour scratching your head coding for Arduino might save a month fighting with suppliers and trying to put magic smoke back in.

Rgds

Damon

Bruce S

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2017, 07:52:22 AM »
This really is the kind of area where an hour scratching your head coding for Arduino might save a month fighting with suppliers and trying to put magic smoke back in.

Rgds

Damon

SURE! easy for you, difficult for us Abasic guys.
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Simen

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2017, 08:02:07 AM »
This really is the kind of area where an hour scratching your head coding for Arduino might save a month fighting with suppliers and trying to put magic smoke back in.

Rgds

Damon

SURE! easy for you, difficult for us Abasic guys.

One can have a lot of work done with a PicAxe too; a bit more soldering - but it's in Basic ... ;)
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OperaHouse

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #16 on: March 02, 2017, 09:00:28 AM »

This one likely works better. It seems to have adjustable pull in voltage for hysteresis.  Wish it had a separate sense pin.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Charging-Discharge-Voltage-Monitor-Test-Relay-Switch-Control-Board-Module-P1H0-/131904132675

Here is US version, IN pin always has to connect to + voltage to be sensed.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/12V-Charging-Discharge-Voltage-Monitor-Test-Relay-Switch-Control-Module-C9Y9-/302147795248?hash=item4659697930:g:yn0AAOSw44BYNreb

Both of these seem to lack adjustable delay which is necessary for any voltage switch.

george65

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2017, 09:05:10 AM »




Quote
Can you put a pic of the "wiring" diagram? I tried looking/purchasing right up to the point of seeing "doesn't Post to USA :-(.
Sorry, but I had to laugh at that.  Can't tell you how many times I have seen stuff on sites I wanted and got the "only posts to USA" message or you can't get shipping because it won't process without a US postcode.  Amazon is the worst. About all I can get off them is SOME books.  They are starting a local site which I have no idea why, just effing send stuff here from wherever you do now. I'll bet my arse though, stuff on the local site will be way more expensive way beyond exchange and shipping rates.


Quote
This really is the kind of area where an hour scratching your head coding for Arduino might save a month fighting with suppliers and trying to put magic smoke back in.

Coding is NOT the problem.  I have found several lots of code people have put up to do this,what they don't give is the Schematic so I can see what external components I need and how to hook them up.  THAT is where it falls over for me, the coding is the part the boffins are happy to help with. It's the Physical side they seem to think a person ought to be able to figure for themselves and at this stage, I can't.

If I could do this, I'm pretty sure I could figure out the modification to do some other similar things I'd like to do.  The ability to program in the parameters you want on a sketch would be easier than trying to adjust ultra sensitive pots or figure out these press and hold button routines on the boards.  They drive me nuts!

I have ordered a couple of the timer boards and a  60sec delay board. As these are all 12v and my play solar is 24, I will need some step down power supplys...... Which I see in a stroke of unusual Genius I ordered 5 of week ago in anticipation of future need so all set on that front.
So i'm al;l set to get cracking into it...... in a month when everything arrives!

Bruce S

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2017, 09:13:49 AM »
OH & george65
Thanks for the links and pics.
I'm going to order one to see what's what. Just looking at the runs on the bottom has me scratching my head.

The runs verses wiring seems out of whack. Unfortunately I'm a kinesthetic learner so I'll need to see , feel , smoke one.

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OperaHouse

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2017, 09:36:55 AM »
Here is another interesting board

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Low-Voltage-Disconnect-Module-LVD-24V-10A-Protect-Prolong-Battery-Life-/201808640698?hash=item2efcbb7aba:g:K0sAAOSwf-VWUr3c

A while back I was looking for a low voltage relay for someone  and without using "disconnect" could never find these.

I just bought the 1,000W pure sine wave kit.  I bought a couple EGS002 boards last year and left them at camp without building anything.  Bought another EGS board and haven't  got around to that.  $24 is pretty cheap to not have to wire up much.  I bought a bag of the output FET for another project, those will up the kit to 2,000W.  Probably run it off my 50V DC buss into a transformer, hence the need for the added current capability.  Hopefully this will get built.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 11:51:44 AM by OperaHouse »

george65

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #20 on: March 02, 2017, 01:58:04 PM »

george65

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Re: Ebay electronic Modules Index
« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2017, 08:27:34 AM »

This one likely works better. It seems to have adjustable pull in voltage for hysteresis.  Wish it had a separate sense pin.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Charging-Discharge-Voltage-Monitor-Test-Relay-Switch-Control-Board-Module-P1H0-/131904132675

Both of these seem to lack adjustable delay which is necessary for any voltage switch.

I got the one I pictured above and the prediction unsurprisingly was 100% correct.  The thing chattered like a machine gun and would not have taken long to cause problems switching the UPS in and out every second. In my defense I had already ordered the thing when I read the warning. Ordered the other one next day.

I bought the one you linked to above and it does in fact have a programmable delay.  I haven't been able to try it yet as one of the batteries in my play setup Died and I have not yet got another. Being half way through our forth week of rain hasn't exactly been inspirational for playing with this stuff either.

I  also bought a delay board although unsure how I'm going to wire this in to work. Will probably have to be through another relay but if the other board works OK then I won't bother.
I'm getting so many meters and controllers on this setup its starting to look a bit silly.

The  other controller that does not do for controlling the UPS ( I want it to kick in when the voltage drops to maintain the battery levels) will be OK for load switching.  If I have excess panel power then I can divert it to secondary loads and switch it back out of the batterys drop too low.
I thought widening the on and off voltage levels witht eh UPS may have worked but it did not. In hind sight that may have been because the battery was dying and not stabilising things enough.  In any case I have the other controller now ( and I even paid the extra .7C to get the fancy cover)  so I'll see how that goes.

I also got another AC meter to monitor the outputs from my grid tied panel. It's a real pain in the arse cycling through the menus on the inverter itself for my frequent curiosity throughout the day.  I have been wiring up all these meters and controllers up individually so they have been needing to be wired with Plugs. I found it's MUCH cheaper to buy a short extension cord for $2.50 at the hardware store and cut it than to buy the 2 Plugs individually which are 4 and $5 odd each!  Bought so many of them now the girl at the hardware store asked the other night when I got more what I was doing with them all?

I have been trying to keep all the DC side of things on a self made electrical board where I don't have to worry about anything because its all low voltage and put all the AC stuff in it's own boxes with AC plugs.  If I carry on with this I'll have to make a Bigger and better AC board because the cords and plugs are getting over the top as is tracing which one is where and doing the mental arithmetic of the sequence of how they need to be connected.  :0)

Does not take much to start out with something simple and get carried away!

I have been Building some things with Arduinos but noticed something with that. These premade control boards are a simpler and easier way to go as well as being much cheaper.
Each arduino requires a power supply so that's the first thing.  Then you have the board itself with an input, wires to resistors or whatever and then the output wiring. The out goes to a relay so it's a minimum of 3 boards.  I have found that's not easy to wire and put in a neat control box either and of course, then there is the expense of the box as well.

So far I have built a timer to run a pump for my aeroponics setup, a light operated switch to turn the LED panel on and off for backyard security and my Aeroponic garden and a flasher to  Pulse another high  output LED light bar aimed at the neighbour whom is a real POS and is living there illegally and driving us nuts with his self centred and disrespectful attitude to everyone around. 
Given his nocturnal and noisy activities, I have no problem doing all I can to disturb him the same way he annoys my family.
I might have to look at building something to trigger a solenoid on the tap to turn on the water for a spray nozzle on my house soon.  The neighbor on the other sides threats of lighting up his vehicles are not just venting anymore. :0)

From what I can see, it's far easier and cheaper to do these things with a pre-made board than an arduino.
Maybe as said, I have to reserve the arduinos for more complicated tasks but so far, can't see or have need of anything a Sub $5 or $10 chinese board can't do... which have all worked perfectly for me so far.

Enjoying playing with them and combing fleabay to see what others I can find.... and figure out what the hell they are supposed to do!  :0)