Let's Make Robots!

Knock off nunchucks and an import ESC

EDIT - I pretty much talked myself into the nunchucks and will report back someday about how they work. I am a bit more concerned about the ESC as it has the potential to cause a lot of damage if it fails.

Anyone used any of the knock offs?

OTC locally, the "real" nunchucks are around $20 and the knock offs are around $10. On eBay, I find ones like this which is $4 delivered! And here is a really odd twist - ordering from Asia is about the only way to retain any kind of warranty if you crack the case or cut the wires (I may do both). My experience has been that when you order something that is under $10 from the HK and China sellers who have a good rating, they just send another when there is a problem. If I buy local, crack it open (inspired by this) and get nothing on I2C, I will be stuck with it. But I would not want to get one (actually probably 2) unless it seems likely I will have no trouble. We have a Wii, so I would actually go a couple of rounds with one of the kids to test before opening one. An accellerometer, joystick and buttons all mounted and communicating for $4 delivered from overseas? That is just insane...

EDIT - Speaking of insane, another item I am thinking about is this brushed motor ESC. $4 + less than $4 shipping? If I didn't even use it to control a motor, the 5v regulated by its BEC would be useful in a lot of projects. A word of warning though - this was designed for a plane and significant airflow for cooling is expected. People cut them open and use heat transferring adhesive to attach cooling fins to the FETs with success, but if you sealed this up without cooling it could burn.

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I am planning install a 3.3v Pro Mini and a Nordic component, with as little support circuitry as possible; maybe just a diode to step down VCC as those Nordics don't even like 3.3v. I may go external with the battery; not sure yet. The guy who made one in the link in my earlier post had trouble fitting his and punctured a LiPo, but he was using an xBee and adapter. I think mine will be smaller. The second one is likely to get dropped in the drawer of in use game controllers assuming I get the first one wired and working.

Besides being cheaper, the Asian sellers with good feedback generally provide service equal to or better than the expensive US competition. here is an excerpt from the sller's confirmation email:

 i hope this can help us to complete a very nice transaction on ebay .best wishes for you!please DO NOT leave me negative or netural feedback becauseof this. you know,feedback is my life~ thank you. and if you any other problems,you can contact me via ebay message. 

He then gave me his email address and phone number. I expect that I will get the nunchucks in a reasonable amount of time and that they will work and if they don't I will get it resolved. It's odd how that has changed; I used to feel more comfortable buying more local, but if I get a bad product from a US seller, it is rare to get a good resolution.

Asian retailers are very good. I buy off eBay all the time and never have an issue, if there is a problem they usually reship another item. Waiting time for me is usually about a month shipping Hong Kong Post or whatever cheap method the retailer offers. Items are cheaper but quality is worse - you have to know what you are buying. Circuits are usually more noisy and have less protection features. Mechanical parts are more prone to breaking. But you get what you pay for - Asian retailers sell quality items as well but price is comparable to American counterparts.

We have it good and bad in the US right now. My understanding is that the Chinese government is intervening in some way to make sure parcels mailed to the US arrived fairly quickly. For about the last year, almost anything from China will be here in under two weeks. That's good if you want to buy cheap goods from a guy around the world who is just trying to feed his family, but bad because it makes it really hard for some guy in the MidWest to buy a second home... OK, enough political commentary. Anyway, yes there are QA issues sometimes.

Yeah the Chinese government also forces retailers to sell some goods at a loss and then compensates them with tax returns. After a while the low prices put competitors out of business and the government can tell the business to set any price it wants for the good because no one is left to compete, effectively creating a monopoly. China Inc. and they are good at it. Here in Canada i still wait a month to get my cheap items =(

Depending on the site I'm ordering from, I am waiting between 2 and half weeks and a bit over a month. Fastest that arrives is from HobbyKing and slowest is from IteadStudio. DealExtreme is slow too, they take some time until they ship the order, then takes the usual 3-4 weeks to get to Toronto. And I'm talking about Free or very low cost shipping.


Here is some info from the seller I used this time:

Ship to US,UK,AU and Canada only 

 Delivery time: 

By Airmail: Generally, about 2-3 weeks to UK, USA, AU. 
By Express: Generally, about 5-10 working days to UK, USA, AU. 
Canada usually takes 14-28 working days; 


Standard shipping from China in under 10 days. I am not in a top 50 US city, either. Maybe top 100. Funny thing is, I was planning to make a remote out of one using a Nordic. I still may, but I used the free day cash to get a Nordic fob.

The $4 airplane ESC still scares me, but I decided that spending 3 times as much on this:


was less of a risk. I have a boat on the way it should work well with, assuming it works well at all. It is hard to wrap your mind around products costing 1/4 of the nearest competition actually working.


I would assume because the knockoffs plug into the Wii console they still have to spit out the same code on the serial com port. The difference may be the quality of the parts (not as precise), but at $4.00 a pop its worth a shot! Also here are some adapter boards from SF, may make interfacing easier. I have cut open a knockoff wii nunchuck before and the wires don't have the same color code as the original, so you have to pay attention to where they plug into the connector. Other than that I saw all the necessary components (accelerometer, buttons and joystick). (I ordered some to use, got halfway into a a project, and dropped it because I got became busy with other projects....)