Facepalm. Our marketing has failed.Interesting question. On one hand, there are some similarities, on the other, it's like comparing apples and automobiles.
First, let's do some definitions. Arduino refers primarily to software. A group of people got together a while ago and created an easy to use compiler ‘tool chain’ to help democratize the accessibility of embedded controllers. Of course a better controller tool chain isn't very much use without embedded hardware, so they had to make some boards too. Now Arduino and everyone and their brother makes arduino-compatible hardware. (A tool chain are software tools used to build any type of software. Embedded systems refers to computers that are not typical desktop/server machines.)
Then there is the Bad ASS Controller (BAC). The BAC is an embedded system designed for the automation and monitoring of escape rooms. It was designed and built by Escape Room Techs, Inc. and provides an advanced solution for monitoring, controlling, and running games in escape rooms.
So what do they have in common? Well, they both utilize Arduino architected software and hardware. At the root of it, they share a microcontroller.
What are the differences? When you get an Arduino out-of-the-box it'll stare at you like, “I'm a paper weight, please do something with me.” When you get a Bad ASS Controller out of the box, you power it up, it becomes discoverable on your network, it can be managed through an easy-to-use web interface, (no Internet required), you configure your games, and it natively communicates to a broad range of game mastering softwares.
For those of you who are familiar with open source software development, you may suspect that you can take an off-the-shelf Arduino, add a bunch of open source software to it, and get the same result. That would be a stretch. While Escape Room Techs has leveraged many open source modules to create the BAC, we also have a few thousand hours of development time into it to create the effortless, sophisticated interface, and product that many of you have come to know and love.
Additionally, the hardware integration available in the BAC seamlessly combines what would be about four or five off-the-shelf modules from your hobby supplier (Spark Fun/Adafruit). Also, the additional protection circuitry usually overlooked by said suppliers. And it was not designed with the requirements of escape rooms in mind.
With all that being said, we do acknowledge that the Bad ASS Controller may not suit every puzzle designers imagination out of the box, but we do figure we've covered 90% of the markets’ requirements. But that hasn't stopped us. We've completed extensive prop customization work for our customers and leveraging the Bad ASS Controllers interface and configurability. For instance, if you ask someone to build you a phone prop, you are likely to have to go back to them for changes you want made (phone numbers or action events). Not with us. When we build a custom prop based on the BAC, we provide access to many variables to custom configure game so you can support and manage your game without the intervention of the original engineer. We leave you in control of your game.
As for a little bit of background, we actually started out creating Arduino-based controllers, our FX300, FX350, and FX450. If you desire the benefits of the hardware integration of the BAC, but want to write your own code, you can. You can leverage our open source GitHub with plenty of free games and game master network communication stacks as a starting point.
Tomayto, tomahto. Some people like to program and have complete control, others would rather have a turnkey. easy to use and maintain solution. The difference is the amount of time you will spend to accomplish your task and what your time is worth. We have sold orders of magnitude more BACs than FX450s. Many more users have enjoyed the BAC system.