Bye Bye, My Raspberry Pi.


Yes, that is a Raspberry Pi on the bottom of my rubbish bin. I’m not saying the RasPi is rubbish, but I am not weeping about its loss, either.

As with many new things there is a hype and with the RasPi there was no exception: “What a bargain to get so much computer for such a low price.” Well, you pay for what you get, so when I got mine last year September I soon found out I also got a lot of problems to solve. More than I was willing to. The USB/network problem has been mentioned a lot on various sites. Stable power would solve that, so I build a very stable solid state PSU with 78S05 regulators and 6800uF capacitors. Even after that you just had to look at the USB ports and the network would come crashing down. Since I was running the RasPi headless this meant rebooting over and over again.

So my plan to build a solar powered weather and APRS digipeater were soon abandoned and with only a single USB 1-Wire dongle attached it just collected weather data. Uptimes were great, the longest one being over 100 days – until I accidentally switched the power off.

Then we had this, on July 14….

I shot the video just after fixing a drainage problem: the water was almost entering the shack. At 14 seconds you can see the first flash of thunder (the EMP hit the camera). It was a forebode of what was to come: a hit right behind where we live. The result: all the garage door openers and video doorbells were broken within a 50 meter range. Two of our routers were out and……the weather station. Network cables make great antennas, so the 1-Wire dongle didn’t respond to incoming signals after the hit any more. The RasPi was also dead, but later that night I put 5 Volts on the GPIO pins and it came back alive, albeit running very hot. I had a spare 1-Wire dongle, so the weather station was up and running again – for the moment.

But not a month later the expected happened: slowly the colourful LEDs on the RasPi main board dimmed until there was no life in them left. It must be a problem with the on-board voltage regulator, but they are glued to the board (yes, I tried removing one), so the rubbish bin it is.

Added bonus is that I now have a much cleaner spectrum, too! There have been projects to get the RasPi transmitting using the GPIO pins on the FM band, WSPR and what not. I found out that the RasPi was acting as a little spread spectrum transmitter, putting out carriers every 30 kHz on HF and 6 meters via the network cable. Unplug the network and it’s gone, plug it in and you broadcast 24 hours a day on multiple frequencies.

I already had a Atom board prepared and with some extra time spent the weather station was back up in a jiffy. My little PicoLCD screen also worked with the new set up, while with the RasPi it would just stall. Therefore, you can surf to, again, for the latest weather in Longtan, Taiwan.

So, the Pi is dead, long life the Atom!

Hans "Fong" van den Boogert, BX2ABT, is a regular contributor to and writes from Taiwan. Contact him at [email protected].

5 Responses to “Bye Bye, My Raspberry Pi.”

  • Don AE7QL:

    Just like yourself…I got so excited when I read the news about this device to be my media center. The truth turned out to be that with the waiting period just to get one…the moronic numerous delays to release them…the time to have it shipped to you and what it would actually cost to be able to make it do something/anything was enough to spend on a decent Android tablet. Ended up getting one of the ARM Android HDMI sticks to run as a media center. They have their problems as well…but not anything close to what the Pi’s would be in terms of all the headaches. In a month or so…will be purchasing a new Android media center and would never consider wasting my time and money on these overpriced dreams.

  • Stan AA6I:

    Sorry to hear of your troubles. I have had my Raspberry Pi running as an APRS IGATE using APRx software for over a year now. The only problem I had was I left logging turned on and filled up the memory and had to erase it. It runs on a $3 cellphone charger. Boots every time without keyboard, rodent or monitor. What else can I say?

  • w0it Louis:

    I have my Pi running EchoIRLP. Its been up about two months. My power supply issue was not solved with a better supply. I needed to feed it through a USB port. It worked OK until the IRLP board was hooked up I suppose because it draws more power. I have a suspicion that it is some sort of noise when the power draw goes up, but….
    Anyhow once I figured out how to configure the software I was in good shape. Its been up and restarted itself after power failures fine. I am going to put one of those USB Lithium Ion Batteries inline as a UPS.
    Sorry about the trouble. I changed over from a Pentium II and expect the Rasberry to pay for itself in reduced energy costs.

  • John MW1CFN:

    Valid comments – for the time and model of Pi.

    Roll on five years, and you will find it difficult to find a meaningful difference between a budget laptop and Raspberry Pi Model 3B+.

    Mine runs all station functions – and that includes QSOs in FT8, with its very fast decode-to-response rate.

    For 10 times less money than a laptop, 5V DC supply and much less overall power consumption, these are the very best solution to remote, solar or indeed a home station.

  • Hans (BX2ABT):

    @John MW1CFN: the RasPi has certainly become a little better in the last five years, especially with the addition of WiFi. But the basic flaws are still there and it is certainly not quite up there with the “big boys” (and by that I do also mean lower end laptops).

    I do have one for my DMR hotspot when I’m out and about, but in the shack my 8 year old desktop performs much better (read: less glitches) with the DV4mini, while also running my Airspy, Gpredict, GEda, multiple browser windows and what not. x486 still beats ARM in performance and flexibility, but let’s see in ten years if the tables have turned.

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