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Raspberry Pi 2 is camera-shy

11 Feb 2015

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The Raspberry Pi 2 made headlines recently for being more powerful than its predecessor is, while still retaining its price at $35. However, this single-board computer has one weakness: camera flashes.

The Verge reported that some Pi 2 users photographed their devices, and what happened next was that their SBCs suddenly stopped working. The Raspberry Pi Foundation already looked into the situation and said that the kind of light emitted by a camera flash has the capacity to drop the processor core's voltage, which then turns the device off.

"Flashes of high-intensity, long-wave light—so laser pointers or xenon flashes in cameras—cause the device that is responsible for regulating the processor core power (it's the chip marked U16 in the silkscreening on your Pi 2, between the USB power supply and the HDMI port—you can recognise it because it's a bit shinier than the components around it) to get confused and make the core voltage drop," Raspberry Pi Foundation spokesperson Liz Upton said in a blog post.

Put simply, Upton explained that the power regulator's material was subject to a photoelectric effect when hit with light. A certain amount of energy coming from this light can "upset" the Pi 2 when fired at it, causing the device to crash.

Raspberry Pi 2

Raspberry Pi 2

Just to be clear, the device only shuts down, and the light does not really cause any significant damage to the Pi 2, Upton clarified.

"Importantly, it's ONLY really high-intensity bursts like xenon flashes and laser pointers that will cause the issue," she said. This means that other lower-intensity lights or taking a photo of the SBC with cameras using other flash technologies will not cause the Pi 2 to power down. For those who cannot stop using really bright flashes, Raspberry Pi Foundation suggests to cover the sensitive chip with a putty.

Have you been tinkering with the Raspberry Pi 2? Share your experience with us in the comments below.




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