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Hardware Protection

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:18 pm
by cooky451
Hi,

I'm thinking about buying a Raspberry Pi to run my own OS on. I just want to know how easy it is to destroy the Hardware permanently with software, or if it is possible at all. As I'm just a hobby developer, it wouldn't be so fun to have to buy a new one every month. I'm not intending to do any hardware modifications though, I hope this is still the right forum. Any experiences with that?

Re: Hardware Protection

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:38 pm
by dwelch67
This is of course always possible, certainly with a board like this. But there is only one way to learn, and from time to time you will make mistakes, I can say I have been doing this for decades now and still from time to time "let the smoke" out of something.

I would have to go back and look at the schematic, but there are not a lot of things actually on this board and you are probably safer with this board than others. if you dont add any other hardware and work your way methodically into your operating system one peripheral at a time (most at first are on chip and not a problem) you are likely fine. It is when you start wiring other stuff up (for starters a serial adapter to debug with) you have to be careful. Just having it on a desk where coins or metal pens or tips of usb drive or whatever might be laying about or fall onto the board, could short things.

My advice is buy two boards so if you hose one you have a spare. the very nice thing about the raspberry pi is that you can get a linux capable system which means you can definitely build many different levels of complexity of a home brew operating system. for $25. not long ago that number was closer to $250 and buying two or hosing one was not nearly as cheap.

The short answer, yes it is possible, but unlikely that you will do it. It more likely that you might short something out having all the pins and parts exposed on your workspace or if you walk up to it with socks on the carpet, build up static, and touch it without grounding elsewhere and give it a good zap. I am pretty rough with hardware and have a number of these boards and they are quite durable, I have I am pretty sure wired tx and rx wrong on the serial port which on other boards tends to at least heat up my usb to serial board.

that wasnt the short answer. yes, possible but unlikely, you have to learn somewhere, this is a good board for that.

Re: Hardware Protection

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:08 am
by cooky451
Okay thanks, I'll probably buy the B version than, since I want to have a network connection, and writing a USB-WLAN driver seems like a thing to do when the system is already more or less stable. :D

Re: Hardware Protection

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:51 am
by dwelch67
I would recommend the B model with the ethernet, worth the extra $10, esp for what you are doing.

Re: Hardware Protection

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:24 pm
by smccain
I've just started with these boards but from what I can tell there isn't an easy way to "brick" them. Because of the architecture (Von Neueman vs Harvard) the method of loading and storing code is vastly different than other mcu's out there that you may have played with. It's easy to brick microcontrollers with bad fuse settings, uploading code that does bad things, or otherwise doing something stupid (I have several AVR's laying around that are "bricked" because of fuse settings).

Now letting the magic smoke out is something entirely different and is usually the result of pushing electrons where they shouldn't go (or pushing too many). In that case you do have to be VERY careful about anything external you hook up to the pi.

There are no buffers on the GPIO pins and they are wired directly to the chip. These guys are NOT 5v tolerant and if you try to drive them with 5v ttl you will most likely damage your chip. You MUST buy a level converter if you plan on interfacing with 5v.

Also, don't hook anything up do the NC pins on the GPIO header. What I did was buy a 40 pin ribbon cable, and a header shroud. I soldered the header shroud to a carrier board with header pins soldered to it. I then clipped all the pins marked NC so when I plug it into a breadboard (or what have you) I am assured that the NC pins are not connected.

Finally, NEVER, EVER, EVER, short the 3v to 5v on the GPIO header. That will most likely damage your chip (and it's a bad practice to short power supplies anyway :mrgreen: ).

As long as you are careful and take proper precautions against accidents (move that can of soda off the workbench) you should be okay.

Definitely get that level converter though. Sparkfun and Adafruit both sell one.

Re: Hardware Protection

Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:30 am
by DavidS
While I have only had my RPi for 30 hours I have already been experimenting with everything that I can in software. I have succesfuly overclocked it (and then back), pushed the video as far as I can in framebuffer mode, etc. I do not think you have to worry about damagig it from software, unless you do something way way out of bounds.
smccain wrote:As long as you are careful and take proper precautions against accidents (move that can of soda off the workbench) you should be okay.
But that can is holding up my RPi :-) .

Re: Hardware Protection

Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:24 pm
by DexOS
I would say your pretty safe with the PI as far as smoking it or bricking it, so have fun.
It's when you start wiring stuff to the GPIO header, you need to be careful.

Re: Hardware Protection

Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:51 pm
by jamesh
I cannot think of a SW way of permanently damaging a Pi.

Re: Hardware Protection

Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:15 pm
by DexOS
jamesh wrote:I cannot think of a SW way of permanently damaging a Pi.
What about divide by zero :shock:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZ7pUADoo58

Joke's aside, its possible when combined with connected hardware.

Re: Hardware Protection

Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:40 pm
by rurwin
jamesh wrote:I cannot think of a SW way of permanently damaging a Pi.
Strange, because that thread you just got so heated about that you were arguing with another moderator, has an example. About a third of the way down the first page.