Charlotte Wisteria
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Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:38 pm

3 Dead Pi Zero Ws!

Fri Jul 21, 2017 8:54 pm

Hey everybody! I'm just posting to vent a bit of frustration and get some advice. I have so far managed to burn out 3 Pi zero Ws and only seen a boot screen once. I bought a starter kit from Adafruit, and have been using that power supply, along with a RadioShack portable USB battery that I intend to use for the project. The first pi would never power on via the power port. It worked if I back powered it via the USB port- I could see the NOOBs startup screen but I had no control over it. I went and got an old USB hub so that I could try to get the keyboard connected, and somewhere in there it stopped responding. I plug it into my Windows box and get nothing.

The second pi never made it to the boot screen. It would respond on Windows, but I never got it to video. I put in the same SD card, HDMI, and plugged in the adafruit power supply to the power connector, and got nothing. I took everything out and put it back on the windows machine to test, and nothing.

The latest one I took extra precautions with. I hadn't been very protective of the previous ones, vis a vis static, so I got out my static mat and took alot of care with it. First step, nothing but the windows box- I saw the boot device, all is good. I connected the hub, HDMI, and the battery this time, and got nothing. Back to the windows box- no response.

I'm pretty shocked at this point. I usually don't have these kinds of issues, but after 3 pis I must be doing something terribly wrong! I checked the version of NOOBs they shipped with the card and it seems to be compatible with the Pi Zero W- it would be pretty crummy of them to screw that up. I'm just amazed at how sensitive the hardware seems to be! For all the abuse it seems people give to their pi's, how is it that in under a minute I've managed to kill two of them, with no smoke or anything that would point to a major screw up?

Thanks for any pointers you can give me. I have a fourth one on the way, since I can't return opened stuff I'm just out of luck I guess. I've poured over the new users threads several times now and I can't find any smoking gun for what I've done wrong. The battery is rated to 2.4 amps, but won't supply that unless needed, so that shouldn't be the problem. The SD card did boot one of the pis, and shouldn't outright kill them even if it was totally screwed up, right? The USB hub could be bad; it's a powered hub so maybe it's backpowering the Pi, but given that there's only one USB port on it and you need a keyboard and mouse for the setup, I'm sure other people have connected powered hubs to their Pi's and not destroyed the hardware. This last time I was super careful about static so I really don't think that's what killed it either.

Any ideas on what I'm doing wrong? Thanks so much for any pointers!

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Re: 3 Dead Pi Zero Ws!

Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:59 am

That's pretty amazing. I haven't had any Pi fail like that. One thing to note about the pi0 and Pi0W is that the 5v lines are in common to all the places you see it on the board...power connector, USB data connector, 5v GPIO pins. The Pi0/Pi0W have no protection against overvoltage, so you need to be sure that you're feeding it no more than 5.25v (that's 5v+5%).

I see that you're powers the Pi0Ws with a battery. What is the output voltage of the battery? If it's too low, the on board voltage regulators (for 3.3v and 1.8v) will drop out and it won't boot. If it's too high...cooked Pi0W. I would suggest that you do your initial work with a decent quality PSU intended for Pis. On the other hand, I would also suggest doing your initial project development work with a Pi3B rather than using a Pi0W as your first Pi, but that's a different rant.

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bensimmo
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Re: 3 Dead Pi Zero Ws!

Sat Jul 22, 2017 7:24 am

I carry them in my pockets and throw them around in rucksacks etc.
Seem pretty robust to static too (if my top crackles when I take it off, the Pi must be getting some of it).(note: pushing wheelchairs is a great way to collect static)

I would check the Pi in the PC to see if it is seen.
Then check the SD card and perhaps out the latest Raspbian on.

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Re: 3 Dead Pi Zero Ws!

Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:32 am

Charlotte Wisteria wrote:Hey everybody! I'm just posting to vent a bit of frustration and get some advice. I have so far managed to burn out 3 Pi zero Ws and only seen a boot screen once. I bought a starter kit from Adafruit, and have been using that power supply, along with a RadioShack portable USB battery that I intend to use for the project. The first pi would never power on via the power port. It worked if I back powered it via the USB port- I could see the NOOBs startup screen but I had no control over it. I went and got an old USB hub so that I could try to get the keyboard connected, and somewhere in there it stopped responding. I plug it into my Windows box and get nothing.

The second pi never made it to the boot screen. It would respond on Windows, but I never got it to video. I put in the same SD card, HDMI, and plugged in the adafruit power supply to the power connector, and got nothing. I took everything out and put it back on the windows machine to test, and nothing.

The latest one I took extra precautions with. I hadn't been very protective of the previous ones, vis a vis static, so I got out my static mat and took alot of care with it. First step, nothing but the windows box- I saw the boot device, all is good. I connected the hub, HDMI, and the battery this time, and got nothing. Back to the windows box- no response.

I'm pretty shocked at this point. I usually don't have these kinds of issues, but after 3 pis I must be doing something terribly wrong! I checked the version of NOOBs they shipped with the card and it seems to be compatible with the Pi Zero W- it would be pretty crummy of them to screw that up. I'm just amazed at how sensitive the hardware seems to be! For all the abuse it seems people give to their pi's, how is it that in under a minute I've managed to kill two of them, with no smoke or anything that would point to a major screw up?

Thanks for any pointers you can give me. I have a fourth one on the way, since I can't return opened stuff I'm just out of luck I guess. I've poured over the new users threads several times now and I can't find any smoking gun for what I've done wrong. The battery is rated to 2.4 amps, but won't supply that unless needed, so that shouldn't be the problem. The SD card did boot one of the pis, and shouldn't outright kill them even if it was totally screwed up, right? The USB hub could be bad; it's a powered hub so maybe it's backpowering the Pi, but given that there's only one USB port on it and you need a keyboard and mouse for the setup, I'm sure other people have connected powered hubs to their Pi's and not destroyed the hardware. This last time I was super careful about static so I really don't think that's what killed it either.

Any ideas on what I'm doing wrong? Thanks so much for any pointers!
Most odd. I'd suggest something wrong with the power system. I'd be inclined to get a Pi3, get that up and running first. Use a good quality power supply.

The HW is fairly robust, and the software works (Use Raspbian instead of NOOBS) as others have stated, so this really does look like user error, although specifically what is difficult to tell.
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KLL
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Re: 3 Dead Pi Zero Ws!

Sat Jul 22, 2017 1:18 pm

Charlotte Wisteria wrote: I got out my static mat and took alot of care with it.
usually a
Antistatic Mat with a Wrist strap & a Ground Cord
is good for grounding static charges ( if grounded )
and is good for work with sensitive equipment, because the mat is conductive!
And that means you should not operate a SoC / dev board on it! because it can short out some pins.

i always use dev-boards without any protection, but take care that it not is placed on metal, wet ground...
and never worry if it is plastic or other static creating materials, but that is depending on the air humidity.

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Ronaldlees
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Re: 3 Dead Pi Zero Ws!

Sat Jul 22, 2017 3:58 pm

Well, the good news is that you didn't smell any smoke. So, you could have a bad image, or be doing something during the copy of the image that is not transferring it properly, etc.

I imagine you've checked all the power supply voltages? The battery and the mains supply? I would make sure that it's not an image problem, then proceed from there. Are there any LEDs lit?

As a last resort, you could get a 3.3V supply, and backpower the Pi through GPIO pin 1 (3.3 VDC power). I know they say that the USB will not work at 3.3 V, but that is very device dependent. I had two "burned out" Pi2 boards (fried 5 V regulator). I backpower them thru the 3v3 GPIO pin, and they work fine - including the USB keyboard and Wifi adapter. Mileage may vary.

You'll want to conservatively fuse the 3.3 supply
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Charlotte Wisteria
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Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:38 pm

Re: 3 Dead Pi Zero Ws!

Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:59 pm

Thanks for the input!

I have checked all the pi's on a PC, and they do not appear. There's only the activity LED on the P0W, and I think I saw it light on the first Pi (that booted), but never on Pi 2 and 3. I just checked the voltage with the battery at the GPIO pins, 5.07V and 3.29V, so it should not be a problem.

Good news though- I checked one of the boards again and it is now booting, via the battery! NOOBS is complaining about a wired network setup and refusing to do much else but at least I have some working hardware finally! Hopefully I'm off to the races finally!

alphanumeric
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Re: 3 Dead Pi Zero Ws!

Sat Jul 22, 2017 10:39 pm

Just the other day I thought I had lost one of my Pi Zero's. No Boot and no activity light. Not even a flicker. After swapping hardware around I found that my SD card had failed. It showed as 30 meg instead of 8 gig. I'd get a new card and make a new image. I'm with the others on that too, go with Raspbian instead of NOOBS. Then see if those Pi's you think are dead, are really dead.

runboy93
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Re: 3 Dead Pi Zero Ws!

Sat Jul 22, 2017 11:15 pm

SD card corruptions seem to be very common, which is strange in my case. Always used sandisk SD cards, only 1 few years used card went and died after using rpi-update, but none yet still after that (ofc haven't used rpi-update anymore)

As power I've use official 5.1v 2.5A charger, with use of usb dongle, mouse and keyboard and for retropie use controller, but no still failures with that pretty low(ish) load.

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