TheRedReactor
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:50 pm

The Red Reactor Battery Power Supply

Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:20 pm

We have developed a robust, powerful and feature rich battery power supply board designed to fit underneath your Raspberry Pi (e.g. Zero, Model 3, Model 4), which leaves the 40pin header on top of your Pi free for all the HATs and other connections that you may need for your projects.

As well as enabling your Pi projects to become portable, it provides software access to the battery voltage and current, as well as the ON button state, so you can safely shut down the device when needed. The ON button also provides the RUN/RESET function just in case your software really gets stuck - who says that doesn't happen?

The circuit design ensures that the battery is not under load whilst being charged, allowing the charging cycle to complete accurately, whilst the board only consumes 10uA when off (compared to some designs with CPU's that consume many mA's monitoring the ON button!), ensuring maximum battery life. But at the same time, our extreme testing shows a super steady 5.1v output when delivering over 4 Amps, with 1 board driving a Pi4, display, USB hub with keyboard, mouse, webcam, and at the same time charging the battery of another board under a Pi3, also with a display and both running a heavy graphics test case.

Designed for easy integration with all your projects, we are in the pre-launch phase for our Kickstarter campaign, launching soon. If you would like more information and register to be notified when the campaign goes live, please check out https://www.theredreactor.com for details, including pictures and a video of the extreme testing. We'd love to get your support to achieve our goal so we can make this board available to everyone! Of course, feel free to ask questions too. Thank you!

wfff
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:12 am

Re: The Red Reactor Battery Power Supply

Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:20 am

Hey, that sounds like a great project, a few question, i live in the middle of nowhere and the electric is not always reliable. I use Octopi coupled with a raspberry pi, with a screen and a camera. i tried multiple power board but none are able to handle powering all this equipment and make switching from wall power to battery without creating issues. Would your board be able to handle keeping the pi up and running even during a blackout? Also how does it handle disconnection from the power grid? thanks

TheRedReactor
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:50 pm

Re: The Red Reactor Battery Power Supply

Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:47 pm

We experienced the same problems with existing designs when under high load, hence our design is not only designed for much higher power, but has additional output capacitance to ensure a really smooth output voltage when switching.
In the extreme video test case, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS3TtVOnquk ,you can see the Red Reactor battery supply switching from external power to run off it's internal batteries, and everything just keeps going despite the very heavy load.
When external power is back, it switches cleanly back to that and starts charging the batteries.
The manual in github at https://github.com/Scally-H/RedReactor contains the instructions for modifying the /boot/config.txt and /boot/cmdline.txt files of your Octoprint installation to support the Red Reactor.
So it should power your setup with a display and webcam without problem, but also, because the Pi can read the battery status it will know when external power is gone, and when it is restored, hence you could have a script to monitor this and view this remotely, or have it notify you.
The Red Reactor will keep the Pi running, but if power is not restored and your batteries run low you can then execute a clean shutdown to avoid losing any data.

KeithMck
Posts: 260
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:58 am

Re: The Red Reactor Battery Power Supply

Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:21 pm

Sounds like what a lot of people have been looking for.... :)

....now it just comes down to price. ;)

TheRedReactor
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:50 pm

Re: The Red Reactor Battery Power Supply

Mon Jun 14, 2021 9:52 am

Thank you! Of course we hope you'll find the features good value, and we'd love your support to make it happen.

If you register your interest at our home page we can notify you when we launch the campaign and hopefully you can take advantage of the early bird discount as well.

TheRedReactor
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:50 pm

Re: The Red Reactor Battery Power Supply

Sun Jun 27, 2021 9:41 am

We have just completed some long-term testing of the Red Reactor.

When we used other battery power supply boards we found that there was a significant voltage drop even whilst the whole system was OFF, and realised that this was due to the current drawn by their on-board controllers. In one case this caused the voltage to drop by 0.2v (from 4.131 to 3.928) in just 6 days. So by that rate it would be dead in a month, and cause a reduction in battery life by going through many more charge cycles.

So we paid special attention to this aspect in our design, and in our long-term testing measured a voltage drop of only 0.03v over 6 weeks! (4.184 on 7/5/21, down to 4.155 on 15/6/21).

When you look at the self-discharge rate of lithium batteries, at approximately 2% per month, that represents most of the losses we measured on our board. So not only will it take over 9 months to drop by the same 0.2v on the Red Reactor, there would be far fewer charge cycles as well.

We settled on the 18650 type batteries because they have excellent performance and are much cheaper than the flat (Molex) connector based batteries used in some designs - for example, another brand charges £25 for their 5000mAh battery, whereas the 18650's can be found for around £5 each, thus reducing running costs and battery waste.

Thank you for registering your interest at https://www.theredreactor.com , it really helps us in setting our goals.

miliponce
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2021 3:44 pm

Re: The Red Reactor Battery Power Supply

Sat Jul 03, 2021 3:55 pm

How can I read the ON button state in my software? On my current UPS it is a tiny built-in button and I do not have a way to know if it is being pressed, and how long for.

Tzarls
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Authorised Reseller
Posts: 268
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:59 am

Re: The Red Reactor Battery Power Supply

Sat Jul 03, 2021 10:16 pm

TheRedReactor wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:47 pm

In the extreme video test case, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS3TtVOnquk ,you can see the Red Reactor battery supply switching from external power to run off it's internal batteries, and everything just keeps going despite the very heavy load.
When external power is back, it switches cleanly back to that and starts charging the batteries.
Nice project. Just checked your video.I know this is an extreme case but, at around 1:49, just before the DC supply is switched off, there's the undervoltage warning bolt on the Pi4 screen (and the red LED on the board turns off). The same happens when switching the DC supply back on. Maybe a video with a more average usage showing the Red Reactor's capabilities might help to understand what it can give in normal circumstances.

TheRedReactor
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:50 pm

Re: The Red Reactor Battery Power Supply

Sun Jul 04, 2021 5:53 pm

Thank you for the feedback. Indeed the goal is to show that even with one board supplying over 4.5 amps to both the Pi4 and the Pi3, both systems were able to continue running. But as you mention, the DC bench supply was struggling to deliver the current as it is only rated at 5 Amps, and you can see its display flickering before we switch to the battery and the lightning symbol disappears.

The board has quite a lot of on-board voltage smoothing capacitance but also additional mounting holes to support more in case of more extreme requirements.

The introduction video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbSTJwIG9jo shows some of the more 'normal' use cases where we have used it with a Pi Zero, Pi Model 3 and a Pi4, for example in our radio design, and a Pi4 driving a display and a USB hub connected to a keyboard, mouse and webcam. As per the beginning of the extreme test case video, the Pi4 boots and runs a maximum load without any under voltage issues.

TheRedReactor
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:50 pm

Re: The Red Reactor Battery Power Supply

Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:28 pm

miliponce wrote:
Sat Jul 03, 2021 3:55 pm
How can I read the ON button state in my software? On my current UPS it is a tiny built-in button and I do not have a way to know if it is being pressed, and how long for.
It is indeed awkward if the power supply uses such a tiny built-in button because typically it is in the wrong place when you come to build your project case, or it just doesn't go with the overall design.

But it is worse if you can't read the button state because then you need another button just for things like getting your software to go into stand-by, or use a longer press if you want your software to execute a software controlled shutdown.

The Red Reactor has a simple button interface, so you can choose a momentary switch and cable lengths to fit with your project. As well as turning everything ON, you can then read the state of this button via the provided GPIO port. With the example python code on our GitHub page it shows you how to set an interrupt to trigger a timer with which you can measure the length of the button press, for example, short, medium and long. If you hold it for 10 seconds though it will also pull the RUN signal low, in case you want to wire that to your Pi and use it to force a reset.

TheRedReactor
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2021 8:50 pm

Re: The Red Reactor Battery Power Supply

Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:17 pm

As part of our FAQ we answered a question about using the Red Reactor with a real time clock so you can completely shut down the Raspberry Pi system and then use a timed alarm to power everything back up again.

Not all projects need this feature of course, but if you're building something that only needs to wake up say once an hour, or once per day, then by shutting down completely, and with the fact that the Red Reactor only consumes a few micro-amps when OFF, you could potentially get many months of battery life for your monitoring applications.

Because our board provides easy access to the button interface, we decided to make a short video to show you how to make that work, which you can see at https://youtu.be/NvDd5q-TUnc

It is worth mentioning that if you don't power the system OFF before an alarm, your software will receive the alarm interrupt in the same way as our example button interface software shows. So you can use the same setup for projects that stay active and need a timed action interrupt, for example to shut everything down after midnight. The second alarm register of the DS3132 device could wake it all up again too!

We hope you'll find the video interesting!

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