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Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:12 am

I purchased a model B raspberry Pi in December. I don't have an HDMI monitor, so I figured I would get by using the device entirely through the network.

After imaging the raspbian hardfloat distribution, I powered it up and started running apt-get upgrade. Later I found that the three lights for the ethernet were all off, and I could not ssh into the unit.

This failure occurs randomly, and after being on for two weeks straight without incident, I thought things were better. I was wrong. This week I am having ethernet failures every 4-6 hours.

I read about possible problems with the voltage of the adapter, but it doesn't seem to be the case with my unit, since it doesn't happen with hi loads, it happens randomly while idle.

For what it's worth, I have a notion that it has to do with interference, because the only time I was able to reproduce the failure is when I placed a spare CDROM drive next to the power cable, and another time I moved an AM/FM radio alarm clock near to the Pi. On the other hand, I have it near a CRT monitor that makes a lot of interference when powered on, and that did not knock out the Pi's ethernet...

I think it is already too late to return it, and I feel disappointed that my only gateway to the device is unreliable... But perhaps it will help others to know that it's not just them having the problem.

UPDATE: Still irritated and curious, I got a multimeter and checked the voltages. With only the power and ethernet cables connected, the voltage is between 4.93 and 5.07V.

This is in the range expected, so no clear answer on the dying ethernet port.

To see if the 1000mA adapter is less-then-rated, I plugged in the USB charging cable of my half-dead cellphone and a USB mouse to see if I could make the voltage drop. I did get it down to 4.58 with the phone and mouse, but did that result in Ethernet dying? Nope, the Ethernet lights remained on, and I found I might still be able to make use of the Pi as a glorified USB cellphone charger...

I found that I can certainly kill the Ethernet plugging in a portable hard drive while charging my cellphone, but the Pi also reboots as the voltage dips to ~4.2V. After reboot, the Ethernet still comes back on, even with the hard drive trying desperately (and failing) to spin up...

Back to the cellphone and USB mouse, I did get the Ethernet to die within 15 minutes of powering on, but after re-plugging the power, it stayed on for another 2 hours, with the voltage around 4.5. The USB also dies each time, as I just discovered: the laser on the mouse turns off when the failure occurs.

It just doesn't make sense, there is no correlation between power drain & voltage and the Ethernet/USB failures.

UPDATE: I made a script that would run every minute, and reboot the Pi if the network was unreachable. This script never ran after the Ethernet failed, so actually the entire device is freezing, and I never could tell.

Knowing that the whole Pi is freezing, I rebooted and pulled the SD card out just as the Ethernet lights came on... Left it overnight and the problem eventually happened. That rules out any software on the SD card causing the problem.

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:11 pm

I've been having a similar problem recently. The USB ports and Ethernet port stop working after a seemingly random period of time - from a few minutes to a day.

My most recent use of my Raspberry Pi has been to connect it to a home power meter and provide measurements of my household power consumption through a web browser interface, therefore utiltising the USB ports and Ethernet port continuously for, hopefully, ever! Future ambitions include using it as a central heating controller, but it needs to be reliable...

However, I couldn't get the Raspberry Pi to stay working for more than a couple of days - no good at all.

I tried:
1. Reducing the load on the USB ports by using a powered hub.
2. Powering the Raspberry Pi from the USB hub.
3. Three different USB power supplies.
4. Not using the Ethernet port and using a Wi-Fi adaptor instead.

None of these worked.

The breakthrough came when I just touched IC3 (the Ethernet and USB chip): instant failure. This was completely repeatable - every time I touched IC3 the Ethernet and USB ports would stop working.

I knew that the Pi itself was still alive because my software writes to a log file and I could see the SD card activity light continue to blink.

I looked at the solder joints of IC3 and the crystal underneath under a microscope and they looked a little poor in that they looked quite rough and textured, as though the solder paste had not fully flowed. While 'good old' leaded solder gives quite shiny joints and I realise that the RoHS-compliant lead-free solders give a more dull joint, these still didn't look that great. So I reflowed a few of the worst-looking pins/pads with a soldering iron.

My Raspberry Pi has now been running continuously without a glitch for over 6 days. Admittedly, touching IC3 does still cause an issue, so I need to revisit some of the other solder joints, but now just the USB temporarily stops, not both USB and Ethernet.

I did think about returning it for a replacement, but I thought I'd at least have a look under a microscope first. Having done so and thought the solder joints looked poor, I thought I might as well try fixing it myself. If I wasn't experienced with soldering, returning it would be a better option...

Hope this helps,

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:55 pm

sounds like an intermittently failing LAN9512 chip (the second big chip on the PI).

My experience with failures like these is that most often its the 25MHz crystal that stops oscillating.
Could be that the crystal has been kicked too hard, (have had the PI falling off a table perhaps) and the quartz sliver cannot vibrate freely, or it has a weak electric connection, or one of its capacitors (C86 & C74) is bad (too large capacitance, it should be no more than 47pF).

sometimes a light tap on it brings it back to life, (often perpetually, as the quartz sliver can shake loose) sometimes re-soldering it helps.
You can also return the unit as defective.

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:25 am

I have a similar problem, but with a model A.

I run it headless as a webcam server from the terminal. Wi-Fi, webcam and power via a USB-hub, latest Raspbian Wheezy. No keyboard/mouse/screen.

Initially it works great, I can access the Pi folders from Windows (Samba) or via SSH. The problem is that it just stops working randomly, lights on but nobody home. The longest I've had it running is for about 24 hours. Sometimes I've had a HDMI screen connected for testing purposes, it usually just goes dark. Sometimes it won't boot reliably, throwing different kinds of error messages. I've tried many combinations of PSUs, hubs but still no luck. Voltage with multimeter OK. Tried reflashing to test both with and without "rpi-update", but still unstable. It seems to be able to run OpenElec 3.0 indefinitely when on the menu screen though, and I have had no problems watching movies.

If I transfer everything to my model B (same SD card, camera, Wi-Fi, hub) it works flawlessly.

It's very frustrating that I cannot rely on my Pi model A to stay functional. Do I have a defective unit, or is this software-related? I know there have been some USB troubles. Thanks for any input.
Last edited by FreakHavoc on Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:39 am

I am having similar issues with my 512MB RPi:

I am trying to run Squeezeplug software with a USB Audio DAC and an EDIMAX EW-7811UN USB wireless network adapter and an Ethernet cable.

Sometimes it does not power on correctly (just the power light comes on), other times the wireless adapter will not connect to the wireless network and sometimes neither the Wired nor Wireless network will connect.

I have tried:
Two different power supplies (both supplied by yourselves)
Using a powered USB Hub with the USB Audio DAC and the EDIMAX USB wireless adapter plugged into the hub
Powering the RPi from the USB Hub
Three different SD cards (2 were Sandisk and the other a generic TDK one)

None of these seem to work.

However my older RPi 256MB works fine. I can plug the same USB Audio DAC and an EDIMAX EW-7811UN USB wireless network adapter and an Ethernet cable into it and put the same SD card in and it works.

So looks like a RPi hardware issue to me. I have contacted RS Components about a replacement as I am not sure what else I can try and do.

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:47 am

Hi all,

I am having exactly the same problem. I have had the Pi for about a month and and all was working fine, then the other day it started to crash after it had been on a while. Yesterday I thought I would try out Quake 3 on it and half way through the build it crashed on me. Red LED was on and Green LED was on, but the HDMI screen went out and I could not SSH into it. Only thing I could do was remove the power. Tried again with same results, only sooner this time. Thought it may be a heat problem so removed it from its case and again failed on the build.
Looking through some of the forums I have tested 5.11V between TP1 & TP2 and F3 is showing a good 5V on either side. I have also tried a different PSU's and different SD cards with alternative operating systems on, all with the same results.
I am now awaiting a reply from the company I bought it from...
I think that there must be a manufacturing flaw somewhere since it seems to be a common problem from what I have read in the forums. The Pi is a great device with so much potential but it would be a same if it is been so unreliable for so many people.


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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:14 pm

Is it me or is there something fishy going on here. I too am having the same problem displaying our google spreadsheet. I thought it was just google, but then I found that I couldn't log in from my computer either. I purchased a combo pack and had a case, so i figured it was the case; the board is really hot when I took it out of the case.

But after listening to all of you I have to wonder if it is a manufacturing problem.

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:34 pm

My theory is that the design of the crystal oscillator on the USB/LAN chip is not sufficiently far into the "will definitely oscillate" region when all components of it are at the centres of their tolerance bands and operating conditions. As such, some RPis may be very close to not oscillating and can enter that state under small changes in conditions such as temperature, voltage, physical shock to the crystal, capacitance effects from nearby objects.

I don't have any proof, just several years experience of designing, throwing together and debugging prototype electronics (analogue and digital) for a living a long time ago. That did include crystal oscillators and I never had one that didn't oscillate but the crystal drive levels used then were probably much higher than that in the RPi.

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:45 am

I have been having this issue as well. I have changed to a new PI, but it still exists. Importantly, the issue only started after I updated the OS a few weeks ago (When the big firmware update came out). Before that, it was on constantly for a month without issue.

I do have programs running constantly (midori and postgres), but I don't think that is the problem (Based on the above observation). I am going to isolate each element in turn and see what is causing the failure.

Is it possible for that update to be causing the issue or is it something else?

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:21 pm

Hi all,

I'm adding myself in the list, I also have random freezes from Ethernet and wireless (sometimes twice a day, sometimes it is up and runnning for a max of 2-3 weeks). I also tried to update the firmware but it did not change anything, verified the voltage, tried various power solutions like you guys to be sure it was not a power issue but it just freezes randomly and no error messages whatsoever in any logs.
It's a shame indeed, it's my 2nd Pi doing this (Well the first one was one of the very first so I thought it was just bad luck but this 2nd one is more recent). I hesitate on what to do now, maybe try to send it back but it's a pain.

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:49 am

I have tried a few things now and it is not the Ethernet. The USB portion looks like it is too blame. I am going to now isolate my software and see if that helps. If I was going to hazard a guess, buffer overflow somewhere.

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:29 am

Adding me to the list. I've flashed and reflashed about 8 times from Noobs, I always get to after I've configured network settings, and enabled x11vnc + ultrafilexfer + bonjour (for screen and file sharing on my macbook) and then at some point it'll just crash.

I've found that it usually happens while I'm logged, either terminal through SSH or VNC/Connected via Bonjour. Or at least that's how it seems.

I wish I could forgo USB altogether, but I've got my WiFi adaptor plugged in there and need that for the long term. Might try using ethernet tomorrow and see how long it lasts for.

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:55 am

B or B+
have you got good power ?
what is measured

does syslog say anything useful
if possible connect a display to it so you can see if anything is reported when it dies
How To ask Questions :- http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
WARNING - some parts of this post may be erroneous YMMV


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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Sun Nov 16, 2014 10:43 am

Same Issue on B+.
Ethernet stops working after an operation on the USB.
Some people reported it to be a kernel drive related issue.
I think I can give you more information tomorrow at the office.

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:57 pm

I have two RPI-B. One has JCblock software and a zoom modem attached to the usb port. The other has a usb wifi adapter attached to the usb port. Here is the problem for me and I believe it is software related. When I use Motion software and have a web cam plugged into the other usb port. Everything is fine, I can start the Motion software and even after 10 hours every thing is fine. Now here is the problem. Both RPI's other usb port goes inactive shortly after I turn off the motion software (in a couple of hours). The reason I don't think it is hardware is that the one RPI that is running JCblock with the usb modem will run for months without problem, it is just when I use the web cam with the motion software and start and stop it. Somehow I believe the Motion software does something to the USB ports when I exit the software. Just my two cents. I am thinking of buying an RPI-2 just because it is rates so much more powerful. Any comments?

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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:42 am

How To ask Questions :- http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
WARNING - some parts of this post may be erroneous YMMV


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Re: Ethernet &USB die randomly; Pi freezes

Sat May 23, 2020 9:13 pm

Had the same problem. Pinned it down to the plug that the USB/Power cord plugs in to. Tested with a random Iphone plus (with USB female and and male plug outlet), and it fixed the problem. You also might want to try replacing the cord itself

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