It’s fair to say that the Raspberry Pi is an amazing little device – and generally it costs under $50 ! Having said that it does have some weak spots – but if you’re aware of them you can minimize the potential for bad things to happen.

USB Power Connector

Probably the weakest spot is the Micro-USB power connector on any of the Pi 3 devices. It may also be the case for the USB-C connectors in the Pi 4 devices, but they haven’t been in the field long enough to observe.

Many of you take your ClearNode traveling which often entails repeatedly pulling and re-inserting the power cable into the connector on the side of the Raspberry Pi PCB. Unfortunately this does tend to loosen up the connector over time – eventually the connection becomes intermittent. If your finding that your ClearNode mysteriously reboots or works intermittently – that’s a good place to start looking.

It’s best if you can avoid repeatedly reconnecting power – try to keep that connector permanently in the node. The pins on the “wall-wart” end of the power supply are much more robust – disconnect there instead. In general, our advice is keep you node powered 24×7 with a weekly reboot to clear out the log files – if that’s an option.

So in short – do your best to minimize the number of times you reconnect that USB power connector – it will stay functional a whole lot longer.

SD Card and Housing

The other weak spot is the SD Card housing – we’ve had nodes returned for repair where that socket was torn completely away from the Raspberry Pi PCB, necessitating replacement of the Raspberry PI. Do your best to minimize the number of times you remove and re-insert the SD Card.

Many of you are religious about making backups of your SD Cards in case of failure. This has been a source of many calls to Support – the card gets trashed by some means during this process. Keep in mind that the historical justification for making backups is a little less credible when you’re dealing with ClearNode.

We use the distribution as our base image, which is configured to write log and temporary files to memory and not the SD Card. This has effects on the longevity of the SD Card. Firstly, since the system is not constantly writing to the SD Card, the possible destruction of the card by accidentally interrupting power is by and large eliminated. Secondly, the number of times a “bit” can be written to a location on the card is finite – they wear out ! Again, this issue is drastically limited because the system rarely writes to the card.

You are far more likely to zap the SD Card by mishandling it than it is to age out from normal use.

When handling an SD CARD always, always, always use a grounding strap on your wrist to eliminate static discharges.

It is a relatively simple process for us to regenerate your SD Card for you – generally including your latest configuration if it’s backed up to our servers. Maybe making copies of your SD Card is less justified than you think.

Raspberry Pi availability

If your ClearNode is based on the Pi 3 – we no longer have stock of that board and there are none available for purchase at the moment. If your Raspberry Pi 3 fails – you will be between a rock and a hard place !

In conclusion – give some thought to the well being of your Raspberry Pi – keep your node running as long as possible.

73 … Gerry.