The Raspberry Pi 2 might be fast, cheap, and run Windows 10, but it also has its quirks. A number of users have reported, and a Raspberry Pi spokesperson confirms, that this tiny single board computer doesn’t like having its picture taken.
Several Raspberry Pi 2 owners discovered over the weekend that photographing the device with a flash-enabled camera causes the Raspberry Pi 2 to shut down. After an intense but thorough investigation, Raspberry Pi Foundation staffers have identified the cause.
The simple explanation is that the power regulator circuit gets confused when hit with intense flashes of light on certain wavelengths, or as Raspberry Pi Foundation spokesperson Liz Upton explained in a blog post on Monday:
“Flashes of high-intensity, long-wave light — so laser pointers or xenon flashes in cameras — cause the device that is responsible for regulating the processor core power (it’s the chip marked U16 in the silkscreening on your Pi 2, between the USB power supply and the HDMI port — you can recognise it because it’s a bit shinier than the components around it) to get confused and make the core voltage drop. Importantly, it’s ONLY really high-intensity bursts like xenon flashes and laser pointers that will cause the issue. Other bright lights — even camera flashes using other technologies — won’t set it off.”
Luckily there are no reports of permanent damage, although there are concerns that a microSD card could become corrupted if the effect is triggered repeatedly.
Upton advises that you either avoid using the flash on your camera, or cover the circuit with a dab of putty, or take the obvious step of enclosing the Raspberry Pi in a case (which really should have been done in any case).
The Raspberry Pi 2 launched last week as an update to the 3-year-old single board computer. It features a 900MHz Broadcom BCM2836 quad-core chip with 1GB RAM, a microSD card slot, and enough headers, ports, and input/output pins to support a wide variety of projects. The new model is six time as fast as the original, but still costs only $35.