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Raspberry Pi 2 Can Crash If You Take Its Picture

by Killian Bell | February 8, 2015February 8, 2015 2:00 pm PST


Early adopters of the Raspberry Pi 2 have stumbled across a very strange problem when taking pictures of their unit. If using a camera with a Xenon flash, the machine locks up completely and cannot be used until it has been power cycled.

“I have discovered that my PI2 is camera-shy,” wrote PeterO on the official Raspberry Pi forum. “Taking it’s [sic] picture with a flash causes an instant power off. I’ve done it three times now and same thing happens each time.”

The video below demonstrates the problem.

After some digging by other forum members, it was confirmed that this issue is present with all second-generation Raspberry Pi units — not just PeterO’s. One Raspberry Pi engineer found that the “U16” chip, which is light-sensitive, is the culprit.

If you cover the U16 chip with Blu Tack before capturing a photo, the Raspberry Pi 2 continues to function as normal. It seems only cameras with Xenon flashes are strong enough to trigger the crash; those with LED flashes — like smartphones and tablets — don’t cause any problems.

Users are now jokingly nicknaming this issue the “PI2 Xenon Death Flash.” It doesn’t appear to cause permanent damage to Pi units, but if you’d like to avoid it when taking pictures of your device, you will need to cover the U16 chip first.

Future Pi 2 units may be tweaked to prevent this problem, but for now, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is yet to officially acknowledge it.

Killian Bell

Killian Bell is a 20-something technology journalist based in a tiny town in England. He has an obsession with that little company in Cupertino...