Kristian Glass - Do I Smell Burning?

Mostly technical things

Burnt Pi - Exciting Spontaneous Hardware Failure

“Do you smell burning?”

“No, doismellburning

“No, really, what’s that smell??”

Turns out the Raspberry Pi that ran my home automation hub had kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible – in a rather hot and fragrant fashion!

Once I’d identified the source of the smell, closer inspection revealed a nice little scorch mark on my desk:

a slightly browned/charred Raspberry Pi logo on the back (which could also be transfer from the desk):

a small bubble (presumably from heat expansion) in the top right of the SoC:

and a surface temperature of over 100C:

Alas my Munin setup wasn’t recording onboard temperature, but at least the SD card survived even if the Pi didn’t!


These things happen.

This was spontaneous failure – the Pi wasn’t overclocked, it wasn’t doing anything particularly arduous, historical CPU was fairly unremarkable, etc:

I deliberately left it running after noticing for about two hours to see if it heated more / any further problems occurred: it got hot, it got very hot, it got hotter than I’d want near anything flammable (130C measured peak), but it didn’t ignite.

I’ve a whole bunch of Raspberry Pis scattered around, of varying models and ages, and this is the first one that’s spontaneously failed in this fashion. I’m writing about it because it’s fairly novel – your Pis are probably fine!

That said, this is a healthy reminder to keep your electronics away from flammable material.