In our previous posts, we learned the basics and added a little bling to Hello World. However, when you’re working with hardware, you can run into problems you might not be expecting when working on software. Here are some things we’ve learned along the way, as well as some steps to follow for figuring out what’s wrong.
I have wires that are getting REALLY warm!
While it might help to heat up the room in the wintertime, overheating in wires is, generally speaking, not a good thing, and it means that you have a short circuit somewhere. Disconnect the power and all peripheral connections immediately! A short circuit can damage a computer or monitor (depending on where it is) and it can also damage the Pi. During our very first workshop, we didn’t cover breadboard basics, which led to some students hooking up a circuits using the wrong orientation. Amazingly, it didn’t damage any of the Pis, but did cause some issues that needed to be fixed.
I’m not able to connect to my Pi via the TTY cable
After the students shorted out their units, this was the first symptom they experienced.
- If it happens to you, the first thing you should do is to disconnect any peripherals, hook up a monitor via the HDMI port, and power up the unit. If the screen boots into Android Things and shows your default activity or a screen with an IP address, there is likely a problem with your TTY cable or terminal settings.
- If the unit doesn’t boot up, there are two other common problems. One could be a bad power supply. If you have another USB power supply, you can try that. If you don’t, another way to determine if the supply is bad is to try to connect your current power supply up to another USB-based device.
- If both of the above are fine, the short may have caused corruption on the file system. Re-flashing the Android Things image will solve that problem.
When this mishap took place, one student ended up with a non-functional power supply that need to be swapped out and needed to re-flash the image. The other students needed to re-flash and were back up and running.
Other good practices
- Never hook things up while the Pi has power. You can accidentally short-circuit something which can damage your power supply, Pi, or even your computer.
- Make sure that your circuits are hooked up correctly, and verify they are correct before powering them on. If not, you can end up applying voltage to a component that is not designed to have that voltage applied, or cause a short circuit that can destroy things.
- If you’re using a breadboard, make sure that you’re using it in the correct orientation that won’t cause shorts. (Also, if you’re hosting a workshop, don’t forget to explain how they work to people who may be new to electronics!)
Stay tuned for our next post!