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Camera flashes and laser pointers can crash the Raspberry Pi 2

Camera flashes and laser pointers can crash the Raspberry Pi 2

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The Raspberry Pi 2 is tiny, cheap, and surprisingly powerful, but the miniature computer apparently has a weakness — camera flashes. Earlier this week, some Pi 2 users found that their devices turned themselves off when photographed. When the Raspberry Pi Foundation started to look into the issue, it found that the kind of light emitted by a camera flash could cause the processor's core voltage to drop, turning the Pi 2 off.

The Pi 2 only turns off under high-intensity light

Raspberry Pi Foundation spokesperson Liz Upton clarified the reason for the error. "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 to get confused." Upton explained that the semiconductor material used to make the power regulator was subject to a photoelectric effect when hit with light, and if enough light of the right energy was fired at it, then it would "upset" the device, causing it to turn itself off.

Fortunately, the process doesn't seem to damage the Pi 2, and Upton said it would only power down under very specific circumstances. "Importantly, it's ONLY really high-intensity bursts like xenon flashes and laser pointers that will cause the issue," she said. Using other bright lights nearby, or snapping pictures of the tiny computer with cameras that utilize other flash technologies, won't turn the new Pi 2 off. If you can't stop taking pictures of the cute computer, then the Raspberry Pi Foundation suggests a DIY fix — cover the offending chip in putty.