September 19, 2020

Tr2W

Technical support

There are untold numbers of Raspberry Pis running 24/7 across the globe. Some of them...

There are untold numbers of Raspberry Pis running 24/7 across the globe. Some of them are collecting data remotely and sending it back to a cloud server; some are media servers; some are DNS servers like the PiHole. Pis are used in ways that most people wouldn’t normally use their computers or laptops — they are often treated more like a server.

Because the Pi’s entire storage is Flash-based, sudden power cuts are not good. Filesystems have been designed to try and prevent corruption, but it still happens. All that work you spent getting it set up just the way you like it suddenly won’t boot at all! This happens in the professional server market too — only they have these magic devices called Uninterruptible Power Supplies that provide power to a device when the mains power goes out.

Now you can bring this often bulky & expensive technology to your little Raspberry Pi! The jUPS is designed to be easy to use, efficient, and reliable. Paired with any 12V sealed lead acid battery (the battery of choice for commercial UPS systems as well) it becomes a power supply that can, depending on your design, run the Pi for hours or even days. Or, you can have it tell the Pi to gracefully shut down until power comes back. Or a combination of the two! It’s easy to customize the voltage trigger levels, so you can tweak it until it’s just the way you like it.

The reason this product caught my eye is I have a Pi which runs 24/7 controlling a few things around my house. We don’t get power cuts often, but when we do it’s always irritating to not have the Pi running. I’ve looked into getting a commercial UPS, but they’re often expensive and not designed to be end-user serviceable, meaning battery replacement will void your warranty. This is a perfect solution for anyone running a Pi (or, for that matter, any small electronic device that runs on 5V!) which needs 24/7 reliability.

It connects to the Pi using either a USB cable, or terminal blocks (if you want to connect to the Pi header). It does conform to the Pi Hat standard, so it will fit perfectly on top of any full-size Raspberry Pi, and comes with mounting hardware. The only downside is that it doesn’t connect to the Pi header directly, and if you mount it on top it would be blocking the header, requiring a ribbon cable. However, you could just as easily mount it below the Pi for the very same reason, so the flexibility is nice. It looks like the included standoffs are long enough to mount it on the bottom of the Pi, but I haven’t tried it yet and so you might need longer standoffs.

It even integrates with Node-RED for monitoring, data logging, and configuration! This is a feature that many commercial UPS’s don’t support. For the cost of this board and a battery, you can have power through any power outage. Oh, it also has an extra USB out, so you can charge your phone, too!

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