Bewildering bug in Raspberry Pi 2 causes it to crash when somebody clicks a photo with Xenon flash

Raspberry Pi 2, the $40 mini computer which was released last week has a bug, an adorable bug at that! It just hates cameras.

Owners of the recently released Raspberry Pi 2 have found that the credit-card-sized Pi 2 reboots whenever a user tries to take its photograph using Xenon flash.

Liz Upton, Raspberry Pi Foundation Head of Communications called this the most adorable bug on a blogpost made on the Raspberry Pi website.

If you own a Raspberry Pi 2, congratulations: you’re also the proud owner of an elegant demonstration of the photoelectric effect!

At the weekend, Peter Onion, a veteran of our forums and of Raspberry Jams in Cambridge, Bletchley and surrounding areas (visible, costumed, in the background of this photo at the Christmas CamJam), discovered what we think might be the most adorable bug we’ve ever come across.

The Raspberry Pi 2 is camera-shy.

The bug in Raspberry Pi 2 is harmless other than rebooting it.  But it is also gives a physics lesson that when light hits a component, it generates a charge which can cause some circuits to just reset.  The photoelectric effect is the observation that many metals emit electrons when light shines upon them. Electrons emitted in this manner can be called photoelectrons. These photoelectrons can have sufficient charge in them to interfere with the circuitry of some gizmos.

The bug was first discovered by Peter Onion a self professed Raspberry fan and a veteran of Raspberry Pi forums.  He made a post about the Raspberry Pi 2 being camera shy on Raspberry Forum on Saturday.

Onion noted that whenever he tried to take a photo of the itsy computer with a flash, it causes an instant power-down.

by PeterO » Sat Feb 07, 2015 1:53 pm
I have discovered that my PI2 is camera-shy !

Taking it’s picture with a flash causes an instant power off !

I’ve done it three times now and same thing happens each time.

First two times I didn’t realise what had happened as I wasn’t looking at the screen at the time and only noticed a few minutes afterwards.
Third time I did it just to watch the screen…. Instant power off…..

Any ideas ?

PeterO

Here’s a screenshot that shows what happens when the Pi encounters intense bursts of certain types of light:

Bewildering bug in Raspberry Pi 2 causes it to crash when somebody clicks a photo with Xenon flash

Raspberry Pi Foundation has stated that Pi 2 won’t suffer any permanent effects from being flashed, Upton said.  However Upton added that taking a whole lot of your Pi 2 or exposing it to laser light may cause lots of reboots and corrupt the SD card.

“The effect only happens under VERY specific circumstances. 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 (it’s the chip marked U16 in the silkscreening on your Pi 2, between the USB power supply and the HDMI port – you can recognise it because it’s a bit shinier than the components around it) to get confused and make the core voltage drop. Importantly, it’s ONLY really high-intensity bursts like xenon flashes and laser pointers that will cause the issue. Other bright lights – even camera flashes using other technologies – won’t set it off. You can take your naked Pi 2 in the sunshine for a picnic or take it to a rave, and it’ll be perfectly solid. Just don’t take it on the red carpet at the Oscars. Jon is currently shining an 1800-lumen led light at a Pi 2 on his desk: not a wobble.”

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