Beaglebone Rev A3 spontaneous death?

Hi folks,

Has anyone else had their beaglebone just die on them?

Absolutely nothing connected to my bone except 5V power supply and
ethernet for a couple of days. I've been messing around with it over ssh
when out of the blue it just winked out. The only active led was the one
to indicate it's receiving power. I unplugged and re-plugged the power
supply and nothing happened. heart beat never came back. I also tried
connecting directly to my development machine over usb but still nothing.

I've only had my beaglebone for a week so it's a bit disappointing.
Hoping that this is not a terminal situation. Any triage advice would be

... now that I think about it... it was sitting in the minty case...
could this be the result of a short? Man, if that's the case I could
punch myself... :frowning:


You may have corrupted your SD card image. Powering off without unmounting it can cause this issue., Try recreating the SD card.


Is there a preferred way of giving the Beaglebone an early warning of power failure to avoid this issue?

Not likely. When it goes, it goes. This is something that does not always happen, but can be an issue for Linux depending on where you are as it relates to writing to the SD card when the lights go out. You could I suppose create a battery backup function that stays up long enough to shut everything down before power is gone. That is not something that is designed into the current board. Yo could also create a Cape with NAND on it to preserve the boot function, but there could still be corruption to the SD card, but you would still be able to boot.


I'm working on an application where the board is going to be remote (ocean-bourn), and a failure wiping out the filesystem would be horrendously inconvenient. For now I'm monitoring battery voltage with one of the ADC channels. I'm not worried about a spontaneous failure, so I just check the voltage every minute or so, monitor the trend. As the voltage drops I sleep some sensors, reduce the sample rate on others, and if/when it looks like it's going to dip below a threshold anyway (the cutout voltage of the 5v regulator between the battery and the board) I initiate a clean shutdown (for now - eventually I want to define a power range where I sleep the board for increasing naptimes (I have not figured out how the power management works yet, hope this is possible) to try to prevent ever reaching the low voltage threshold). In the long run I will be moving the power monitoring duties to an external MCU that will operate as a power controller for the main board so that it can be restarted cleanly after a period of battery charging.


Could you please start another thread?


Just to be clear about why I unplugged the thing: all activity on the board stopped suddenly. I was working on it, then it just stopped responding. I looked over and there was no heartbeat. I should have put some little rubber feet on it or something before leaving it running in the minty case.

I just plugged in the board to the computer with the ti sdk card that came with it and saw this in the system logs:
1/30/12 7:32:53 PM kernel FTDIUSBSerialDriver: 0 403a6d0 start - ok

soooo… maybe some hope :slight_smile:


Just to be clear, if you put this board in the metal without an insulator, and you do not blow up the board, I would buy a lottery ticket because you are extremely lucky!


Totally, lol. Hence the remark about punching myself. I only wanted to clarify because your initial response seemed to indicate the board had magical minty case proof powers.

All Hail the Mighty Tin!


The tin is the coffin to bury the Bone in when you smoke it. Now if the board were named Abby, you could run the board out of a coffin (like the NCIS chic).


I was warned that the BB is not intended for commercial use. I think
this thread illustrates the issues and concerns with using the BB in a
real project with real requirements and most importantly, real
dollars! I would never use the BB for a project that has to operate
remotely and involves an expensive trip to push the reset button.
Your power controller would be a VERY good idea but I don't think it
solves the full problem.


Shipping the bone with some sort of standoffs or feet seems like a good idea. Having knocked a resistor off by carelessly putting on a standoff, there does need to be some thought put into this. Note that the beagleboard has expansion headers on the bottom that tend to act like standoffs so it’s easy to see why no one thought of this before. It would be easy enough just to cut a piece of paper to fit the bottom of the tin; that would solve most of this problem.


Moving this to it's own thread as Gerald requested...

Rick, hey. I understand the concern, and if I were the designer or manufacturer of the 'bone I would certainly tell people the same thing for the simple sake of liability, but hardware wise this thing is way more robust than anything I could home brew. I'm not sure this thread illustrates any real fragility issues besides pointing out that using electronics with exposed contact points inside a metal tin could be problematic.

All that said, although it sounds grand my project isn't commercial at this point, and is (disregarding things like an iridium transceiver (which is still in the future, and oddly setup costs are steeper than hardware)) surprisingly cheap. There are all manner of interesting problems to solve, and frankly part of the fun is making it work mcgyver style. Hopefully when done I'll have some code that will be worth contributing back to the community. We'll see how it goes!


rickman wrote:


I was warned that the BB is not intended for commercial use. I think
this thread illustrates the issues and concerns with using the BB in a
real project with real requirements and most importantly, real
dollars! I would never use the BB for a project that has to operate
remotely and involves an expensive trip to push the reset button.

it's cheap, so you can always use a 2nd beagle just to push the button...

The reason we say “Not for commercial use” is:

We will always be changing the board as issues pop up and as we upgrade procesor versions or add features that everyone is asking for. This makes it tough for those that may try to use it and then find the new batch they get is no longer compatible with their product. It is Open Source HW and anyone can build any revision for as long as they choose. For commercial use that is the way to go.

In addition, the board was not designed for all of those applications everywhere out there. So, we don’t want to say use it and it works everywhere, not knowing anything about what everywhere is.

In addition, we don’t want some big company buying up all the boards for a high volume product.


We are fixing the resistors on the next revision. In the meantime, use round plastic standoffs and they should work just fine.


I was referring to the comment about the SD card being corrupted if
the board is powered down without a shutdown. That is not how
embedded hardware is typically designed. You said something about
deploying this in the ocean, I assume as a remote monitoring device.
The idea of a power transient bricking a unit is not compatible with
usage as a remote monitoring or similar device. There will always be
holes in the hardware when used in the wild, so it is best if the
software can compensate.

If this is just a home project and reliability is not an issue then
full speed ahead. MacGyver approaches to projects are not often
compatible with meeting schedules or requirements.


So can the first Beagle push the button on the second one? I find the
BB interesting, but the idea of a power cycle bricking a unit is not a
comforting thought. I expect this is a software shortcoming. Perhaps
someone will fix this eventually, but it may require something from
the hardware to provide a warning.

To be honest I don't really know what this unit is for. If it is not
intended for commercial use what is left? Experimenting, hobbyist and
those too naive to be wary.


The BB does find its way into commercial products. is just one
example. They may have spun their own insides now but the first
models had a BB in them!

I have a BB in a outdoor enclosure controlling huge AC motors in humid
Virginia and the enclosure isn't NEMA 4 (stink bugs like to get in
there and crawl around on everything) and I haven't had any
reliability problems.