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“Dog ate my OrangePi 3”

When things go wrong, so wrong, very wrong, all you can do is laugh. Laugh and lie...

This will go out on April the 1st, which I think is only appropriate, all things considered. Despite the usual April’s Fool association, the story (dramatised for comic purposes) is 100% true and 98% accurate. The story contains a fool too. That fool is writing the words are you read it!

When Raspberry Pi 3 is not enough, change the fruit

Failure to deliver on speed front, Raspberry Pi 3B+ faced a serious frown on my face. Why, oh why? I had big plans for you, you tiny £32 board. The dreams of fame, high traffic, and… OK dreams of high affiliate traffic. I’m a creative soul, and my favourite saying is “Jak artysta głodny, to płodny” which rhymes and roughly translates to “there will be no art if you are curled up in a corner, dying of hunger, forgotten by the society, and ignored by sponsors” more or less. It’s probably “less” but I digress.

As a maker, I often have to make difficult choices. It boils down to: “do I copy someone on the internet who had a project idea 6 months ago and no one remembers it any more, or do I recycle one of my 2 brilliant moments that make people read this blog, and dress it up in a much nicer story?

I’m not a massive fan of copyright infringements, or the YouTube algorithms aren’t, so I’m left with the latter. By far, one of my most popular recent articles was one about a massive failure and a disappointment, so why not to piggy-back on that and make some sweet $17.87 from ads again.

Apples and Oranges

The WordPress insists on a subheading, otherwise, the penal code for breaches like this is messed up SEO, I also get a free paragraph of text out of it, therefore I’m happy. I know the story could be boiled down to an old fashioned 140 characters Tweet (do you even remember these?) saying: “it wasn’t my dog, I don’t even have a dog“, but they don’t pay me for brevity.

I have to figure out who “they” are as they owe me some serious money! Anyhow, I forgot to say that I got an OrangePi 3 after reading an impressive spec sheet. By “reading” and “impressive” I mean glanced over USB 3.0 ports and 1Gbit Ethernet in the connectivity row. My eyes lit up, my phone also lit up. It does that each time I get the message with overdraft notification. “Too late, you sucker” I thought to myself, starring at the email titled: “Your order will be processed soon“.

In honesty, at that point I did not think my life would go so horribly wrong. The life was good, I had a plan and a sponsor for this mad re-iteration of the primal idea. The life was beautiful.

The horror arrives

I chucked the board on the side of the table, I didn’t even bother to open it at first as I had to go to work for 4 days and I did not want to tease myself with the OrangePi3 right now. It was there, lonely, untouched and unloved for whole four days. A glorified piece of technology with all the bells and whistles you could get (after all – all that sponsorship moolah means I get to spend £32 instead of £28 option).

Thinking back, it would have been better if I never had opened the box. This pandora device refused to work propely with anything I could load on it. Granted the downloaded images were OK, but as soon as I tried to install couple of libraries strange things started to happen.

The loop of drama looked like this: I would try to boot the board, Linux would swear some gibberish back at me. I would Google-fu that until I would come across the page explaining the nautre of the error and the only advice listed on that stackexchange would be “reinstall Linux”. It’s a new installation! FFS! This would continue for about 3 days with very small intervals to eat dinner or go and cry myself to sleep.

Finally, progress has been made and I managed to install a PLEX, WEBMIN, SAMBA and all dependencies on Ubuntu Server. This was days into the project. My joy was short, I quickly discovered that USB 3.0 is not detecting my USB 3.0 HDD, but works in the USB 2.0 configuration instead.

There is a reason why the community is RaspberryPi crazy. The community support is great, stuff just works and I never feel like I need to be a Linux Guru to perform a simple task.

This one works suprisingly well

I will spare you the drama. Pumping extra juice into the USB 3.0 socket with a powered hub turned out to be the only way I can keep a single drive alive. So I ordered USB 3.0 enclosures, new custom cables and shelved the project for 2-3 weeks, as the stuff comes from China.

In the meantime, I thought it would be nice to reuse my NAS-pi enclosure. After all, this supposed to be the NAS drive update! Shit! I’m 800 words into the article and I have not even told you what I’m trying to do!

Dog ate my homework

To make the board “fit” I had to remove one of the USB 3.0 and orient it upwards. It’s a piss easy job on USB 2.0 as the pins are thick and you have to deal with only 4 of them. USB 3.0 is…. [enter very bad words here].

It took me hours to desolder the port, and clean 9 holes in the PCB from solder and pin’s leftovers. I even made a trip to see my neighbour to borrow a vice, as I ran out of spare hands. Once the new USB 3.0 port has been installed in the correct orientation, I powered the board.

Dead.

Again.

Dead.

I took the multimeter to check for shorts, none persent. Powered the board again.

Dead.

I know this doesn’t explain the missing chunk of PCB just yet. But I’m getting there. I tried one more USB port in my power supply to see if the OrangePi 3 is really dead. It was. It was the same supply that feeds my NodeRED.

Dead in the water

I no longer can connect to it. There was one more thing I could do to make sure a well masked short circuit is not preventing me from the boot. To cut the cancer out. So I took clippers – confirmed the traces and amputated a piece of board in anger.

Aftermath

Screw this. It’s Sunday I have other things to do. One of them is sending an email to my sponsor titled “I’m sorry, but the dog ate my project” with a picture atachement. I just hope they don’t read the other stuff I post on my page. My significant other is in China. I hope to get another board sooner rather than later.

I have not looked at my NodeRED yet… It Sunday, I have stuff to do…

Disclaimer

This product has been sponsored, but I reserve the rights to a honest and unbiased opinion about the product.

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