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UPS for Raspberry Pi

A low cost UPS with auto-shutdown after power loss.

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I needed a way to keep the Raspberry Pi of my robot (see links) alive long enough to be safely shutdown after the main power is removed (via e-stop in my case). It is equally applicable to any use of a Raspberry Pi where you don't want to worry about shutting down, just pull the power.

I've split this out from my main project to make it easier to find and allow me to update it when I come back to it to tie up some lose ends and make improvements. I'm generally terrible at documenting my projects, hopefully I can refine this in future.

Requirements:

  1. Power loss needs to trigger the RPi to shutdown.
  2. Return of main power should allow the RPi to boot.
  3. The auxiliary supply shouldn't discharge further (beyond self-discharge and shelf life) whilst in storage (robot is "off").
  4. Be simple and low cost.

I chose to base the UPS around a "Raspberry Pi Wemos 18650 Battery Shield V3", essentially the guts of a small powerbank, as I already had some 18650 cells and I could easily access connections and package it in a way that suited me.

UPS.py

RPi code. Run in background at boot.

plain - 1.27 kB - 04/12/2019 at 21:20

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NanoUPS.ino

Arduino code.

ino - 6.11 kB - 04/12/2019 at 17:43

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  • 1 × Wemos 18650 battery charger and boost to 5V Raspberry Pi Wemos 18650 Battery Shield V3 ESP8266 ESP32 For Arduino BSG
  • 1 × DPDT relay, 5V coil. Opto-isolated to protect the µC.
  • 1 × Arduino Nano Or your favourite µC module
  • 2 × Small general purpose diodes

  • Simply a dead battery, kinda

    Paul Crouch04/16/2019 at 21:03 0 comments

    I pulled the UPS out again last night l so I could get at things to investigate the problem. Here’s what I found: 

    • The battery voltage dropped to ~2.5V after the Pi started booting.
    • It behaved the same when the Pi was powered directly from the 18650 boost circuit (with the rest of the circuit disconnected).
    • Another 18650 cell was swapped in and the Pi booted fine and ran until I shut it down manually.
    • With the new cell in place and the rest of the circuit connected it all functioned as expected.

    So I've concluded that the cell had become discharged, as it is permanently powering the boost circuit, and wasn't able to support the Pi's power requirements for boot up. I knew that the on-off switch only disconnects the output to the USB socket, but underestimated the boost circuits drain and the impact it would have when used in this manner. Compounding the problem is the DC-DC converter supplying the Pi and the cell; it can't deliver enough current to both charge the depleted cell and allow the Pi to boot.

    Raspberry Pi UPS in Droidbot 07

    After my last post, I had a brief discussion with Bud Bennett and I began to re-evaluate my approach. I don't actually need the option of a keep-alive mode where I can choose to keep the Pi running for minutes/hours after main power loss instead of shutting down straight away. I added it because I could. So I don't need the selectable delay provided by the µC or the indicator LEDs, again, only included because I could. The Pi is quite capable of shutting down based on the state of a GPIO pin driven from a simple divider hanging off the main supply, I just had the µC do it for flexibility. I only have to provide enough power for ~30sec. So have I over complicated it? I do that sometimes. 

    I could use a beefier converter capable of providing more current and ensure the cell is also disconnected from the circuit at switch off, but that's a PITA. I want to keep it simple and low cost so it'd be easy to make another for any Pi project. I'm avoiding doing a custom PCB as I'd like to stick to off-the-shelf parts so it's quick and easy to duplicate. If you need me, I've gone back to the drawing board.

  • Hold fire!

    Paul Crouch04/14/2019 at 13:02 0 comments

    Dammit! I went to use the Pi and the bloody thing wouldn't power up properly. The power LED lights and the activity LED briefly flickers. A USB meter showed the Pi supply voltage drops to ~3.6V after a short time. Not enough for the Pi to boot.

    Maybe I've messed up the wiring and I've got some current going somewhere it shouldn't and something is overheating? I need to pull it apart again to investigate.

  • Version 1, kinda.

    Paul Crouch04/11/2019 at 18:17 0 comments

    I'm calling it version 1 with the intention of revisiting it to address some lose ends and make some improvements. Version 2 will come when I need a longer hold-up, rather than the (almost) immediate shutdown.

    You can find my excuses elsewhere as to why it's taken so long and why this documentation is a bit thin, but here's the short version of events:

    • I needed a UPS for the Raspberry Pi to handle sudden power loss and prevent file corruption.
    • The "Wemo 18650 Battery Shield" will output whilst taking power and it's cheap. I like cheap.
    • The RPi can't be trusted to shut it's own power off so I looked for the smallest, cheapest Arduino-type board (to minimise faffing) to handle the delay-if-then logic. I got a couple of DigiSpark boards (clones as it turned out) and cobbled together the code and connections.
    • Saw some odd behaviour, maybe the DigiSpark board isn't what I need.
    • Worked around the issue, circuit and code seem to work on the bench until the RPi is actually connected (instead of manually simulating the I/O signals).
    • (some time later) Sick of the DigiSpark; I switch to the trusty Nano, then add some traffic-light LEDs for indication and because I can.
    • More odd behaviour; looks like back-feeding through the µC inputs. I should really disconnect the GND too.
    • I transplant a small DPDT relay onto the opto-isolated "arduino" relay board and re-wire again to also break the GND this time.
    Twenty-third-time lucky?
    • Dammit! Killed a Pi pin by forgetting 5V > 3V3. Moved to next GPIO and added a pot.div.
    • Success!?! Tested the UPS with the RPi two or three times, mounted both in the head and moved on to power distribution but I'm waiting on some parts that got delayed in transit, so I'm using the time to write this. Below is the schematic I did a few days(?) ago.
    UPS diagram (not showing GPIO potential divider!)
    UPS diagram (not showing GPIO potential divider!)

    Arduino

    3 - RPi_UP (DI), RPi GPIO output - high after boot, low just before complete shutdown.

    2 - RPi_SD (DO), RPi GPIO input - active-high to trigger shutdown of RPi (through pot.div; 5V >> 3V3). 

    Not Used: A0 - ADC to 18650 battery, 4V - disconnect load from battery when voltage drops.

    4 - Main Power present/not present (DI).

    Not Used: 5 - Keep alive/immediate select switch (DI)*

    6 - Relay (DO) - active-high opto-isolated (N.O. contacts). Opens to disconnect battery.

    7 - Amber UP LED.

    8 - Red SD LED.

    9 - Green MPP LED.

    *Mode selection input:

    Not Used: Keep alive = 0V - waits until battery is low before shutting down and disconnecting.

    Keep alive = N.C. - immediate safe shutdown and disconnect.

    Raspberry Pi

    RPi signals to UPS when it is up. UPS tells Pi to shutdown and waits for RPi_UP to go low before removing power.

    RPi_UP=21       # GPIO output - high after boot, goes low a few seconds before complete shutdown. RPi_SD=17       # GPIO input - active-high to trigger shutdown of RPi (through pot.div; 5V >> 3V3).

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