Occupational Hazards – Proudly Protecting My Poorly Pi Perfectly

Posted: February 23, 2013 in General, Guides, Other Products, Raspberry Pi

One of the problem of working on the MagPi Magazine (www.themagpi.com) (and now developing hardware “stuff”) is that I need to have my Raspberry Pi with me a lot of the time.

The one drawback is my Raspberry Pi gets a rough ride!

End result is a broken SD-Card slot and a quick fix is required.

Clamped Raspberry Pi

My broken Raspberry Pi needed a clamp to boot

My RPi lives in a little case I made from an IC sample box.

– RS used to supply sample chips in these and some were being thrown out at work  a few days before my 1st RPi arrived.  This was back before there were so many cases available, but I’ve grown attached to it now (not least due to the excellent colouring work by one of my girls).

My home made Pi-Case (as featured in the MagPi Issue 3 Meeting Pi - Image links directly to article on Issuu)

My home made Pi-Case (as featured in the MagPi Issue 3 Meeting Pi – Image links directly to article on Issuu)

Like a lot of the cases on the market now, the SD-Card sticks out and as it bounces around in my bag, a lot of pressure is put on the RPi’s plastic SD-Card slot until one day…it broke.  Now I couldn’t have my Raspberry Pi out of action for long.  The quick fix, was a modelling clamp, to hold the SD-Card in place and to ensure the detection springs are making contact (otherwise it will fail to boot up).

Modelling clamp used as a quick fix for my broken Raspberry Pi SD-Card slot.

Modelling clamp used as a quick fix for my broken Raspberry Pi SD-Card slot.

The options…

  • Live with the Clamp (Not so good for transporting it, plus it looks terrible when doing MagPi Demos)
  • Get a new RPi (Other than the SD-Card it is fine, so would be a horrible waste)
  • Try to get a replacement SD-Card slot (Would probably end up with the same problem even if I fitted a metal one, plus soldering could be tricky)
  • Replace with a micro-SD Card slot (Would solve the issue, and stop it occurring again, but soldering would be a real pain and will not be robust enough for transporting as extra wires would need to be added to make the connections)
  • Attempt repair of the SD Card slot by gluing additional plastic on (a good option, there is a nice guide on how to do this by Raspi_TV: How to fix a broken SD card slot on your raspberry pi)
  • The solution I used below…

Fortunately, I always use micro-SD cards, simply because it means I can use them in any SD-card based gadget, micro or full-sized (using adaptors) – This has proved very useful in the past.  Usually if you shop well, a micro-SD card and adaptor is about the same price as a full size one so there isn’t much to loose out with (except at the extreme scales of speed and capacity).

Therefore, my final solution was to use one of the new Half-size micro-SD card adaptors which have become available, (Adafruit stock these: http://adafruit.com/products/966).

Adafruit Halfsize MicroSD Adaptor

Adafruit Halfsize MicroSD Adaptor

With some care (and use of the modelling clamp from before), it was straight forward to super-glue the adaptor in-place. There are few things to note:

  1. Take care not to drop any glue near the metal contacts and near the two “card detection” springs (located at the back and the second one hidden in the right hand side edge).
  2. Ensure that you test that the RPi boots when the card is clamped in position, to ensure that is pushed in enough, before you glue it.
  3. The micro-adaptor adds a few mm to the bottom of the RPi (around the thickness of a SD-Card in fact) so it will affect the fitting in your case if you have one (for me, just a case of getting the scalpel out and “adjusting” it).
My now fully fix RPi

My now fully fixed RPi

My "Adjusted" Case

My “Adjusted” Case

While it was too late for my current RPi, the next one I get will use one of these from the start (so I won’t need any glue for that).

Also, I imagine the Raspberry Pi foundation will upgrade the SD-Card slot to a metal one at some stage, but not having the card sticking out of the case will prevent the SD-Card from any potential damage too.


Small hint…

I suggest keeping an eye out on The MagPi Magazine Facebook page this weekend, if you have found this article interesting then there may be something worth waiting for…

  1. David Simpson says:

    they do replacement sd slots on ebay

    • Yes, that was my 3rd option. However, I decided against it since I would still need to transport my Raspberry Pi, so the same thing would probably happen unless I also found a case which prevented it. By using the MicroSD adaptor I can ensure the card is safe too. Also when I get a 2nd/3rd RPi, I can use the same type of adaptor and avoid any damage at all. Of course some options will be better than others depending on your situation, the cards you have, the cases you use and your skills/time available.

  2. […] la carte SD en position pendant le boot) . Il existe des moyens de résoudre ce problème, voir PiHardware – SD Card slot fixes pour plus […]

  3. […] Raspberry Pi boots if you manually hold the SD Card in position). For ways to resolve this, see PiHardware – SD Card slot fixes for more […]

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