Pi4 Reliability

Hi, I have been using a RPi4B with Astroberry software to control an automated telescope and camera to identify and track Near Earth Objects [NEOs] for Nasa through the Minor Planet Center.
My Rpi is supposed to emit a wifi signal by which I can monitor and control the events, it says it is broadcasting but it could only be detected infrequently and now not at all.
I wanted to replace the RPi board but they are not really available, so I bought a RPi400, because the attached keyboard is one less wire to tangle in the dark. However it will not boot, it shows the splash screen then hangs. The SD Card works in the old RPi but it has no WiFi and the new RPi won’t boot.
Is it a warranty job ?

Hi Mark,

Sorry about the delay getting back to you, your post must have slipped through the cracks.
The first thing I would try to help isolate the wifi reliability issue would be to flash a new Raspberry Pi OS image on a spare SD card and test both the Pis with that.
Testing the Pi 4B both in and out of a case with a Raspberry Pi OS card should also help isolate if the case is causing degredation of the wifi range (its known to happen with some metal cases).
If the Pi400 also doesn’t boot with a fresh Pi OS image, and the official Raspberry Pi power supply then I’d say it’s going to be a warranty job on either the Pi400 or the power supply it’s using.

Once you’ve had a chance to run both tests reply to your order confirmation email with some photos of the units and we can get a warranty return sorted out.

Answers;
the original Pi4B runs fine except that we cannot detect any WiFi signal. The software is “Astroberry” which is a collection of astronomical bits and pieces but certainly includes KStars and Ekos.
These are used to robotically control a motorised Telescope mount and imaging cameras. It also does Plate Solving, where you can take a photo of any part of the Sky and it will indicate the exact center of the Image(s), handy for absolute accuracy in pointing and reduction of position.

KStars is originally 64 bit, Astroberry is 32bit, so someone has ported it for the project.
Pi4B’s are sold as StellarMate and ZWO ASIair black boxes, all are based on Astroberry Software.
These are in short supply because of the scarcity of RPi’s.

I bought the RPi400 as a replacement board and find that without the extra lead for a keyboard it is better in the dark.
The original RPi is in an Argon metal case [ could be a faraday cage ? ] I moved it to an “official” plastic case and still no joy.
The new RPi400 just would not boot and hung at various stages, including;
network manager dispatcher service,
udisks2.service,
ssh.service,
raspi-config.service.

I have the cheapest, nastiest little USB to micro SDHC converter, some times it takes 2 full formats and 3 attempts to write a successful image.
I have replaced that with one of your tiny ‘cute’ adaptors and a new SD card.

Still no joy.

Along with the RPi400 came a boot-loader, I put it in, connected to the Net and away it went, built a 32bit image that ran and still it would not accept the Astroberry Software.
I built a 64 bit image and installed KStars and Ekos along with all the normal stuff and it runs.

Along the path I found a message which intimated the Astroberry Software was deprecated being about Jan 2020 and that it required newer software for the SOC ?

Is there an easy way to attach a wire antenna to a RPi ?
All the permutations of RPi’s in Astronomy come with remote capabilities, either a phone/tablet App or a cabled connection so that the Observer can sit inside or somewhere warm and do Astronomy where outside is normally cold and dark.
The telescope(s) do not have eyepieces, we do look through them they are digital imaging only, much more sensitive than a Mark 1 eyeball.

Turns out the original software overclocks the RPi to 2GHz and runs fine, perhaps a little too quick for the RPi400 ?

Thanks for your time.

Mark

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Hi Mark,

I’ve removed your phone number and last name from your reply as this forum is public-facing so there is a risk your number gets added to a spam call list.

Thanks for checking this, that’s one more contributing factor we can safely rule out.

Ideally, we want to isolate the issues as much as possible to the hardware, which is why I wanted to see if you got different results with Raspberry Pi OS. I’m not familiar with Astroberry myself and I don’t believe it is officially supported on the Raspberry Pi, so if you take Astroberry out of the equation altogether we can rule out the software as a factor.

There is a solder pad so you can add an antenna connector but it would be better to confirm the built-in wifi is performing up to its standard range before trying to modify your Pi and voiding the warranty by adding the antenna.

Please let me know what result you get with the bare minimum configuration: official Pi power supply, fresh Raspberry Pi OS image, and an HDMI monitor.
Then we can determine if the hardware is faulty and we need to go down the warranty path.

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