Looking after your Pi – Part 2 – General Handling

Following on from the previous post, which covers the importance of using a quality power supply with the Raspberry Pi, this post will cover:

  • General handling of the Pi, electrostatic discharge, and using an enclosure
  • Best practices for connection and disconnection of peripherals
  • Pi shutdown and SD card handling

General Handling

An earlier version of the aforementioned Raspberry Pi Regulatory Compliance and Safety Information (specific to Model A and B variants of Pi) offers some general handling advice, which applies equally to all electronics:

“Take care whilst handling to avoid mechanical or electrical damage to the printed circuit board and connectors.”

“Avoid handling the Raspberry Pi while it is powered. Only handle by the edges to minimize the risk of electrostatic discharge damage.”

Further useful general handling tips can be found in the article Working safely with your Pi, which includes the following advice:

“…in general, turn it off before changing what it’s connected to

The exceptions to this are the USB and Ethernet ports, which are designed to be pluggable. The non-exception to this is the HDMI port which, unlike for every other console or computer you’ve owned recently, you should only connect or disconnect with the power off.

The silent killer for components is static electricity
get into the habit of grounding yourself, by touching something large and metal, before touching the components”

It goes without saying that enclosing the Raspberry Pi in a suitable case can only help increase the robustness and lifespan of the device, aiding in protection against accidental knocks and reducing electrostatic discharge risks.

As noted in the System Overview post on this blog, my Pi is encased in a Carmac enclosure which provides a balance of protection and passive cooling


SD Card handling

A helpful guide covering best pratices for shutting down the Pi correctly to avoid SD card corruption is the article 3 reasons why your Raspberry Pi doesn’t work properly from MakeUseOf.com; this also contains further recommendations to use a quality Psu with quality cabling.

If the Pi doesn’t do anything when powered on, one thing to check is the SD card, as noted in in the aforementioned Raspberry Pi User Guide 2nd edition:

“If your Pi’s power light glows when you connect the micro-USB power supply, but nothing else happens and the OK light remains dark, you have an SD card problem”

(chapter 4, troubleshooting)

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Looking after your Pi – Part 1 – The Importance of a Quality Power Supply (PSU)

When I took delivery of my original Raspberry Pi (Model B) the board arrived packed in a sturdy plastic case, not unlike an audio or DAT cassette box (a reference which instantly shows my age…)

In contrast, the Pi 2 arrived in a flimsy cardboard box, with absolutely no crumple protection.


My first Pi 2 actually had to be returned as there was damage to the relatively fragile board. This raised questions in my mind regarding the robustness of the unit, and best practices for general usage and handling.

Some of the topics I’ll be covering in this and the next post are:

  • Hardware damage vs ‘soft’ damage (configuration errors and data corruption)
  • Power supply and usb cable quality
  • Power supply voltage, amperage, and order of connection to the Pi
  • The importance of a 2amp Psu when attaching peripherals via Usb
  • Usb cable quality technicalities: 2828 AWG vs 2824 AWG grades
  • General handling of the Pi, electrostatic discharge, and using an enclosure
  • Best pratices for connection and disconnection of peripherals
  • Pi shutdown and SD card handling

It is important to note that the Raspberry Pi was designed from the outset to be a system for learning about all aspects of computing; as such it doesn’t come housed in a bullet-proof case, it doesn’t come with a power supply that is guaranteed to work, nor does it come with a compatible SD card (which acts as the system’s hard disk, or more accurately, like a contemporary desktop or laptop’s SSD).

Like all consumer grade electronics, it is possible to physically break the Raspberry Pi, and to do so in a manner in which the damage is impossible to discern (such as by electrostatic discharge).

It is much more likely, however, that any damage the Pi suffers is in the form of corrupted configuration or data files (which can be resolved by restoring from a backup – not a problem as everybody takes regular backups of their system… don’t they?). I’ll be covering problems caused by configuration errors and data corruption in a later post

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