Hackaday Prize Entry: LiFePO4wered/Pi+

For some of you the title might seem familiar, as [Patrick Van Oosterwijck] LiFePO4wered/Pi project is a quite successful Hackaday.io project. Now he’s designing from scratch the plus version to fill in some gaps and solve some of the challenges that affected the initial project. So what exactly is LiFePO4wered/Pi+ and what can it do?

In a nutshell, it’s a smart UPS for the Raspberry Pi. The standard version allows a Model A+ and Pi Zero to run on battery for over 2 hours, and the B+, B2 and B3 to run for at least an hour (it maybe less, depending on the system load, of course). It implements two-way communications between the power system and the Raspberry Pi (running the open-source daemon) over the I2C bus. This allows for continuous measurement of the battery voltage and load voltage, with user programmable thresholds for boot, clean shutdown and hard power down. There’s a touch pad that provides clean boot/shutdown capability even in a headless setup, a wake timer allowing the Raspberry Pi to be off for low duty cycle applications and an auto-boot feature to maximize uptime by making the Raspberry Pi run whenever there is sufficient battery power.

That’s the standard version, which we covered last year… what else could the plus version have?

Well, to start, it brings more current to run complete systems with LCD screen and hard drives, the previous version was limited when it came to current. It will provide the option for a wider range of input power sources, such as solar panels, which is pretty nice. The on/off button and the power led will no longer be soldered on the main board so they can ‘relocated’ elsewhere, for example, when making a custom enclosure. Detection of input power to trigger automatic boot and shutdown will be added and last, but not least, a real-time clock with absolute time wake up.

So there it is, the new LiFePO4wered/Pi+ version, with all bells and whistles for the Raspberry Pi enthusiast.

21 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: LiFePO4wered/Pi+

  1. I really like his power boards and would like to use them.
    But the price, plus postage and getting hit by import taxes on both my orders from the USA to the UK makes it too expensive to use for me. Maybe a UK distributor would help?

    1. I hear you, it’s amazing that international trade is still such a pain in this day and age. I would LOVE to get a distributor in the UK, but it’s not something that’s easy to obtain. You have to be big enough before you get the attention of distributors unfortunately.
      I’m an engineer and making and sending packages all day is not a great use of my time, but it’s a necessary evil to grow the business to the point where distributors will hopefully start to pick up my products.
      One goal of the LiFePO4wered/Pi+ is to reduce cost as well by reducing assembly complexity, so I’m hoping I can get it down to the level where it becomes more affordable for you. :)

    1. There are 0.1″ 2-pin solder connections on the LiFePO4wered/Pi+ board to make it easier to connect your own LiFePO4 cell easily, and as you noted the battery holder PCB can be broken off. This will allow you either to solder a cell’s terminals directly to the PCB or install a through-hole JST XH header (the pitch is close enough).
      I’m not populating a JST by default because for LiFePO4 cells JST connectors aren’t as standard as for regular LiPos. Having a JST installed by default would almost guarantee that a lot of people would connect a regular LiPo and blow it up. This way you at least have to think about what you’re doing. :)

  2. i want to like this board but i wish he would do a portable power version that could run a pi and its touchscreen for about 4 hours. ups for pi doesnt really seem useful unless you are running a server.

      1. That is just what I would like to know.
        While the Anker powerbank I have is enough to run the whole pi2+gps+wifi+bluetooth+screen for several hours per charge, I would rather not have to sacrifice it just for a pi powered head unit.

    1. Powerbank? I run my Pi3 and touch screen off a 4000mAh battery for hours. I learned that screen brightness is a huge factor. You can install a brightness script. At full brightness and Pi at idle, the cosumption is about 700mA, whereas turning the brightness down to 20% (just fine indoors) takes that down to 400mA.

      If you do get a power bank, I’d recommend 4000-8000mAh, just make sure it is able to charge and output at the same time, not all of em allow it. They aren’t huge, cost about $15-$30.

      1. “just make sure it is able to charge and output at the same time, not all of em allow it.” — That’s what I have trouble with as no one seems to ever mention whether the power-bank can do that or not, so you just have to buy blindly and hope for the best. Quite annoying.

    2. A Pi UPS is useful whenever you need reliable operation and you are running headless, such as server or IoT deployments. You either need to make your system read-only or add a UPS to perform a shutdown when power is removed, otherwise you will get file system corruption at some point. That might be OK when you have the opportunity to just reformat and start over, but not when your sensor node is somewhere in the jungle.
      To make it easier to support the scenario you describe, the LiFePO4wered/Pi+ will allow you to connect a much larger battery easily, you will have the option to BYOB.

  3. 1) I praise you for doing this. nice peice of kit – fuel gauge is a great addition.

    2) When the hell are these SBC OEMs going to realise who valuable these functionality is?! I would LOVE to be able to pick up a Pi 0 with a built in proper battery management system. O-Droid W – you’re the only ones who got it right! Le sigh.

  4. Ugh, another Hackaday(dot)io mess. The first comment on the project page is “Could you post your schematics? Ideally as pdf. I would really appreciate it.” Yeah – I agree. I just closed the page…

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