From the “Well that’s a Pisser” department…
A few days back the Odroid C2 didn’t want to boot. Just sat there with a fast blinking red power light.
Despite being pretty sure I had the right chip in it, I figured it was most likely just the wrong chip in for some other CPU type. So it went into the box where systems live when not on the desktop.
Then I spent a couple of days rearranging the cluster and the desktop et. al. Using the XU4 as the power machine on the desktop when I wanted speed.
Just a couple of hours ago I shut down to swap the XU4 and Pi M3 between monitors. In the process also swapping keyboards and what power strip the power supply used.
On boot up, the Pi M3 worked Just Fine. The XU4, however, gave a red power light but refused to give a blinking CPU heartbeat (or even a blue light at all). OK… Maybe the SD card is corrupted or “something”…
So I took a couple of hours for diagnostic work. Took brand new 16 GB Sandisk mini-SD cards and wrote pristine images from the manufacturer “known to work” to each and once again tried to boot both cards. Both continued to act the same.
He’s Dead Jim
At this point I’m pretty sure both are dead cards. I get NOTHING on the monitor with either monitor, either kb/mouse, etc. etc.
Possible causes? I thought about static discharge. But the C2 is in the manufacturers case and ought to be OK. Plus, it’s been humid and raining when it first failed to boot.
The Odroid XU4 was “loose”, so has higher static risk. I have a towel over the desktop as cotton is generally a safe material. It stopped raining 2 days ago, but it still isn’t what I’d call dry and static laden air.
Ground loop? The two power strips on the desktop are plugged into 2 different things. One is straight wall power and the other is a UPS into the same socket. I *think* the wall socket has power and neutral reversed, but it’s a ground fault interrupter socket so nothing too big can happen. Might there have been some volts on the grounds between the power brick ground and the monitor ground? Maybe. Yet it has never bothered any system until now, including prior uses of the Odroids.
There’s a potential for physical fragility. The XU4 was working, shutdown, and monitor cables swapped. Pulling out the old one took some pull, and the board / heatsink flexed a little. Did something crack? These things are built on very thin cards, could it just be the thicker material of the Pi cards? Or better device attachment?
What I do know is I can’t get either one to indicate any attempt to boot with multiple different OS cards and monitors. Not even showing up on the router as a network presence.
It looks to me like they are just not very robust to handling / use.
OK, disappointed. Minor loss of money value. Some annoyance as my fastest SBC isn’t available for use or to drive video. All easily fixed with about a $50 new board buy and waiting 3 days…
But will it be replacement Odroids? A major reason for buying them was just to asses their use in a cluster or as a desktop. That’s done now. The C2 has a 64 bit instruction set that makes using it a bit harder as the arm64 code is still a bit young, so buggier than the armhf. The XU4 has a strange mix of 8 cores in 2 different types, so the scheduler is a bit odd, job completion times depend on what core type it gets assigned to first (as it never changes type after that), and it runs hot. Neither one a real candidate for a large cluster going forward given my OS of choice as Devuan.
Now add to that the fact that the Pi B+ laid loose on my desktop for a few years, went to Florida and back a couple of times, and never failed. The 2 x Pi M2 boards had similar lives. In and out of single cases. Into the dogbone case. Power plugged in anywhere. Run headless, or headfull, or having a monitor plugged and unplugged “whenever” and are still doing fine. The Pi M3 has been my “go to board” for all sorts of tests and changes and has been loose on the desk as often as in a case. Heck, even the Orange Pi has been loose laying on the desktop or draped over the Dogbone Stack loose since I bought it. Regularly handled while powered up. ALL of them having zero “issues” from my handling practices and power systems.
So what to do…
I think I’ll set both of them aside for a few days to “clear the attitude”, then do One Last Test of booting before giving up on them and just harvesting the heat sinks.
I’m also going to move up doing a search of the Devuan `1.0 release build boards. I’m leaning toward any of: Cubie / Banana Pi / Orange Pi. Need to look at cores, power, heat, performance, etc. etc. given that now I know what to look for.
I’d expected to lose a board or 2 during the cluster burn-in as I’m running them 100% to the wall 24 x 7 and the heat management on small SBCs is generally “not good”. What I didn’t expect was to have boards NOT in the cluster be the ones doing the dying…
So, needless to say, I’m not looking fondly at more Odroids…
Buying a replacement will have to wait a while. I’ve already blown my “mad money” for the month on the TV, and next month is Christmas so that money is going to others. Figure sometime next year I’ll have to know what to replace them with. Until then, I’m going to route the TV monitor cable over to the Odroid C1 and use it for videos. That will also let me check on its robustness to use and ability to provide a high enough frame rate. It is in the Dogbone Case and plugged into the common power strip used for everything but the standard desktops. That’s a small UPS plugged into a bigger one in the wall. The idea being that the big one in the wall gives me time to shut down anything non-essential and then the DNS / File server infrastructure stuff gets a longer run in case I’m out of the house when power fails.
So we’ll see if a 3rd one blows when the HDMI cable goes to a monitor plugged directly into the wall…
So, ok, the purpose was to assess the boards. They’ve now served that purpose. Moving on…