Temperature limitations on the equipment

Just was curious if anyone has any knowledge of the temp limits for the PiAware setup? Mine’s in my attic and it’s getting pretty hot up there(rough guess 100F already), and touching both the dongle and pi aware box, they’re both pretty warm. Should I just bring them down into the a/c in my second floor, or will they be fine up in those temps?

It will be fine. if it doesn’t blister your finger, it isn’t hot. Yes, there is an inverse correlation between operating temperature of an electronic system and its life expectancy, but don’t worry about temperatures below 80C.

bob k6rtm

The equipment itself should be fine but your SD card will likely fail. Flash devices store a charge in transistors. Heat allows that charge to dissipate quicker than normal. The hotter the temperature, the quicker the decay. Fortunately, SD cards have built in error detection and correction. If the card detects a problem when reading data, it will correct the bad data and write the corrected data to a new location. However, this only works if the data is read. Infrequently read locations could become so corrupt by the time they are read that the error correction logic may not work. I would have to run the numbers but my gut feeling is that the SD card will likely become corrupt within a few weeks or months of typical summer temps.

All is not lost. You could write a script to read every address (did the address to /dev/null) and then set up a from job to run weekly.

It’s a good idea to take a backup of the image and have a spare SD card for the event. Think when, not if.

I looked into this a bit more. A high quality SLC SD card will likely last about 10 years in a typical attic (assuming temps stay below 55 deg C (131 degrees F). Cheaper MLC/TLC SD cards (ie most consumer grade cards) will last about 2 years.

If your attic gets any hotter, then the lifespan shrinks (exponentially). People in very hot regions may only get a couple months.

If you write a refresh script, you want to dd the **device ** (/dev/sda) not the volume (/dev/sda1, /dev/sda2, etc.). The script could be as simple as “dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/null”. Dont worry about unmounting, you will not be writing and do not care about the integrity of the data that is read. Then just create a cron job to run the scrip in the middle of the night one every month or so.

Hopefully someone will beat me to it, but if I get a chance I will write a tutorial for people who are not that familiar with linux.

Probably most important thing is to be sure you have shielding in case it gets hot enough to start a fire in the attic.

Great… another worry… What kind of shielding/protection would be good for it, both the Pi Case, and the Dongle that are now sitting on plywood.

A couple layers of kitchen aluminum foil under it would probably be fine. Or something like an old kitchen metal pot (without cover) would work also.

You could move the Pi back over to the the air conditioned side of the ceiling and use a powered USB extension cable to feed the SDR dongle, which could remain in the attic.

This would prevent you from ever having to worry about how the Pi and/or SD card are going to respond to high temps as only the dongle would be in that environment. Worst case scenario - the dongle cooks and you’re out around $24 for a new one.

Until I get around to installing the networking rack, all of my Pi ADS-B feed gear is on a shelf in the office closet. I’ve got a single run of coax going up through the wall to the attic that acts as the feed line coming down from the antenna, but is also supplying power up to an in-line amp that is at the base of the antenna. Once I installed the amp and a Mini-Circuits filter last month, I didn’t see enough of a difference between having the SDR dongle in the attic or having it at the end of a 12ft run of coax, so the dongle lives in the air conditioning along with the Pi. Even well-ventilated attics in new homes are crazy hot in the summer in Tennessee…and then we can see negative temps at night during the winter months. If for no other reason, having everything across the room keeps me from pulling down the stairs and dealing with either of those temperature extremes when I want to work on something.

I’ve got two small heatsinks (http://amzn.com/B00A88DVTG) installed inside the generic plastic case (they were cheap - why not?) and this Pi 2 always runs between 105F-109F - even while PiAware, FR24feed and Dump1090-Mutability are chewing on upwards of 125 aircraft at a time during the FedEx and UPS light show in the sky (MEM and SDF arrivals/departures) that takes place over Middle Tennessee twice each night. Then again, something would have to really be broken somewhere for that to actually bother a Pi 2. :slight_smile:



Matt - What hardware setup you have used for band pass filter, amp, connectors and antenna. Also where did you get it from. RadioShack or Amazon doesn’t seem to carry the filter and amp in 1GHz range. Also I don’t want to fry the sdr dongle from overboosting the signals.
Have you also tried dump1090-mutability and if so are you using over sampling / Phase enhance.

Thanks in advance for your inputs.

I have my antenna in the attic and my RPI just on the other side of the ceiling in a second floor closet. That makes the antenna cable run very short and all the electronics are not subjected to any extreme heat or cold.



The only max temp specs that have been stated by the foundation are 70C and 80C. This wasn’t relative to the Pi as a whole, only specific components. They won’t give an official operating range.

I run a little script on login to check the temp.

I have the following at /usr/local/bin/tempcheck

tm=`/opt/vc/bin/vcgencmd measure_temp`
tc=`echo $tm| cut -d '=' -f2 | sed 's/..$//'`
tf=$(echo "scale=2;((9/5) * $tc) + 32" |bc)
echo $tc\°C \($tf\°F\)

(you need to install bc)

sudo apt-get install bc


sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/bin/tempcheck

For it to run at log in, add

echo "The antenna's current temperature is:"

at the end of ~/.bashrc

By leaving the script independent, it allows you do easily log the temp (if you wish).

If you want to log it:

sudo pico /etc/cron.hourly/temperature-logging

insert & save:

## This script logs the Pi's temp every hour ##

echo $timestamp "|" $temp >> /var/log/tempcheck.log


sudo chmod 755 /etc/cron.hourly/temperature-logging

The output will be available at /var/log/tempcheck.log with an output format of:

Fri May 22 10:17:01 EDT 2015 | 39.0°C (102.20°F)

Also you can use munin to monitor Raspberry Pi temps. You can find plugins here.

I’m running my PiAware setup outside in the desert and so far it’s holding up. I got my Pi free from a friend and only spent $10 on a RTL to dedicate to it (I have an older one I use for other things but it’s got the E4K tuner and cuts out at 1086Mhz so it’s useless for ADS-B) Bottom line is since I’ve got so little invested in it I’m not worried about it frying and am kind of doing some torture testing on it :smiley:

I’ve only had it up and going for a week, but it’s been 110-115F here all week. I have the dongle right on the Pi so they’re both up on a 25’ mast in the sun. I’m seeing about 150F when I check the temp on the Pi.

Had a problem the past few days where the tape holding my quick and dirty antenna together melted and the feedline pulled loose. But other than that it’s been doing great up there. I had expected it to shut down from heat the first day.

Sounds like a great experiment, please keep us posted to its status.

Well monsoon season is starting here in the desert so I decided the bare Pi/RTL up on the pole wasn’t going to fly if a storm rolls in - and Sunday it sure looked like we were going to get a storm.

So I made them some raincoats, just bits of trash bag taped loosely over - I was hoping they’d protect against rain, but allow any condensation to drip out and still fit loosely enough to allow decent air flow to keep things cool. (I plan on doing a better weatherproof installation soon but won’t have time for a few weeks.)

Well, turns out the bags aren’t letting in as much airflow as I had hoped, looks like temps are getting up to 70-75C :open_mouth:

So the torture test just got ramped up a notch I guess :laughing:

It hasn’t shut down or anything yet, but I have seen a drop in position reports and those I am seeing are suddenly all much closer. Not sure if it’s related to the new software update or if my antenna is melting apart again. Going to be almost two weeks until I can do any maintenance on it so just gotta keep my fingers crossed until then.

We are having a bit of a heatwave for the UK. Temperatures approaching 30C today and hotter tomorrow. The RPi is in my loft and yesterday afternoon and again this afternoon the Pi has stopped working. I re-boot once the temperature drops a bit and it seems OK.

The Pi reports 68C so should be OK?

I’ll see how it goes tomorrow afternoon.

Just curious… Why not move it to a cooler location?

Just because some electronics theoretically can operate at such high temperatures doesn’t mean that they should. It’s always a better idea to keep them cool when the option is available.

I’ve never understood this desire some folks have to install a Pi/SDR dongle in a scorching hot attic. The few extra feet of coax (usually) required to move the gear to the other side of a ceiling or wall and into a cooler environment shouldn’t make enough of a difference in coverage to worry about…and if it does, the margins are running a bit too tight and perhaps there should be some rethinking of the antenna / coax / amp design. :slight_smile:


Looks like it was the RTL to blame for my drop in position reports. Shortly after I posted that earlier it stopped responding all together. Pi is still going fine, and the RTL still lights up, but doesn’t show up in lsusb anymore (or on my windows machine if I try it there.) My old RTL confirms that everything else still works (but that one as a E4K tuner that cuts out at 1086.)

For me avoiding the heat is tough. The mast for my antenna is at least a 30-40’ run from the house. And with the antenna any lower my coverage drops a LOT due to a couple of trees.

The RTL and Pi were both quite happy and not running hot enough to stress me out until I covered them from the rain (which around here we seldom have to deal with.) I really didn’t expect the RTL to go out before the Pi. I’d be tempted to blame the slight rain today - but the dropping signals since I put the raincoat over it sure seems to indicate the RTL itself was overheating. I’ll have to put a temp sensor on the next one so I can see just how hot it was getting (it was a couple of feet away from the pi.)

If I had my mast mounted to my house I’d gladly do a run down into the house. Until then - gotta get creative :smiley:

sounds like you need a box with an open bottom and top, fitted with an oversized lid held off by spacers so you get free air movement throughout.