Raspberry Pi 4: Blogger finds charger roadblock

July 11, 2019 by Nancy Cohen



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Wait, what. Some users have found charging problems with their newly purchased Raspberry Pi 4, as their existing USB-C cables would not charge. Did the Raspberry Pi mess up?

Turns out that not every USB-C charging cable will work—USB-C connector does not support specific chargers, like the ones that ship with MacBooks, said Chris Smith in BGR.

Reports said the Raspberry Pi- co-founder Eben Upton confirmed that not every USB-C cable will power the Pi.

Tech watchers just wouldn't let it pass without comment. "The Pi 4 was the Raspberry Pi Foundation's first ever USB-C device, and, well, they screwed it up," said Ron Amadeo in Ars Technica.

How so? The USB-C charging port does not work with as many chargers as it should. That discovery was made by Tyler Ward, who shared the information in his blog.

The Raspberry Pi 4 was announced in June as a significant upgrade complete with USB Type-C connector for power. Ward noted that the people finding some chargers were not working with it involved "notably macbook chargers."

Nick Heath, TechRepublic, said "The Pi 4 doesn't receive power when used with electronically marked or e-marked USB-C cables, the type used by Apple MacBooks and other laptops."

Ward himself tried for power "with a macbook and its e-marked cable and it didn't receive power."

Heath quoted Upton, who confirmed: "A smart charger with an e-marked cable will incorrectly identify the Raspberry Pi 4 as an audio adapter accessory, and refuse to provide power," Upton said.

Amadeo, meanwhile, said they were told a board revision with a spec-compliant charging port should be out in the "next few months."

As helpful as the discovery is, this charger issue is not exactly a global technology crisis. Several tech watchers made the point that one could enjoy his Pi 4 and charge it too. Brad Linder, Liliputing, reminded readers that "it shouldn't be too hard to find USB cables that work."

He said, "Long story short, most USB-C phone chargers will probably work...you can try to buy an official Raspberry Pi 4 (or an adapter for previous-gen models). But if you've already got a phone charger lying around, that *might* be all you need."

Ward also had practical advice for Raspberry Pi 4 owners—use non e-marked cables for now, such as the ones that are used by some smartphone chargers. The device should work fine with the $8 official charger.

This is what Ward has to say in his blog: "Now onto some solutions...using a non e-marked cable (most USB-C phone charger cables are likely this type) rather than an e-marked cable (many laptop charger/thunderbolt cables and any 5A capable cable will be in this category) will allow for the pi to be powered. In addition using older chargers with A-C cables or micro B to C adaptors will also work if they provide enough power as these don't require CC detection to provide power."

Having said all that, however, Tyler added the best solution "will be for there to be a board revision for the pi 4 which adds the 2nd CC resistor and fixes the problem."

Chris Smith, BGR, simplified solution discussions. "If you've purchased a Pi 4, you'll want to get a different USB-C charger, the cheaper, non-e-marked kind that ships with smartphones. The official Raspberry Pi 4 supply also works."

Romain Dillet, TechCrunch had similar advice: "A simple workaround is to buy a non e-marked or charger. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is selling an $8 USB-C charger for instance. In my testing, it has been working fine for the past couple of weeks."

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