mjasner
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2020 10:30 pm

RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Mon Mar 30, 2020 10:45 pm

I recently built a case for my 4GB Pi4 that looks like a 486 tower (because why not?). The only drawback to the case design was that the microSD slot wasn't accessible easily. To solve that I purchased a microSD extender (specifically this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B072X ... UTF8&psc=1) and that solves my problem... sort of.

Initially I tested everything with a Pi3 B+ while I waited for my Pi4 to arrive and everything worked perfectly. My Pi4 arrived and I booted NOOBS with the microSD extender attached and that worked fine. Raspbian installed without error. When I rebooted, though, I never got into Raspbian. I saw the initial rainbow screen and the "Press SHIFT to enter Recovery Mode" screens, but after that I just get a black screen and the Pi4 activity led gives me the repeating 4 blinks pattern.

If I remove the microSD extender and put the microSD right into the Pi4 it boots and runs fine. If I try to boot into NOOBS or the recovery screen on the Pi4 with the microSD extender in place that all works fine. If I try to boot into Raspbian with the microSD extender in place on the Pi4, though, I get black screen with the 4 blinks on the activity led.

Has anyone else run into this issue? Is the Pi4 not compatible with the microSD extenders? As I mentioned, the extender works fine with a Pi3 B+ using Raspbian, OpenElec, etc, and it works with the Pi4 for getting into NOOBS or the recovery screen. I'm also sure the microSD card is good since, if I remove the extender, it works fine.

Any thoughts? Tips? Suggestions? I'd appreciate any help.

Thanks in advance!
Marc

LTolledo
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Re: RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:25 am

poor contact between the microSD extender contacts with the RPi4B microSD slot contacts.

I also have the same extender and also encountered that kind of problem on several test SBCs, including RPi3B (RPi4 was not yet available that time).
one time I actually put a small dent on the microSD slot's metallic cover on another SBC, because it was having the worst failure rate.
though its a bit of a tight fit, but it solved the problem for that SBC.

am not using the extender anymore for the last 9 months or so......
"Don't come to me with 'issues' for I don't know how to deal with those
Come to me with 'problems' and I'll help you find solutions"

Some people be like:
"Help me! Am drowning! But dont you dare touch me nor come near me!"

hippy
Posts: 15828
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Location: UK

Re: RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Tue Mar 31, 2020 1:48 pm

LTolledo wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:25 am
poor contact between the microSD extender contacts with the RPi4B microSD slot contacts.
Seems a bit unlikely if it can boot into NOOBS with the extension cable attached but not Raspbian.

Does Raspbian force the SD Card interface into a higher speed mode of operation than NOOBS does ? That could lead to signal corruption or degradation in the cable which NOOBS doesn't experience.

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procount
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Re: RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Tue Mar 31, 2020 2:04 pm

I believe the Pi4B uses a lower voltage mode to get the higher speeds on SD cards.
Just a thought, but you could try adding 'sdhci.debug_quirks2=4' to cmdline.txt in the boot partition of Raspbian.
(You should see that this option is already added to recovery.cmdline of the NOOBS partition.)

As you have NOOBS installed, you can edit this file by highlighting the installed Raspbian OS in NOOBS and choosing the Edit Config option, then selecting and editing the cmdline.txt file.
PINN - NOOBS with the extras... https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=142574

mjasner
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2020 10:30 pm

Re: RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Tue Mar 31, 2020 2:52 pm

I'll try the tweak in the cmdline.txt file, thanks.

One quirk I did notice, if I flash Raspbian directly to a microSD (without using NOOBS) then it seems to boot fine. If I flash Ubuntu (18 or 19) to a microSD it boots fine most of the way and then either seems to get stuck with a lot of "thread blocked for more than 120 seconds" messages, or a lot of "falling back to fixed sampling clock" message for mmc0.

UPDATE: Adding sdhci.debug_quirks2=4 to the command line worked and I was even able to boot ubuntu and get it up and running. It does not seem to be stable/reliable though. It generally works fine until I reboot and after reboots I'm back to the four flashes. If I remove the extender and plug the card directly into the Pi4 then it boots fine, so I know the card is good.

Do you guys think it's just a quality issue and a higher quality sd extender might help, or is it just not a compatible/reliable thing to do with a pi4?

officer960
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:08 pm

Re: RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:33 pm

I am having the EXACT issue as you - the only difference is that my extender is Micro SD to SD. Through NOOBS, Raspian will install but on re-boot it hangs. I installed Raspian onto a Micro SD on my Mac, and direct plugged the Micro SD into the Pi4 which boots and works. This cable worked perfectly on my Pi3B+.

I cut the ribbon cable down to 6 inches and re-soldered the connections to the SD portion of the extender. I plugged this in with the known booting Micro SD and it will not boot. Hangs at a screen with 4 Raspberries or a flashing cursor at the top left of the screen. I removed the extender, direct plugged the card into the Pi4 and it boots into the OS.

Unfortunately, with the way I have installed the Pi (in a Checkmate A1500 case) an extended SD port is necessary.

Is it possible there is a resistor on these SD extenders that is makes them incompatible with the RPI4's lower power voltage mode?

officer960
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:08 pm

Re: RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Sat Apr 04, 2020 10:33 pm

On a hunch, I dug around on the interwebz and found this link: https://forum.4dsystems.com.au/node/43404/page2

I checked the extender PCB and found there was a resistor marked "331" which is a 330 Ohm resister (thanks rpdom) as mentioned in the above thread.
Image
Image

I removed the resistor.
Image

I reattached the SD card extender and have booted to Raspian 10+ times without any of the behavior exhibited prior to removing the resistor. The system seems stable. I'll continue to test this and report any read/write or instability issues here.
Last edited by officer960 on Sun Apr 05, 2020 9:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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rpdom
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Re: RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Sun Apr 05, 2020 5:36 am

Glad you got it working. :)

The resistor, by the way, is 330 Ohm, not 331 Ohm. The first two numbers are the value and the last one is the x10 multiplier. Think of it as "33" and one "0". "332" for example would be 3300 Ohm (aka 3K3).
Unreadable squiggle

hippy
Posts: 15828
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Location: UK

Re: RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Sun Apr 05, 2020 6:33 pm

officer960 wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 10:33 pm
I removed the resistor.

I reattached the SD card extender and have booted to Raspian 10+ times without any of the behavior exhibited prior to removing the resistor. The system seems stable.
Interesting, and well done for identifying the issue.

I can see why a resistor on SCLK to VDD could cause problems but would have expected that to be a more systemic issue. So it is still odd that it worked for NOOBS but not Raspbian.

I guess it is an issue of different clock rates, different VDD voltage, or something which affects power-cycling or reset of the card. Would be nice to know what it is just for curiosity's sake.

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procount
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Re: RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Sun Apr 05, 2020 8:11 pm

As I stated above, Pi4 uses a faster SD card access method that operates at a lower voltage.
NOOBS prevents that mode from being used using the quirks option because it prevented rebooting into a different partition.
I suspect that is the reason that NOOBS works and other OSes don't.

It would be nice to know if adding the quirks to Raspbian allowed it to work as well without having to remove the resistor. But of course the SD card would work at a slower speed (like 3b etc).
PINN - NOOBS with the extras... https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=142574

Jamesbeat
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:19 pm

Re: RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Sun Apr 19, 2020 2:20 am

I hope I'm not to late to weigh in on this one, but I just came across this thread and was very interested to learn that others are using larger cases for their Pis!

I thought that I must be the only one who wanted a more substantial case, and I was delighted to see other people are doing this too.

I found this thread while searching to see if anyone had actually used the Checkmate Amiga case to house a Pi - the manufacturer hints at it, but there is very little information about it.

I'd love to see a photo of it, and also (especially) the 486 case, which is basically identical to what I am hoping to achieve.

Anyway, the reason for this rambling post is that I have had a similar experience with those microsd extenders, though mine was with a Pi3, and the effects were a lot more subtle.

I currently have my Pi in a modified surge protector case, and I have been using it this way for a couple of years now.

I used one of those extenders so that I didn't have to unscrew the case every time I wanted to change the card.

It worked fine 99% of the time, but I did find that I got the occasional stability issue and even the occasional corrupted card.

I have been using the Pi since the very first model in 2012, and this is the only time I have experienced these types of issues.

Upon my second card corruption, I wondered if the extender was the problem, so I unplugged it and made do with opening the case if I needed to change the card.

The problems disappeared. I don't know if it is a problem with the reliability of the connections or if there is some weird RF thing going on (my adapter has an RF choke, so I presume it's a problem they anticipated) but eliminating the adapter fixed it for me.

Perhaps the problems are too subtle to register on a Pi3, but something about the Pi4 makes them more frequent/severe?

As a workaround, I plan on using a panel mount USB extension instead. The Pi can boot from USB nowadays, so I might as well take advantage of it and save myself the headache.

It does mean sacrificing a USB port, but these large cases have plenty of room for a hub if necessary.

JoaS
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2020 9:27 pm

Re: RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Sun Aug 09, 2020 4:00 am

officer960 wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 10:33 pm
On a hunch, I dug around on the interwebz and found this link: https://forum.4dsystems.com.au/node/43404/page2

I checked the extender PCB and found there was a resistor marked "331" which is a 330 Ohm resister (thanks rpdom) as mentioned in the above thread.
Image
Image

I removed the resistor.
Image

I reattached the SD card extender and have booted to Raspian 10+ times without any of the behavior exhibited prior to removing the resistor. The system seems stable. I'll continue to test this and report any read/write or instability issues here.
Registered just to give you my thanks for this. Worked like a charm!

manolomalele
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:20 pm

Re: RPi4 with MicroSD Extender Boot Failure

Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:39 pm

Hi all, I have the same issue, but it started last week.
I mean:
I have a pi4 4gb used as a mediaserver with volumio or moodeaudio.
Months ago I recased the system and bought an extender SD to microSD.
I removed the resistor and everything worked smooth.
Few days ago I wanted to try the new version of Moodeaudio, and here cames the trouble.
If I write a new sd it works including reboot.
If I write a Micro SD (pi-> extender -> Sd to Micro adaptor -> MicroSD) it boots without problems but, when I reboot it goes like on the picture I attach.
The same MicroSD placed in the raspi boots and reboots.
The Issue is clearly the extender.
The question is: Why only certains cards? Why now and not before?

I hope someone can help me
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WhatsApp Image 2021-01-20 at 20.36.32.jpeg
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