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Can I power the MAX98306 Stereo 3.7W Audio Amplifier off of my Raspberry Pi 3's 5V pin? I have a project that needs to be battery powered, and I'd like to run everything from a single battery and not have to plug in multiple batteries to both the amplifier and the Pi.

There are many questions around the Pi and speakers, but none seem to answer this question.

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The limitations outlined in Milliway's answer stand (the power supply itself, additional peripherals for the Pi, volume level of the amplifier). For the Pi 3 and its Polyfuse it is reasonable to expect it to work if no other high current peripherals are connected to the Pi. From the question and comments I take it that the Pi and the amplifier should be powered from a single USB power bank. This restriction alone however does not necessarily require the amplifier to be connected via the Pi. A simple wiring could connect both the Pi and the amplifier in parallel directly to the power source - avoiding to channel the amplifiers power through the Pi.

Here we find some numbers for a 50,000mAh power bank and a Pi2B.

According to actual Raspberry Pi Power Measurements the Raspberry Pi Model 2B consumes about 350 mA when shooting 1080p video. Let's play it (very) safe and double that amount, and convert it into watts to compute the running time:

2 * 350 mA * 5 V = 3.5 W

A 50 Ah power bank usually has a capacity of about

50 Ah * 3.7 V = 185 Wh

Note that the mAh rating of a power bank typically refers to its internal cell voltage of 3.7 volts, not to its output voltage of 5 volts. You can then expect your Pi to run for

185 Wh / 3.5 W = about 53 h, or more than 2 entire days

Filling in 750 mA as an expected maximum for a Pi 3 (see here) we get approx. 3.75 W for the Pi. Add your 3.7 W for the amplifier to the 3.75 W for the Pi and get something along:

185 Wh / 7.2 W = about 25 h

The real live performance might be very different due to various external factors (e.g. conversion efficiency of the power banks step-up converter, battery fatigue, and all the issues listed in the beginning of this post).

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The real answer is it depends. See Raspberry Pi Power Limitations

Given an adequate power supply you can draw over 1A from the Pi3. This may vary if you have a lot of peripherals, and as outlined in the link above, very many power supplies are substandard.

It also depends on how you use your amplifier; full volume on both channels would be pushing the limits.

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According to RaspberryPi forums,

According to the schematic there is a 1A fuse and from what others have said the Raspberry Pi uses about 700mA so 200mA is what your left with to use for USB and anything over the +5v GPIO pin.

When you run the conversion formula from volts and watts to amps:

amps = watts / volts  = x
amps = 3.7   / 5      = 0.74 amps

In other words, your amplifier will be drawing 740mA. The maximum your RPi can support out of the 5V pin is 200mA. So the answer is, No, you cannot run your amplifier off your Raspberry Pi's power supply.

  • Rubbish! If you are going to post answers get your facts right. – Milliways Feb 3 '17 at 23:22
  • Anonymus2, as stated in the link in the other answer the Pi-3 has in fact a fuse that allows higher current. So it would seem possible (within the restrictions listed in the other answer) to drive this amp (though I don't see why to channel the amps supply through the Pi, but that's a different question.) @Milliways please cut back on the strong language when pointing out technical shortcommings of answers. Your tone should match the way you'd talk in person with someone you respect and whom you want to respect you.. – Ghanima Feb 4 '17 at 0:58
  • Thanks for the additional information. I was interested in driving it all from one USB source. I'm realizing that I should power them separately. But the question still stands. – Alex Feb 4 '17 at 3:19

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