I have a Pi Zero with the version 2 pi camera. Lately, when running a program that takes pictures continuously (about once every 2 seconds), the device completely stops and reboots. The program works fine for a few seconds but then the Pi just turns off.

My original thought was that the exposed back part of the camera was making contact with the metal case it was mounted in, and causing some sort of short, but that was proven not to be the problem as I wrapped the camera in electrical tape and the Pi still shuts off.

My second idea was that the Pi was not receiving enough power. This is strange because the program worked a few months ago with out problem. The underlying cause could be that the program is too intensive for the Pi, although cpu usage is only at about 30-40% when running.

I've run out of ideas. What could be causing this problem?

  • 2
    Power-supply is the thing to consider first. Any chance of trying a different one? – joan May 14 '17 at 21:44
  • 1
    @joan I used a 5V 1A phone charger first then a 1.5A charger then finally a 5V 2.4A battery pack but to no avail. – red_kb May 14 '17 at 22:55
  • 1
    It's definitely worth putting a meter on your power supply during use to verify that your power supply is putting out the required voltage. The description of your symptoms (Pi shuts down when activating a powered peripheral) would strongly suggest that your supply is insufficient. – goobering May 15 '17 at 8:03
  • 1
    I got my hands on a multimeter and discovered that the voltage on the GPIO +/- was approximately 4.8 when I powered the Pi. This is from a 5V 1.5A phone charger. A few seconds after startup, the voltage dropped to 3.7 - 3.8 volts (I assume this is when crontab is executed and the camera is activated). Shortly after, the voltage increased to around 4.4 then back to 4.8, then the Pi proceeded to reboot. I decided to disconnect a usb hub (which has its independent power supply), but the Pi eventually rebooted What are some approaches to this? I am genuinely vexed. – red_kb May 16 '17 at 4:25

I suspect your Power Supply - when used to charge a phone the USB specs allow for the "usual" wall-wart adapter voltage to fall away from 5.0V as the current demand increases - given that the Lithium Battery that is probably the intended target for all the electrons originally has a terminal voltage between 3.2 and 4.2 volts this is allowable for that purpose - but not so good for an RPi which gets unhappy if the supply gets below 4.something - especially with the series PolyFuse which also introduces a voltage drop.

As the subsequent comments point out your supply is not up to the task - and for really good measurements there are a couple of test points on the PWB for most (all ?) RPis that allow measurement after the Polyfuse - you will probably find things are even worse than you measured above...

When you go to get another PSU ask about/look for details about its regulation (how much does the terminal voltage fall under full-load conditions) - hopefully that will provide a solution that works for the combined load of the camera AND the RPi (and any other device also powered by it)!


This must be power supply. When Camera gets switched on (camera capture function in the code), it will draw more current. If you have other peripherals or if your input current is not enough, RPi will reboot.

I faced this issue and resolved by using USB adapter of 3A+ output current rating.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.