Raspberry Pi delayed for compliance testing

March 29, 2012 | 11:04

Tags: #bis #liz-upton

Companies: #arm #raspberry-pi #raspberry-pi-foundation

The Raspberry Pi $35 has hit a (hopefully) final delay before eager customers start receiving their parcels, following distributors' demands for compliance testing.

This latest delay follows the earlier discovery of a manufacturing mistake, specifically the use of plain Ethernet ports when units with integrated magnetics (MagJacks) were required by the design. As a result, even those customers who were lucky enough to place an order in the brief window of opportunity are still waiting on their deliveries.

This time around, the delay is reportedly caused by distributors Element14 (trading in the UK as Farnell) and RS Components insisting that the device receives a CE mark to indicate compliance with electronic emissions guidelines. It's a standard requirement of consumer electronics, but one which the Raspberry Pi Foundation had hoped to avoid until the larger-scale 'retail' launch later this year.

Previously, Raspberry Pi had been operating on the understanding that prototype or engineering sample products could be sold in the UK without a CE mark. That's a fair understanding: the rival ARM-based Beagleboard development kit is sold under the same terms without a CE mark, as are the majority of similar prototyping platforms.

The Raspberry Pi has something its rivals are missing, however: wide-spread appeal. With pre-orders estimated to be in the high tens of thousands, unlike the few thousand units rival units ship, Raspberry Pi's commercial partners have started to get antsy about the potential for profit-draining lawsuits.

As a result, Element14 and RS have both demanded that the Raspberry Pi undergo compliance testing before they're willing to ship boards to customers. It's a blow for those waiting for their boards, but a task which would have to happen anyway before the release of the educational bundle aimed at schools, colleges and universities later this year.

'On the basis of preliminary measurements, we expect emissions from the uncased product to meet category A requirements comfortably without modification, and possibly to meet the more stringent category B requirements which we had originally expected would require a metallised case,' the foundation's publicist Liz Upton explains.

The release may not have to wait until official certification is granted, however. 'We're also talking to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), to better understand the terms under which devices like Beagleboard are permitted to ship to domestic end users in the UK, and to obtain a definitive statement as to whether we can distribute on the same terms,' Liz adds.

For now, it's a race between the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the electromagnetic interference tests as to which provides the green light for shipments first.
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