Thunder burnt the ethernet interface on my Raspberry Pi

When thunder struck my house last summer, the modem was burnt, and since then, the ethernet interface of my Pi is broken. I had to get a Wi-Fi dongle. I got myself an Edimax EW-7811 UN.

It is quite small and works almost out of the box with Raspbian. The driver is free software but it takes a non-free firmware included in the package firmware-realtek included, already installed in default Raspbian installation. See here.

For the configuration, the credits go mainly to Maurice Svay, for his blog post. I had a quite unstable setup, with regular disconnections and no way to reconnect except with a physical intervention, and the tricks in "Keep the connection alive" set this up. I now have a reliable link.

Perhaps the manual configuration can be replaced by wicd (even wicd-curses, if the Pi is accessed from SSH), but it is specifically the further steps that I want to underline. Not sure all of them are necessary, but a ping every minute won't hurt anyway.

Basically, the steps consists in removing power management. It is a pity that power management is not reliable and needs to be removed, especially for a system that aims at minimizing energy consumption...

Just mentioning this here because

  • People concerned with the reliability of their setup may want to think of protecting their modem+RPi against thunder
  • I had a hard time setting up the Wi-Fi, especially because I don't normally use a screen and keyboard, and only access the Pi through SSH. I saw a bunch of people with the same problem on the internet.

Don't know if this is worth adding somewhere on the Wiki. I think I saw other people here using a Pi on Wi-Fi.


calypso_rae's picture

Re: Thunder burnt the ethernet interface on my Raspberry Pi

(only vaguely on topic!)

Some years ago, our TV and video recorder were damaged when a nearby tree was struck by lightning.  After that, whenever thunder could be heard in the area, someone would rush upstairs and remove the input lead from our TV's aerial booster. 

This process always worried me though.  For the sake of preventing damage to some relatively inexpensive kit, we were putting our lives at some significant risk.  If lightning had struck again just at the moment when the only path from the aerial to ground was through me, I would probably not be sitting at this keyboard this now.

A mechanical arrangement was therefore devised so that the incoming aerial lead could be unplugged remotely.  The framework is well earthed so should take the brunt of any discharge.  The crack in the case of the booster box has no doubt been caused by repeatedly yanking out the co-ax lead without twisting it.  

But, hey - it all works, and I'm still here!



glyn.hudson's picture

Re: Thunder burnt the ethernet interface on my Raspberry Pi

Oh dear that does not sounds good! Glad you got it working. There is a bit on the wiki regarding wifi on the Pi, does you're instructions match what I got to work? Feel free to edit / improve

Jérôme's picture

Re: Thunder burnt the ethernet interface on my Raspberry Pi

I should have copied the blog content instead of just linking to it because the link is now broken.

See's message here:

I have disabled the power save in wifi dongle

sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/8192cu.conf

and add this line:

# Disable power saving
options 8192cu rtw_power_mgnt=0
save and reboot.



sumnerboy's picture

Re: Thunder burnt the ethernet interface on my Raspberry Pi

That is quite ingenious Robin! And very well made...

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