The MicroUPS – An Uninterruptible Power Supply for the Raspberry Pi

The Micro UPS Raspberry Pi Uninterruptible Power SupplyThe MicroUPS
After discovering Kickstarter last year, I’ve become a bit of a crowdfunding fanatic and have found loads of similar sites offering new and unusual products.

One of these is IndieGoGo which has been running since 2008. A few weeks ago I came across a project called MicroUPS, an Uninterruptible Power Supply case system for the Raspberry Pi and other similar boards.

I got in touch with one of the designers, Marek, and managed to arrange for an early prototype to be delivered for me to take a look at and share with my readers.

A week later, I received the bright ‘acid green‘ case along with its fellow bits and bobs ready for me to assemble and try out. Let’s take a look…

What’s an Uninterruptible Power Supply?

An uninterruptible power supply (or ‘UPS’) is “an electrical apparatus that provides emergency power to a load when the input power source, typically mains power, fails” (thank you Wikipedia). So in a nutshell, if your power supply fails, a UPS takes over with its own battery without any gap in between, meaning your device (Pi) doesn’t notice and keeps running. You then have a bit of time to fix your power issue.

Why would I want one?

A UPS for the Raspberry Pi is quite a relevant concept when you consider some of the popular projects out there that rely on consistent 24/7 power – webservers, time-lapse photography, VPNs, NAS setups, RaspBMC media centres and so on. Losing power with any of these applications could cause anything from an inconvenient annoyance to full SD card corruption and loss of data.

Here are a few examples:

  • You could be halfway through a film and experience a short powercut, stopping the film and potentially corrupting you RaspBMC SD card.
  • You may be shooting a long timelapse photography video and have a power issue, stopping your camera and ruining days of effort.
  • You may have a VPN or webserver Pi set up, which would stop running after a powercut. The same could happen to a NAS.

The MicroUPS

Got a Raspberry Pi and want a UPS? This where the MicroUPS comes in…

The MicroUPS is a case + UPS system designed specifically for a number of development boards. There are a load of different case size/colour and battery options – I chose the ‘acid’ green Raspberry Pi + UPS case with a single-cell battery:
MicroUPS Acid Green side view

Acid Green…trippy!

Case Assembly & Features

The case comes ‘Ikea style’ ready for you to put together. Assembly is much like other cases on the market, requiring you to snap together panels and tighten a few screws. Once complete, you can opt to stand the case up tall, on its side, or flat on its back:

The Pi section can also be stripped down to just the mounting base, in case you want full access to your Pi for example:

MicroUPS Raspberry Pi camera mount panel

You can strip down the Pi section if you want full access

A couple of nice touches here are the solid metal standoffs holding the case together, and the countersunk design for the screws, giving the whole thing a cleaner look:

MicroUPS Fixings

Flush quality fixings add to the case’s quality feel

The case has all the usual port holes to access HDMI, Composite etc. On top, my version comes with the optional mounting section to attach your Raspberry Pi camera module, which comes with the fixings required.

MicroUPS Camera Panel

The camera mount option is a simple yet handy add-on

The UPS section has cut outs for the LEDs and buttons, as well as etched/lasered labels for all of the parts. I’ll cover this section in more detail in a moment.

It’s worth mentioning that there are mount holes in place for securing your Pi, although you could probably get away with putting a Rev1 board in here.

UPS Functionality

So, how does it work? Here’s a short video I made to show you it in action: