Pi-top [1] - battery


I have a Pi-top from mid 2016 after an initial use of the machine I did not use it until now.

I have been able to download and boot the new image that is available, but it seems that the battery won’t charge. The battery system tray indicates the battery is stuck at 10%

I have done some googling and it seems that the batteries can be bad and bad batteries happened with the earlier versions of the Pi-Top.

Is there a known fix I can apply? I’ve installed the latest OS as made available on the Pi-Top web site, and after 24 hours the battery indicator still says 10%.

Is there a fix I don’t know about?
Short of a fix is there anything that can be done for me? or, do I basically have a brick battery and must run the machine while plugged in all the time.

Thanks all

The battery in my Pi-top mk1 appears to have suddenly died completely.

I updated the machine, left it for a few days and then it would not start unless it was plugged into the mains adaptor. It now shows “Charging 0%” all the time but the battery does not charge.

I tried the firmware fix which ran without error after about 20 attempts. Still no better.

Are there any options other than buying a new battery from Pit-top? (which will end up costing me 100 USD with import duties etc taken into account).

Hi @syklist, if it’s stuck at 0% then the battery pack has failed - there are ways to repair it of course but without having it in front of me to do full debugging it would be extremely difficult and even more costly than buying a replacement. You could either get a replacement battery sent out or consider upgrading to a pi-top [4] DIY Edition which is about the same price, however, if you like the laptop format then a new battery would be your best bet!

The pi-top [4] is of no interest to me as I need a laptop.

Is it possible to drive the Pi-top screen directly from the Raspberry Pi? Does the screen need its own power supply? If so I could just chuck the battery and hub and run the laptop off a USB power bank (or two).

If not then I guess I will have to take a risk that it is just the battery that is dead and fork out for a new one. I hope that the replacement battery is of better quality than the original. The original has had 12 months of light but regular use with no loss of capacity before it died suddenly.

@syklist the pi-top [4] does have a laptop config but it’s slightly different to the pi-top 1 and 3 - it’s more like a Surface-style laptop as the keyboard and screen are detachable. Out of interest, what do you use the pi-top for?

In theory, you could supply the hub PCB with the same voltage (9-12.6V) as the pi-top battery does - if you’re familiar with electronics this could be an option.

Hmmm, struggling to find a laptop pi-top [4]. All I can find is an external screen that clips to a keyboard where you have to have an external Raspberry Pi with its own power supply.

I use my Pi-top as a laptop at home and it moves around the house with me so it is essential it has its own built in battery and it is important that it can be carried with one hand. It now has a 4GB Pi 4 in it which solves the problem of web browsers crashing/freezing when you open more than five tabs. Works well for me as a substitute for a “proper” laptop.

I had considered using my Pi-top when travelling but am back with my Eee PCs as the Pi-top, while lighter is just a little bit to big to fit in the luggage I usually take with me.

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@syklist that’s cool, it’s nice using a small Linux machine as a daily computer!

Here are some vids of the pi-top [4] used in “laptop” mode (which use pi-top [4]'s internal battery to power the screen and keyboard):



You might also find this thread interesting, there’s a community hardware development project in progress to make a small adapter that makes it even more portable :+1:

Your enthusiasm is admirable. The problem for me is that anything that clicks together has a tendency to un-click at inopportune moments. Also, given my increasing age I prefer laptops with a couple of cm of thickness so my tired opposable thumbs have a better chance of holding them and not having them slip out of my hands. So a skinny laptop that can fall apart easily with a large bump of a box attached to the base or the screen is not my idea of a useful device. Others, I am sure will love the challenge :wink:

Anyway, I am trying to work out whether there is any point throwing any more money at my pi-top or whether I should just chuck it.

I have found information that suggests that the hub/battery packs on the Mk1 pi-tops were not the most reliable of items. Mine has lasted a year of use. Other users at a time in the past when Pi-tops were under guarantee received base units FOC, in some cases more than once. If I buy a replacement will that also die after a year of use?

Pi-top will sell me a green base unit but they only accept PayPal as a payment method. Normally if a supplier demands PayPal only I go and find another supplier however in this case there is no other supplier.

I can put up with opening a PayPal account, buying a base unit and then closing the PayPal account, but not if I will only get a years use out of the new item.

Is there any way of checking if it is the hub or the battery that is the problem, diagnostic checks for the hub for example? I have tried the firmware fix for the battery which now runs fine but does not help the problem. In the CLI it shows that the battery has been found just that it will not charge.

Is there any chance of the software update installed the last time the battery was working properly has cause a problem? I am running a RPi4 so wonder if something that the older Pi-tops relied on has been deprecated or removed? I can check that by installing a version of Sirius from 2019 that I have sitting on a hard drive.

Assuming the hub is still OK would something like this work as a replacement for the battery? https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Polymer-Battery-Lithium-ion-replacement-laptop_1600212873490.html?spm=a2700.7724857.normal_offer.d_image.1f6a6113WTrX9i

Perhaps to put my comments in context, I am not used to batteries dying after a year of use. I have just replaced the battery in my Eee PC 901 bought in early 2009. It started losing capacity in the last year and still had over 50% capacity when I replaced the battery. My 2008 Eee PC 701 is still running the higher capacity battery I put in it shortly after I bought it without any sign of deterioration. Both devices have had considerable periods of daily use and periods where the batteries have been fully discharged.

So I throw myself at the mercy of those more knowledgeable beings on the pi-top forums.

@syklist Fair points on things that click together!

Other battery packs won’t work with pi-top 1 unless you are willing to re-wire everything, even then it’s hard to say because different vendors might have different requirements on communications interfaces. Very early pi-top 1 battery packs had some issues but the later ones are pretty robust, they went through a redesign to fix an issue we found during our initial shipment of 1k units - please note that because it’s more of a “DIY” laptop where users have access to the internals, there isn’t as much protection from e.g. ESD events than other more traditional laptops have (ones that are fully enclosed). It’s extremely unlikely that the battery cells have “died” - they’ll still have tonnes of capacity available in them, it’s more likely to be a bad connection somewhere or a failed IC - in theory it could be repaired but unfortunately this would be more costly than purchasing a replacement.