Sensor Board Stops Responding (heat?)

I am working on a project and unfortunately I did not anticipate the significant heat build up of all my hardware, and I am too far into it to turn back now. I have a lot of hardware virtually sealed inside of a foam enclosure, including 180 APA102c pixels, PixelBlaze 3, Sensor Expansion, and a 24v to 5v buck converter.

My sensor board works, but eventually stops responding after some time of running the fixture. The PixelBlaze controller stays responsive, patterns are working and I can switch modes. Any patterns dependent on the sensor board fail due to not being able to read from it, and stay static or don’t work at all. I presume this is due to heat because after letting things cool down they work again.

When I took things apart everything was unsurprisingly hot to the touch. My IR thermometer reported the controller and sensor expansion around 120F, and the pixels were closer to 130F. Yep, that is pretty dang hot, but it looks like everything is technically staying within the operating conditions specified in various components’ data sheets.

My project is going to be hit hard, a lot, intentionally. I want to try and avoid active cooling because I doubt any fans durability to the kind of inertial shock it will need to endure. I would also prefer to keep things sealed because my project may be exposed to rain, and I cannot put it in an enclosure that would act as a heat sink. It needs to remain somewhat soft and punchable.

Why would this be happening when I am still within operational temperatures, and does anyone have ideas on how I can mitigate heat accumulation inside of an insulated sealed foam enclosure?


You can try, depending of what is possible for you:

  1. Reducing max luminosity (you can do this in the PB settings)
  2. Reduce the CPU speed of the PB (probably won’t help)
  3. Create small holes in your foam enclosure to facilitate air circulation.

If you can give us a bit more details about your project, maybe we can help better.

More details about my project. I am making a tetherball intended to be an art installation at an outdoor festival where it has been known to rain.

The outer shell is made from triangles of white translucent EVA like foam glued together with contact cement, arranged into a 3V geodesic sphere, and coated with lots of Plasti Dip. LEDs are glued to the inside of the shell. The core is made from a high density flexible urethane foam ball. I have cut up the core to make cavities for the various components. The core will eventually get permanently sealed inside the shell (I wish I could come up with a good solution for temporary closure, but I digress…).

I have attached a couple photos of part of the shell and core so you can get a better idea of what I am working on.

1 Like

I sympathize for the death star designers. One does not simply build a sphere without a thermal exhaust port.


This topic was automatically closed 120 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.