Restart a Raspberry Pi Zero with a paperclip

This content is 7 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

One of the “limitations” of a Raspberry Pi is that it doesn’t have an on/off switch. That’s not really a problem – once it’s shut down, a power cycle to the socket (switch on/off) will allow it to boot up but there is another way (ignoring the purchase of expensive in-line power switches*, or daughter boards to make the Pi pick up an infra-red remote control signal).

Alex Eames blogged details to fit a reset switch to a Raspberry Pi (which I may well do) but what about the Raspberry Pi Zero? My son uses one of these plugged into our TV to practice his Python programming and it’s plugged into a USB wall socket so a power cycle restarts several USB devices or alternatively, cables need to be pulled.

Well, a bit more reading led me to the idea of shorting GPIO pins 5 and 6, and then some experimentation showed me all I have to do it touch pin 5 with a bent paperclip to turn on the Pi!

So, shutdown as normal from the OS. And startup with a “hotwiring” trick!

I’ve since found that the Pi Zero can also be started by shorting the two pins labelled “Run” next to GPIO 37 and 39 (connect the pins and then disconnect again) – so it’s also possible to fit a switch in a similar manner to Alex Eames’ advice for the full-size Pi.

One thing to be aware of if a switch is fitted is that it can be used to turn on the Pi but shouldn’t be used to turn it off as it just kills the power and could lead to software corruption or even hardware damage.


*Incidentally, whilst writing this post I came across an inexpensive in-line USB switch. I haven’t tested one but some might find it useful, with the same caveat as the DIY option…

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