Is it possible?: ...a 'hardened' install on a RaspPi?

The scenario- I woke up this morning to find that over night storms had taken my network offline (hence, no WiFi) but was pleasantly surprised that automations were still triggering for my z-wave and zigbee devices… but it kinda reasserted my want of a more robust home control appliance…

So, the short list of like-to-haves:

  • Pi3/3B+/4
  • (the self-contained deployment seems to be preferred and where all features are supported… so… I’d like to stay under the .io umbrella)
  • non-SD storage ( 1) I already have m.2 and 2.5" HDD RaspPi addon cards collecting dust. 2) not a huge fan of relying on SD for something that is operating something as large as my home 3) I’d like more storage available… I have a feeling the Grocy addon is gonna eat some drive space before its all said and done 4) Eventually I expect my install will get exposed to the Internet, when it does I wouldnt mind setting up some online storage, maybe a small and light web server… 5)I wouldnt mind storing a few staple music albums for tighter integration to the automations that might use them…
  • Battery Back-up
  • Real-Time Clock (mostly just because the UPS I have in mind already has one integrated)

So. thoughts? Is something like this possible with a install? (ie: seems like I may have read something that makes me doubt the possibility of the RTC or possible the UPS…

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Grab three cheap second hand laptops with good batteries (= Battery backup, RTC and SSD/HDD) and do this?

Then you just need to worry about your network reliability.

For me it’s more trouble than it’s worth. I can spin up a new NUC from backup within tens of minutes. If the NUC hardware fails I can use a VM on any of my other PCs.

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The laptop is a good idea for a battery backup, except most older cheap second hand laptops have f***ed batteries.

If you go Rpi, it is easy to run the OS from a usb device. Even on a Pi4 you can boot from SD and put the OS on a usb device.

hassio or not hassio is a personal preference, but it is not limited to the pi. You can run on any linux machine.

Well… largely I just like running things on RaspPis when I can… As it stands, I’ve got a 3B+ with OSMC for my TV and CUPS because my TV cabinet has a handy place for my rarely used paper printer, A Pi3B with OctoPrint for my plastic printer, another 3B+ for HASS… another 3B with the GoogleAIY hat… another 3B+ with a GPS/GSM card and finally a 3B ‘development’ Pi sandwiched between m.2 SSD and 2.5" laptop addon cards…

…with my discovery that there is a Grocy addon for HASS means I hopefully have a reason to mount one of the 8 unused PiZeros in the kitchen with my wireless barcode scanner and a touchscreen…

Once I move I expect my RaspPi deployment will likely increase significantly… PiZero+GPIO relays? …garage door control… I think there are timing issues with using Pis as IR flashers, but that might be mitigated with the use of a RTC, otherwise I’ll have to add a couple Arduino, or more likely- ESP devices for TV and media control as well as things like space heaters and fans.

As far as being concerned about my network staying up… that’s of minor concern and a large part of the reason I want to avoid WiFi based devices in my install and am instead focusing on ZWave and ZigBee devices.

So long as my AutomationPi stays up to continue triggering ZWave and ZB calls… at the end of the day… If my power goes out and I oversleep… I feel better telling my boss ‘storm last night knocked my power out’ than I do explaining ‘I wake up better to a light than I do to an alarm… and I moved my Wake-Up Light from a solid and dependable wall timer to a tenuous homebrew home automation system’. …as an installer and technician for a company that installs Contol4 equipment… it doesn’t paint a great picture when I spend the rest of the time singing the virtues of my home automation approach :smiley:

So… I’m moving forward with this. Waiting for an Amazon delivery and a trip to MicroCenter, but now seems like a good time to specify my hardware in the hopes someone wants to give me a heads-up on the hurdles and pitfalls ahead.

What I have:

  • SupTronics X750 RaspPi UPS
  • SupTronics X850 RaspPi m.2 -> USB
  • Samsung 850 EVO 250GB m.2 storage drive.
  • microSD - until the Pi4 and support native-USB, I’ll have to settle.

What I need:

  • 4x18650 - batteries for the Pi UPS… ordered- couple weeks out still
  • Raspberry Pi 4 - Local MicroCenter… no-rush with the batteries still being so far out.
  • Power Supply - UPS has a barrel jack that will take 3A or 2A via microUSB. I need to replace a couple Pi supplies anyway- I’ll see if MicroCenter has any 3A microUSB, otherwise I’ll probably order a 4A supply with an appropriate barrel plug.

As an option:

  • I also have a SupTronics X820… mSATA -> USB… but figure the X850 is the better option… I’m putting it on a UPS… keeping a drive spinning seems to work against the battery aspect. But I’m also building it with reliability in mind… so if someone has something to say about a traditional HDD still being something worth considering.
  • That said- I could get a small-ish (120GB?) SDD when I go to MicroCenter to go with the X820 if there is something to be said in favor of choosing a SSD over m.2.
  • I’ve got a couple battery-backed Pi real-time clock modules… any benefit to throwing one on besides doing it to get one more thing out of my surplus collection?


  • Anyone have any handy links that describe the process that I’m looking at for initially setting up with hybrid SD/USB boot and storage? The X750 supports file transfer via USB from a desktop… surely it’s not so simple as 'follow general Pi4 hybrid boot directions. follow general install directions substituting usb-m.2 for SD-card where appropriate?
  • Since I’d like to stick with to keep it as appliance-like as possible… what’s it going to look like when I try to do things like… the UPS has a python example script meant for monitoring battery level and performing a safe-shutdown when necessary… I imagine the RTC-module requires some kind of customization…

keep in mind- I’m trying to make a hardened system that doesn’t need an outside connection to function- that includes if my network router locks up again. (Ultimately- I hope to have a second (remote) deployment, possibly with no outside connection, just sensors and automations…

In the interest of updating…

What I need:

  • Power Supply - arrival: tomorrow via Amazon

What I have:

  • Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

    • 2GB version
      • Topic1
  • SupTronics X750 ; 18650 Pi UPS

    • Topic2
    • 4x18650 batteries for the Pi UPS
  • SupTronics X850 ; m.2 -> USB

    • Topic3
    • Samsung 850 EVO 250GB m.2 storage drive.
  • 16GB MicroSD

    • Topic4
  • Real-Time Clock Module

    • Topic5

Topic1 : I went with the 2GB version because-

  • sale at MicroCenter… $5.01 off on the 1GB and 2GB variants, but not the 4GB :<
  • I’m okay waiting until a later hardware revision (or even production run) before getting too invested in the Pi4-platform.

Topic2 : After doing a bit of reading, I have reason to suspect the X750 may not be as reliable as I might like it to be. I need to go back and look into it more though because the write-up that stands out the most may have been written for an earlier product. Still. Cause for concern.

Topic3 : After more reading, the X850 also may not be quite as reliable as I might also like it to be. Mostly that it might not always reboot… but… it was late… may have been written with the X820 (or other) in mind. Issues would also be mitigated by Topic4.

Topic4 : Hybrid option. SD-based boot, USB-operating drive… general flux around pure-usb boot makes hybrid the best option, I feel. The future of USB-boot is uncertain for both as well as the Pi4 in general. Also: everything I’ve read suggests lack of a SD-card at boot will cause a delay.

Topic5 : Real-Time Clock. Who makes it escapes me at the moment. it’s from my surplus stock… I’ll dig through my amazon purchase history if anyone calls this out. Might not even use it…

So. Putting all the parts and pieces together tonight probably. Find time to read, research and make a plan tomorrow and maybe through the week… Once I get the… the X820 and X850 are currently being held together by a Pi…2?.. maybe a Pi3, once I get the X850 moved onto the Pi4 I think I’m going to set the X820/HDD/Pi2(3?) up as NAS… because ???

Roadblock #1:

Should have seen this coming. The X850 I have is a v1.2, designed for the Pi3… they swapped the network port to the right on the Pi4.

There is an updated x850, but it mounts under the Pi which would interfere with the UPS… I’ll likely start by seeing how short of a USB 3.0 typeA-to-typeA cable… and I’ll need a new standoff kit since the one I have isn’t the same size as the non-removable ones built on to the UPS…