Raspberry Pi hits new snag over CE certification

Raspberry Pi hits new snag over CE certification

Summary: The cheap educational computer's distributors have put everything on hold until the Raspberry Pi gains the CE mark, which the foundation behind it says should not be needed

TOPICS: Emerging Tech

Raspberry Pi is delayed again, due to lack of certification for sale in Europe and the US.

Raspberry Pi factory

Raspberry Pi's makers have put everything on hold until the Linux-based computer gains the CE mark. Image credit: Raspberry Pi

The credit-card-sized £22 computer, which is intended to teach students about programming, saw such demand on its launch a month ago that it crashed the sales sites of distributors RS Components and element14/Premier Farnell. A component mix-up in production then caused a delay earlier this month.

Now the delivery of the Raspberry Pis has been further set back, as the distributors have refused to sell the device until it receives the Conformité Européenne (CE) mark, which consumer products sold in the European Economic Area need to bear.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation, which revealed the latest hitch in a blog post on Wednesday, said it did not believe the tiny, uncased computer should have to have the mark. It noted that a similar, albeit more expensive, product called the Beagleboard is allowed to be sold without CE certification.

"As we've said before, we believe that the uncased Raspberry Pi is not a 'finished end product', and may be distributed on the same terms as Beagleboard and other non-CE-marked platforms," Foundation spokeswoman Liz Upton wrote.

Electromagnetic emissions 

The problem comes down to the issue of electromagnetic emissions. Products that are only intended for further development, where those using them will be able to test and monitor the emissions, can be sold without the CE mark — or, in the US, the FCC mark. Products sold to end users without those facilities must first be officially approved as being safe.

According to Upton, the Raspberry Pi should be able to gain approval. She said it just needs the results of further electromagnetic tests to do so, or the intervention of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to confirm that the device does not need the CE mark.

"On the basis of preliminary measurements, we expect emissions from the uncased product to meet category A requirements comfortably without modification, and possibly to meet the more stringent category B requirements which we had originally expected would require a metalised case," she wrote.

"We're also talking to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), to better understand the terms under which devices like Beagleboard are permitted to ship to domestic end users in the UK, and to obtain a definitive statement as to whether we can distribute on the same terms," Upton added.

However, BIS said on Thursday that the Raspberry Pi must undergo the certification process.

"We have advised the makers of Raspberry Pi that their product falls under the electromagnetic compatibility legislation and therefore needs to carry the CE marking," a BIS spokesman told ZDNet UK.


In the lengthy comments thread attached to the post, Foundation trustee Eben Upton explained why this problem was not spotted before it arose. He said it was "basically an oversight" that the Foundation and its distributors did not cover the CE issue in the contractual stage.

Several commenters also suggested that the Beagleboard team may be wrong in marketing their product as a "development board", a tactic that allows it to bypass the certification issue.

In a separate post on Thursday, Upton also noted that a computer glitch with distributor element14 had resulted in some customers being told their delivery date was being pushed back to August.

"At present, as already communicated by Raspberry Pi, all deliveries are on hold awaiting the outcome of the compliance testing currently taking place. To avoid misleading people while the compliance testing takes place, our system auto-generated the August date, which has clearly caused confusion," a note from the distributor, quoted by Upton, read.

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Topic: Emerging Tech

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Both RS and Farnell have been nothing short of shambles, mishandling website load, sending out wrong emails to customers, taking ages to acknowledge pre-orders and so on. Now this CE certification non-sense: if they sell Beagleboard, Arduino and other similar products without CE, why on Earth require it from the Raspberry Pi?

    The Raspberry Pi Foundation would do well to ditch these distributors at once and focus on a new partner with the capabilities and responsibility to deal with the orders and customers, without the non-sense attached. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that if an alternative seller was available, I would drop my orders with Farnell and RS immediately and never turn back.
  • What is it with this thing, all this then some plank on about a better version. Well i don't buy dead end electronics... "I`m backing betamax, it`s the future" nonsense. If they are gonna make a better one i will wait for the better one.... and i really wanted one of these.. but someone pull there fingers out!!!
    Cos right about now I`m about to give up and buy beer.....
  • CE marking (for the EEA, and FCC marking for the US) is a given for ANY product sold to consumers.
    The fact that they, and their developers, and the manufacturers etc.. didn't even think to do this is tragic.

    NB they need to look at the applicabler safety standards as well to get the CE mark.

    Desn't the foundation have experienced people on board?
  • @[Those of you berating the Raspberry Pi Foundation]: It's not RPFs fault if they hire experts (who really ought to know about EC compliance issues) but actually get amateurs!
  • re: Olif

    "The Raspberry Pi Foundation would do well to ditch these distributors at once and focus on a new partner with the capabilities and responsibility to deal with the orders and customers"

    The probably don't drop CPC Farnell and RS because these are the two major components retailers in the UK that deal both with end users and wholesale distribution.

    Most other electronics firms like Newey & Eyre or SEME only deal with wholesale, and failing that the only other option would be to send them through a chinese distributor, which I assume is something Raspberry Pi want to avoid - unlike most people they seem to want to keep their business within the UK and get UK manufacturing again, but with this CE mess up it seems a deliberate ploy by Europe to damage UK manufacturing, yet again.