Adafruit doubles down on security to prevent sales of Raspberry Pi robots


While large and expensive graphics cards may be rare in the world, small and inexpensive computers fare no better. One of the reasons for this is bots, according to Raspberry Pi retailer Adafruit. That’s why Adafruit requires all accounts purchasing high-demand products — including Raspberry Pi boards, when they come back in stock — to be verified and have two-factor authentication enabled.

Automated “bots” buy popular consumer electronics in bulk. We’ve seen it with GPUs, PlayStation 5 and Xbox consoles. Bought in bulk and then resold at inflated prices, these bots cause difficulties for honest buyers. “Whenever a product is out of stock, you’ll see bots trying to grab the stock and resell it for a margin. Graphics cards are the classic recent example. It’s parasitic behavior, and it’s great to see people like Adafruit taking action to stop it,” Raspberry Pi co-founder Eben Upton told ZDNet. Upton also addressed the issue of supply when he joined us for a special Pi Cast episode celebrating Raspberry Pi’s tenth anniversary.

“Right now there is a severe silicon/chip shortage which makes it difficult to stock some boards like the Raspberry Pi,” an Adafruit representative wrote on the company’s blog. “There are also many people who want to use Raspberry Pi for their products and projects!” The issue was also raised in a recent Adafruit Ask an Engineer video.

“We think there’s enough RasPi for most people who want one,” Adafruit continued, “but they had to compete with people who didn’t follow the ‘1 per client’ rule and used tools automated to buy large quantities before most people have had a chance to check.

Hence the new decision on authentication, which along with updates to the checkout process seems to be working quite well. “Before these efforts, we were seeing Raspberry Pi sell rates in the hundreds per minute,” Adafruit’s post on the subject concludes. “Currently we are selling around 12 Raspberry Pi 4s per minute on replenishment.”

How can you grab a Raspberry Pi?

(Image credit: André Costa)

The global chip shortage is still in effect and that means greedy buyers need to work smarter to secure what they want and this is also the case for Raspberry Pi.

André Costa, a software and hardware hacker, created rpilocator, an online tool that scrapes popular Raspberry Pi sellers looking for stock. Rather than buying boards in bulk, rpilocator aims to help the Raspberry Pi community secure our favorite single board computer.

Rpilocator has praise in high places, Raspberry Pi co-founder Eben Upton mentioned the site during his interview on The Pi Cast. The site scrapes Raspberry Pi resellers looking for stock. This is then added to a database and from there the site is updated to show the location, timestamp, model and price of the Pi. The raw data also results in a Twitter account which provides real-time stock updates and an RSS feed. If you need a Raspberry Pi, rpilocator is the place to look.


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