V5 build experience, mostly very positive, need help with 1 issue

I received my Zynthian v5 kit several weeks ago and have it built and working well after a few issues I was ultimately able to resolve myself. I’m really impressed with it overall and enjoying getting to know it. I do have one outstanding problem and one suggestion from my build experience.

The outstanding problem was that one of the “4 x DIN916 M3x4mm black zinc-plated steel” screws I received was defective. It was shorter than the others and neither side has the hex socket to receive the hex driver. I tried sourcing one locally from local hardware stores but while I can find metric ones in slightly larger sizes I can’t find any this small. Would it be possible to get me a replacement somehow so I can secure the last remaining knob?

The suggestion largely comes from my inexperience with the Raspberry Pi platform. One of the issues that caused me quite a bit of headscratching was that the sole SD card I had on hand (a good quality SanDisk 64GB one) turned out not to not boot successfully at all. However, since I had fully assembled the unit as described in the build instructions there was no outside indication of what might be the problem at all. When I turned on the power the backlight for the display clearly illuminated but it never displayed anything. The only lights visible were the LEDs on the ethernet jack. I eventually opened things back up while keeping all the cables in place and realized after looking at the Raspberry Pi 4 B documentation that the PWR and ACT LEDs on the board were indicating some kind of boot problem. With confidence in where the problem lay I procured another SD card and was able to successfully boot the system. My suggestion would be to try booting the system before closing the case and provide some links to documentation on interpreting these LEDs, such as: What Does the Green and Red Light Mean on Raspberry Pi? – RaspberryTips


Hi @amidon !

For your still unsecured knob, I would simply suggest to temporarily use a round-head screw, of approximately the same section and length, which you probably will find it easier to locate in the average hardware store. The difference in usage and aesthetics would be minimal.

Concerning the SD card, I for myself only resort to SanDisk Extreme Pros of at least 32 GB, if only for maximizing the read-write throughput performance of the system.

We should be aware that using a bulk storage medium, like an SD card, for system start-up and app management is maybe a bit too stretched, as a technological philosophy. Early Rpi’s where notoriously prone to corrupt and/or reject certain batches of SDs, and I have experienced myself that the issue is not completely gone, requiring sometimes to swap cards or re-flash the system.

I believe that a compact and inexpensive alternative to more conventional data storage solutions suited well the original concept of the Rpi SBC, as a cheap and self-contained micro-computer for the masses, because it afforded significant savings on hardware, drivers and physical dimensions. In 2023, it honestly feels outdated to keep booting and managing an OS from a miniaturized, fragile and slow disk-on-a-card, originally designed for portable video recorders and digital cameras.

I foresee that the Raspberry 5 will probably encompass a gamut of alternatives for data drives, arguably the full SSD/USB/SD spectrum, which, by the way, will open vast new possibilities for the Zynthian platform, including its usage as a reliable sampler with large libraries.

Cheers :slightly_smiling_face:

Hi @amidon!

Welcome to zynthianland!

Really sorry about the bad screw. We are shipping a screw replacement for you.
FYI we added an extra screw of each type for next orders.

Regarding the SD-card, i just added some extra notes to the wiki tutorial to help with this.

Best Regards!

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Thank you very much for shipping out a replacement screw, I appreciated it. Including extras in the kit sounds like a great idea to minimize back-and-forth.

The updates to the build tutorial look great. Thanks for the tweaks!

One other thing I noticed while I had the case open was that when shutting down the device by holding the Opt/Admin button, at least with the SD card I’m currently using, the ACT light on the Raspberry Pi board continues to blink for a significant amount of time (on the order of 30 seconds or so?) after the screen shuts off. My assumption would be that this indicates that the Linux shutdown procedure is not yet complete when the screen turns off and ideally power should not be removed until that finishes. I’ve been just counting off 40 seconds or so to leave time for it to complete. Is this the right practice to be following? I would guess it is not possible without hardware changes, but it would help with both boot feedback and shutdown feedback to be able to see the equivalent of the Raspberry Pi ACT light on the exterior of the case.

Finally, I want to say that as I get to know the device better I am incredibly impressed with the sound quality, the huge number of features available, and most significantly the ease and speed with which all of them can be navigated with the combination of the button array and encoders and mapped to other MIDI controls. It’s clear a lot of thought has gone into how to make the device an “instrument” usable in live performance and not just a compact and convenient computer with an audio interface in a box. Kudos to everyone involved!


I really appreciate your words, @amidon . The zynthian workflows have been evolving from the first day with live performance in our mind. Think we come from a very basic interface with 4 encoders with switches, and all the functionality was still there. The v5 workflow is far from perfect, and I’m conscious that some users would like more simplicity, but offering this huge amount of features has a price, and minimizing the interactions to agilize operation can make things to look tricky, redundant or chaotic, but we have thought a lot, and continue doing, about how to improve operation, keeping things simple enough, but not missing the path of zynthianism :grin:


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I used my zynth live yesterday! Wasn’t able to record it though, sorry.

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Hi @amidon ,

On the Pi 4 (and the Pi3B+ after a firmware update) you can just use a USB drive instead of an SD Card. Just write to the USB drive instead of the SD card and only plug in the USB drive. The boot firmware will look for a USB drive if there is no SD card inserted. I haven’t tested Zynthian but every other Pi OS I’ve tried worked.

You might not want to do this if you’re using a USB Audio card (again, not tested).

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You can, but there was an issue that zynthian assumed the os was going to be on an sdcard Zynthian webconf forces cmdline.txt to use root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 · Issue #170 · zynthian/zynthian-sys · GitHub It should be resolved but I vaguely remember someone else tripped over it.

A quick update that I received the missing knob locking screw yesterday and so now have my unit fully assembled. Here it is, by a trick of the shadows possibly appearing to float above the anti-static mat on my electronic bench:

So much awesomeness to explore now. Thanks everyone!


Zynthian V5, it defies expectations, catagorization, and gravity!


Amazing picture!

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As Joe Jackson wrote, music is A Cure for Gravity.