Adafruit Doubles Security to Prevent Raspberry Pi Bot Sales

A locked Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Raspberry Pi Foundation / Adafruit / Ian Fairley)

While large and expensive graphics cards may be in short supply across the world, small and inexpensive computers aren’t faring any better. One reason for this, according to Raspberry Pi retailer Adafruit, is bots. This is why Adafruit is requiring all accounts purchasing high-demand products - including Raspberry Pi boards, when they come back into stock, to be verified and have two-factor authentication enabled.

Automated "bots" are bulk buying popular consumer electronics. We've seen it with GPUs, PlayStation 5 and Xbox consoles. Bought in bulk and later sold for inflated prices, these bots are causing hardship for honest buyers. "Any time a product is in short supply you're going to see bots trying to grab stock to resell at a margin. Graphic cards are the classic recent example of this. This is parasitic behavior, and it's great to see people like Adafruit taking measures 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 episode of the Pi Cast celebrating Raspberry Pi’s tenth anniversary.

“Right now there's a serious silicon/chip shortage which is making it hard to keep some boards like the Raspberry Pi stocked,” wrote an Adafruit representative on the company’s blog. “There's also a lot of people who want to use Raspberry Pi's for their products and projects!” The issue was also raised on a recent Adafruit Ask an Engineer video.

“We think there are enough RasPi's for most people who want one," continued Adafruit, "but they were having to compete with people who were not following the '1 per customer' rule and using automated tools to purchase large quantities before most folks had a chance to check out.” 

Hence the new ruling on authentication, which along with updates to the checkout process seems to be working out pretty well. “Prior to these efforts, we were seeing Raspberry Pi sell-through rates of several hundred per minute,” concludes Adafruit’s post on the subject. “Currently, we are selling about 12 Raspberry Pi 4s per minute when restocked.”

How Can You Grab a Raspberry Pi?

(Image credit: André Costa)

The global chip shortage is still a thing and that means eager shoppers 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 vendors looking for stock. Rather than bulk purchasing boards, rpilocator aims to help the Raspberry Pi community secure our favorite single board computer. 

Rpilocator has praise from high places, Raspberry Pi Co-Founder Eben Upton has 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 updates to show the location, timestamp, model and price for the Pi. The raw data also drives 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.

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.