20 September 2023 / Last updated: 20 Sep 2023

balena EtcherPro Saves Jeff Geerling's Life (not literally)

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What does YouTube tech star Jeff Geerling do when he needs to flash hundreds of SD cards accurately under extreme time pressure? He uses the balena EtcherPro as documented in his latest video:
In this video, Jeff had to build a voting system for one of MrBeast’s shows. (In case you aren’t familiar, MrBeast is one of the most subscribed YouTubers in the world and is known for his videos that center on expensive stunts and challenges.)
The project involved 100 participants across 100 rooms, each voting via buttons that also operated strips of LEDs in each room. However, the challenges posed by this set up were relentless. Materials got damaged, static electricity killed a number of single board computers (a Raspberry Pi clone known as “LePotato”) and cleaning crews using moisture-laden cleaning solutions wreaked havoc. The team was in a constant state of adaptation, troubleshooting both software and hardware glitches.
Through it all, the EtcherPro performed admirably, flashing multiple SD cards with Jeff calling it a “lifesaver” and its functionality “amazing”.

What can balena do for you?

Beyond the EtcherPro, balena is no stranger to IoT projects at scale such as this one. The balena ecosystem includes a container-based OS (balenaOS) and a complete fleet management platform (balenaCloud) for updating, troubleshooting and monitoring large fleets of devices like the Raspberry Pi, Intel PCs and NVIDIA Jetsons, among others.
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Prototyping is one thing when you have a single device sitting on your table. It's an environment where control and accessibility are in your favor. However, when you scale that prototype to multiple devices deployed in a production scenario, challenges can escalate exponentially. Variables like real-world conditions, unforeseen technical challenges, and logistical surprises can throw a wrench into even the most well-planned operations - as Jeff found out multiple times.
This is where the true value of a platform like balena shines. Balena was designed to significantly reduce the friction that comes with scaling. In the video, had balena been utilized, the devices could have been managed as a collective unit, pushing updates and troubleshooting in real-time. This kind of centralization and control is crucial when the environment is unpredictable and the stakes are high. Here are a few examples.
We look forward to seeing more of Jeff's upcoming projects!
by Alan BorisHardware Hacker in Residence