The BeagleBone Black is a low-cost credit-card-sized development platform with good support from a fast growing community. The BeagleBone Black differs slightly from the regular version by providing you with an onboard micro HDMI port, 512MB of DDR3L DRAM, 4GB onboard flash memory, an AM3358 processor at 1GHz, and making JTAG optional with a user supplied header. Ultimately, the BeagleBone Black is still perfect for physical computing and smaller embedded applications.
With plenty of I/O and processing power for real-time analysis provided by the TI Sitara™ AM3358 ARM® Cortex™-A8 processor, BeagleBone Black can be complemented with cape plug-in boards which augment Black’s functionality. They’re called capes because Underdog is a beagle and he wears a cape. Makes sense, right?
At over 3 million Dhrystone operations per second and vector floating point arithmetic operations, BeagleBone Black is capable of not just interfacing to all of your robotics motor drivers, location or pressure sensors and 2D or 3D cameras, but also running OpenCV, OpenNI and other image collection and analysis software to recognize the objects around your robot and the gestures you might make to control it. Through onboard micro HDMI or VGA and LCD expansion boards, it is capable of decoding and displaying multiple video formats utilizing a completely open source software stack and synchronizing playback over Ethernet or USB with other BeagleBoards to create massive video walls. If what you are into is building 3D printers, then BeagleBone Black has the extensive PWM capabilities, the on-chip Ethernet and the 3D rendering and manipulation capabilities all help you eliminate both your underpowered microcontroller-based controller board as well as that PC from your basement.
Note: These are BeagleBone Black Compliant boards made by Element14. Though these may not be made by the good folks at BeagleBoard, each BBB is officially recognized by them and are identical in both form and function. For more information check out BeagleBoard’s Compliant Program.
Initially when getting started with the BBB, a computer’s COM port should be able to supply enough power to the BBB through the mini-B cable. By default, the board will boot up, the LED power indicator light up, and the other LEDs blink in a pre-set pattern within 10 seconds. The LEDs will still blink after the sequence. Assuming that you installed the drivers, you should be able to move on to step 3 in the getting started guide http://beagleboard.org/getting-started . After clicking on the link, you should see a green block indicating that you are connected with a similar message before the Beagle Bone Support documentation :
Your board is connected! BeagleBone Black rev 0A6A S/N 0414BBBK2301 at 192.168.7.2
Note: Internet Explorer will not work to view the web server example.
Want to update your image or there is a corrupt image on the BBB? Here is a quick guide with information on reimaging your BBB:
1.) Download the Latest BBB Image
There were a few tutorials online that explained how to reimage the BBB:
Try reimaging the Angstrom distribution on your BBB. You will need to download the latest image [ http://beagleboard.org/latest-images ] . I chose “ Angstrom Distribution (BeagleBone Black - 2GB eMMC) 2013-09-04 ”.
Depending on what OS that you are using, you will need to extract the archived file. We used 7Zip [ http://www.7-zip.org/download.html ] on Windows to extract the file. In this case, the archvied file was called “ BBB-eMMC-flasher-2013.09.04.img.xz ”.
2.) Win32 Disk Imager
We used the Win32 Disk Imager [ https://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/ ] to write the image to the microSD card. This will take a few minutes after hitting the “ write ” button. Make sure that you select the correct drive so you are writing to the microSD card. A microSD card of 4GB+ is recommended. I managed to write the image using an 8GB memory card.
3.) Power Supply during Flashing
You will need to power the BBB with a 5V/1A supply. One of the tutorials explained that this process can pull more than 500mA from your computer’s COM port. The USB port from your computer will not be able to provide sufficient power to your device. When observing a benchtop power supply during flashing, it was pulling just about 0.49A at 5V. We never saw the BBB pull more but just to be on the safe side we recommend using a 5V/1A power supply.
Make sure there are no peripherals connected and you have a good power supply https://groups.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/beagleboard/Td2XumK4E6A
4.) Flashing the BBB
Taking the microSD card, insert it into the BBB’s microSD card slot. Hold down the “ User Boot ” button and then power the BBB with your power supply. This is located near the microSD card slot. 4 status LEDs next to the ethernet jack will begin to light up at the same time. You can release the button as soon as the LED’s start blinking.
It will take about 30-45 minutes to flash the image onto the on-board chip. In our case it took just a little short of 50 minutes. The 4 LEDs will stop blinking and all of the LEDs will remain solid. This indicates that BBB is done flashing. It will then begin to pull about 0.242mA from the power supply.
5.) Restarting the BBB
After the BBB is done flashing, remove power and take the microSD card out of the microSD card slot. Applying power to the board will boot the BBB. This can take a few minutes
BeagleBone recommends you power these through the barrel jack and NOT the USB connector. They won’t work with the LCD cape and a USB device plugged in when you try to power them through USB.
When switching to the OTG on the BBB it will disable the other USB port on the device. To get the port to repopulate, you need to unplug the OTG, change the settings in the command line between the ports and reset the BBB before the regular USB will enumerate.
If you have something connected to the miniAB connector, the large USB connector gets locked out. In this state, the larger connector will not enumerate a COM port when connected to a computer. This is because the smaller one is an OTG port. To get the USB B connector to enumerate a COM port again, you need to disconnect anything from the miniAB port and restart the BBB. Then the larger port should work again.
Based on 20 ratings:
2 of 2 found this helpful:
I’m using the BBB for a product we are designing and it was working great until I put 5v to one of the GPIO lines and instantly bricked the unit. My stupid fault but I wished there was some type of over-voltage protection on the IO lines.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
I got my BBBs shipped within two days. I accidently fried one of my old devices (operator error). I was surprised to realize I could simply put the SD card in, and it automatically booted into the old system I has on the fried Beaglebone. This made me feel happy. 5 stars….but remember, the input pins are quire sensitive to over-voltage. Still, it is an excellent unit and fast enough for my demanding applications.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
Hmm. I meant to give five stars, but I can’t edit that.
It’s open. The designers went to great lengths to ensure all the docs for all the parts on the board were available from the manufacturers without an NDA. The same can’t be said about the RPi.
I made this cool antique podcast player with it: http://blog.roderickmann.org/2015/01/podtique/
3 of 3 found this helpful:
While this board is suitable for a wide array of purposes, and I generally like it for the selection of I/O on the 46 pin connectors, this is one of the more fragile boards I have ever used. The power supply chip on the board is the weak link. Any one of a number of things will trash it. As long as you are careful with the board you won’t have problems, but in a prototype environment, sh*t happens, and the BBB is not forgiving. I’ve also had the board fail to properly boot upon power up (from an SD card). I used one in a project where it was remotely installed and I had to add an external watchdog to reset power if the board failed to boot. I’ve used upwards of 20 of these boards in a number of projects, and the issues I describe above are not isolated to one or two boards.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
The BB arrived safely. It was well packaged and it booted up the moment I turned it on. There’s a blinking light that tell you if it is working. The instruction sheet is brief but sufficient to get started and there is, of course, heaps more info on the web. I flashed it with Ubuntu: no problems, and installed Seafile to deliver a synched NAS service around the house, as a caldav server (Baikal) as well. All straight forward. The BB can do a lot more than this and I plan to integrate it with some of my embedded projects over the next few months. First up is wireless connection to my letter box. One of the advantages of the BB is it is so low power I can leave it on all the time. I don’t even use a disk drive for the NAS function, just a USB stick.
Thanks for the good-quality and arrived on time, thank you, SparkFun!
Performed as expected!
I’m using this as an embedded linux machine, so I can’t comment on the pins. As a linux box, I can run a familiar Debian distribution with 4.0+ kernels. This is a great product for doing heavy computation that an Arduino can’t do. One of the most underrated features is that you can also use the beaglebone as a usb client – great for plug-and-play projects!
I had a difficult time with the Beaglebone Black product. The opinion I formed is that product should not be offered as an “big brother” alternative to Arduino for the hobby customers. Outside of the introductory programming environments that are offered out of the box, users familiar with the Arduino system will find this difficult to impossible to make I/O work the way that they are used on Arduino. There is no equivalent of the Wiring system. There is no comprehensive documentation on precisely what to do access the available devices. There are no official tools for configuring the I/O outside of items that require almost a kernel driver level experience. Individuals have produced some tools but these will be touch and go as to their quality. Without much independent research and study into the Cape/Device Tree system and the Linux drivers that one must use to access digital, analog input and PWM, they will not be able to make the BBB do what they want to do. Further, hobby users will be shocked that they cannot obtain high performance that they are used to from their programs. This is due to the overhead that all methods of access to hardware will suffer going through the only sanctioned way- the Linux devfs device drivers.
The BBB is a completely different beast, and I’m afraid it is only appropriate for schooled Linux embedded systems professionals or those hobbyists that aspire to be one.
Drivers do not work with Windos 10 FYI
I use these on my cnc machines and they work great. Received the unit in working condition. The shipping is very slow, but I expected it to be.
This is a great board for more advanced users. The I/O peripherals on the expansion headers are very rich, highly documented, and extremely stable. With the exception of the 3D graphics which is still completely closed source but not required to get HDMI video, all the other components are fully documented and run quite well with the mainline version of linux.
The downside is that compared to say the Raspberry PI(which is still very much closed source) the processor performance isn’t that great for the price. Also unlike the Raspberry PI, the BBB has no real standard Linux distro so it can be difficult to setup unless you have very comfortable creating your own Linux images (debootstrap/multistrap) and have a decent understanding of kernel device trees.
One point of the BBB that is often overlooked is the 2 PRU units in this device. There are essentially completely programmable micro controllers on the chip that are optimized for real time tasks such as bit banging custom or unusual protocols or tasks that would normally require very frequent interrupts. These are tasks that are hard to do on the main processor. The PRU are best programmed in ASM IMHO since the tasks the PRU are optimized for tend to require detail to the exact instructions but at the same time don’t require much coding.
So to sum up, if you are a more advanced user looking to use this for custom hardware, this is an outstanding choice. If you are looking for maximum processor performance per $$$, buy something else like the RPI 3B+.
In good condition!
Received the the board with a small disappointment, the board was marked with E14 instead of Beaglebone.org, but it seems to be performing up to expectations. Since we are working with several units utilizing the same program, there appears to be a delay in processing speed, although not conclusive.
Our programming demands a lot from the little board mostly due to heavy utilization of 7 of the PWM channels, both EQEPs, and a couple of ADCs as well. So far it has lived up to my expectations and needs for the simulator project. The final test will be how well it communicates data with another BBB and the main server computer.
It does have limitations in the PWM channels as it cannot produce higher frequency PWMs in multitude (3kHz x 6). Dropping to 2kHz cleaned up the signals sufficiently for use. This has not injected any audible noise into the hydraulics.
In all, I am pleased with the selection of the Beaglebone Black for our peripheral control.
As we have toasted 4 of these units due to overvoltage/surge conditions, I highly recommend using isolated circuitry to protect the delicate little critter. We are controlling 12 VDC valve coils, 240 VAC hydraulic pump motor, a 0-5 vdc sensor, 5 VDC quadrature encoders and more all via WiFi. So proper signal conditioning is critical.
It has broad possibilities for application, and I highly recommend it for more complicated projects that require more PWMs, ADCs, and EQEPs that most low end SBCs cannot handle.
Thanks to Sparkfun for carrying it and shipping in such a rapid manner.
0 of 1 found this helpful:
You know how you you start your schematics with a top level page and you place a CPU block and a power block etc. Well I’m going to make a Beaglebone schematic object and just bang that on whenever I need a CPU/RAM/ROM in a design from now on. Excuse me now, I’m just going to lie on my hammock for a while.