The BeagleBone Black Wireless is a low-cost, credit-card-sized development platform with good support from a fast-growing community. Replacing the 10/100 Ethernet port with onboard 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz WiFi and Bluetooth, the BeagleBone Black computer now comes with built-in wireless networking capability. BeagleBone Black Wireless is the easiest to use and modify IoT Linux computer of its size. Ultimately, the BeagleBone Black Wireless 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 Octavo Systems OSD3358 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, BeagleBone Black Wireless 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 more than 3 million Dhrystone operations per second and vector floating point arithmetic operations, the BeagleBone Black Wireless 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.
Like BeagleBone Black, the wireless version retains HDMI output, serial debug port, PC USB interface, USB 2.0 host, and reset and power buttons. This version adds two more status LEDs for WiFi and Bluetooth. Also retained is the 4GB of onboard eMMC memory with Debian Linux pre-installed, allowing BeagleBone Black Wireless to boot in around 10 seconds, and have you developing through your web browser in less than 5 minutes using just a single USB cable.
Note: These are BeagleBone Black Wireless 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 the computers are identical in both form and function. For more information, check out BeagleBoard's Compliant Program.
If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Competent - The toolchain for programming is a bit more complex and will examples may not be explicitly provided for you. You will be required to have a fundamental knowledge of programming and be required to provide your own code. You may need to modify existing libraries or code to work with your specific hardware. Sensor and hardware interfaces will be SPI or I2C.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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So this is the BeagleBone Black ****Wireless****.. but as a previous reviewer pointed out, it does NOT come working out of the box. other me: ...really?? me: yes.. really.. Perhaps this is because the boards Sparkfun has are not actually made by BeagleBoard, just a guess (not taking a jab at Sparkfun!). There is also little to no documentation explaining how to get it working. At any rate, here is what I ended up doing: Update to the latest OS release (in my case I went with Debian). You WILL need a memory card, so you might as well buy one now. This ended being a two step process for me. Once you load the image on to the card, you will need to edit a text file within the card. I am using Mac OS and I could not read the card after the image was burned so ended up booting the BeagleBone to the card, editing the text file /boot/uEnv.txt (remove the # from #cmdline=init=/opt/scripts/tools/eMMC/init-eMMC-flasher-v3.sh) and rebooting without holding the boot button (Holding the boot button is NOT flashing the board, I saw several places state this). After it flashes, you can remove the card and boot in to the onboard flash. The wifi will still not work at this point. For the wifi, go back in to the /boot/uEnv.txt file and add the following line: dtb=am335x-boneblack-wireless.dtb Now reboot. There should be more blinky blinkies.. and you should see the BeagleBone show up as a wifi access point.
This is my third, love how useful they are. This one will probably used as part of a timing system for autocross. Using the WiFi as a hotspot so that timing results can be read by anyone on a tablet or smart phone.
I've had the BBBW on the bench for a few weeks, now it is working, all good. Mainly doing some Python GPIO and MQTT (over built in WiFi now) as IOT sandbox. The main issue I had was getting WLAN to work. connmanctl and ifconfig were not showing any wireless adapters or ports out of the box. It took I while to figure it out. Apparently it's not uncommon for these boards to ship with 'non-wireless' flash images. Found the solution here:
Copy-paste from the link:
Lovely, another furbar'ed eeprom:
GND TP1 and run:
sudo dd if=/opt/scripts/device/bone/bbbw-eeprom.dump of=/sys/devices/platform/ocp/44e0b000.i2c/i2c-0/0-0050/eeprom
sudo /opt/scripts/tools/version.sh | grep eeprom and it "should" show: A335BNLTBWA50000BBWG0000 Then it'll work out of the box.. ----8<---------8<---------8<---------8<---------8<-----
Once this was done, and a few more straightforward teaks I was able to connect to home WLAN, install python packages over WiFi, and get some MQTT communications done using python paho mqtt package.
The BeagleBone black is a very good base for an IoT project. It has enough processing power to do all those IoT tyoe tasks and can serve up a web page. Default Apache2 is installed. My biggest complaint is they keep on changing the Overlay styles for the capes. If the u-Boot loader is older than 1.2017, it will need to be upgraded to use the newer images. To upgrade, just get the latest image on an SD card and flash it to the on board eMMC. If the onboard eMMC is not upgraded the Overlays in the SD card just won't work. It is a pain, but once everything is upgraded it works like a champ.
The BBBW turns out to be incompatible with both applications for which it was purchased. A BBB w/ ethernet works fine. Now I'm stuck with the unit because Sparkfun does not accept returns. Not blaming anyone but myself, but it seems very inflexible to not allow a return credit towards the BBB. As a result I will be purchasing one from Mouser or Digikey.
I really wanted this board to work and tried everything I could think of to make it work. Here are some things I like about the beagleboard over a Pi: Robust barrel connector for power External Wifi antenna that can be fed out of an enclosure 1/3 the power requirements of a Pi4 Runs much cooler than a Pi Now the things that don't work. I was able to compile the GOESTOOLS software. This is software for using a software defined radio device (sdr) to receive and decode a NOAA GOES weathersatellite signal. I have the software setup on the beagle and a Pi. At first I had the beagle connected directly to the SDR device but to narrow down the problem I currently have a USB hub at the sdr device and a long USB cable running into a window to plug into the pi. It works on the Pi. If the beagle is next to the pi and I move the USB cable to the beagle it doesn't work. when I run goesrecv(this is the receiver portian, you also run goesproc to decode the signal into images-it can be run on a seperate machine on a network), the beagle version of goesrecv ends up dropping packets. When it became obvious that this board was not going to work for weather satellite reception I tried to use it to replace one of the Pis I am using with my HAM radio. Unfortunately I have yet to get the HDMI to work. Apparently this is a common problem with these boards. I have 2 HDMI monitors and this board will not display on either of them. So currently I have a completely useless to me, $104 paperweight.
Some things to consider if you will be tangling with this board-you will need a memory card to do anything useful with this board. The documentation says there is a software image in flash, and there is one. I assumed I could simply get the board on the network and issue the usual sudo apt update and sudo apt upgrade commands. There is not enough space in the native image for the latter of these commands to run.
Getting networking to run was not terribly difficult-there are instructions elsewhere for this. You will have to use a command line tool to make it work but it is pretty straightforward.
Note that when you plug the board into a USB port on your computer it will show up as a storage device AND a network adapter. There are instructions online explaining the default IP address of the board so you can navigate and if desired interact with it through a web browser. I preferred to use ssh. ssh is much quicker than a web browser.
Note also, when you power it up from a computer USB port you may need to still power it from an external supply. The LEDs on the board behave differently when connected to a computer's USB port then when the board is "stand alone". When running stand alone only the 3 blue LEDs nearest the power connector will light up. One is for the wireless, one for bluetooth, and I think one is power.
Lastly, there is a boot button allegedly that needs to be pressed to boot from a cf card. If the card has a OS, the board will boot from the card regardless of the state of that button. There is also a power button, that button also appears to do nothing. If the board is connected to power it will boot. Not sure if reset does anything or not.
Finally, the power supply must have a pretty fast rise time or the board will not boot.
I guess there is another Pi in my future...
This is a perfect little tool to become my primary automotive instrumentation device. I've also purchased the 4G 7" LCD cape (wonder why that's now retired?) Plan is to hook this up to the OBD-II breakout board, with a GPS (for a REAL speedo) and hack on into the cars ECM to display actual coolant temp (not some meaningless gauge) and other significant data, all displayed right ABOVE my steering wheel. Oh, and I'll be using bluetooth TPMS valve stem caps, so I can see the ACTUAL tire pressure in each tire, not a stupid "TPMS is bad" idiot light on my dash.
Of course, like others have said... The EEPROM on board is mis-programmed, so you have to solder a patch wire onto the board to ground TP1, and then you can actually write the correct data to the EEPROM. Not a big deal, but not obvious, either. THEN, if you want to flash the OS on the board with the latest version, you can do it from the SD card. Not too hard, but I found that pressing that stiff little button during power-up, which SHOULD cause the OS to be flashed from the SD card, never worked, so I found the hack to make it automatically flash whenever there is an SD card in at boot. That got her done!
This isn't a great web browser with the LCD cape - it's SLOW. I haven't tried using the micro-HDMI port yet. Need a cable for that. But - it should be an awesome auto instrument display!