The challenge of finding a BeagleBone Black board is well documented by Octopart and recently discussed on Adafruit’s Blog. Whatever the specific causes, the development boards have been nearly impossible to find. Today that problem is a concern of the past.
Via twitter, BeagleBoard.org announced that Embest, a Premier Farnell Company, is the first manufacturer licensed by the newly created BeagleBoard.org Logo Program, which stipulates:
The product bearing the BeagleBoard Compliant Logo has been tested by BeagleBoard.org and has been determined to be BeagleBoard Compliant. “BeagleBoard Compliant” is defined as a product that (a) is identical in technical design and functionality as the specified BeagleBoard.org product with which this product is compliant, and (b) runs on the version of the software provided by BeagleBoard.org to supplier. A product shall be deemed “BeagleBoard Compliant” as of the manufacture date. If additional peripherals are bundled with the supplier’s product, the “BeagleBoard Compliant” certification does not extend to those peripherals.
Volume details are not yet publicly available, but inventory numbers are well above 700 units at the time of publishing. Additional details will be made available Monday when the new arrangement is publicly launched.
This influx of available BeagleBone Blacks from a global distributor and manufacturer is welcome news for makers interested in using a powerful and open-hardware platform.
A group of students from The University of California, San Diego created a motor control shield for the BeagleBone Black. The shield can be used in projects like self-balancing vehicles (as shown in the video above), drones, or robots. Amy Szeto from Texas Instruments was demoing the board on the floor of International CES 2014 along with a few other maker-friendly products.
The self-balancing ‘bot project served as an early prototype for the WowWee’s iPhone-controlled MiP robot, which was also unveiled at CES. (See correction below.)
Students from UC San Diego’s embedded control and robotics class each built up their own MiP using the kit. If you’re looking to buy your own kit or breakout board, it will be available within a few months through Sparkfun and other distributors.
Correction: The video and article above are incorrect in that the BealgeBone version of MiP was not the prototype for the consumer version. Saam Ostovari, PhD student in the Coordinated Robotics Lab at UCSD explains:
When WowWee approached the lab we looked at a number of different things we could do with them. One of the things that came up was what is now MiP. I took lead on the development of the first prototype, which was Arduino-based. I did all the programming, the electrical and the design work. This was about a year and a half ago. I then have been working with WowWee on the production model, teaching them how balancing works, helping them get all the right components together, making sure it has good balancing performance with the low cost toy-grade components and that the toy hits a great price point.
Once we were working towards getting the production version’s details together, my professor wanted to start on the educational side of things. With all the work that was done on MiP, we had a much better understanding of what needed to be done to make a small Segway-like vehicle that hit a low price point. So my professor, Thomas Bewley, one other PhD student, Nick Morozovsky, and I started work on the first educational MiP called MyMiP. Much of what I had done for MiP went into MyMip. And we ended up successfully teaching the first hands on controls course based around MiP.
Some time later after the completion of the course, we began to look at what we wanted to do for next year’s course. It was at this time that we made the decision to pursue the BeagleBone Black as I had taken Arduino to its limits to do MiP. We wanted students to be able to do more after the class then just get a mobile inverted pendulum balancing. We wanted them to be able to start adding some level of autonomy. For this new project, James Strawson, a new PhD in lab at the time, took lead. James went ahead and took the educational MiP to the next level resulting in BeagleMip.
So many development boards out there. What’s this “new” one, the BeagleBone Black? Well, as David Scheltema, Assistant Technical Editor for MAKE explains, BeagleBoard has been around for about five years, though the smaller BeagleBone Black is pretty new.
[huff_gallery title=”You can follow along with David’s presentation” ids=”367076,367077,367078,367079,367080,367081,367072,367073,367074,367075″]
At Maker Faire NYC, David provided an nice introduction to the BeagleBone Black, and explained how it has been used to make projects like OpenROV’s underwater rover or Hoboken Makerbar’s Orbital Rendersphere.
For about $45, you get a single board 1GHz computer capable of running a Linux distribution. The BeagleBone Black has USB, Ethernet and video (HDMI) interfaces, and header pins for expansion. Expansion boards are called “capes”, and include all sorts of functionality for video, memory, sensors and controls.
(David presented this talk a few times during Maker Faire weekend. I selected the version of the video I felt best represented his content.)
Two projects featured at Maker Faire caught my eye because, well, I’m obsessed with LED displays right now. It turns out they have cool software in common.
First there’s the Orbital Rendersphere, a spherical persistence-of-vision display built by Hoboken MakerBar that consists of a pair of 4-foot hoops with LED strips on them, rotating at 450 RPM to create an awesome POV display. The project was written up on BeagleBoard.org.
The other project is NYC Resistor’s Future Crew, an interactive game made up of RasPi-equipped vintage electronics. The central pedestal (pictured above) has an octagonal RGB LED Matrix (the “Octoscroller“) along with additional LED strips. The Octoscroller is made up of eight Adafruit 16×32 matrices and they display information during the course of the game.
What these two projects have in common (besides glorious LED goodness) is Trammell Hudson’s LEDscape, which is BeagleBone cape and firmware that help the BB control 544 meters of WS2811 LED strips, drawn at 30 fps. LEDscape is open source. If you’re considering building a LED project with a kajillion lights, definitely check it out.
The new Arduino Tre board. Near-side of board: USB (left), HDMI (middle) and Audio In/Out (right). Far-side of the board: 5V power jack (left), micro-USB (lift-middle), Ethernet (right-middle) and USB (right). In the middle we have GPIO headers for the ARM processor, along with Arduino form-factor headers for the AVR processor. Right in the middle are headers to insert an XBee radio.
With information about the new Arduino Tre board scare on the ground right now, I managed to track down Jason Kridner from the BeagleBoard Foundation to talk about the new board.
We know very little about the Tre, the Galileo is getting far more coverage. So tell use about the new Arduino Tre?
Arduino TRE is an actual Arduino board, not just a compatible. It is pushing the experience to the next level with an on-board served IDE that is Arduino’s IDE. That’s the fundamental difference, ignoring the performance, which happens to be a lot higher than the Galileo platform.
It looks to BeagleBone split in half with an Arduino dropped in the middle?
The focus is on simplicity. It isn’t just a BeagleBone split in the middle. It assigns useful functions to the pins rather than leaving it to the devicetree world to assign. The micro stuff is assigned to the AVR where there is a huge code reference. For where you need higher performance and Linux connectivity, the pins are there and already setup for quick use.
Is that an XBee socket in the middle of the board? Is the XBee connected to the Linux or the Arduino side?
Absolutely! Linux side.
How does the Linux side—Arduino side work. Is the integration similar to the Yún?
Very, very similar! The Bridge API will be fully reusable. You can come at it in the ways you are familiar. If you know Linux, you’ll be able to come in that way. If you know Arduino, you’ll be able to use the AVR as the system master.
If so… the Yún came with the new Arduino Bridge library, does the Tre?
How was TI and the BeagleBoard Foundation involved with the Tre’s development?
TI continues to donate Gerald’s and my time. The foundation is focused on supporting advancement of Linux and other open source on open hardware. The Foundation doesn’t have any royalties for this arrangement and isn’t playing that active of a role, but will be involved in advancement of source for this platform and other BeagleBoard.org platforms. CircuitCo, a member of the Foundation, has a lead role in the design and production of the TRE and other open platforms.
The “Evolution of Microcontrollers” panel with Massimo Banzi, left, Jason Kridner, center, and MAKE’s Matt Richardson.
Makers love to develop on their favorite microcontrollers. The creators behind two of the most popular took boards the stage at the New York Hardware Innovation Workshop (HIW) in a panel moderated by MAKE’s own Matt Richardson. Although makers might like to argue about which is the best platform, there was plenty of common ground for these two panelists.
Massimo Banzi, Co-Founder of the Arduino Project, began the session with a short discussion on how and why Arduino got started.
“Every time you design a system to do everything, you end up with a system designed to do nothing,” Massimo says. “The challenge is to build a platform that solves a simple problem for a specific group of people: beginners for example.”
That’s just what the Arduino Project set out to do.
“Our boards are not the most powerful, but they enable people to get ideas into products very fast. It’s people over Megahertz.”
Jason Kridner, co-founder of BeagleBoard agreed. “Our goal is to get the technology out there, and get out of people’s way,” he said.
Jason was a chief technologist for one of the largest microelectronics companies out there, Texas Instruments. Now he is an open platforms evangelist at TI, in addition to his work at BeagleBoard.
It is also important to build a community where beginners can get help. “Everybody should know how to ask an expert a question,” Jason said.
Regarding any animosity between makers in one microcontroller camp and another, Massimo joked, “You have to manage the ‘bitchiness’ in any tech community.”
With the release of the BeagleBone Black and its dramatic price reduction from the original BeagleBone, there’s been a flurry of interest in the open source embedded Linux development board. At Maker Faire New York next weekend, there will be no shortage of BeagleBone projects, presentations, and enthusiasts. Here’s a small taste of what to look out for if you’re interested in learning about the BeagleBone:
- Getting Started with BeagleBone Black: The BeagleBone Black is a completely Open Hardware and Software single board computer for makers. Have you tried it? Come learn a bit about the BeagleBone Black and find out if it is right for your next project.
- Face Detection in Ten Minutes with BeagleBone Black: In this talk, BeagleBoard.org co-founder Jason Kridner discusses how to use the OpenCV open-source library on the BeagleBone Black open-source computer to implement face detection applications and add elegant mustaches and other new features to your mug. Jason demonstrates his BeagleStache camera application as an example of this application.