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BoneCommander - A Ruggedized BeagleBone Linux Computer


beaglebone black wireless bonecommander


beaglebone black wireless bonecommander




The BoneCommander is a rugged and mobile BeagleBone Linux Computer powered by a BeagleBone Black Wireless SBC.

An Element14 BeagleBone 4.3" LCD Display Cape is the primary display interface for the BBB W. There is a 4 port USB Hub connected to the USB Host on the BeagleBone and a Wireless USB Keyboard with touchpad connected to this USB Hub. Power is provided by an Adafruit PowerBoost 1000C 5V Lipo USB Boost Charger and a 3.7v 2500mAh Lithium Ion Polymer Battery. The PowerBoost 1000C utilizes the TPS61090 boost converter from TI.



Parts List


BeagleBone Black Wireless

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander




Element 14 BeagleBone 4.3 LCD Display

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander



83-17317 -  Miniature Wireless USB Keyboard with Touchpad

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander



Zero4U - 4 Port USB Hub for Raspberry Pi Zero v1.3

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander



PowerBoost 1000 Charger - Rechargeable 5V Lipo USB Boost @ 1A - 1000C

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander




Lithium Ion Polymer Battery - 3.7v 2500mAh

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander



Vaultz Locking Gadget Box, Black with Chrome Accents,

Dimensions:Height:2.75",Width:8.25",Depth:5.5",Internal Height:2"

Internal Width:4.625",Internal Depth:7.75"


Sandisk 32GB microSD Card


OS Image


Debian 9.3 2018-01-28 4GB SD IoT



beaglebone black wireless bonecommander


Building the BoneCommander


     Last year I purchased the Element 14 BeagleBone 4.3 LCD Display for use with the BeagleBone Black Wireless. Even though this display was created before the BBB W, I was sure that it would be compatible. Well it is to a degree. The OS Image provided with the display was not fully compatible. Likely a result of the display cape's special OS Image, the WiFi and Bluetooth peripherals of the BBB W were not detected and therefore not accessible.

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

The display cape was then tested with the official Debian 9.1 2017-08-31 4GB SD LXQT Desktop image provided by BeagleBoard.org.

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

With this OS Image, the wireless peripherals are detected as present.

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

Okay so we have the full desktop image operating properly. We even have a little Chromium Browser.


A sigh of relief, it works. Now to shutdown and begin work on an enclosure. If only it was that easy.


Upon shutdown the BBB W would get stuck in an infinite power down loop. The only way to stop this was by holding the power button down or unplugging the device (not recommended).


Unfortunately I didn't know how to resolve this issue so the display cape was put on the shelf until a solution could be found.

A few months had passed. I was sitting at my desk working with a BeagleBone Black Wireless late one night. After a few hours of staring at a terminal, fatigue sets in and I begin to see errors in my work. It is at this point that I need to make a choice, shutdown and lay it down or get some coffee and get back at it. Mmmm coffee.


So with the prospect of coffee in mind, I stood up for a little stretch and that's when I saw it. The display cape that had been placed on the shelf months ago. I felt a bit of guilt when looking upon it. I know, it's just a piece of hardware, but it's a piece of hardware that someone put time and effort into designing. This thing has a purpose, and that purpose was not be stuck in a box on a shelf.


Full of coffee and back at my desk, I made the decision to change direction and revisit the display cape. This time I decided to try out the Debian IoT image. What do you know, it works. None of the same issues that were experienced with the other images.


With the cape and the BBB W working together properly, now it's back to work on the enclosure.


The Enclosure


I found this Vaultz Locking Gadget Box on sale at a local shop last year. The box had also been put on the shelf sometime ago. You see, I didn't know exactly what this box would be used for. It's only when the BBB W and the display cape were assembled that I realized the box might be a good fit for this project.


beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

Here are some of the tools that were used to modify the enclosure. A cordless drill was also used.


beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

A hole was cut to the size of the LCD display and some hot glue was applied to secure the display to the inside of the enclosure.

In between the BBB W and the display, A piece of foam wrapped in electrical tape has been placed to protect the display. A few pieces of the foam were also used to protect the ribbon cables that run from the display to the cape. This foam was recycled from the packaging my Raspberry Pi Touchscreen.


beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

On the right side, I placed a temporary piece of foam and foam project board. After the setup was confirmed to work, these were removed and the BBB W and cape were secured with some hot glue.

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

For the antennas and micro USB ports, a few holes were drilled. The micro USB plug wouldn't quite fit without  first removing some of the aluminum frame. You might be wondering, "What's up with the Stormtrooper?" Well the Stormtrooper is actually a streaming music player for my shop. Stormtrooper Pi Radio

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

The BeagleBone Black Wireless only has one USB host so I have added a 4-port USB hub. This particular USB hub is a Zero4U 4-port hub that was designed for the Raspberry Pi Zero. With a very compact form factor, this USB hub is a perfect fit for this project.


On the right side, a breadboard and a few components that might be used. Opposite the breadboard, I have drilled a few holes to allow air to pass.


The BBB W has not yet been configured for use with the GPS module that is shown in the photo. There is a chance that it might be damaged or my wiring was incorrect. It did not appear on UART as it should but then I might have queried the wrong UART. There is another GPS Module to swap with this one, and that one is  confirmed working. The other GPS is currently attached to another BeagleBone project which is in the works. Eventually the BoneCommander will control them all.

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

     Vader's Theme playing in background.


Powering the BoneCommander

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

The Adafruit PowerBoost 1000C seemed to be the best choice for supplying battery power to the BeagleBone Black Wireless.

It was already known that the PowerBoost could sufficiently power the BBB W from previous experience.

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

BeagleBone Black Wireless wireless...kind of.

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

Will the Adafruit PowerBoost be able to power the BoneCommander?


We shall see...We shall see (regrettable acting )


beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

   We have a command line.

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

    sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

beaglebone black wireless bonecommander

   sudo look cool...Good BeagleBone



Thanks for checking out the BoneCommander Project.