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Beaglebone Bundle: BBB, Wireless Cape & Display - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 8
Demo Software was of good quality: 9
Product was easy to use: 9
Support materials were available: 8
The price to performance ratio was good: 8
TotalScore: 52 / 60
  • RoadTest: Beaglebone Bundle: BBB, Wireless Cape & Display
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Beagleboard-xM and Beaglebone black wireless
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: Device Tree for Display cape, Integrating display cape device tree into Yocto project Linux is bit complex and time taking process. User need deep level understanding of Device drivers and Kernel internals.

  • Detailed Review:

    I would like to thank Element14 and the Bundle producer for shortlisting me to write a review on this Beaglebone bundle product.

     

    Which components are available from this Bundle?

     

    The bundle includes Beaglebone black, beaglebone wireless cape, display cape and 4.3 inch capacitive touch display.

     

    Beaglebone black box:

     

    This box includes Beaglebone black, USB cable, user manual and a esd cover.

    Beaglebone black is a low cost Sitara AM3358BZCZ100 Cortex A8 ARM processor from Texas Instruments

    and community backed development Single Board Computer for developers and hobbyists.

    Unpacking Beaglebone black

     

    Beaglebone black specifications:

     

    Specifications can be found at the official website https://beagleboard.org/black

     

    Features

    • 512MB DDR3 RAM
    • 4GB 8bit eMMC on board flash storage
    • Optional on board 20 pin CTI JTAG, serial header
    • Most BeagleBone capes are cross compatible
    • 3D graphics accelerator
    • NEON floating-point accelerator
    • 2x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers

     

    Connectivity

    • USB client for power & communications
    • USB host
    • Ethernet
    • HDMI
    • 2x 46 pin headers

     

    Beaglebone black components and their placement in the pcb:

     

    Related image

    Beaglebone black Input output ports:

    Image result for beaglebone black rev c pinout

     

     

    Display cape:

     

    More details about this cape can be fond at 4.3 LCD Display Cape for Beaglebone Board (White, Black, or Wireless)

     

    This box includes 4.3 inch capacitive touch display, display cape to connect display, esd cover and user manual. The display features a vivid 4.3" LED backlit 480 x 272 TFT LCD with capacitive overlay for smartphone-like input. The cape utilizes a board ID EEPROM for plug and play functionality with the default Debian operating system and no drivers are required.

     

    It is good for embedded projects which requires interactive designs like Home automation and Internet Of Things.

     

    Unpacking Display cape

     

    Beaglebone black wireless cape:

     

    More details about the product can be found at the following Wireless Connectivity Cape for BeagleBone Black

     

    This box includes beaglebone wireless cape, esd cover and user manual.

     

    This Cape offers Dual-Band Wi-Fi/BT/BLE, dual on-board chip antennas & U.FL connectors,

    Dynamic NFC transponder, Includes on-board chip antenna and U.FL connector and IEEE 802.15.4, Zigbee and RF4CE.

     

     

    To boot Beaglebone black:

     

    Connect USB to computer and Beaglebone black, which supplies sufficient power to beaglebone and can give access to Internet.

    NOTE: when display and wireless capes are required connect input power supply as well.

     

    Download putty from Download PuTTY - a free SSH and telnet client for Windows

     

    and setup Beaglebone black with the following settings:

     

    Host name(or IP address) - 192.168.7.2
    
    port to - 22
    
    connection type - SSH

     

    then click on open, opened Putty window will be named after your device IP address i.e., 192.168.7.2

     

    login as:

     

     

    will appear

     

    login using root, then the terminal will appear as

     

    root@beaglebone:~#

     

    To enable internet in BBB using USB:

     

    - Check your WiFi/Ethernet adopter settings which is connected to PC for accessing internet

    - Click share with network adapter of the device ex: BBB

    - Change IP address 192.168.7.1 of device and give DNS server 8.8.8.8

    - Click ok

    - Connect in Windows putty to use internet to update to latest possible images.

     

    To connect beaglebone from putty or Linux Terminal:

     

    sudo ssh root@192.168.7.2

     

    How to debug beaglebone black:

     

    While in development stage of any project, Debugging is the essential key to check whether or not the features are implemented right.

     

    In order to Debug Beaglebone black, one need USB to TTL FTDI converter, find here the piece of hardware - USB to 3.3V TTL Converter USB Adapter Cables | Newark element14

     

    Pinouts (Black, Green and White) from USB to TTL converter can be connected to Beaglebone black as mentione below:

     

    Install putty to see booting log in Serial console.

     

    Loading Debian image for the Bundle:

     

    Latest customized Debian image for this bundle is provided by 4.3 LCD Display Cape for Beaglebone Board (White, Black, or Wireless)

     

    This image from downloads is bit larger than expected, so makes sense to have a uSD card of size 8 GB.

     

    Unzip image to an example /imagepath/BBB43LCD.img

     

    and copy the image using the following command, NOTE: imagine uSD name is mmcblk0

     

    sudo dd if=/imagepath/BBB43LCD.img of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=1M conv=fsync

     

    Insert the uSD card and reboot the system, for now Beaglebone black boots up and the booting log can be seen in the serial console using USB to TTL converter.

     

    Connecting display and wireless capes:

     

    NOTE:      - Remove USB to serial pins from Beaglebone before proceeding to connect additional capes.

                    - Do not forget to power down the board before connecting any capes.

                    - Check if all the pins of capes are in order, if any of the pins are wrongly bent, correct them before inserting.

     

     

    Booting the bundle with provided Debian image:

     

    Connect wireless and display cape to beaglebone, insert uSD card and reboot the system.

     

     

    The system boots Debian LXQT image, Display is very sensitive because it's capacitive touch.

     

    PRO's:

     

    - Beaglebone black is an open source hardware

    - Helpful to understand hardware components and their interconnections to processor

    - Display cape is compatible and ready to use with provided Debian image.

    - Generally, 4.3 inch capacitive touch display is quite expensive, this bundle have really worth display for the price paid.

    - Wireless cape provides wireless communication protocols like wifi and bluetooth

    - Small in size when compared to beagleboard-xM and beats many features

    - Small in size and low cost.

    - Useful for Beaglebone black dependent projects to add on capes instantly (of course custom OS is required)

    - The system was running more than 24 hours, there is no heat emission, no EMC emissions which can alter other components behavior.

     

    CON's:

     

    - Compared to Beaglebone Wireless, Wireless cape is an additional hardware to purchase along with beaglebone black.

    - Display cape: Device tree for cape is not handy to port with other Linux distributions

    - When wireless or display cape is connected to Beaglebone black, difficult to connect UART to TTL converter for debugging purposes.

    - Display cape image is larger than 4GB, need atleast 8GB uSD Card to boot (uSD card is not provided with the bundle).

    - Display cape is not compatible with Beaglebone Black Wireless yet

    - If you are that guy who keeps hardware in front of you while working, Blue LEDs are disturbing to eyes.

     

    Conclusion:

     

    The extra cost is affordable to purchase Display cape and Wireless cape when the dependency on Beaglebone black is greater than 70%.

    It would be wonderful to use the same Display cape with the combination of Beaglebone wireless, but device tree and kernel need to be modified with respect to board specification.

     

    When compared to Beaglebone wireless, the combination and cost of beaglebone black with the wireless cape is higher.

    If the project demands size of the end product it makes more sense to use Beaglebone wireless and Display cape combination.

     

    I tried to use yocto Linux with this Bundle but the display shows only white screen.

    I see the source code is yet to be modified for Beaglebone wireless and Display cape combination.

     

    Future/Further Developments:

     

    - Open source code of device tree and Kernel for wireless cape and Display cape to customize any Linux distribution with this bundle.

    - Any cape manufactured to give add on features to Beaglebone black must connect the JTAG/USB to TTL converter Jumpers from Beaglebone black to the cape.

    - These JTAG/USB to TTL jumpers are necessary while debugging any cape's source code.

    - May be, how about open sourcing cape's schematics?

     

    This is my first review, Please feel free to give any constructive feedback or ask if any questions in the comments section..Cheers for your time


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