BeagleBoard Gives New Power to Open Source Gadgets…

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Overview of the BeagleBoard @ Wired

Open source hardware hobbyists now have a chipset to play with that’s comparable to the powerful processors found in smartphones such as the Nexus One or HTC Incredible.

Texas Instruments has released a new version of its low-power, single-board computer called BeagleBoard-xM. It’s based on the same 1-GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor that drives the most sophisticated smartphones today. That gives it far more processing power than the leading open-source microcontroller platform, Arduino, which many hobbyists currently use to create robots, sensors, toys and other DIY devices.

We’re not sure it makes sense to compare the BeagleBoard with the Arduino, but it keeps coming up in articles.

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  1. What are the major similarities and differences between the Beagleboard and the Arduino? They look as though they are very similar in purpose.

  2. They are orthogonal – the beagleboard is basically a laptop. it can do everything a computer can. it can’t do what the arduino excels at: driving LCDs, motors, LEDs, ‘real time’ stuff, analog inputs, PWM outputs, etc.

    Its like comparing a bicycle with a car. yes, they both have wheels, they go on roads and transport ‘stuff’ but they have pretty much nothing else in common.

  3. Thanks for the explanation. Interesting, something else to look into… would that be something you would eventually be selling here?

  4. It’s eerie. Right about the time this was posted I had an idea for a project that required this kind of processing power to pull off.

    It also seems to me that TI is trying to be a little more “hobbyist friendly” in some ways. Baby steps, for sure, but I kind of get that feeling. Now if they’d just stop suing people for hacking their own calculators…

  5. Maybe its time for a project to port arduino to beagle board and gumstix.

    The beagle board/overo can do pwm ,analog inputs(10) driving leds and motors but the interfacing is a bit more painful and io is limited
    (similar number to the smaller arduino boards). Level shifting 1.8V to 5V and 12V takes a bit more work and its wise to opto couple most io.

    We’re in the process of building a remotely accessible omap (overo) based experiment/lab for student use which will have pwm control of a dc motor , fan and heater/crystal oven as well as spi control of leds matrixes and spi to read sensors.

    This is the io expansion for the gumstix tobi board


  6. It feels like a netbook motherboard with some ARM serial peripherals exposed on a header. Performance is measured in ‘Dhrystone MIPS’, how does that compare to an 8bit microcontroller? Next up, my Dhrystone benchmark sketch for Arduino 🙂

    It doesn’t look like BeagleBoard promotes this, and I guess Wired has to appeal to a range of readers with different levels of knowledge. Still, ‘mini open source computer motherboard’ is pretty easy to understand too, though not quite as hip with jargon.

  7. The BeagleBoard does bridge the gap a bit. The obvious functionality is coming down from the computer-like side, but the header includes a bunch of (1.8V) GPIOs and SPI/I2C for connecting A/D converters. With the serial and USB-OTG port, it should be easy enough to put some Arduino-like software on it to make accessing those resources easy, as is suggested above.

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