The BeagleBone Black is a lil’ Linux-powered single-board computer whose curved corners allow it to fit snugly inside a mint tin 😉 The ‘Bone has a capable array of GPIOs, PWMs, analog inputs, along with I2C, SPI, and the highly-reliable low-latency PRUs (Programmable Real-time Units, powered by two 32-bit 200MHz built-in microcontrollers!), among other features and capabilities. Below we’ve rounded up everything from getting started with to peripherals to some projects that use the ‘Bone:
OK first things first and with the BeagleBone Black that means a dedicated power supply. This wall wart supply of 2000mAh is sufficient if not ideal. Long-story short you don’t want to power the BeagleBone Black over USB if you plan on conducting any WiFi activity (see adapter, below) or driving any project where the power draw might spike. Get a good power supply, and you’ll be good too! This wart is relatively small for the punch it packs with plugs in the orientation I prefer for most of my project installs.
Not as discreet as other WiFi modules on the market – but personally I dig the articulating antenna that I can somewhat point in the optimal direction (and yes things like this do actually matter, like, a lot) for my installation.
From Prototype to Project
For any board, you’ll likely want to begin with a breadboard setup, and proto plates are not only a great way to house a breadboard alongside whatever board you’re working with but allow easy pickup-and-go transport of the prototyping to any new location.
When you’re ready to make your prototyping layout a little more permanent – and perhaps reclaim your breadboard – consider migrating everything to this Beagle Bone Proto. It doesn’t contain as much prototyping real estate as a breadboard, and will require a nominal amount of soldering, but it looks great and will make nice and tidy your custom through-hole component circuit for your BeagleBone Black.
And when you’re ready to go full-enclosure, for install either at your workstation or in an environment where the ‘Bone can be placed and left alone, this aluminum-finished enclosure looks fantastic. There’s room inside to house your Beagle Bone Proto as well – although not necessarily the components on top, that all depends on your design and layout. The clear top allows easy viewing of the board or any display or indicator LEDs you might have installed.
And of course if you like this sleek case but want it a bit more stealth-looking, check out this black version. 😉
‘LED blink’ is basically the ‘hello world‘ of any single-board computer project – and this 15-minute project will have you going ‘Aha!’ when you’re done with how easy and intuitive the ‘Bone can be. After this you’ll no doubt want to explore other simple how-tos like measuring temperature or measuring light values – then you’ll be ready for more sophisticated motor control or capsense projects.
Not exactly a simple project, this build will test your fabrication, soldering, and software skillz. But the result is a fantastic-looking 64×64 retro gaming station LedGames!
Dirty Dish Detector
My own little claim to fame is this ‘Bone- and OpenCV-powered project I built alongside Jason Kridner called the Dirty Dish Detector. The hardware is relatively plug-n-play, however it will involve some navigation of the command line, as well as Cloud9 which is a brilliant built-in cloud development solution for ‘Bone builds!
Does your makerspace have a sink that is always full of dirty dishes? Or do you yourself require better discipline around the home to stay on top of your chores? To automate your home, office, or workshop, one of the first things you’ll require is some kind of vision system to detect motion or objects. A small computer capable of running OpenCV could be just the tool you need.
The Dirty Dish Detector combines a BeagleBone Black & Logitech webcam – along with plenty of open-source software – to tackle the annoying activity of tracking when dishes get left in the sink.
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