RoadTest: Beaglebone Black
Evaluation Type: Independent Products
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: There are a few comparable products including the Texas Instruments Launchpad and the PIC microcontroller and others. The major different here is that the BeagleBone Black runs a full Linux distribution called angstrom.
What were the biggest problems encountered?: I found that the even though everything required was included (USB cable and BBB), I found that there were a few things that also came in handy to have, namely an Ethernet cable and a power source. These two items were handy as I had a little trouble connecting to the internet from the BBB over USB, this may just be that my system isn't set up for proper use.
The BeagleBone Black (BBB) is a very interesting controller system as it includes a full imbedded GNU/Linux (hereafter referred to as just Linux) distribution called Angstrom. This allows for some very interesting usages for the BBB, one of which could be a mobile computer that fits in your pocket, an entirely customizable tablet or phone and many other uses.
The processor is an AM355x 1GHz ARM cortex-A8 with 512MB DDR3 RAM, 2GB of 8-bit MMC flash storage, 3D graphics accelerator, a NEON floating-point accelerator and two (2) PRU 32-bit microcontrollers. The BBB comes with Angstrom Linux installed, but can run Android, Ubuntu and many others. By default the BBB runs Cloud9 IDE for easy in-browser programming. In terms of connectivity, the BBB has USB client for power and communicating with your computer, USB host, HDMI via an on-board HDMI type-D micro port and two (2) fourty-six (46) pin breakout headers for all your pinout needs.
The BeagleBone Black pcb is 809mmx503mm (3.8inx2.4in) and fits nicely inside and altoids tin. The two (2) 46-pin headers are great for all those control pins that some applications require. Running a full linux distribution allows one to program in any language that can be compiled and run under Linux.
All those header pins can become a little unruly if one does not do some serious pin and wire management.
There will be a follow up to this review as I had a great use case for the BBB while I was writing this initial thoughts review. Once that project is complete, I will be posting another review detailing the project itself and any problems I ran into along the way.