Review of Beaglebone

Table of contents

RoadTest: Beaglebone

Author: wwinter86

Creation date:

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?: PandaBoard Raspberry Pi

What were the biggest problems encountered?:

Detailed Review:

 

 

The BeagleBone is a barebones version of the BeagleBoard with the intent of being low cost (about £70), high expansion and hardware hacker focussed single cable development board. It works stand-alone or as a usb or ethernet expansion to your BeagleBoard. However I feel it’s real usefulness comes when it is used as an expansion for another board such as the BeagleBoard or Raspberry Pi.

 

The BeagleBone is open hardware and even clone-able with hundreds of projects all over the world using it. It contains an ARM Cortex A8 running at 720MHz (while plugged into the 5V power supply or 500MHz when using only USB for power), 256MB of DDR2 RAM, SGX530 graphics, OpenGL ES 2.0, 1 USB 2.0 port, USB 2.0 fl device port with ability to act as the power supply, on-board USB to Serial/JTAG over the USB device port, 3.3-V 2× 46-pin peripheral with multiplexed LCD signals and battery-control expansion headers and one 10/100 ethernet (on-chip) port.

 

The board has so many uses it would be hard to list them all here, but for example robotics, creating a video wall, making 3D printers, running a web server, making a home media centre or creating a kiosk.

 

In the box you receive of-course the BeagleBone itself plus a micro SD card containing the Angstrom Linux distribution with the browser based Cloud9 IDE and GateOne (HTML5 browser based terminal) also on the SD card. You also receive a USB cable (but no 5V power cable), another micro SD card (4GB) this time with SDK software on, a SD card adapter and an Altoids tin. This is probably as good a time as any to mention that there is no monitor/TV output ports on the board, so you have to use a terminal from another linux, OSX or windows computer. There is however a DVI-D cape (add-on board, the Bone is not compatible with Arduino shields) available costing about £40 or you could get a 7” LCD cape for about £127.

 

When you first plug in the USB it will pop-up on your computer just like any other USB drive, and from here you can view it’s read-me file that will get you started with the basics of using your board and installing any necessary drivers. Normally you should be able to access the BeagleBone on the IP address 192.168.7.2, however I have found this to be 50/50 with 192.168.0.101.

 

The other problems I have noticed is that you use ‘opkg upgrade’ to update all of the linux distro and its packages, however I have found that doing this often fails, and you need to rebuild the card using the production image that you can find on the net (so I recommend that you back up the card first). The other problem I have found is that sometimes especially on OSX the card does not mount like it should, which is needed to be done before you can use it through the ethernet. Both of these problems are something that should be fixable in the future via a software update, but with out any updating the board works very fast with it booting up with in seconds (10 secs max).

 

So in conclusion this is a very good development board with most of the problems being something that could quite easily be fixed with software updates. That being said there is no video or audio out on the board, with out buying a £40 add-on board which forces me to rate it down a little, so my verdict in the end is 8/10.

 


Anonymous