RoadTest: Beaglebone Black Radio Challenge
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?: Raspberry Pi
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Troubleshooting the soundcard: audio is available only when using specific video resolutions
As one of the contestants in element14's Beaglebone Black Radio Challenge, I've been given the chance to explore the functionalities of the Beaglebone Black for a couple of weeks now.
The Beaglebone Black is a $45 single board computer which I find to be very similar to the Raspberry Pi (Model B Rev 2 - $35).
The Beaglebone Black (or BBB) has following characteristics:
Just like an Arduino has shields and the Raspberry Pi has expansion boards, the BBB has "capes".
For the Radio challenge, we were given a LCD touch cape (CircuitCo:BeagleBone LCD4 - eLinux.org) to use with the BBB. There are however many other types of capes available, ranging from battery capes, to audio capes or even prototyping capes.
A listing of capes and their compatibility with the Beaglebone Black can be found here: Beagleboard:BeagleBone Capes - eLinux.org
My experiences with the LCD4 cape were good, but there are some downsides as well:
I haven't had the chance to play with other capes for now, but I will certainly consider them for future projects.
The Beaglebone Black comes by default with a Linux distribution called "Angstrom".
Just like with the Raspberry Pi, there is a variety of other operating systems available for the Beaglebone Black:
I remained with the default Angstrom for my project and found it to be very similar to other distros. It just required some getting used to, as for example the packet manager is called "opkg" while I was used to using "apt-get". But overall, I managed to work with the Angstrom distribution without encountering too many problems.
It is also possible to experiment with other distributions on the Beaglebone without flashing the onboard storage, by booting from a microSD card with the alternative image.
For this Roadtest, I also used a variety of peripherals and accessories in combination with the Beaglebone Black.
I was really surprised that most of the peripherals were either plug and play or very straightforward to get installed on the most recent version of the Angstrom distribution.
There was also a protective case from Adafruit provided for this Roadtest. Because of the LCD cape, the top half had to be removed. I was however pleasantly surprised to see that the bottom half would still fit, even with the LCD cape on, and as such still providing protection to the back of the Beaglebone Black.
I'm in the process of finalising my Beaglebone Black Radio.
You can find my blog posts about it here:
They contain additional information and thoughts on the different components as I was using them. I hope you enjoyed this review and that it will be useful in any way.