New Part Day: Wireless BeagleBones On A Chip

The BeagleBone is a very popular single board computer, best applied to real-time applications where you need to blink LEDs really, really fast. Over the years, the BeagleBone has been used for stand-alone CNC controllers, the brains behind very large LED installations, and on rare occasions has been used to drive CRTs. If you just want a small Linux board, get a Pi. If you want to do something interesting with hardware, get a BeagleBone.

The BeagleBone ecosystem has grown a lot in the last year, from the wireless and Grove connector equipped BeagleBone Green, the robotics-focused BeagleBone Blue, the Zoolander-inspired Blue Steel. Now there’s a new BeagleBone, built around a very interesting System on Module introduced earlier this year.

The new board is called the BeagleBone Black Wireless, and it brings to the table all you know and love about the BeagleBone. There’s a 1GHz ARM355x with two 32-bit 200MHz PRUs for the real-time pin toggling. RAM is set at 512MB, with 4GB of eMMC Flash and Debian pre-installed, and a microSD card for larger storage options. The new feature is wireless connectivity: a TI WiFi and Bluetooth module with provisions for 802.11s replaces the old Ethernet connector.

Taken at face value, the new BeagleBone Black Wireless deserves a mention — it’s a BeagleBone with wireless — but isn’t particularly noteworthy. But when you get to the gigantic brick of resin dropped squarely in the middle of the board does the latest device in the BeagleBone family become very, very interesting. The System on Module for this version of the BeagleBone is the BeagleBone On A Chip released a few months ago. The Octavo Systems OSD335x is, quite literally, a BeagleBone on a chip. It’s a BGA with big balls, making it solderable with hand-applied solder paste and a toaster oven reflow conversion. In fact, the BeagleBone Wireless was designed by [Jason Kridner] in Eagle as a 6-layer board. It’s still a bit beyond the standard capabilities of OSHPark, but the design can still be cut down, and shows how this BeagleBone on a Chip can be applied to other Open Hardware projects.

27 thoughts on “New Part Day: Wireless BeagleBones On A Chip

    1. ” If you just want a small Linux board, get a Pi. If you want to do something interesting with hardware, get a BeagleBone” – I disagree…

      If you want to frustrated beyound belief by inadequate erroneous and contradictory online and printed information, Get a Beaglebone. If you want to do something serious with hardware, go with a Pi or a Yun.

    1. Thanks! I was sad the BBB wireless was out of stock, but you can get the BBGw from amazon.

      I keep collecting these things, and I never have time to put them to any good use… I need to get help.

        1. Wifi no, Memory yes. With LinuxCNC its nice to see the visualization of what the gcode will do. With more complex programs the display will start eating more and more memory to display the paths. Wifi is not needed but is nice for remote control and monitoring of jobs.

          1. you have a battery powered CnC machine?!?! Can it cut steel? For how long?

            Sorry, I’m just being an asshole because if it needs to be plugged into the wall for power, why not just use an ethernet cable? At least that seems to be how I tend to operate.

        1. A Pi3 and an Arduino Uno are about the same price so why not? Also, a Pi or BeagleBone has the power for future upgrades like web based GUIs or 18 bazillion other Linux libraries. Why limit yourself with small thinking if you don’t have too?

          1. Pi Zero’s are $5, C.H.I.P.’s are $9.

            These are all tools. Use the right tool for the job. I wouldn’t use an Arduino for a media centre, and I wouldn’t use a rPi as a neopixel control.

        2. You have no idea what you’re talking about. A “real” CNC controller has about as much to do with a 3d printer as my $100 remote control plane has to do with a Boeing 747. Yes, they both fly, but that’s about as far as the similarities go. I’d explain the differences between a modern, top of the line, CNC controller and the hobbyist 3d printer controller to you, but I’m not going to waste my time.

          But I’m not surprised by this from someone who has a fit about shipping his products to the US because “Custom and tariffs are too hard. so I’m, not going to do business in the US anymore.”

    1. I used them because it’s easy and it doesn’t take much time to do something that work. Sure it’s often way too much firepower for most project and you probably be better off using an ARM microcontroller or something, but mainly, I do this kind of thing for fun and I don’t have much time to learn how to use more appropriate components.
      I am a software engineer, I only have basic knowledge of electronic, so having an OS and being able to do some simple python script is the big seller for me.

    1. Beaglebone/boards have been around for a while now…since 2008. That’s almost 9 years. In this fast changing world, that makes it vintage. Fancy stuff would be to control an LED with a 3GHz Cortex-A72 deca-core and 4-8GB of RAM.

      At $70 US, I think it’s a little expensive for a board that’s supposed to have a higher degree of IC integration. It should be cheaper than the beaglebone black…or at least about the same price of $55.

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