Sci-Fi Contest Prize Acquisition Issues — Oh Noes!


We spent quite a bit of time picking out prizes for the Sci-Fi contest. But wouldn’t you know it, literally the day after announcing the contest we cued up The Amp Hour and heard about a worldwide stock shortage (34:00) of BeagleBone Black boards. About a week later Adafruit ran an explanation of the issues. It became clear why we were having issues sources a quintet of boards so that we could deliver on our prize offer.

To further compound problems we a somewhat smaller issue sourcing Spark Core boards. We put in an order for a quintet of them when we posted the contest; at the time they were supposed to be shipping in late March, but now shipping estimates have been delayed to mid-April. Assuming no more delays these should be available by the time the contest ends at the end of April so keep your fingers crossed.

We have a good relationship with the folks over at Spark Core and can probably ask them to help us out if we do get in a bind. But we don’t think anyone is going to be able to deliver the BeagleBone Black boards (which we have on backorder) in time for the end of the contest. So here’s the deal: if you win and really want these exact boards in the prize package you select, we’re going to do what needs to be done to get it for you, eventually. If you don’t want to wait and there is a suitable alternative we’ll make that happen.

We wondered what people are doing if they don’t want to wait out these shortages. Are there any other open-hardware projects that are similar in price and functionality? Our gut says no (that’s why they’re in such high demand). But we’d love to hear about some alternatives. Let us know by leaving a comment below.

35 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Contest Prize Acquisition Issues — Oh Noes!

    1. Actually it’s pretty annoying. I’ve been polling some swedish resellers (sporadically) since sometime December to get a few of the scarce BBBs, but they seemed to be permanently out of stock. For me, it was nothing critical but just grew ever more annoying. So started to poll the bigger boys like Farnell & Mouser, and at least the latter has had some 12k units on order for quite some time. ETA for a large batch was end of march, so I finally just placed a backorder anyway to just get a place in the queue. To my supprise they estimate delivery in a week already (7th currently). If that holds, I’m a happy camper.

      But still, a half year of almost permanent shortage is a bit remarkable.

  1. I see you guys still don’t have an editor. Why are there ALWAYS grammar and spelling mistakes on your articles??? Sucks about the acquisition issues. This is why it’s important to acquire them before you claim to have them to give away.

  2. So, what are we calling equivalent here? I’m thinking cubieboard maybe though it’s certainly less open-source (you’re gonna have major troubles filling that requirement) or maybe an odroid x2 if you threw more money at it.

  3. I’d like to suggest Carambola2 modules on dev board (by 8devices). They have fewer GPIOs but they’re the most plug-and-play Linux stack I’ve ever worked with. BBB has a few issues on that front.

  4. Well if they are out of the Beaglebone Black boards try something else. Old Android phones, wireless routers, microcontrollers, old telephone wires, and scavenged junk yard sensors can build an incredibly cost effective project.

    I tend to source SSR’s, ultrasonic sensors, cameras, motors, and all sorts of useful things out of 2005+ GM vehicles. You can save a bundle over buying new.

    Atheros routers are compatible with OpenWRT. Roll your own, upload a custom image, and attach some hardliner UART and USB goodness. Voila, something equivalent to the Arduino Yun. If there are not enough IO pins simply attach a microcontroller.

    Old Android phones are chock fuel of sensors, cameras, and wireless connectivity. I would say a great number of them are on par or better resource wise than the Beaglebone Black.

    A lot of electronics projects contain Atmel, Alters, or PIC. If you have junk you probably will have something containing a viable chip or two. Provided you have solder and patience you can squeeze out a couple dollars in savings.

  5. Raspberry Pis have been more popular. Now interest in the BBB is climbing, and the assembly line is running out of parts.
    Why the sudden interest? Because people are USING them – as permanent, plugged-in brains of other products.

    Maybe It’s time to release another board, Indigo colour, calling it BBI [ Beaglebone Industrial ] and boosting the price a tad. Discounts available for bulk purchases.

    1. Honestly, I have been over the Raspberry Pi for quite a while, almost before it was released. The RAM provided is a joke, there is no on-board flash, completely missing a SATA connector, the processor is slow, and the closed nature of the SoC they used was really the iceberg that should have sunk the ship before it set sail.

      Yeah, the Pi is $39, but other more capable boards already existed for not much more. Raspberry Pi became popular only because of very good marketing. These other players were not as well marketed so noone knew they existed and Raspberry Pi looked like some huge innovation at the time.

      1. But now it has a rather large community making some very attractive apps for it (that would really be more well-suited on other platforms IMHO.) This, in my opinion, the only thing that is keeping it afloat.

        1. The RasPi is more like a motherboard than the BBB. They each have their ups and downs (faster vs cheaper). It takes like 2 seconds to get up and running w/ a Pi and a little longer w/ the BBB; just slightly.

        1. Olimex A20, the Cubieboard 2, even the IteadStudio stuff. But you are not going to get the ease of use and level of community that you do from the Raspberry Pi. None of these are as cheap as the Rasberry Pi, but not out of range expensive in my opinion.

          1. The MarsBoard A20 is only $54 as an example. Dual core, 1GHZ, dual core Mali-400 GPU, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of on-board flash. HDMI out, SATA port, tons of IO, and 3 USB 2.0 ports

        1. All their “competitors” are superior, really.

          Is cost really the ONLY attractive feature? I mean, we aren’t talking hundreds of dollars more expensive here.

          I’m guessing that if their competitors removed features down to the level of RasPi, they would also be $25 to $35

          IMO, the only real attractive feature of the RasPi is the amount of community behind it. It’s the Arduino (which I do use also on occasion – no hate for it) of the arm dev board world.

          1. Justive, they’re better spec’d but not always superior if you don’t need the extras. Actually the funny thing is that at the given cost I’m having difficulty of not using the board in front on other microcontrollers (think Arduino and Pi).. It is overkill but it makes it easy to do thinks (think a SPI TCP/IP board with dual stack (IPv6/IPv4). That doesn’t mean the Pi is good for everything and the Beagle makes it even tougher.

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