Getting Started with the BeagleBone ‘Black’

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This Article was written by Rui Santos and Luís Perestrelo authors of BeagleBone For Dummies.

Introduction

BeagleBone BlackThe BeagleBone Black is a low-cost embedded Linux computer that has found love in the workbenches of many hobbyists, engineers and developers. Operating at 1GHz, providing the possibility to have lots of memory (thanks to its microSD card slot) and access to the Internet, this tiny board is a quite powerful computer on its own. (It also looks great. Something about those rounded edges, probably) Its niche, however, is probably the fact that it features an absurd amount of input and output pins, along with several interfaces that allow different devices to be connected and different communication protocols to be used (you can see a list of those by the end of this post). This bridges the gap between the realms of computing and electronics, allowing to create complex and ambitious electronic projects — often interacting with the Web — while experiencing little to none software or hardware constraints.

BBB Specifications

  BeagleBone Black Rev. C
Processor Sitara AM3358, 1GHz ARM® Cortex-A8
GPU SGX530 3D
SDRAM Memory 512MB DDR3L 800MHz
Onboard Storage 4GB
MicroSD MicroSD Card Slot
USB 2.0 Client MiniUSB
USB 2.0 Host Dual USB Connector
Video/Audio Output Micro-HDMI
Ethernet 10/100, RJ45
Power Source Mini USB or 5V DC jack
Operating System Linux, Debian
Price From $50

Let’s take a look into the BeagleBone Black pinout!

BBB_GPIO

What do you need?

One of the advantages of this board over a Raspberry Pi is that it requires very little hardware to setup, you only need the following accessories:

  • BeagleBone Black Rev. C
  • Mini USB Cable
  • MicroSD Card (Optional, you can use the onboard storage)
  • Ethernet (Optional, but recommended)

Where to buy?

If you don’t have a BeagleBone Black Rev. C yet, there are a couple of places where you can grab one, make sure you visit one of the following sources:

Software (Optional)

The latest revision of the BeagleBone Black comes with Debian pre-installed and that’s the recommend Operating System for your board. If you have an older board it’s probably running on Ångström, we encourage you to download the latest image of Debian and flash your onboard storage following these instructions.

Powering your BBB

Your BeagleBone Black comes in a box with everything you need. Grab your BBB and the Mini USB cable that came with it; then plug your BBB into your computer. In less than 15 seconds, your board will be fully ready to use.

Installing your drivers

Follow these steps to install your BeagleBone Black’s drivers:

  1. Open your computer’s file system.
  2. Double-click the “BeagleBone Getting Started” disk.
  3. Open the START.htm web page in your default web browser.
  4. In your web page, go to “Step 2: Install drivers“.

You should see in your START.htm web page a table that lists the various operating systems and their USB drivers, like the following figure. Simply select the USB drivers for your OS and follow the instructions to install them.

install_drivers

Browsing your BBB

With your BBB connected to your computer and with the drivers installed, open this URL in your web browser: http://192.68.7.2. You should see a new web page with a green box at the top that says “Your board is connected!“. That web page is being hosted by your BeagleBone Black.

run

Now you can have some fun exploring the menus on the left. Select BoneScript (as shown in the preceding figure), that web page contains examples using BoneScript programming language (BoneScript is a Node.js library created for the BeagleBone that we’ll explore in more detail in the next posts). Now Press the run button and you should see all four LED’s ON (see the following figure).

beaglebone_black_solid_leds

Conclusion

Within less than 5 minutes you have your started controlling some LEDs! If you enjoy this series make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss our next Article using this board. Special thanks to Luís Perestrelo for helping Rui Santos putting this series together!

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