DECbox - about the BeagleBone

Parent Category: Projects Category: DECbox Written by Administrator

Core of DECbox is the credit-card size single board computer "BeagleBone". This is an embedded Linux system, equipped with an ARM based "System on a Chip" (SoC) processor.
The central chip is AM3359 from Texas Instruments.

beaglebone top

beaglebone bottom

Some technical data:

The BeagleBone is a member of the "BeagleBoard" family. It is open source hardware, but sponsored by Texas Instruments. Here is the project page. You can buy the BeagleBone for about 90€ (end price).

There's nothing too special on the BeagleBone. In the big market of embedded Linux hardware platforms, it is targeted to the "open source hardware hacker" segment.

To name a few other systems (written march 2012 and outdated when you read it):

This whole family of devices is pushed by the gigantic market for powerful mobile platforms.

The BeagleBone was selected because it is quite cheap and many RS232 ports are accessible over the two big expansion connectors.

Expansion board

The bare BeagleBone has only USB and Ethernet connectors.
While these are exactly what you need for modern applications, no "vintage" application can run without the classic RS232 serial interface.
Luckily the AM3359 SoC has six UARTs on board. One is used as system console and routed through the USB interface. The signals for four UARTs are available on the Expansion Connector.

So we build first a prototype expansion board (called "cape" the "Beagle"-world) with two UARTS.

 decbox beaglebone cape

Then we made a professional printed circuit board with all four UARTs connected:

beaglebone cape top

We like to share this cape with you! A friend set up a webshop, were you can buy it. Contact  http://shop.hachti.de/de/.

Linux on the BeagleBone

The BeagleBone is delivered with a special Linux preinstalled: "Angstrom".
Angstrom is a resource preserving "embedded Linux" distribution, which has been ported to many ARM based hardwares before.

It is a full powered Linux: It directly integrates into any local TCP/IP LAN, and your operate it like any other desktop Linux (well, there's no mouse nor a screen. But working on the console is nearly the same).
The Angstrom provides all kernel sources and a build system, so you can recompile the kernel. But there's no need to do this. And everything is (GPL)-free.

Additional application software can mainly be installed from two sources:

The microSD card

The BeagleBone has no build-in flash-memory, it boots and runs from a microSD card.

microsdcard 8gb ruler

The SD card is logically divided into two partition:

If you put the SD card into a card reader, you can see both partition (under Ubuntu). Under Windows, only the FAT partition is visible.

Dumping, restoring and copying the SD card is quite easy: Boot an Ubuntu, plug the card into an USB card reader, and use "dd" on device "/dev/sdd" .