UniBone - Getting One and Running It

Parent Category: Projects Category: UniBone Written by Administrator

Free as in "free beer"

UniBone is totally "open source", it comes under the "BSD" license.

SDcard image

You find a zipped image of the SDcard at

ftp://ftp.j-hoppe.de . User is "u58104846-unibone", password is "unibone".

Unzip and "dd" to a 16GB (or larger) SDcard.

The network name for the BeagleBone is "unibone". Network login is "root/root". Both UARTs login to root automatically.

The "10.*" directories contains all sources for PRU and ARM and the "Demo" application.

IF you want to recompile with "make", first set up environment variables in the current sh session with

. ~/compile-bbb.enc

Hardware design data

File "01_pcb.zip" contains KiCad project for both current PCB versions.

3D print files (*.stl) for BeagleBone spacers and the RL02 panel are in subdirectory "case".


Buying one

I don't see myself as a hardware-maker, but I can offer ready-to-use UniBones. They'd be build and tested, and would come with the SDcard.

As an UniBone is laborious to complete, I feel I have to take €250 for one, without a BeagleBone (see picture). With BBB add €60.

There were requests for blank boards. Can fulfilled that: a single one is €50, three are 100€ (so much shipping overhead).

And couldn't escape to offer a kit: blank board + parts = 150€. E.U. shipping is about 16€, international around 40€.

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board without bbb


First steps after building or unpacking

First, you should check out latest news in the UniBone Google Group.


Power On

  1. plug UniBone into a PDP-11 SPC slot with OPEN NPG grant chain at CA1-CB1. As we will emulate an RL11 controller, its best to remove the existing RL11 and put UniBone into that hole.
  2. attach Ethernet cable
  3. Connect console terminal to PDP-11 and power on. The PDP-11will show errors until UniBone software „closes“ the GRANT chains.
  4. after 1 second, UniBone gets power (1st green LED)
  5. Debian Linux will boot, needs a minute or so.
  6. login to UniBone: per ssh to host „unibone“ or "unibone2" (you can use the PUTTY tool)
  7. user and password is "root/root"
  8. you can also login over serial UART1 or UART2 at 9600. For connector, crimp a DSUB9 male and a 2x5 Berg to a piece of flat cable.

To emulate RL11 and 4 RL02 drives with operating systems:

  1. Make sure there's no other RL11 controller is installed at 774400, else there's an address conflict.
  2. to boot XXDP2.5, execute „./xxdp.sh“ on UniBone
  3. 2nd green LED goes on, as UniBone now controls the UNIBUS.
  4. wait until PDP-11 „resets“ (UniBone simulates a power cycle).
  5. The PDP-11 is now functional. Use as usual, or boot from device „DL1“.

To boot an RT-11, execute „rt11.sh“. On DL1: is an ADVENTURE.


Updating and compiling

UniBone software will (hope so!) updated,as future developments and bug fixes appear. Software is distributed as a gzipped tar archive.



Software comes as two files "unibone-deploy.gz" and "unibone-develop.gz".

  1. Copy this file and "deploy_unpack.sh" to the BBB into /root.
  2. Make the unpack script executable: chmod +x *.sh
  3. Then run ./deploy_unpack.sh

Attention: this will override existing source files in the 10* directories, so BACKUP if you made changes!


To recompile new software (example: "demo" application):

In the current sh session:

root@unibone:~# . ~/compile-bbb.env
root@unibone:~# cd ~/10.03_app_demo/2_src/
root@unibone:~# make clean
root@unibone:~# make

Updating the PRU compiler and libraries

Development software comes in archive "unibone-develop.gz". It is unpacked together with the soruce codes.

To install the latest clpru compiler, execute the sh-sript in 91_3rd_party/pru-c-compiler.

Check the current version by just calling "clpru" without arguments.


 * * *

Of course there will be errors ... we are so early in "beta". Lets stay in touch.