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01 November 2011, 15:45

BeagleBone: A hacker oriented version of the Beagleboard

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Zoom BeagleBone in hand
The BeagleBone has been announced by the developers of the BeagleBoard as an open source hardware, low-cost, expandable, hardware-hacker oriented variant of the original BeagleBoard, which will cost $89. The BeagleBone sports a 720Mhz ARM Cortex A8 processor with 256MB of DDR2 RAM, using the TI AM335x. The board includes one USB 2.0 port, a 10/100 Ethernet port, microSD slot and a USB 2.0 flexible device port. There are also 2x 46-pin peripheral controllers on expansion headers enabling five serial ports and two I2C buses. The compact 8.6 cm by 5.3 cm (3.4 inches by 2.1 inches) board is shipped complete with a 2-GB MicroSD card loaded with the Ångström Linux distribution from OpenEmbedded, node.js and the Cloud9 IDE. This should allow a BeagleBone developer to connect to a web server, running the Cloud9 IDE, and directly work on JavaScript code for the Node.js runtime.

The instructions for downloading and building the distribution are available with the appropriate environment setting ('MACHINE=beaglebone bitbake cloud9-image'). According to the BeagleBoard developers, the BeagleBone is also an easier-to-clone device, and schematics are already availablePDF. Expansion boards for HDMI, VGA or LCD displays are planned and a DVI-D board is at the prototype stage. The BeagleBone expansion headers are not, though, compatible with the popular Arduino shield expansions; although it is possible to create an adapter, the developers believe it would under-utilise the Linux-based system and "compete in places where an Arduino really is the right solution." The production versions of the BeagleBone are due to start shipping before the end of November.

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