Tuesday, 8 June 2010

DIY Gadgets with the BeagleBoard

Matt and I have been building Arduino gadgets with shields for the past year or so. What I really like about the Arduino is that it has a standard pin header layout, which literally made DIY modular gadgets a snap:


imageLooking at the BeagleBoard, however, it's not as obvious how to snap it all together.

SONY DSCSo I figured I would do a quick walkthrough of how to put together a DIY BeagleBoard gadget.image

Step 1: Gather modules for the Beagle Gadget

One of the setups most folks used was a portable handheld display. It was a TouchShield Slide touchscreen on an Arduino Duemilanove, powered by a Lithium Backpack battery. Then it was just a matter of uploading different apps, menus, or pictures to the device.

To make something similar for the BeagleBoard, I grabbed my BeagleTouch display, BeagleBoard, and BeagleJuice battery pack, and my pre-formatted Liquidware BeagleBoard Linux boot SD card.


Step 2: Solder on pin headers to the BeagleBoard

The BeagleBoard has quite a few expansion headers - much like the Arduino. But unlike the Arduino, the standard BeagleBoard comes with the headers unpopulated, and most people just put on the headers that they'll need or think they'll be using.

Handheld unsoldered beagleboard

The BeagleTouch comes with a few extra headers that go onto the BeagleBoard, which I've soldered on like this:

P1000628 P1000724

Step 3: Mount the BeagleBoard on the BeagleJuice battery

Since the BeagleJuice only needs to plug into the BeagleBoard's power jack, I'm securing it to the backside of the BeagleBoard. Like with the Arduino's Lithium Backpack, I'm using some plastic screws and standoffs that came with the BeagleJuice.

P1000730  P1000752
Step 4: Snap the BeagleTouch on the BeagleBoard and BeagleJuice

Now that I've added the expansion pin headers to the BeagleBoard, the BeagleTouch can snap right on. The back of the BeagleTouch also has female headers that connect to the BeagleBoard's serial pins, so I can talk to the entire setup over USB from my Linux laptop.

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Step 5: Power up and boot!

I've plugged in the BeagleJuice battery to the power jack, and I put the boot SD card into the BeagleBoard.

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It's all ready to go, so now I just switch the power on, and Liquidware Beagle Linux boots up!

P1000781Liquidware Linux Beagletouch

I've put everything I used in this tutorial over at the Liquidware shop, under Beagle Embedded Starter Kit. And here's a video demo of the Beagle gadget that Matt and I put together:


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