BBAI-64 and Software Defined Radio


I am a noob here. I am looking at mucking around with Software Defined Radio and was wondering if the BBAI-64 would be a good platform for this project? I would assume so but I’ve been wrong before. Does the BBAI-64 accept the BB Black’s capes? Has anyone used either the HackerRF 1 or the KiwiSDR with the BBAI-64? Thank you.


Hi Kelly,

I spent a ton of time as a radio amateur before I got into the BeagleBone. Now I spend all my spare time on Beagles :slight_smile: . In fact, I tried to purchase a KiwiSDR from mouser and my order was canceled because they are out of production. So, I haven’t mucked around with SDR on the Bone. I feel like th AI-64 would be a great platform for SDR experimentation, provided you are an embedded computing enthusiast first. The Kiwi cape looks to be the most complex cape I have ever seen…

In the past, when I looked at SDR, I saw that people were using cheap usb receive dongles to receive data and big intel processors for the decode because they have so much processing power. The AI-64 is a powerful processor so, I intuitively think that this is a good thing for SDR.

I see on the KiwiSDR site that even after 1 year, they are still debugging installing the SDR on the AI-64: Kiwi BBAI-64 software installation instructions [updated 6-Jun-23] — KiwiSDR

The AI-64 will physically accept the BBB capes but, the pin functionality is not 1 to 1. So, you have to do some research to see if the cape is going to work.

Maybe you could get a USB receiver dongle based SDR compiled and running on the AI64 instead of a cape based receiver? I don’t know but, it seems like it would be fun to experiment with… With the Beagle, there are tons of avenues for exploration on both the hardware and the software side.

Fred (KJ4LFJ)

Late to the party, as usual.

The Kiwi runs fine on the AI-64. Has for quite a while now, despite a few glitches. I know of a few dozen installations worldwide.

“KiwiSDR 2” prototypes are due back soon. It’s nice that parts are finally available again. Unfortunately the hard part begins after that: Manufacturing, compliance, logistics, fulfillment, …


Great to learn about the new KiwiSDR 2! :grinning: I love the site because it gives you all the technical information you need! This may finally motivate me to put up a proper outdoor antenna…

Is there an advantage to having the SDR directly connected to the SBC via the cape interface vs going through a USB interface?


Is there an advantage to having the SDR directly connected to the SBC via the cape interface vs going through a USB interface?

That’s a design decision that goes back many years (2014). Because the Kiwi board contains an FPGA a relatively high speed interface to the SBC was required. I found a single SPI running at 48 MHz (plus a few GPIOs) was sufficient and the SPI could also be used to bootstrap the FPGA.

That decision would probably be different today. And any version after KiwiSDR 2 will almost certainly incorporate the SBC function onto the Kiwi board eliminating the cape issues. But the Beagle has served us well over the years and for that I am grateful to everyone involved.

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