Open Hardware start

Hi, I have been working with micro-controllers for several years and I have a basic knowledge on electronics, programming and computers. I want to know what information (text books, whitepapers, articles) did you need to design a board like Beaglebone Black from IC’s? the process of designing electronics boards for a SoC’s like Sitara ARM Cortex-A8 processor is similar to the process of designing boards for microcontrollers? How much time takes to design such a board?

Principles are the same. Pick the parts, make a schematic, make a BOM, and make a PCB. But, these devices are a lot more complex than a MCU.

I do not know of any books that will teach you how specifically to design a board like this.

It did not take me that long to design it. To get it working and built with SW, took a while longer. I will say I read no books to figure out how to do this. I have been doing design for a couple of years now.

Best advice I can give is to take a board and learn it from top to bottom. That should give you a good idea on how to get started.

This is not something I’ve looked at for many years, but I assume most manufactuers of microprocessors and other chips still typically publish a ‘reference design’ which is a basic board utilizing their chip, and with documentation explaining its features. This is a good place to start - you can take that design and add and subtract peripheral chips and features to meet your needs. They will also (hopefully) point out the quirks and gotchas you may need to know about that particular product.

Sounds sort of like the BeagleBone Black.


The BeagleBone Black files are out there. You cab take a look at the design, alter it, etc. If you've never dealt with a chip like this, read up on high-speed PCB design. Look at docs for laying out DDR3 RAM. Look at how the stackup of this board is designed. The jump from a low-speed MCU to an application processor is quite a big one.