Questions about BeagleBoard xM

Hey group. I'm new here and doing a bit of research on possibly
upgrading one of my Arduino projects to a Beagleboard-xM system. This
thing looks like it's own computer all in itself. I have a few
questions, and please forgive my noobishness.

Am I correct in assuming that the SD card is for loading the operating
system and booting from? With the on-board USB ports, will they
provide enough power to operate and read / write a 2.5" laptop hard
drive in a USB drive enclosure? Is this compatible with the XBee
systems out there? I'm writing a program in java to do some path
finding algorithms. Is this powerful enough to run the code? Is
there a way to get more than 512 MB of ram?

I guess I know I can do my proof of concept project with an arduino
and the android platform, but it seems like this can run a LOT more
than the arduino kit. Just wondering if it has the hardware that the
arduino does?

- Doc (Josh)

Hey group. I'm new here and doing a bit of research on possibly
upgrading one of my Arduino projects to a Beagleboard-xM system. This
thing looks like it's own computer all in itself. I have a few
questions, and please forgive my noobishness.

Coming from Arduino land, you may be more interested in upcoming
BeagleBone. The system manual should be available in a few days and
I'd suggest you to hold off with the decision until then.

Am I correct in assuming that the SD card is for loading the operating
system and booting from? With the on-board USB ports, will they

Yes. BB-xM has no on-board flash, so the entire operating system sits
on the SD card.

provide enough power to operate and read / write a 2.5" laptop hard
drive in a USB drive enclosure?

If only the power supply can source enough current to power the board
and peripherals, your hard drive should work fine.

Is this compatible with the XBee systems out there?

Not out of the box. BB's I/O works with 1.8V logic and connecting
anything what works with 3.3v levels will fry the processor. You will
need a board with level shifters. Take a look at TinCanTools' Trainer
Board.

I'm writing a program in java to do some path
finding algorithms. Is this powerful enough to run the code? Is

The system can run java. Is this powerful enough? Depends on
requirements of your application.

there a way to get more than 512 MB of ram?

No.

I guess I know I can do my proof of concept project with an arduino
and the android platform, but it seems like this can run a LOT more
than the arduino kit. Just wondering if it has the hardware that the
arduino does?

Beagleboard is a great platform, but porting applications from arduino
will require a bit of work on software and hardware side.
Beaglebone has a bit lower hardware specs, but works with 3.3v logic.
Wait a few days for the documentation and see which platform better
suits your needs.

regards,
j.

Hmmmm, some of this made me grumble a bit, but most I kind of thought I was right. Not sure if the 512 MB ram limit is going to be an issue. As of right now I think that storage and RW speeds are going to be an issue.

I need to be able to crunch data on the ARM board, the Arduino is not really able to do that, it controls the hardware, and that is about it. I’m having to transmit data back to a central terminal (so to speak), have it crunch the data, and transmit it back to the arduino.

All cat’s being out of the bag, this is for a UAV, I’m just looking at trying to figure out if the beagleboard is a better alternative to the arduino in controlling it. I know from what I am reading that I can possibly crunch the data on-board via java. If that is the case, I might be able to mate both processors on the craft, configure the arduino to control it, and provide telemetry data to the cortex processor so it can feedback to the arduino for control. With everything running on 1.8v and my arduino running on 3.3 and 5V, I am pretty confident I can build another voltage stepper and drop the voltage down to 1.8V from 14.8V. Limiting the current will be the tricky part with hi discharge rate LiPo slugs.

Maybe the best option is to use both. If I can use both on the craft, I can eliminate the need for a higher power transmitter. I guess I might be getting ahead of myself here. I’ll take your advice and wait for the specs of the bone and see.

Thanks!

  • Doc

Hmmmm, some of this made me grumble a bit, but most I kind of thought I was
right. Not sure if the 512 MB ram limit is going to be an issue. As of
right now I think that storage and RW speeds are going to be an issue.

I need to be able to crunch data on the ARM board, the Arduino is not really
able to do that, it controls the hardware, and that is about it. I'm having
to transmit data back to a central terminal (so to speak), have it crunch
the data, and transmit it back to the arduino.

I don't know what kind of data crunching you're aiming at, but the
integrated DSP can be your friend. Certainly it will help you with
image processing and all kinds of signal mangling (flying SDR anyone?)

All cat's being out of the bag, this is for a UAV, I'm just looking at
trying to figure out if the beagleboard is a better alternative to the
arduino in controlling it. I know from what I am reading that I can

The processor on Beagleboard has been reported to be a little sluggish
in flipping I/O pins, so I think a hybrid architecture of BB and a
small additional CPU taking care of hard-RT IO operations might be a
good solution. There was an interesting discussion on the list a
couple of months ago about generating signal on IOs from the user
software, you may want to read it.
The processor on BeagleBone has a dedicated unit for performing IO
fast operations. If you're brave enough to dive into assembly
programming, it can help you to implement the hard-rt IO.

possibly crunch the data on-board via java. If that is the case, I might be
able to mate both processors on the craft, configure the arduino to control
it, and provide telemetry data to the cortex processor so it can feedback
to the arduino for control.

It looks like you want to have more powerful processor to do the
navigation. Any of the Beagle* boards should have enough power to
handle this task, with many spare cycles to implement additional
functionality.

With everything running on 1.8v and my arduino
running on 3.3 and 5V, I am pretty confident I can build another voltage
stepper and drop the voltage down to 1.8V from 14.8V. Limiting the current
will be the tricky part with hi discharge rate LiPo slugs.

Interfacing with 1.8v circuitry is more of a matter of buffering the
signals than building a voltage regulator. It's not a rocket science,
but you will have to solder a few SMD parts. Take a look at Trainer
Board (hint: Trainer has an arduino-compatible controller on board).
You will need a 5V supply, but I think that BECs can take care of it.

Maybe the best option is to use both. If I can use both on the craft, I can
eliminate the need for a higher power transmitter. I guess I might be
getting ahead of myself here. I'll take your advice and wait for the specs
of the bone and see.

Take a look at http://beagleboard.org/bone . This should give you a
good idea of what to expect from BeagleBone.

j.

Thanks Jacek,

This was more of what I was looking for info wise, but I didn’t know how exactly to ask it. Thank god someone could translate. What I am looking for is a board that can crunch signals for path finding algorithms, proper filtering of the signals to prevent drifting, AND if possible control the vehicle all on one solution.

I don’t know what kind of data crunching you’re aiming at, but the
integrated DSP can be your friend. Certainly it will help you with
image processing and all kinds of signal mangling (flying SDR anyone?)

Most of the data crunching is for a later time dealing with autonomous flight. I think I mentioned before that I am planning on implementing aerial path finding on a 3D scale. Later, I just want to grab GPS data and feed it to the control circuit so I can tweak where the craft goes.

The processor on Beagleboard has been reported to be a little sluggish
in flipping I/O pins, so I think a hybrid architecture of BB and a
small additional CPU taking care of hard-RT IO operations might be a
good solution. There was an interesting discussion on the list a
couple of months ago about generating signal on IOs from the user
software, you may want to read it.
The processor on BeagleBone has a dedicated unit for performing IO
fast operations. If you’re brave enough to dive into assembly
programming, it can help you to implement the hard-rt IO.

I have a love hate relationship with Assembly. I hate it, but I love what I can do with a good stack and some registers. I haven’t touched it since college, so it might be time to look at it again. Unless I am seeing things wrong, With the Arduino kits, they already seem to have all the Objective C libraries available, with this BeagleBoard - xM or Bone, you have to basically write the firmware for what ever you are using it for. I could be wrong, but it looks like there is a LOT more for the arduino than there is for the BB. I haven’t done a lot of research on the BB yet though. Not that I am complaining, but this cortex A8 (1GHz) is what my Android tablet runs on.

It looks like you want to have more powerful processor to do the
navigation. Any of the Beagle* boards should have enough power to
handle this task, with many spare cycles to implement additional
functionality.

This is true, the navigation eventually will be controlled by the computer’s interpretation of the GPS, compass, and other data, all running through programmatic filters, then driving the servo’s and cyclic / pitch controls on the craft. An no it’s not a Heli… it’s … better a LOT better.

Interfacing with 1.8v circuitry is more of a matter of buffering the

signals than building a voltage regulator. It’s not a rocket science,
but you will have to solder a few SMD parts. Take a look at Trainer
Board (hint: Trainer has an arduino-compatible controller on board).
You will need a 5V supply, but I think that BECs can take care of it.

Yeah I took a look at that trainer board, I might have to pick one up. I know my BEC get’s me a +5V source, I’ll have to check in to seeing if it can be adjusted to get a +3.3V source. I think all things considered, I need to finish completing the hardware specs first to see what exactly I am going to be running. I have an idea of what I want, but if client specs change or my crew all gets a wild idea, things could change rapidly. I want to see what all is out there for micro controllers and I know I’ll need something with some power to crunch sensor, GPS data, filters, and algorithms. I have a feeling that this might be the platform we use for the proof of concept at a minimum.

Take a look at Qgroundcontrol. It is open source QT4 based. I got most of it to compile for BB so it may work. Arduino communicates great with BB through a usb port. Just some thoughts for you. Check it out.

Hi,

What I am looking
for is a board that can crunch signals for path finding algorithms, proper
filtering of the signals to prevent drifting, AND if possible control the
vehicle all on one solution.

It is probably not exactly what are you looking for, but might be a
good starting point:
https://github.com/veter-team/veter/wiki
In particular, the following page contains some hopefully useful for
you information:
https://github.com/veter-team/veter/wiki/Hardware-design-en
In addition, you might take a look at our blog here:
http://veter-project.blogspot.com

Regards,
Andrey.

Mark,

Now THAT is something awesome AND I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If BB-xM is a Cortex A8 processor, and my android tablet is a Cortex A8 processor… realistically… I “SHOULD” be able to port this over to run on my 2.2 Android Tablet or at the very least be able to interface with it, but that is still up in the air. The only thing is that I know from experience that Google Earth / Maps are not the most reliable thing on the planet, other than that (and that is, believe me, very minor on the scale of things), I might be downloading it this evening and compiling it on my machine to try it out. I’d love it if they had a World Wind module in there that I could use instead of Google Earth, but hey. I can’t really be that picky at this point.

Thanks for the info guys, I really appreciate it.

  • Josh (Doc)