What is a Beaglebone Black Microcontroller & Its Working

Texas Instruments introduced a low-power open-source single-board computer called Beagleboard in cooperation with the Newark element 14 and Digi-Key. It is an educational board developed by a group of engineers with necessary software and hardware functionality and designed by using Cadence or CAD for schematics. It doesn’t require any software simulation. They manufactured a few processors like Beagleboard rev. C, Beaglebone, Beaglebone Black Microcontrollers, Beagleboard-XM, and Beagleboard-X15. This article gives a brief description of the Beaglebone Black Microcontroller with an example.


What is a Beaglebone Black Microcontroller?

The Beaglebone Black (BBB) is just like a Computer, which comes in a compact package with a processor, graphic acceleration, memory, and all the required ICs soldered to form a single circuit board. Hence, it is also referred to as a Single-Board Computer. It uses a powerful processor called ARM Cortex-A8 processor with 1GHz AM335x. The Beaglebone Black Microcontroller is illustrated in the figure below.

This Beaglebone Black Microcontroller board will provide all the necessary connections for the display, Ethernet Network, Mouse, and Keyboard. The booting of this processor is done by using Linux OS.

Beaglebone Black Microcontroller
Beaglebone Black Microcontroller

This tool is mainly utilized by the researchers to design complex projects and learn about the Linux Operating System effectively. This Beaglebone Black is similar to the Beaglebone with extra features. The operating speed is faster and it is widely used when compared to the Beaglebone. It is used in robotics, IoT projects, and automation at the development level.

Follow the steps to start the Beaglebone Black very easily and quickly

  • Firstly, Switch ON the Beaglebone Black into your PC/computer with the help of a mini USB cable. Then it boots up into Linux OS. That is Linux distro, Angstrom.
  • Now connect all the peripherals units like USB, and display.
  • To connect the Beaglebone Black to the web browser and control with the computer, the driver is installed.
  • Now, the Beaglebone Black is ready with a Linux OS, in which users can write and run the software program using the library functions and python without any limit. It helps to manage and control all the GPIO pins of the processor.

Pin Configuration/Pin Diagram

There are 8 different modes- mode 0, mode 1, mode 2, mode 3, mode 4, mode 5, mode 6, mode 7 in beaglebone black for every digital I/O pin, including GPIO pins. It contains 2 expansion headers P9 and P8 with 46 pins each and can provide an I/O signal with 3.3 Volts.

If 5 Volts is provided on the pin, then the entire board gets damaged. The beaglebone black microcontroller pin configuration/pin diagram is illustrated in the figure below. The beaglebone black microcontroller pin configuration of the two extension headers P8 and P9 are given in the below tabular forms. The PIN on the processor is represented by the PROC number.

PCBWay
Beaglebone Black Microcontroller Pin Diagram
Beaglebone Black Microcontroller Pin Diagram

Pin configuration of P8 extension header

Pin Number

PROC Number

Pin Name

1 and 2

DGND

3

R9 MMC1_DAT6

4

T9 MMC1_DAT7
5 R8

MMC1_DAT2

6

T8 MMC1_DAT3
7 R7

GPIO_66

8

T7

GPIO_67

9 T6

GPIO_69

10

U6 GPIO_68

11

R12

GPIO_45

12 T12

GPIO_44

13

T10 EHRPWM2B

14

T11

GPIO_26

15 U13

GPIO_47

16

V13 GPIO_46

17

U12

GPIO_27

18 V12

GPIO_65

19

U10

EHRPWM2A

20

V9

MMC1_CMD

21 U9

MMC1_CLK

22

V8 MMC1_DAT5

23

U8

MMC1_DAT4

24 V7

MMC1_DAT1

25

U7

MMC1_DAT0

26

V7 GPIO_61
27 U5

LCD_VSYNC

28

V5

LCD_PCLK

29

R5 LCD_HSYNC
30 R6

LCD_AC_BIAS

31

V4 LCD_DATA14

32

T5 LCD_DATA15
33 V3

LCD_DATA13

34 U4

LCD_DATA11

35 V2

LCD_DATA12

36

U3 LCD_DATA10

37

U1 LCD_DATA08

38

U2

LCD_DATA09

39 T3

LCD_DATA06

40 T4

LCD_DATA07

41

T1

LCD_DATA04
42 T2

LCD_DATA05

43

R3 LCD_DATA02

44

R4 LCD_DATA03
45 R1

LCD_DATA00

46 R2

LCD_DATA01

Few pins like 11-22 are utilized by the eMMC internal storage and other pins from 27-46 are used by HDMI.

Pin Configuration of P9 Extension Header

Pin Number

PROC Number

Pin Name

1 and 2

DGND

3 and 4

VDD_3V3

5 and 6

VDD_5V

7 and 8

SYS_5V

9

PWR_BUT

10 A10

SYS_RESETN

11

T17 UART4_RXD
12 U18

GPIO_60

13

U17 UART4_TXD – OR GPIO_31

14

U14

EHRPWM1A  OR GPIO_40

15 R13

GPIO_48

16

T14 EHRPWM1B OR GPIO_51
17 A16

SPIO_CSO OR GPIO_04

18

B16 SPIO_D1 OR GPIO_05
19 D17

I2C2_SCL

20

D18 I2C2_SDA

21

B17

SPIO_D0 OR GPIO_03

22 A17

SPIO_SCLK OR GPIO_02

23

V14

GPIO_49

24

D15 UART1_TXD OR GPIO_15
25

A14

GPIO_117

26

D16 UART1_RXD OR GPIO_14
27 C13

GPIO_125

28

C12 SPI1_CSO
29 B13

SPI1_DO

30

D12 GPIO_122
31 A13

SPI1_SCLK

32

VDD_ADC

33

C8

AIN_4

34

GNDA_ADC

35

A8 AIN_6
36 B8

AIN_5

37

B7 AIN_2
38 A7

AIN_3

39

B6 AIN_0

40

C7

AIN_1

41 D14

GPIO_20

42

MCASP0_AXR1 GPIO_07

43

C18

DGND

44 MCASP0_ACLKR

DGND

45

DGND
46

DGND

To generate signals for controlling motors without utilizing any extra CPU cycle, up to 8 I/O pins are configured with a pulse width modulator (PWM)


In this P9 extension header, pin no 32 to pin no 40 contains a single 12-bit ADC (analogue to digital converter) with 8 channels

It has 2 I2C ports. One of the ports is used to read EEPROMs and to perform digital I/O functions without any interference with that operation. The other I2C port is used to configure the user’s needs.

To shift the data quickly, there are two SPI ports

Beaglebone Black Microcontroller Specifications

The Beaglebone Black Microcontroller specifications are as follows

  • The processor type – Sitara AM3358BZCZ100 with 1 GHz and 2000 MIPS
  • Graphics Engine- 20M Polygons/S, SGX530 3D
  • Size of SDRAM memory – 512 MB DDR3L, 800 MHz
  • Onboard Flash- 8-bit Embedded MMC with 4 GB
  • PMIC – 1 additional LDO, TPS65217C PMIC regulator
  • Debug Support – Serial Header, onboard optional 20-pin CTI
  • Power Source – mini USB, USB or DC jack; 5 Volts external DC through expansion header
  • PCB – 3.4″ X 2.1″; 6 layers
  • Type of indicators – 1 power, 2 Ethernet, 4 LEDs, which are user-controllable
  • HS USB 2.0 Host Port – Accessible to USB1, Type A Socket, 500 mA LS/FS/HS
  • Serial Port – UART0 access via 6-pin 3.3 Volts TTL header. Populated header
  • Ethernet – 10/100, RJ45
  • User Input – Power button, Reset button, Boot button
  • SD/MMC Connector – microSD, 3.3 Volts
  • Video out – 16b HDMI, 1280×1024 (max), 1025×768, 1280×720, 1440×900, w/EDID support
  • HS USB 2.0 Client Port – Access to USB0, client mode through miniUSB
  • Audio – Stereo, via HDMI interface
  • Weight – 39.68 gms (1.4 oz)
  • Expansion Connectors – 5 Volts, 3.3 Volts power, VDD_ADC 1.8 Volts.

3.3 Volts on all I/O signals – GPIO (69 max), McASP0, I2C, SPI1, LCD, GPMC, MMC1, MMC2, 4 serial ports, 4 timers, 7 AIN (max 1.8 Volts), CAN0, XDMA interrupt, EHRPWM (0, 2), Power button, expansion board ID (stacking of up to 4)

Circuit Diagram/How to Use

The main feature of the beaglebone black microcontroller is the addition of different capes to it. Capes are nothing but plug-ins, which are added to the beaglebone black to increase its functionality. These capes are provided for controlling motors, cameras, VGA, LCD, and other functions.

LED Blinking Project with BBB Microcontroller
LED Blinking Project with BBB Microcontroller

It is used to run and operate heavy systems. Since Arduino is not sufficient for some conditions during the DIY projects. Consider an example of booting an OS. While booting an OS, it is necessary to run heavy software and the Arduino requires more power. In such situations, beaglebone black is used to perform those operations with less power.

  • It is used when any project requires a connection of large hardware.
  • It is used to start the project very quickly.

Now let’s know the circuit diagram/how to use beaglebone black microcontrollers in the LED blinking project. The circuit diagram of the LED blinking project interfacing with beaglebone black is shown in the figure below.

The components required in an LED blinking project using a beaglebone black microcontroller are

  • Two 330 Ohm resistors
  • Two LEDs
  • One Beaglebone Black Microcontroller
  • Breadboard for connections
  • Connecting wires.

Connect the VCC and Ground pins of the beaglebone black to the breadboard. The supply pin no. 3 of 3.3 Volts of P9 header and ground pin of pin no. 2 of P8 headers are connected as shown above. The positive and negative leads of two LEDs are connected to the 330 Ohms resistors and ground respectively.

The other end of both resistors is connected to Pin no 8 and pin no. 9 of the P8 header. The power supply is given to the beaglebone black with the connection of PC via USB cable. Now the circuit for LED blinking is ready.

The code required to run this project is given below.

import Adafruit_BBIO.GPIO as GPIO [The GPIO library is imported from the adafruit beaglebone black ]

LED1 = “P8_8” [ pin no 8 of P8 header is assigned with LED1]
LED2 = “P8_9” [ pin no 9 of P8 header is assigned with LED1]

GPIO. SETUP (LED1, GPIO. OUT) [ The LED1 is configured as output]
GPIO. SETUP (LED2.GPIO.OUT) [ The LED2 is configured as output]

FROM TIME IMPORTANT SLEEP

FOR i in range (0, 5) :

GPIO. OUTPUT (LED1, GPIO. HIGH) [ To turn ON the LED1]
GPIO. OUTPUT (LED2, GPIO. HIGH) [To turn ON the LED2]

SLEEP (1)

GPIO. OUTPUT (LED1, GPIO. LOW) [ To turn OFF the LED1]
GPIO. OUTPUT (LED2, GPIO. LOW) [ To turn OFF the LED 2]

GPIO. CLEAN UP()
[/RESTRICT

From the above circuit diagram, we can observe that the two LEDs are connected to the GPIO pins of the BBB. When it is in the running stage, the LEDs are turned ON and OFF for every second. The status of the pin is configured clearly after executing this operation 5 times.

Where to Use / Applications of Beaglebone Microcontroller

Let’s know where to use/ applications of beaglebone black microcontroller.

  • Motor controllers
  • Robotics
  • It can work as a server in various IoT projects
  • Monitoring and controlling units with the help of display cape
  • AWS
  • In several projects which are related to Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Used by the developers in small network projects for designing and testing
  • Used as a signal control unit in several industrial systems.

Alternative Beaglebone Black Microcontroller

Beagleboard – XM, Beaglebone, Beaglebone-X15, Pocket Beagle, Aurdino Yun, ARM LPC 2129, Intel Edison, Beaglebone green, Raspberry Pi are the alternative Beaglebone Black Microcontrollers.

Thus, this is all about an overview of Beaglebone Black Microcontroller datasheet- definition, pin configuration/ pin diagram, circuit diagram/how to use technical specifications, where to use/applications. The beaglebone black microcontroller has a low latency of 25 PRU I/Os. To perform a few real-time tasks, they utilize two 32-bit built-in microcontrollers with 20 MHz called Programmable RealTime Unit (PRU). Here is a question for you, ” What are the differences between Beaglebone and Beaglebone Black Microcontrollers? “

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