August 13, 2012. Throwing a bone to designers and hobbyists looking to develop creative, Linux-based electronics, BeagleBoard.org has announced the availability of more than 20 new plug-in boards for the BeagleBone Linux computer platform. Calling the plug-in boards “capes” in reference to the cape worn by a cartoon beagle superhero, the open-source BeagleBoard.org community designed the plug-in boards to foster a range of innovations such as robot motor drivers and sensors that measure location and pressure. Adding cape plug-in boards to the BeagleBone development kit allows hobbyists and developers to quickly and easily augment BeagleBone’s capabilities with LCD screens, motor control, and battery power as well as the ability to create their own circuits. The new cape plug-in boards are made available through www.beaglebonecapes.com.
BeagleBone is a credit-card-sized Linux computer that connects with the Internet and runs software such as Android 4.0 and Ubuntu. With I/O and processing power for real-time analysis provided by the Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 processor from Texas Instruments, the cape plug-in boards help developers differentiate products and accelerate time to market. With a feature-rich processor, the BeagleBone computer platform allows developers to fully utilize the technology within a full-featured, open hardware Linux development kit. BeagleBone users also benefit from the thriving BeagleBoard.org community of more than 5,000 active members who interact and collaborate through an online support system.
Inspired to expand development options for their BeagleBone mini computer platforms, participants in the BeagleBoard.org community created cape plug-in boards to enhance the sensors, actuators, and interfaces available on the BeagleBone platform. The cape plug-in boards can be plugged into BeagleBone's two 46-pin dual-row expansion headers, providing similar headers so that up to four cape plug-in boards can be stacked at a time.
“BeagleBone has inspired numerous developers to create a wide variety of innovations from self-teaching electronic education kits to underwater robots,” said Clint Cooley, president, CircuitCo. “These cape plug-in boards open up endless possibilities for simplified designs and new innovations. I’m excited to see what developers from the BeagleBoard.org community will create next with their BeagleBones.”
The BeagleBone LCD7 Cape delivers touch-screen capability, featuring a 7″ TFT LCD screen with 4-wire resistive touch and five user buttons. The BeagleBone LCD Cape includes the option of choosing default standoffs or buying a set of piano-black aluminum stands.
The BeagleBone Camera Cape, the newest cape plug-in board, eliminates the need for cameras to consume sometimes scarce USB ports and reduces total system power consumption. The QuickLogic CSSP camera interface (CAM I/F) solution expands the application space for BeagleBone in the automatic identification and data capture, portable consumer, industrial tablet, and industrial smartphone markets.
Other currently available BeagleBone cape plug-in boards include LCD touch-screen capes; a BeagleBone Weather Cape (which provides data including temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, and ambient light); BeagleBone DVI-D Cape (which provides a DVI-D interface for connecting an external monitor); BeagleBone Breakout Cape (which provides access to the various BeagleBone components during troubleshooting); BeagleBone Breadboard (a prototyping tool that eliminates the need for soldering); BeagleBone CANBus Cape (which makes use of the DCAN1 interface of TI’s AM335x processor, enabling interfacing to automotive components and motor controllers, such as TI’s Stellaris ARM Cortex-M-based Jaguar module used in the US FIRST Robotics League); BeagleBone RS232 Cape; and BeagleBone Battery Cape.
“BeagleBone cape plug-in boards give open hardware examples of how to implement various interfaces and tested configurations that can be used for experimentation immediately,” said Jason Kridner, community advocate at BeagleBoard.org. “In fact, these capes are inspiring thousands of BeagleBoard.org community developers to build their own plug-in boards. I expect there to be more than a hundred by next year.”