Beaglebone via Adafruit Industries

Today my Beaglebone arrived from Adafruit industries. This is the tiny PC I’m going to be using as my 24/7 monitoring server for my sensor network.

Here you see the case (unassembled) that I ordered to go with it. As usual, everything was much smaller than I imagined, even though I’d seen photos of it held in a hand.

And here is the case assembled. This is the first time I’d ever assembled something made from laser cut parts, and needless to say, now I want a laser cutter….

The latest README from beagleboard.org suggested I simply plug in power and LAN and access the beaglebone via browser or SSH. Unfortunately, my network doesn’t support Avahi, so couldn’t just access “beaglebone.local” and I had to ping around for the IP address that was assigned by DHCP. Once I found it, I was able to display the default page served up by the beaglebone’s httpd in Chrome:

Of course, the first thing I did was log in via SSH and change root password.

A good review of recommended first steps can be found at the borderhack blog.

And here is the beaglebone hooked up to my LAN and looking pretty cool in its clear case on the shelf next to my router and UPS.

As mentioned above, this is going to be my monitoring server. Technically, any old PC would have been fine, and I have a stack of broken old intel gear from which I could have easily scraped together something relatively low power. So in other words, I don’t have any plans to use the beaglebone to drive any other gear directly, so all the cool I/O pins will unfortunately not be put to good use. However, the benefits to me of using this rather than an actual PC are that it is solid state and extremely low power, which to me lends itself well to 24/7 use. It won’t make any noise, and there are no moving parts, like hard drives, to break.

But I have to admit that now I have this up and running, some of its capabilities are quite intriguing, such as the ability to write software for it via browser and to even control IO via JavaScript (though I wonder about security there).

I will need to write some software eventually to graph and process the data I collect, unless I find a good package for that, so the browser interface will probably be a boon. At least it will be more “graphical” an interface than doing everything in a normal command line.

I may eventually use Ubuntu on this board rather than the included Angstrom Linux, simply because I’m more familiar with the former, but the cool thing about using SD for permanent storage is that I can very easily just swap out the whole “disk” at any time, and high capacity micro-SD cards are dirt cheap these days.

4 thoughts on “Beaglebone via Adafruit Industries

  1. Since I just got my FCC ham license, ya got me intrigued and I am looking at the Beaglebrick.

    http://www.rarcpio.net/beaglebrick/main.html

    • That’s a nice setup. I love their pic of using a decapitated laptop screen as a monitor for that beagleboard. I have to remember to keep that one on my to do list so I can put some of those broken laptops to good use.

  2. Ooh-ooh, pick me! I have a use for your Beaglebone. Check out what is going on with the RTL2832U dongle. For $20 or less, you can take what is a nominally a for AM/FM/Digital TV USB dongle, and expand its “horizons” to receive nearly everything between 60-2200 MHz. Power it up with gnuradio or HDSD, and you have entered the world of software-defined radio. Couple it up with the Beaglebone, and you have a helluva ham-band receiver for less than a hundred bucks, and it should fit in a container about the size of an Altoids tin.

    What kind of cool things could you do out in the inaka? How about a cheapie satellite receiver?

    It’s much easier to get a US ham-band license these days. Assuming you can find an FCC volunteer examiner willing to test you in Japan, it would take you most of an afternoon tor review the question pool and test for the tech license. If you want to transmit in the HF bands, you’d need to study a bit more for the general license. I’m betting there are certified VE’s somewhere in the US-SOFA community in Japan.

    If you did want to get into ham radio, the attraction, especially in Japan, would be the Dstar protocol. Using that, you can push ethernet packets over the HF bands at about 128 Kbps, from anywhere.

    • I have to admit Dstar sounds intriguing – maybe a good way to set up your own local Internet after the Zombie Apocalypse hits us.

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