Getting Started with the BeagleBone® Blue

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Now that you have your hands on the new BeagleBone® Blue, here is what to expect out of the box and how to get connected to your board and the internet.

Unboxing

The BeagleBone® Blue from BeagleBoard.org comes protected from both electrical and mechanical shocks in an ESD safe bag in a padded box.  Unlike the BeagleBone® Black, the Blue does not include the microUSB to USB cable you will need to connect it to your computer.  

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BeagleBone® Blue

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BeagleBone Black

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102-1092-BL-00300

CnC Tech, LLC Cable Assembly USB View

The board comes with the antennas on top of the board for safe transit, but the antennas will work better if you gently rotate them to point off the edge of the board.  If one detaches, gently line the pin and socket back up in the desired orientation and press down on the u.Fl connector to snap it back into place. 

Get Connected to Your Board

BeagleBoard.org has great start-up instructions. Under the support section, click “getting started”.  Follow the three steps outlined on this page:

  1. Plug in your Blue
  2. Download and install drivers
  3. Navigate to the web server on your Blue

You should see a green box at the top of the screen that tells you you’ve successfully connected to your Blue.   

Connect to the Internet

Although the page you’ve landed on through the setup process gives example code to blink your LEDs, this code does not work on the Blue.  Clicking the “run” button on the webpage will do nothing, and copying the code into Cloud9 to run will give you errors indicating that the LEDs are mapped differently in this BeagleBoard.  The Blue has the hardware and software features of the Robotics Cape integrated, so we will need to use the commands available in the roboticscape package. 

The Blue has dedicated memory available to store an operating system, so it will boot up with Linux (Debian, Jessie) without the use of an SD card image.

You could find the latest version of Jessie and manually install that OS to update the packages, but the easiest way is to connect your Blue to the internet and use apt-get. 

In Cloud9, open a new terminal window.  There are a few ways to set up WiFi connectivity, but I use Connman.  The commands to initiate are as follows:

connmanctl

enable wifi

tether wifi disable

scan

services

After entering the “services” command, you should see a list of the available networks.  If you see the network you want to use, type:

agent on

connect wifi_f45xxxxx (etc. – depends on your network)

(enter any required credentials)

quit

You are now connected to the internet!  Verify your connection by pinging a common website like google.com and checking for incoming and outgoing packets.  If all is well, bring your Blue up to date with these commands:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

This will take quite a while the first time you do this, but updates all packages and brings your Blue fully up to speed.  The most important packages to update are roboticscape and git. 

Blinking LEDs

We need to pull all the available example code from Strawson Design’s github respository for the Robotics Cape. 

In a tab separate from Cloud9, open the above link and click on the green “Clone or Download” box to copy the repository link.  In Cloud9, create a folder under your root directory to use as a sandbox, navigate into that folder, and use the following command to pull in all the files.

Once that is complete, you will see a new folder.  Navigate into the subfolder “examples” and run the rc_blink example.  This example blinks the two user LEDs at a rate that can be changed by pressing the MOD button on the board.  Experiment with the other examples to explore the wide range of features available to you!  Note that the motor drivers are only intended to work with a power supply over 6V like the Lithium batteries or external power adapter, and you will not be able to drive motors when the Blue is powered exclusively over USB. 


Interested in Beaglebone® Blue vs. BeagleBone® Black? Next Up: Product Insights on the BeagleBone Black

Interested in comparing other single board computers? Our engineers break it down for you in our SBC Comparison chart.

 

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