The BeagleBone is an outstanding tool for so many programs because . . . well, it has pretty much everything. It operates at a very high frequency; it features all the most popular communications ports; it can be set to consume very little energy; it can be programmed in a wide array of programming languages.
It isn’t an overstatement to say that the BeagleBone offers boundless possibilities in many areas, from fast-reacting systems and processing-heavy programs to low-consumption vehicles. Following are suggestions for four amazing projects for the BeagleBone.
Underwater exploration robot
As its name suggests, OpenROV is a tiny yet awesome-looking underwater exploration robot. The OpenROV website is very well organized and provides a great deal of information, such as where to buy an OpenROV and how to assemble one yourself. All the code and instructions for building the robot are provided, and the company welcomes anyone (including you!) to join its mission to explore the ocean.
On the website’s Documentation page is an extremely detailed guide to making your own OpenROV, including how to assemble the chassis and how to mount the motors, the camera, an Ethernet adapter, and all other necessary electronics.
You can download all the software from the same page and add your own twist to the code. This project is also featured on the BeagleBoard website.
Autonomous sailboat to tame the seas
FASt stands for FEUP Autonomous Sailboat — an 8.2-foot (2.5-meter) unmanned and fully autonomous sailing boat created by a group that Luís was part of at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto.
The sea is a harsh and unstable environment for operating robotic boats. Even though sailing boats typically are slow vehicles, the data acquired from the navigation sensors has to be read and processed quickly to actuate the outputs so that the boat sails where it’s supposed to.
At the same time, the boat has to be able to make the appropriate maneuvers and choose the best route to the destination. FASt automatically adjusts its sail and rudders by reading data from sensors that measure the wind, water speed, orientation, GPS satellites, and other sensors.
A BeagleBone Black is the main brain of the whole operation, running all the software that handles the sensors and actuators, and making the navigation decisions in a clever way.
The great thing about sailing robots is that they’re full green devices; they don’t require motors that eat up huge amounts of energy. Because its computer is powered by solar cells and its electronic system is designed to consume as little energy as possible, FASt can theoretically stay in the sea forever, taking on many missions, from performing ocean sampling or surveillance to tracking sea mammals. Interested?
BeagleBone gaming console
Max Thrun decided to bring together many existing open-source BeagleBone capes to create GamingCape, a handheld game console that features a BeagleBone Black and is reminiscent of the classic Nintendo Game Boy.
GamingCape is truly a marvelous piece of work. Electronics, software, and a little bit of materials knowledge have been brought together to create a handheld emulator that features several classic games for NES, Sega, and Game Boy systems.
It can even run the good old Doom because it has all the necessary components: a color LCD, a joystick, and two thumb buttons, as well as plugs for headphones and a microphone. Max Thrun, the creator of the GamingCape, says, “Just drop in 4 AAA batteries and you’ll be playing your favorite games discretely at work in no time”.
Visit Thrun’s blog to find out more about this project.
Desktop five-axis CNC mill
A CNC (computer numerical control) mill is a machine that’s used to create pretty much everything. It operates by cutting a piece of material to the desired shape. CNC mills have been around for industrial purposes for a long while, but over the past decade, there has been remarkable growth in people’s desire to build things themselves. This growth has created a new market for personal CNC mills that can sit on a desktop.
Normally, these machines cut material in the three translational axes of motion: X, Y, and Z. Matt Hertel and his crew decided to go one step further by creating Pocket NC, a desktop five-axis CNC mill that allows for the manufacture of complex parts. Among desktop CNC mills, five-axis capability is quite an innovation.
A BeagleBone Black handles the computational prowess of motion control, running extremely precise software that decides how the Pocket NC operates to cut the material to the desired shape. For the electronics part, Hertel’s team designed a custom-made cape for the BeagleBone.
The board runs a Linux distribution specially created for this kind of job: LinuxCNC. This project is also featured on the BeagleBoard website.