[Updated: Mar. 7] — BeagleCore has released design docs for its open-spec, BeagleBone-like COM and carrier board, which are both available for pre-order from Conrad Electronics.
Last summer, Iesy funded startup BeagleCore failed to win funding for its eponymous BeagleBone Black COM clone on Kickstarter. Now, however, a slightly tweaked design is available for pre-order from Conrad Electronics, with plans to ship in April.
BeagleCore BCM1 module (left) and BeagleCore BCS1 starter kit
(click images to enlarge)
The production-level BeagleCore BCM1 module appears have shrunk slightly, from 49 x 32mm to 48 x 30mm. Designed as an IoT-focused “soldering module based on Land Grid Array,” the BCM1’s specs appear to the same as advertised last summer. The module is equipped with the same Texas Instruments AM335x Cortex-A8 Sitara SoC found on the BeagleBone Black, similarly clocked to 1GHz. Like the BeagleBone Black, the module has 512MB of DDR3L RAM and 4GB of 8-bit eMMC flash.
BeagleCore BCM1 rear view, and front silkscreen
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As before, the module is equipped with a 10/100 Ethernet controller, USB 2.0 host and micro-OTG interfaces, microSD support, and an LCD interface for resolution up to 1440 x 900 pixels. Up to 59x GPIOs include UART, SPI, CAN, I2C, and more, replicating all of the BeagleBone Black’s I/O, claims BeagleCore. There are also UART and JTAG interfaces, plus a power LED.
The 5V module runs at commercial temperatures of 0 to 60°C, and an industrial temperature version is under development. BeagleCore claims the module is fully open source and supports all applications that run on the BeagleBone Black. OS support is said to include Debian, Ubuntu, Android, and Cloud9 IDE on Node.js with BoneScript library. There is no longer any mention of the previously touted, web-based BeagleSuite application for programming and coordinating IoT sensor inputs.
Kissing cousins: BeagleCore BCS1 Starter-Kit (left) compared to BeagleBone Black
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The approximately BeagleBone sized (87 x 55 x 19mm) BeagleCore BCS1 starter kit extends the BCM1 module with a 10/100 Ethernet port, a USB 2.0 host port, and a mini-USB 2.0 client port. There’s also an HDMI port with audio support, as well as a microSD port, a 6-pin serial UART interface, and dual 46-pin GPIO headers. The 5V board also includes LEDs.
BeagleBoard.org recognition sought
One reason the BeagleCore may not have attracted enough funders last year was that there were relatively few specs available. Another could be the fact that the project lacked the official blessing of BeagleBoard.org by being listed on its compatible and compliant products page. The first issue is now moot with the release of a ZIP file with full schematics, footprint, Gerber files, and BOM for both the BeagleCore COM and carrier board. In addition, the Conrad shopping pages include spec lists.
Regarding the second issue, although several BeagleBone SBC clones and near clones announced over the last six months have received a BeagleBone Black compliance or compatibility certification, the BeagleCore team had found the process to be overly complex. According to an email response from Martin Steger, BeagleCore’s Managing Director, it was “difficult to synchronize their strategies and guidelines with our project.”
In an email to LinuxGizmos, BeagleBoard.org’s Jason Kridner briefly outlined BeagleBoard.org’s qualification process. It begins with samples of submitted boards being supplied to “several community members for a thorough review to verify compatibility.” Then, the vendor receives technical feedback from the reviewers regarding their experiences with software and hardware integration, documentation, etc. Finally, the vendor and BeagleBoard.org collaborate “to build the BeagleBoard brand such that there is as much clarity and value as possible.” This last step includes a review of board silkscreens, packaging, and product descriptions, relative to claims of BeagleBoard compatibility or compliance.
According to Kridner, other COMs with “some degree of BeagleBone compatibility have been on the market for years,” and some of them “have actually been submitted for logo certification and have undergone some degree of .org and community testing.” Kridner noted that BeagleCore has not sent any samples of its product to BeagleBoard.org for testing and verification, which is one of the initial steps for being considered for inclusion in the program.
Other BeagleBone news
prototype with robot
Other BeagleBone Black devices that have received compatibility certification include Seeed’s BeagleBone Green and Element14’s BeagleBone Black Industrial — both shipping now — as well as SanCloud’s upcoming BeagleBone Enhanced. Also in the works, but not yet rated, is a robotics education-focused collaboration between BeagleBoard.org and the University of California San Diego called the BeagleBone Blue.
This week, BeagleBoard.org announced that the BeagleBone Blue will have WiFi and Bluetooth LE. Although these specs had already been listed by UCSD EduLine, BeagleBoard.org has not only confirmed it, but added that the board will include an access point, so a single board can be used to control multiple BeagleBone Blue based robots.
The post also noted that BeagleBoard.org has been accepted as a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code 2016. Both the BeagleBone Blue and the much delayed BeagleBoard-X15 will be available for Summer of Code students.
BeagleCore pricing and availablility
According to BeagleCore, pricing for the BeagleCore BCM1 and BeagleCore BCS1 Starter-Kit will start at $55 and $129 respectively, with volume discounts available. However, Conrad Electronics is currently taking pre-orders at 60 Euros ($64) for the module and 138.30 Euros ($150) for the kit, which includes a 19 percent local VAT. US shipments are said to be made available via Rapid Electronics. More information may be found at the BeagleCore website, as well as the Conrad Electronics BeagleCore BCM1 and BeagleCore BCS1 Starter-Kit product pages.