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Add-on card lets you run Raspberry Pi HATs on a BeagleBone

Feb 26, 2022 — by Eric Brown 387 views

Sequent Microsystems has gone to Kickstarter to launch an $18 “Beagle-Pi” emulator board that enables HATs for the hard-to-find Raspberry Pi to run on the Cape expansion interface for the more widely available BeagleBone Black.

When we checked prices for the Raspberry Pi back in late December for our annual catalog of Linux hacker boards, we found most Raspberry Pi’s available at the usual price, but only from selected vendors in selected configurations with limited quantities and wait times stretching to two months. Since then, the situation has grown worse, as chip shortages have pushed wait times up to a year or more. In Europe, prices have skyrocketed. Raspberry Pi HAT vendor Sequent Microsystems noticed that the venerable BeagleBone Black is still widely available and developed a Beagle-Pi emulator board in the BeagleBone Cape add-on form-factor that enables the BB Black to use Raspberry Pi HATs.



Beagle-Pi with BeagleBone Black (left) and with BB Black and Sequent’s Raspberry Pi 8-Relay Card
(click images to enlarge)

The Beagle-Pi, which surpassed its Kickstarter goal, is available for $18, or $20 for immediate shipment. The add-on acts as a passive bridge that converts the 46-pin (2×23) Cape connectors of the BeagleBone into the 40-pin (2×20) GPIO connector of the Raspberry Pi. The Beagle-Pi routes I2C, SPI, 4x serial, and all the Raspberry Pi GPIOs from the HAT to equivalent function pins on the BeagleBone.

The Beagle-Pi also supplies an LCD connector and a debug interface. There are 4x mounting holes for connecting to the BeagleBone and 4x for Raspberry Pi HATs. Mounting hardware and a jumper are included.



Beagle-Pi, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Sequent claims that all its Raspberry Pi add-on cards, such as the Raspberry Pi 8-Relay Card shown at top, run fine on the Beagle-Pi. “The software compiled without any modifications,” says Sequent. “You simply download the software from GitHub, compile it on the Beagle and you are ready to go. “

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Assuming the Beagle-Pi works as advertised, it should prove to be a worthy product, especially if you have some old BeagleBones on hand. We have not seen anything like it, although there are some specific conversion hacks online such as this tutorial on converting the Sense HAT for use on the BeagleBone.

Note, however, that despite the chip shortage, there are still many Pi pseudo-clones available with RPi-compatible 40-pin connectors, and a few still have immediate shipments and reasonable prices. Almost all of these are more powerful and feature rich than the BeagleBone. Not all HATs are going to work properly using the BeagleBone’s single-core Cortex-A9 based Sitara AM3358.



GPIO (left) and serial pinouts showing conversions between BeagleBone and Raspberry PI
(click images to enlarge)

Yet, the BeaglePi should be able to accommodate most HATs, and the BeagleBone has the advantage of having been thoroughly tested by a large BeagleBoard.org community. Unlike many of the Pi clones, it is rock solid in hardware and firmware. The BeagleBone also has an extensive array of industrial interfaces.

Finally, note that the BeagleBone is not quite so abundant as Sequent suggests. Only two of the five official vendors offer immediate shipments, with OKdo selling it at $57 and Newark at $65, and the others have extensive shipment delays. Still the situation is better than with most SBCs, and there are other BeagleBone clones that would likely support the Beagle-Pi.

Along with the Raspberry Pi, the BeagleBone was one of the first community backed Linux maker boards. Perhaps the chip shortage can help it survive a bit longer.

 
Further information

The Beagle-Pi is available on Kickstarter for $18 (April shipment) or $20 (immediate shipment; first 100 customers only). The campaign extends through Mar. 28. More information may be found on the Beagle-Pi Kickstarter page and Sequent Microsystems’ Beagle-Pi page.
 

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2 responses to “Add-on card lets you run Raspberry Pi HATs on a BeagleBone”

  1. Chip says:

    This is a good product, and I hope to see similar ones for other boards too.
    It’s important to point out that almost every Raspberry Pi hat can be adapted to work on other boards; it’s just a matter of routing the right port in hardware and software, which sometimes is simpler than one would expect.

  2. irwin riolinus says:

    they dont have any software, manual or github repo, dont buy…..

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