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Sandwich style BeagleBone Black clone targets volume production

Jan 25, 2017 — by Eric Brown 2,309 views

Critical Link’s MitySOM-335x Maker Transition Kit adds an open source, BeagleBone Black like carrier board to its Linux-supported TI Sitara AM335x COM.

Critical Link has launched a sandwich-style “MitySOM-335x Maker Transition Kit” that expands upon its MitySOM-335x computer-on-module with a carrier board that closely resembles the community-backed BeagleBone Black SBC. The kit enables makers to convert prototypes based on the BeagleBone Black to “production-suitable designs,” say Critical Link. The design minimizes changes when transitioning from the BeagleBone Black, and in many cases can be used as a drop-in replacement, says the Syracuse, NY based company.

MitySOM-335x Maker Transition Kit, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

After a developer preview in late 2016, the kit is now being rolled out publicly, with shipments due in 1Q 2017. The kit ships with a Linux BSP on a microSD card, along with a demo app. Full schematics and design source files are provided for the carrier, but not the module.

The MitySOM-335x is built around TI’s 1GHz, Cortex-A8 Sitara AM335x SoC, which is available in six models. The Sitara options include models with combinations of PowerVR SGX530 3D graphics acceleration, EtherCAT, and Programmable Real-Time Unit (PRU) subsystem for industrial interface customization.

MitySOM-335x front side and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The MitySOM-335x module offers up to 1GB DDR3 or optionally, 256MB DDR2 RAM, as well as up to 1GB NAND flash and 8MB NOR flash. It supports dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, and offers a 24-bit WXGA LCD interface with touch support. The module supports dual USB ports, 3x MMC/SD/SDIO interfaces, and industrial I/O like 2x CAN, 6x UART, 2x SPI, 2x I2C, 2x McASP, GPIO, and more.


The module is already available with a Critical Link carrier board, as well as a smaller carrier from Gumstix that can be customized in the Gumstix Geppetto online design service. The new maker kit is the smallest board of the bunch, mimicking the BeagleBone Black’s 86 x 53mm dimensions.

MitySOM-335x Maker Transition Kit (left) and detail view: 1) MicroSD, 2) UART header, 3) USB host, 4) micro-HDMI, 5) Ethernet, 6) DC input, 7) reset/power, 8) Micro-USB
(click images to enlarge)

The maker kit baseboard provides 4GB of eMMC flash, as well as a microSD slot that has been moved to the top of the board to make more room for the bottom-mounted MitySOM-335x module. The COM’s connector raises the height of one side of the board compared to the BeagleBone Black. In addition, the power, reset, and boot buttons have been re-positioned, and the audio-enabled micro-HDMI port has been moved closer to board edge. These design changes, as well as electrical differences, are detailed in this Maker Transition Kit presentation (PDF).


Otherwise, the board is much like the BeagleBone Black, with dual 46-pin Cape expansion connectors, a 10/100 Ethernet port, a USB host port, and a micro-USB OTG port. JTAG and UART debug interfaces are available along with a USB to UART debug serial cable. There’s a 5V DC input and 5V/2A AC/DC adapter,

“Leading-edge designs come out of the maker community all the time, but often high potential prototypes encounter hurdles on the path to production,” stated Thomas Catalino, Vice President, SOM Solutions at Critical Link. “Undocumented design changes, availability, design for manufacturability, and production costs can all derail a great product design making it to market. Our new platform helps overcome many of these challenges.”

Further information

The MitySOM-335x Maker Transition Kit will be available at an undisclosed price “later in Q1 2017.” More information may be found on Critical Link’s MitySOM-335x Maker Transition Kit product page.

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