New Product Review:Seeed Studio BeagleBone Green Wireless
Seeed Studio BeagleBone Green Wireless is a joint effort between BeagleBoard.org and Seeed Studio. It is based on the open-source hardware design of the successful BeagleBone Black development board. It includes two Grove connectors, which allows users to adopt the wide range of sensors and actuators using Grove eco-system, eradicating any requirement for soldering and increasing rapid prototyping and productivity.
The new highlighted features of Seeed Studio BBG Wireless are that it features the TI WiLink™ 8 2.4GHz wireless module, which not only supports MIMO 802.11 b/g/n WiFi but it also supports Bluetooth 4.1 LE. The wireless module has been specifically designed for a seamless integration with the Sitara AM335X and this allows low power consumption for extending battery life. This enhanced wireless features make it more suitable for IoT projects reducing the requirement for any additional purchasing of extra hardware. The BBG Wireless is a true IoT device.
– SoC: TIAM335x
– CPU: 1GHz ARM Coretex-A8
– GPU: 3D graphics accelerator
– Memory: 512MB DDR3
– USB Ports: 4
– Network: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1
Straight out of the box it comes with a Seeed Studio custom Debian Linux 4.9 image, which is tailored by the software design team at Seeed. The great advantage of using Debain over other OS is that it is more commonly used amongst other boards allowing porting of projects over to the board and easy process.
The Wi-Fi features support for both AP+STA mode of communication between devices and other networks on the default OS image. This reduces the unnecessary installation of drivers for wireless devices, as well as providing a more simplified end user experience. Your mobile devices can easily connect to the Seeed Studio BeagleBone Green Wireless using the AP mode and there you can configure any connection in STA mode to connect to a local Wi-Fi router for internet connectivity, this does not require any additional software or drivers, these features are all built in to the Seeed Studio BeagleBone Wireless board by default.
The Seeed Studio BeagleBone Green also supports the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) for the built-in Bluetooth module. A2DP is a Bluetooth profile which defines how high quality stereo audio can be streamed from the Seeed Studio BeagleBone Green Wireless board to a Bluetooth audio device such as a speaker or headset. Most Bluetooth devices and module are setup to only transfer data and would require additional installation and configuration to setup A2DP, which can be difficult for most users. This feature adds more depth for creating Bluetooth projects using Bluetooth Audio devices and reiterates the power potential of the Seeed Studio BeagleBone Green Wireless development board.
Hardware & Connectivity
Seeed Studio BeagleBone Green Wireless gives users the hardware tools to determine a number of ways in which you can connect and interact with yourAdd Media board.
It comes with 802.11 b/g/n MIMO wireless technology based on the TI WiLinkTM 8 chipset. The advanced wireless features such as AP mode and P2P direct connection prepare developers for the future of devices. The wireless module also supports enhanced low power mode (ELP) when connected to devices and when used as an access point it has the ability to enter into a low power state to reduce overall power consumption. MIMO technology allows a greater throughput and extended range providing an overall efficient wireless experience.
It has also adopted the modular Grove eco-system, which is a series of over 150 breakout modules such as actuators and sensors. The Grove modules provide a simple and efficient approach to prototyping your projects eradicating any need for soldering and circuit designing. This Grove modular system is suited for beginners and also software programmers who know little about any electrical hardware. The two Groves connectors on the board provide both UART and I2C connectivity.
It also features the same pinout as the original BeagleBone Black giving users a possible of up to 65 GPIO pins. The BeaglBone Green Wireless has better I/O capabilities with 7 channel 200KHz 12-bit ADC, 8PWM, 4 UART quadrature encoder hardware plus many more. This means that you do not have to buy any additional hardware components to connect up many more sensors and actuators unlike other boards such as the Raspberry Pi.
The pins also allow the expansion for the BegleBone Cape family of expansion boards including the SeedStudio Grove Cape. GPIO headers feature the following:
– 65x Digital I/O
– 8x PWM
– 8x Analog Inputs
It is the perfect platform for developing robotic projects and analyzing sensor data, due to its wide range of I/O capabilities including up to 8 PWM pins for drivers Servos and motors. The enhanced wireless capabilities can give you access to your robotics remotely, monitoring their behavior even updating real-time hardware based on data analysis from sensors alike.
It also has better real-time control with two 200MHz 32-bit RISC programmable real-time units (PRU) that are optimized for single-cycle latency to the I/O pins. This mix of both Linux and a micro-controller on one chip makes the board handle tasks which is not possible on other boards such as the Intel Galileo.
Linux Board Comparison
You can see from the comparison table that Seeed Studio BeagleBone Green Wireless is far superior in terms of inputs and out puts compared to other Linux boards, these GPIO pins also can server as multiple functions such as I2S or CAN bus plus many more. Only the Raspberry Pi is faster in terms of hardware spec however the design is for more of a multimedia computer and as such does not compare to any other development when using I/O pins. The clear lack of analog ability dampens its ability to be part for the Linux development boards. Also the significant internal data storage in the form of a 4GB eMMC module provides excellent data storage for collecting and monitoring sensor data uploading to the server. This shows great capacity and flexibility when designing IoT projects.
Open Source Hardware (OSH)
One of the key factors in choosing a development board is how open source the hardware is. The Seeed Studio BeagleBone Green Wireless is fully open-source based on the BeagleBone eco-system, allowing developers to design their own version specifically for industrial or commercial applications, this is something that is not common amongst other boards such as the Raspberry Pi. Not only does OSH release full access to the board but opens up the full potential it was built for. For educational purposes it teaches users the dynamics of how modern development boards are designed and with Seeed Studio BeagleBone Green Wireless it sets the standard.
No matter what level your design skills are, all the components manufactured for the BeagleBone Green are ready available for anyone to purchase including the Sitara devices from TI. Just recently Propogate, the Manufacture Dept in Seeed Studio partnered with ValentF(x) who have brought you KiwiSDR, which is a software-defined radio module with GPS. It covers shortwave, longwave and AM broadcast radio bands including a number of utility stations and amateur radio transmissions using a worldwide spectrum. 294 backers pledged $70,757 to help bring this project to life through Kickstarter. This is another great example of utilizing the open-source hardware on the board which cannot be accomplished on other platforms alike.