has released the BeagleBone Blue some days ago, a Linux-enabled computer for robotic applications.

The BeagleBone Blue is an open hardware platform that include a large array of sensors and IO; IMU, Baro, PPM for RC input, 8 channels PWM output to Servos, DC motor driver, analog input, PRU, GPIO, LEDs, buttons, serial, CAN, I2C, SPI, USB, WiFi, Bluethooth, 2-cell LiPo charger and wide input voltage range.

Jason Kridner has designed the BeagleBone Blue and he contacted me to implement the ArduPilot Flight Controller Software on BeagleBone Blue and make it a full blown Linux-enabled autopilot. Based on my previous experience with a similar project called the BBBmini, a BeagleBone Black or Green coupled with a sensor cape of my own, that has been successfully built and flown by numerous DIYers around the world, the BeagleBone Blue is natural extension of my design with the benefit of having a single board solution.

Experimenters can now have their copter, plane, rover, submarine being controlled with ArduPilot software powered by a versatile Linux platform with enough power to add cameras, additional sensors and use a large array of available robotic language like ROS, dronekit-python and Mission Control suites for just 80$.

I am not related to TI or BBBmini and BeagleBone Blue ArduPilot support are both pure hobby projects.

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  • it's very challenging to design a flight controller hardware unlike a rover hardware or a ground based machine. whosoever designs a flight controller hardware or software is a genius. BBB is a natural improvement since it incorporates more sensors than other boards making it more versatile.

  • Patrick...but but but I want a quadcopter,  self balancing  on two wheels I can drive up walls and across ceilings! ;-) 

  • S1CAR1US 

    There is no real difference if we look at the signals, but with the BBB its all done internally with no additional components. The BBB has been designed as a general purpose ARM based system with lots of IO. The configuration can be modified using the Device Tree structure (equivalent to Bios) were the IO are profiled and defined.

    Getting back to the MiniZee, if you follow the blog, you will see that someone made a pc board that you can order from OSH Park. It is opened hardware, so you can to copy and modify. If you have other questions about this project, feel free to ask on the MiniZee Blogpost. Lets keep the BBBlue topic going on here ;-)

    Soby  using the BBBlue, you can build a balancing robot one day, and build a Flight Controller the next just by uploading software and rewiring IO. 

  • Patrick,

    What are the advantages of the ppm to pwm conversions being done internally on the bbb? I am curious to know if there are any real advantages to this system. I'm not advocating for one or the other, just trying to learn as much as possible. Also, when you say built for half the price, were you meaning that you built the pxf mini from the schematics which are provided in .pdf form by Erle Robtcs? That would be really cool because I was thinking about doing the same thing but didn't know enough about sourcing a PCB manufacturer, or the rules, both legally and morally, about making an open source hardware chip like this. I mean i would think that it would be just fine to do but was suprised at how little info i could find when searching online. I found places said they would print a board for student as low as 20 dollars... So any open source chip i can go get made by them or is it frowned on or down right illegal in a case like this where only one company makes it?
  • Developer

    great work Mirko!

    I like the docs you've done. Could we get those in the ArduPilot wiki too? Or at least a link?

    If you don't have write permission to the wiki repo then please let know.

  • S1CAR1US I know it so much that I build mine from scratch at half the price last year.

    Thanks to Mirko for his help in this project :-)

    Unlike the RPI , the BBB makes all the timing process internally (PPM-in and PWM-out) using the PRU : A programmable realtime unit within the SOC. On RPI we need external components to do it.

  • Have you seen the PXF Mini? It is I believe 68 dollars, and basically everything you could want in an autopilot. It is designed to be stacked on top of a raspberry pi zero($5), which is much cheaper than a BBB... But is also compatible with Raspberry Pi 2, 3, and b+ variants. I put mine on top of a RPi3 b+. It is complety open source and is basically the same thing as a pixhawk, or more accurately the pixhawk fire cape. Seems like for the points your making about what you like about the bbb, this is a much better option. Hope this info is useful to someone.
  • Great Project Mirko !!

    I had the chance to follow the work in this one and there was some tricky parts to resolve within the code.

    This BBBlue is a real bargain compared to NAVIO or Intel Aero for anyone interested trying a Linux based FC.

  • Great job Mirko!

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