BeagleBone Black Projects for Beginners

Prototype electronics with this affordable micro computer

With a suggested retail price of $45 and a set of features that make it a versatile mix of Raspberry Pi and Arduino, BeagleBone Black offers a great introduction to hardware development and a potential pathway from projects made as a hobbyist to commercially viable hardware products.

Start using the BeagleBone Black through one of several helpful introductory projects.

beaglebone black

LED 'Hello World'

For many beginning programmers, the first coding project they complete is the common Hello World, a simple program that outputs those words to the display. This project on BeagleBoard was developed by a member of the community to offer a similar introduction to operating the BeagleBoard Black. The project uses the Node API, which will be familiar to many web developers. The API controls a LED, which cycles through colors from red to green to blue. This simple project is a good introduction to the BeagleBone Black as a platform.

Facebook Like Counter

This project, like the previous one, uses a familiar software API as an introduction to developing on the BeagleBone Black. The Facebook like counter uses Facebook’s OpenGraph API to receive the number of “likes” for a particular node on the graph using the JSON format. The project then outputs the number to a four-digit, seven segment LED display.

The project provides a simple demonstration of BeagleBone’s power at easily interfacing with web services, while also offering many different physical extension options for output. The web interfaces will be familiar to many developers, and the Cloud9/Node.js script used to power the LED should also be approachable for many beginner programmers.

Network Monitoring Device

The BeagleBone Black is well equipped with several hardware connection options, and the onboard ethernet port allows it to easily become a handy network monitoring device.

This project uses technology from a company called ntop. The people at ntop have provided a port of their software for BeagleBone Black. Upon compiling and installing the code, the BeagleBone monitors internet connections on your network, identifying high-bandwidth users and potential security risks. This project might even potentially serve as an affordable tool for a sysadmin running a small office network.

BeagleBrew

The expression “free, as in beer” used by open-source tech enthusiasts speaks to the tastes of many in the community; for these people, the BeagleBrew project might be a great introduction to the BeagleBone Black. The BeagleBrew was developed in part by members of Texas Instruments, the designers behind the BeagleBoard project. The system uses a steel coil, a water heat exchanger, and a temperature sensor to monitor the temperature of a fermentation, and manage it using a web-based interface. It is essentially a temperature regulator, which is a simple enough concept that it could be suitable for beginner to intermediate BeagleBone enthusiasts.

Android on BeagleBone

Moving up the scale of complexity, the BeagleBone Android project brings the popular open source mobile OS to the BeagleBone Black. The project, named “rowboat,” is an Android port for TI Sitara processors, including the AM335x chip that serves as the base for BeagleBone Black. The project has a growing community of developers and is aimed at providing a stable port of Android to a number of TI processors. The rowboat port has been tested with many Android apps of various functions, including file system access, mapping, and even games. This project is a great jumping-off point for developers who are interested in Android as the basis for hardware projects beyond mobile phones.