As I stated on Saturday, most of my Beagle Board parts arrived, and even though I have presentations to work on for conferences two weeks from now, I couldn’t resist at least setting things up. I mean, how hard could it be?
As background, I administer the Meld embedded Linux community and work as a technical writer at MontaVista Software. I will be giving presentations on community and collaborative development at the Embedded Linux Conference and Linux Collaboration Summit in April in San Francisco. I will also be demonstrating several interesting projects running on the Beagle Board at ELC, including MontaVista’s new MID platform. That is, if I can get everything working!
As it turns out, bringing up the Beagle was both easier and harder than I expected. The board itself does not come with any cables or connectors, but there are some excellent resources in the Beagle community, including a very valuable shopping list for those of us who don’t know what we are doing.
I ordered the following parts, shown with source and prices in $US (not including tax and shipping). I’m also not including things I had around the house already, like network cables.
|Beagle Board system-on-chip, rev. B7||149.00||DigiKey|
|4GB SD Card with RevB Angstrom Demo||15.00||SpecialComputing|
|USB SDHC Reader||9.00||SpecialComputing|
|IDC10 DB9M Bulkhead Cable||5.00||SpecialComputing|
|USB Ethernet Hub Kit||49.00||SpecialComputing|
|5mm Power USB Cable||8.00||SpecialComputing|
|USB Mini-A OTG Cable (6-in)||9.00||SpecialComputing|
|HDMI DVI-D Male Cable (6-ft)||11.00||SpecialComputing|
|BELKIN F5D7050 USB 802.11g Adapter||24.99||NewEgg|
|Link Depot USB-to-PS2 Converter||3.99||NewEgg|
|OCZ Speed 150x 2GB SD card||10.99||NewEgg|
The total cost of the extra parts was $145.97, almost exactly the same as the board itself. I highly recommend all of these providers (DigiKey, Special Computing, and NewEgg), as they all shipped the right products immediately and very well-packaged, and there were no financial snafus.
Astute embedded developers will notice one missing crucial item: a null-modem serial cable to connect the board to my PC and run a console. The Beagle has an IDC10 (aka Everex) pinset as its serial interface. As an old-school geek, I could have sworn I had a ton of these in a box somewhere. However, among the dead floppy drives, network cables with broken ends, old mice, parallel and IDE cables, PCI modems, etc I did not locate a serial cable with female ends, let alone a null-modem.
I should have purchased the IDC10-to-DB9F cable directly from DigiKey for $16, or at least the DB9F-DB9F null-modem cable from Special for a whopping $4. But I didn’t. So I wired one up, using some old phone wire, a serial-to-PS2 adapter that happened to have a female end, and the clipped-off DB9F end from a serial mouse. It’s ugly, but it works, and the Beagle requires only two lines, xmit and recv on pins 3 and 5. Remember to reverse them to make a null-modem. I found the correct pinout thanks to the active Beagle community.
No, I didn’t actually use duct tape, but I have some here just in case.
I also did not opt for the fancy acrylic case offered by Special Computing. Instead, my 11-year-old son made me a fantastic “case” out of Legos that looks (vaguely) like a dog. I will bring it to the conference. UPDATE 4/14/09: I brought it to the conference, and it was very well received.