The BeagleBone Black is a tiny "computer on a board" similar to a Raspberry Pi. I bought on an experiment to see what I could do with it.
Element14 stock the BeagleBone in Australia, so I bought it through them and the following other parts needed for the setup:
- The BBB itself ($70)
- 5V-3A DC power pack ($22, Jaycar)
Partlist 4 port USB hub ($4, MSY)
- Cablelist Micro-HDMI to HDMI cable ($8, MSY)
- D-Link Dub-104 4-Port USB 2.0 Powered Hub ($20, Mwave)
- Netgear WNA 3100M USB wifi ($10, MSY)
Other items that I had available to complete the setup:
- 8GB micro SD card
- USB mouse/keyboard
- Monitor (1680x1050)
The BeagleBone wiki says to start off by connecting the BBB to a computer with the USB cable. So I plugged it in and it dutifully lit up.
Browsing to http://192.168.7.2 showed me the BeagleBone 101 screen, which was a good sign.
Then I plugged in the 5V power adapter, micro-HDMI cable, keyboard to the USB port and network cable to the RJ45. Booted into the default desktop (a Debian distro running LXDE by the looks).
Next I tried the unpowered hub and hit the first issue: the single USB host port on the Bone doesn't have enough juice to run more than one device, which I'd kind of expected but hoped I might avoid. Hence the need to end up with a more expensive powered hub in order to run more than one USB device. Not a big deal, but when you consider that the BBB costs a lot more than the Raspberry Pi, which now comes with 4 USB ports (!), it's somewhat disappointing.
The desktop was usable but you definitely notice it's slower than a full-powered desktop computer. There are also occasional glitches, such as the print screen application blacking out particular some applications. I feel it's more suited to a low-powered always-on server type of application than for regular interactive use.
- Get the Netgear 3100M working. Firmware didn't appear to be included in the distro, need to track it down and install it.
- Install the 8GB micro-SD card and make sure it works.
- Find a permanent use for the thing. :)
So while it's a nifty little computer, I feel that it's definitely lacking when compared to the Pi. A friend has a Cubietruck, which has the nice feature of a host SATA port. Again, BBB comes up short in the price/feature matrix.