Design Classroom Innovations

The Use of BeagleBone Black Board in Engineering Design and Development

  • Nannan He (Minnesota State University - Mankato)
  • Han-Way Huang (Minnesota State University - Mankato)
  • Brian David Woltman (Minnesota State University - Mankato)


The BeagleBone Black (BBB) board is a low cost, powerful expandable computer launched by a community of developers sponsored by Texas Instruments in the early 2013. It is the newest product in the Beagle family. This board features a powerful TI Sitara™ ARM Cortex™-A8 processor which runs at 1 GHz. And a 2 GB on-board flash memory acts as the “hard drive” for the board to host a Linux operating system and other software development tools. The size of the board is small enough to fit in a mint tin box. It can be used for a variety of projects from high school fair projects to prototypes of very complex embedded systems.

With a user-friendly, browser-based Bonescript programming environment called Cloud9, a learner can easily program the BBB board to rapidly prototype electronic systems that interface with real-world applications. Afterwards, as the knowledge of users develops, the board provides more complicated interfaces including C/C++ functions to access digital and analog pins aboard the ARM Cortex A8 microprocessor. The full power and capability of the BBB board may be programmed in the underlying onboard Linux operating system, such as Angstrom or Ubuntu. Moreover, the Beagle community provides a useful repository of example projects, forums and hardware/software documentation.

This paper presents our work of employing the BBB board in designing engineering senior projects, and uses a case study of robot car with voice recognition senior project to compares it with Raspberry Pi and Arduino in educating engineering students to construct embedded systems. Our primary experiences demonstrate that the BBB board is an easy-to-use and cost-effective development kit which can be employed by college-level engineering students for their capstone design projects.

How to Cite:

He, N. & Huang, H. & Woltman, B. D., (2014) “The Use of BeagleBone Black Board in Engineering Design and Development”, 2014 ASEE North Midwest Section Conference 2014(1), 1-8. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2014, Nannan He, Han-Way Huang, and Brian David Woltman

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Published on
17 Oct 2014
Peer Reviewed