Team Black Sheep Vendetta Tips

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I have gone all in with the TBS Vendetta, I have put the ZMRs and the Shendrones Krieger away. I am now exclusively flying a pair of Vendettas that I have named McCoy and Hatfield.

The Vendetta is not perfect and it is not indestructible. It is a multirotor for experienced hobbyists and it is not for beginners. I would only recommend it to someone who has built more than 2 difference quads of their own and gone through the experience of tuning, flying, crashing, and breaking.

If you are a beginner I recommend you either buy an ImmersionRC Vortex 250 Pro or take the time to build one of your own from parts you ordered online. Look for locals that will take you under their wing and help you out, sometimes it only takes an experienced pilot seeing your plane fly in person for a minute to tell you exactly what you need to do to fix it.

The Vendetta

You can learn more about the Team Black Sheep Vendetta on the TBS website and there are a lot of great instructional videos that various people have put together. I am not into making videos so I am going to offer my suggestions via this blog post.

I bought the Vendetta because I was no longer having fun building and maintaining quadcopters. I rebuilt my ZMRs 5 times and built a Shendrones Krieger that I was never able to get to fly right, don’t get me wrong, I think the Krieger is one of the best frames on the market and capable of being the most agile and fastest plane out there, I just don’t want to spend any more time rebuilding it or tweaking on it.

The Vendetta comes almost ready to fly, add a receiver, set it up via a couple of pushbuttons and you are ready to fly.

The 3 things you may want to change with the Vendetta as soon as you get are replacing the camera, securing the rear LED cover, and adding a 5V power connector.

Camera

I do not like the ZeroZero camera, I do not like the inability to change its settings without opening it up and clipping wires to it and I do not like the quality of the video it outputs. TBS has updated the camera and I have one of each, an updated one that came with a little orange sticker on it and one without, and I do not like either of them. So I have replaced the camera with a Runcam Swift.

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This is my first time using the Swift, but I have used the RunCam Sky many times before, in fact I have 5 of them on various planes and still in the box. The Swift offers very similar performance to the Sky and to the HS1177/PZ402M. It is easy to change the settings and easy to install it in the Vendetta.

The Swift comes with many different methods for mounting it, for the Vendetta you can use the flat back plate and the brackets that are on the ZerZero. But first you should harden the Swift to protect it from crashes, I have been known to hit trees head-on at over 30 miles an hour with my quads so it is important for the FPV camera to be tough.

I use E6000 to and a bamboo skewer to glue down the capacitor and the sensor, doing a Google search can show you a lot of other people recommending this and there are other methods and other adhesives you might want to use.

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I do not recommend gluing the circuit board to the housing, issues can arise where the circuit board ends up crooked in the housing, which would cause a fuzzy picture. But I do recommend adding a bit of foam tape to the back plate to hold the circuit board in place while making it easy to remove.

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Once the Swift has been toughened and it is time to remove the ZeroZero from the Vendetta and remove the video cables from the 4-pin micro JST connector, I use an X-Acto knife to gently pry up the little piece of plastic holding the cable and then pull it out. A Google search will get you some good videos showing this in action. Then do the same with one of the cables that came with the swift so that you have an empty 3-pin connector.

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WARNING: The pin-out for the Swift is different than the ZeroZero.

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Now place the wires from the Vendetta into the 3-pin connector being sure to get it right. For the white cable I wrapped it in a bit of electrical tape to keep it from shorting out on something in the plane.

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Next take the brackets off of the ZeroZero and put them on the Swift, it is an easy swap and easily fits. Make sure you have an antenna attached to the Vendetta before powering it on, ALWAYS ATTACH AN ANTENNA. In fact I keep an antenna attached at all times to my quads, I only take it off when I have to. Back in the day I burnt out 3 $75 video transmitters by not having an antenna attached.

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This is the time to setup the camera, out of the box Wide Dynamic Range is not turned on and that is the most important change to make. I also lower the contrast and sharpness as I feel it make it easier to see small tree branches and other thin objects.

Now time to put the camera into the plane and get ready to fly.

LED Cover

In my opinion the LED cover is the only real design flaw with the Vendetta, it is a piece of plastic glued to the carbon fiber frame, the glue gives out with the smallest bump, even a soft landing can cause it to pop out. I replaced it a couple of times, I really like the looks of having that translucent cover over the LEDs. The LEDs and the circuit board they are on is fragile and needs protection.

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The best solution I have found is to drill some holes in the cover and use small zip ties to hold it in place.

Transponder Power

For the Drone Racing Club races I participate in I need a 5v female servo lead to connect a transponder.

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The easiest place to get this from is the Servo output on top of the Cube, I was able to solder these wires without taking the Cube apart. Use a nice long cable lead and you can run the cable and connector to the front of the quad and hide it inside the frame behind the camera and front bumper when not in use. I choose to leave the signal cable unconnected for now.

I also think you could use this connector to power a RunCam HD 2 or other action camera, I haven’t tried that yet, but plan to soon.

WARNING: Do not do anything that makes the Cube taller, you will want that space between the top of the Cube and to top of the frame for when the screws holding the front arm sheer off and you need to push the tray up into the frame to get those screws out.

Overall

I really like the Vendetta and plan on it being my exclusive multirotor for a good long while. I like the way it flies and it is easy enough to repair.

Here is a video of me chasing some wings at the Pecan Patch.

ZMR250 Multirotor Frame

ZMR250 Multirotor Racing Drone

ZMR250 Frame

My first 250 size quadcopter frame was a ZMR250 which I have been told is a clone of a Blackout 250. The Blackout costs $150 from GetFPV while the ZMR is available for as low as $20 from various sources. I got my first one from Banggood in May 2015, it required some drilling to get the 2204 motors to fit the arms and the SMA VTx to fit through the top plate, but I was pretty happy with it overall.

My initial build included:

  • Banggood ZMR250 Carbon Fiber Frame
  • SimonK 20Amp ESCs
  • SunnySky 2204/2300kv Motors (I think they were knock-offs)
  • 700tvl Sony Board Camera
  • ImmersionRC 600mw VTx and Spironet Antennas
  • Naze32 Flight Controller
  • Home-made Power Distribution Board

I chose black and orange as a color scheme using orange shrink-wrap and propellers. After making a lot of mistakes and burning myself with the soldering iron a dozen or more times I decided to name the plane “Orange Pain”.

Since May I have rebuilt the machine a number of times due to burnt out or broken parts. I have gone through a Naze32, two 600mw VTx, a very expensive board camera, a top plate, three motors, three SN20a ESCs, and a ton of props. I bought an FPVModel ZMR250 and built it as a second plane but have since parted it out.

The current iteration of Orange Pain includes:

  • A mixture of Carbon Fiber parts from the original Banggood frame and a FPVModel ZMR250 V2 frame
  • RotorGeek RG20A ESCs
  • SunnySky 2204/2300kv (I think these are real)
  • Fatshark 250mw VTx
  • 600tvl Sony Board Camera PZ4020
  • Naze32 Flight Controller
  • DYS Power Distribution Board

I think this is a great setup for an intermediate racer or daily basher. I am currently struggling to get the tune on it right and am ready to pay someone else to tune it for me.

After rebuilding the machine a number of times I have learned a few things.
The expensive FPV cameras are not worth it, stick with the $30 Sony PZ4020 or PZ4020M with or without a case.
600mw Video Transmitters are not needed and the extra heat can greatly shorten the life of the unit. A 200mw or even 25mw transmitter may last a long longer and provide a signal that is comparable to the higher-powered transmitters at racing and public park distances.
If you short out a flight controller it is probably ruined. It is good to have an extra on hand.
Spend the extra money on 2 sets of drivers, keep one set in a toolbox at home and carry the other set with you.

I really enjoy my ZMR and recommend them for people getting started who want to build their own. The FPVModel ZMR250 V2 is made of a much higher quality carbon fiber than the Banggood frame, but the cheaper frame is not a bad buy.

ImmersionRC Vortex Pro-Tunes

Vortex 285 – FPV Race Quad

Vortex 285 – FPV Race Quad


The Vortex comes with 10 “Pro-Tunes” that were developed by sponsored pilots before its release. I did a bunch of Googling after buying the Vortex to try and find more details about these varoius tunes and found nothing more than a short video from UmmaGawd about the Vortex.

So here are all the tunes as of October 2015. I hope they add some new ones soon that are specific to newer motor and prop combinations, especially DAL props.

Preset 1

Pilot: AntohonyRC
Props: Gemfan 5040
Motor: T-Motor 1806
Pack: 4S
Camera: Mobius
Style: Easy Rider

Preset 2

Pilot: BewweB
Props: Gemfan 5030
Motor: T-Motor 1806
Pack: 3S
Camera: Mobius
Style: Beginner

Preset 3

Pilot: BewweB
Props: Gemfan 5030
Motor: T-Motor 1806
Pack: 4S
Camera: Mobius
Style: Intermediate

Preset 4

Pilot: BewweB
Props: Gemfan 5040
Motor: T-Motor 1806
Pack: 4S
Camera: Mobius
Style: Race

Preset 5

Pilot: BewweB
Props: HQ 5x4x3
Motor: T-Motor 1806
Pack: 4S
Camera: Mobius
Style: Howler

Preset 6

Pilot: BewweB
Props: Gemfan 5040
Motor: T-Motor 1806
Pack: 4S
Camera: Mobius
Style: Freeride

Preset 7

Pilot: BorisB
Props: HQ 5045
Motor: Cobra CM-2204/32
Pack: 4S
Camera: GoPro
Style: Acrobatic

Preset 8

Pilot: Nocomp
Props: Gemfan 6045
Motor: T-Motor 1806
Pack: 3S
Camera: Mobius
Style: Freerider

Preset 9

Pilot: Porco777
Props: Gemfan 5030
Motor: T-Motor 1806
Pack: 4S
Camera: Mobius
Style: Extreme

Preset 10

Pilot: UmmaGawd
Props: HQ 50540
Motor: T-Motor 1806
Pack: 4S
Camera: GoPro
Style: Precision

In the next couple of weeks I hope to experiment with each of these tunes and see how each performs with the props described and with various DAL props.

Immersion RC Vortex First Flights

Vortex 285 – FPV Race Quad

Vortex 285 – FPV Race Quad


I have seen a handful of people flying Vortexes around the Atlanta area and after rebuilding my ZMRs like 5 times I decided to give the Immersion Vortex a try.

I bought it from Atlanta Hobby along with both the Carbon Fiber Crash Kit and the Plastic Crash Kit. I also got a cable to allow me to easily connect a Spektrum Satellite receiver without having to make a cable of my own.

I got it home, took it out of the box, connected it to a computer and installed all the updated and such, then was ready to fly. It took me a couple of weeks to have the time and place to fly it, it rained 3 weekends in a row.

Once I finally got to fly the experience was very good. I started out with the Gemfan 5030 props that came with it, Turnigy Nano-tech 3S 1300mah batteries, with a RunCam HD, and used BewweB’s Pro-tune number 2. It flew really well and was a lot of fun. Not what I would call fast or agile, but still fun.

Next up I put a Glacier 4S 1300mah battery on it with DAL 5030 props, it was much faster and a bit more agile. Then I swapped the props out for DAL 5045 Bull-Nose props, but they were too aggressive and drew more amps than I was willing to risk.

Right now I feel like the Vortex’s largest issue is the proprietary 12 amp ESCs. 12 amps is not enough to run 6 inch props on 4S batteries without burning them up very quickly, and right now you cannot get replacement ESCs and without doing something extreme you cannot use larger ESCs.

After 7 flights with a mix of 3S and 4S batteries the ground cable to the FPV camera broke at the connector. I fixed it by cutting up a cable from a RunCam FPV camera and soldering together with the Vortex FPV cable. I also popped the cap off the video transmitter’s antenna, found it and popped it back on, but I plan on gluing it on before my next flight.

Overall I think the Vortex is a decent quad, the trends have changed a lot since its creation and so it has fallen out of favor in comparison to smaller multirotors like the Shendrone’s Tweaker and Krieger, but that does not mean that it is not a good quad. I think it is suitable for fun-flying and even racing at a beginner to intermediate level.

Sorry about the lack of video, the RunCam HD was not at enough of an angle so about all you could see during my flights was the ground. A quick Google search will lead you to many videos of pilots much better than me flying the Vortex.

Getting into RC Helicopters

Last year I saw a video of a guy flying a remote control helicopter upside down… A HELICOPTER… UPSIDE DOWN!

I watched that video and others like it over and over. So I started saving my money and researching what kind of equipment I needed to learn how to do that myself. I started off with a cheap toy helicopter, then moved to a more expensive one that was much more powerful but still a toy and then finally with a hobby-grade collective pitch heli.

There is such a huge difference between a “Hobby-Grade” and a “Toy” RC vehicle. Mainly it is the ability to fix it and upgrade it, you usually cannot do that with a toy, and hobby-grade usually also means more power.

I bought a Spektrum DX6, not the DX6i, but the new DX6 with the really nice gimbals, voice, and 250 plane memory. It is my first real transmitter so I do not have anything but toys to compare it to, but I really like it.

The helicopter I chose was the Blade Nano CPX, it is a tiny (nano) collective pitch helicopter that is capable of flying upside down. But a funny thing happened. As soon as I had the Nano CPX I started watching videos of guys racing quadcopters through the woods.

Racing through the woods flying quadcopters in first-person view while wearing goggles is so amazing! So immersive! Better than any video game could make it. But there I sat with all this money sunk into a helicopter.

I decided to learn to fly the helicopter until I could successfully fly it upside down, then I would move onto quads.

After crashing a lot and spending a lot of money on replacement parts I broke down and bought the Phoenix RC software because it has the Nano CPX in it. I was really impressed by Phoenix because I crashed the heli in the app in the exact same way that I crashed it in real life. I spent a hundred hours or so practicing in the software and slowly got better with the real thing.

I never got good at flying the helicopter; it was too fast for me to fly it indoors but so light that it was difficult to fly outside. And the cost of repairs was crazy, I spent more on replacement parts in a couple of months than I spent on it new. At that point it just wasn’t fun.

I went to a couple of local events with guys flying large helicopters doing all kind of amazing tricks, their skills are amazing and exciting to watch. But my desire to fly helicopter is totally gone.

I was able to fly it upside down a couple of time successfully and I will probably never fly it again. I will probably sell it and all of the parts I have for it soon. Let me know if you are interested.

Now I am on to flying quadcopters. More about that soon.

Amateur Radio Technician Exam

As you may have read in previous posts I studied and took the Amateur Radio Technician Exam recently, it was a great experience.

I bought a study guide and read it on a Kindle and the iOS Kindle app then took around 100 practice exams using an iOS app. All told I spent about 5 days studying after work and at lunch.

Using the National Association for Amateur Radio’s website I was able to find a local test which was on a Saturday morning at a local church around the corner from my house.

I showed up a bit early and met a great guy in the parking lot who would be helping with the testing who had a remarkable radio system setup in his car. He told me that he had talked with people in Russia from the unit in his car that is pretty cool. After awhile other began showing up.

There was only two of being tested that morning; we began around 9am after the retelling of a number of stories about our experiences in the military. Most of us had been in the Navy.

The technician exam went fast and after being told that I had passed I was offered the chance to take the general exam. That sounded like a great idea so I gave it a shot. Sadly I did not pass that one, I had not studied for it and did not know the terminology used in the test.

I recommend that if you are going to take the technician exam to spend some time also studying for the general exam, you may be able to get both of them on the same day.

So that was on Saturday, on Monday afternoon the examiner called me to let me know that I was in the FCC database and I could begin transmitting!

I am now known as Dave Kilo Mike Four Julliet Whiskey X-Ray (KM4JWX).

Amateur Radio Exam Prep: Technician by Patrick J Maloney LLC

Amateur Radio Exam Prep: Technician is an iOS app for iPhone and iPad to help you pass the ham radio technician exam. I am taking the exam to get my license so that I can legally use 5.8GHz video transmitters for first-person view remote control flying.

This app with a good study guide should easily get you through the technician exam. I read a study guide and took about 100 practice exams before taking the test and only missed 2 questions.

I think the best feature of the app is the ability to see the questions you have missed after taking a bunch of test exams so that you can see exactly where you are falling short. That was invaluable to me and the only reason I did as well as I did.

If I decide to take the general exam I will definitely be buying the app for that test also.

I rate Amateur Radio Exam Prep: Technician a 10 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone preparing to take the Technician exam.

Learn Raspberry Pi with Linux by Peter Membrey and David Hows

This is the Raspberry Pi book I have been looking for. Instead of trying to push some advanced scripting language or Linux distribution, this book shows you how to use the most widely used distribution, Raspbian, and good old Bash scripts to do useful things with a Raspberry Pi.

Now 3 years old the lessons in Learn Raspberry Pi still hold up. Raspbian has been through some major updates and the new Model A+ and B+ computers have added to the Pi’s capabilities, but the Linux/Unix commands, SSH and VNC techniques, network information, Web Server installation (LAMP), and a decent chapter covering compiling XMBC on your Pi.

This book does not cover any topics in depth, but it includes enough information to give you an idea of what to enter into Google to find out more. This is one of the greatest features of Linux and the Raspberry Pi, once you know what to search for, there is more information available for free. The community is made up of millions of people from all over the world that want to share what they have learned and what they have created.

From the publisher:

Learn Raspberry Pi with Linux will tell you everything you need to know about the Raspberry Pi’s GUI and command line so you can get started doing amazing things. You’ll learn how to set up your new Raspberry Pi with a monitor, keyboard and mouse, and you’ll discover that what may look unfamiliar in Linux is really very familiar. You’ll find out how to connect to the internet, change your desktop settings, and you’ll get a tour of installed applications.

Next, you’ll take your first steps toward being a Raspberry Pi expert by learning how to get around at the Linux command line. You’ll learn about different shells, including the bash shell, and commands that will make you a true power user.

Finally, you’ll learn how to create your first Raspberry Pi projects:

  • Making a Pi web server: run LAMP on your own network
  • Making your Pi wireless: remove all the cables and retain all the functionality
  • Making a Raspberry Pi-based security cam and messenger service: find out who’s dropping by
  • Making a Pi media center: stream videos and music from your Pi

Raspberry Pi is awesome, and it’s Linux. And it’s awesome because it’s Linux. But if you’ve never used Linux or worked at the Linux command line before, it can be a bit daunting. Raspberry Pi is an amazing little computer with tons of potential. And Learn Raspberry Pi with Linux can be your first step in unlocking that potential.

What you’ll learn

  • How to get online with Raspberry Pi
  • How to customize your Pi’s desktop environment
  • Essential commands for putting your Pi to work
  • Basic network services – the power behind what Pi can do
  • How to make your Pi totally wireless by removing all the cables
  • How to turn your Pi into your own personal web server
  • How to turn your Pi into a spy
  • How to turn your Pi into a media center

Who this book is for

Raspberry Pi users who are new to Linux and the Linux command line.

I rate this book an 8 out of 10 and highly recommend it to anyone looking to make a project with a Raspberry Pi.

BeagleBone Black WiFi Adapter (WNA1100)

Boris, the BeagleBoard Logo Mascot

Boris, the BeagleBoard Logo Mascot

I initially bought an Edimax EW-7811Un Dongle for use with my BeagleBone Black (BBB), but after a lof of fiddling and frustration I gave up on it. Turns out that I may have been using the wrong setting in the interfaces file, but after some research I found many instances of people complaining about the Edimax dongles in general, so I started looking for solutions that others were having good luck with.

Along with a lot of email threads I found WiFi Adapter http://www.elinux.org/Beagleboard:BeagleBoneBlack#WIFI_Adapters recommendations on the Embedded Linux Wiki BBB page. http://www.elinux.org/Beagleboard:BeagleBoneBlack After searching Amazon for the listed adapters I chose the NETGEAR N150 Wi-Fi USB Adapter (WNA1100) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0036R9XRU/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 for $17.50, not the cheapest of the bunch but it comes with a "Desktop Dock" that is basically an USB extension cable which sounds good to me as it will let me place the adapter a distance away from the BBB to get the best WiFi signal.

With the latest build of Debian I was able to get the WNA1100 adapter to work just by editing the interfaces file and rebooting the BeagleBone. Pretty awesome!

Steps

  1. Plugged the BBB into the computer with a USB cable and plugged in a power supply.
  2. Logged into the BBB with the root account with my “fish” "ssh fish@192.168.7.2"
  3. # sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces and edited the "WiFi Example" to match my network ID and password

This is what the finished WiFi part of the file looks like:

# WiFi Example
auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
     wpa-ssid "ssid"
     wpa-psk  "password"

And BANG! it worked. I am now enjoying WiFi with my BeagleBone Black!

Unable to Connect to BeagleBone Black via Ethernet

Unable to Connect to BeagleBone Black via Ethernet

Everything works fine when the BeagleBone Black is connected to a computer via USB but when connected to the network via Ethernet it does not work. I ran into this issue when I first started using my BeagleBone Black out-of-the-box and again when I updated the OS to Debian.

Here is the solution:

  1. Connect the BBB to your computer via USB and give it time to boot
  2. In a web browser open the Cloud9 IDE by going to http://192.168.7.2:3000/. You may be prompted to choose some settings, I like the defaults.
  3. Create a new file, paste in the script below, and run it
    var fs = require("fs");
    var destroyed_key_file = "/etc/dropbear/dropbear_rsa_host_key";
    fs.readFile(destroyed_key_file, function (err, data) {
      if (err) throw err;
      if( data===null || data.length===0 )
      {
        console.log("we have a corrupted host key file... try do delete it");
        fs.unlink(destroyed_key_file, function (err) {
        if (err) throw err;
            console.log("successfully deleted " + destroyed_key_file);
            console.log("you should now reboot your beaglebone.");
            console.log("the /etc/init.d/dropbear script will create a new rsa host key file for you.");
            console.log("after the reboot you should be able to login over ssh");
        });
      } else {
          console.log("it seems that you have another problem, sorry");
      }
    });
    
  4. Now shutdown, I like to sudo shutdown -hP now, the USR lights will all go out when it is shut down
  5. Now you can unplug the BBB from USB and plug in an Ethernet cable and power adapter.
    1. You should now be able to access the BBB from anywhere on your network using http://beaglebone.local or ssh beaglebone.log.

      Thanks to https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!msg/beagleboard/Ya2qE4repSY/u4lvOjF66JEJ

Remote Host Identification Has Changed!

After updating the operating system to Debian and plugging in your BeagleBone Black via USB you may receive the error message:
WARNING: REMOTE HOST IDENTIFICATION HAS CHANGED!

This is normal as the RSA key has changed when you updated the OS.

The easiest way to fix it is to run ssh-keygen -R then try connecting again.

When connected via USB
ssh-keygen -R 192.168.7.2
ssh debian@192.168.7.2

When connected via Ethernet
ssh-keygen -R beaglebone.local
ssh debian@beaglebone.local

You should then be asked to add the new fingerprint to your "known hosts", say yes and you should then be asked for your Debian password who’s default is temppwd.

And your in debian@beaglebone:~$.

Thanks to http://blog.tinned-software.net/ssh-remote-host-identification-has-changed/

Setting up Debian on a BeagleBone Black

This post is about installing Debian (BeagleBone Black – 2GB eMMC) 2014-03-27 and Flashing the eMMC using a Mac running OSX 10.9 Mavericks.

I decided to get a head start on using Debian with the BBB which is soon to tbe the default OS installed on them.

These are the steps I used today to get up and running:

  1. Download image from http://beagleboard.org/latest-images
     – BBB-eMMC-flasher-debian-7.4-2014-03-27-2gb.img.xz
  2. Use Unarchiver to extract disk image
     – BBB-eMMC-flasher-debian-7.4-2014-03-27-2gb.img
  3. Download PiFiller to copy the disk image to the SD card
     – http://ivanx.com/raspberrypi/
    WARNING: Do not insert the SD card yet, PiFiller will tell you when
  4. Run PiFiller and follow the directions
    1. Choose the disk image
    2. Insert the SD card
    3. Verify that PiFiller has found the correct device
    4. Some more verifying, click OK a couple of times
    5. Now wait awhile, it took about 20 minutes on my MacBook Pro
      Holy Cow! The dialog box opening and closing gets really annoying to watch!
    6. All set when you get the “Your SD card is ready” message
  5. Eject the SD from the Mac OS then remove it from the computer
  6. With the BBB unplugged, no network, USB, video, power cables, insert the SD card into the BBB
    WARNING: The SD card pokes out of the back of the BBB enough that it is easy to bump it and cause it to eject. Especially when plugging in a USB or HDML cable. It pays to be slow and patient when manipulating the BBB with an SD card in place.
  7. Get ready: When plugging in the BBB you will need to hold down the Boot button until all 4 USR lights turn on
     – While holding down the Boot button insert a 5V 2A power supply, release the Boot button when all 4 USR lights turn on
  8. Now the USR buttons should start blinking in a seemingly random pattern, this should go on for 20 to 60 minutes depending on the OS and SD card
  9. When the USR lights all light-up again the eMMC has been flashed with Debian
  10. Remove the power adapter
  11. Remove the SD card

You are now ready to plug-in the devices you want to work with and enjoy Debian

More information about installing operating systems on the BeagleBone Black:
http://beagleboard.org/Getting%20Started#update
http://learn.adafruit.com/beaglebone-black-installing-operating-systems/overview

BeagleBone Black Microcontroller

Boris, the BeagleBoard Logo MascotI recently bought a BeagleBone Black (BBB) and am having a great time with it.

From the website beaglebord.org:

BeagleBone Black is a $45 MSRP community-supported development platform for developers and hobbyists. Boot Linux in under 10 seconds and get started on development in less than 5 minutes with just a single USB cable.

What I Bought

I bought my BBB from Makershed as a part of a kit which included the book Getting Started with BeagleBone by Matt Richardson and a handful of electronic components. The kit is not bad, but I feel like it is overpriced, especially for someone who has a lot of components already.

I recommend the book as a good starting point, it does a great job of introducing the basics of the board and using Python and JavaScript to program it. There aren’t many other books out there, but I am not sure there needs to be.

I also bought a power supply, a very cool case, and a wi-fi dongle from Amazon.

The power supply is very basic one that provides the 2 amps necessary to power the BBB with a Wi-Fi dongle attached. Power Adapter DC 5V, 2A, 10W for BeagleBone Black at Amazon

I don’t have much to say about the Wi-Fi dongle yet as I haven’t tried to use it, I will write more about it when I do. It is small and was only $10 so I happy with it so far. Edimax EW-7811Un 150 Mbps Wireless 11n Nano Size USB Adapter with EZmax Setup Wizard

The case is pretty awesome. It is very well made and lets you see right into the board with risers for the buttons that make it much easier to press them. The BegaleBone Black should ship with a case like this. It looks like Laser Goodies has pulled their products from Amazon, or maybe they are just out of stock, here is the page on their website Beaglebone Black Slim Case – Clear

Laser Goodies Beaglebone Black Slim Case - Clear

Laser Goodies Beaglebone Black Slim Case – Clear

Why I Bought It

I regularly attend the wonderful Atlanta JavaScript Meetup group and a couple of weeks ago Tim Kadom of Thoughtworks showed us his Telepresence robot built with a BeagleBone black and an iPhone. All of the code was written on the BBB with the Cloud9 IDE in JavaScript. I was seriously intrigued.

I have been playing with Ardunio microcontrollers for awhile now and really like them. But they require that you program in their own C like language which I can muddle through but don’t really like. And it is not easy getting an Ardunio on a network, the code to make Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth to work doesn’t leave much space for your own ideas.

The Rasberry Pi on the other hand just doesn’t speak to me. I am more interested in them now that I have spent some time with a BeagleBoard, but I still don’t think I have much of a use for a Rasberry Pi right now.

With the BeagleBone it appears that I get all of the inputs and outputs of an Arduino while having all of the network abilities of a Rasberry Pi that I can program using JavaScript. That really gets me excited!

In the coming weeks I will be posting more about the BeagleBone Black and the project I am working towards.