BeagleBone gets I/O ‘capes’

Fans of the BeagleBone single board computer, little brother to BeagleBoard, now have access to 20 plug-in boards to add a camera, LCDs, weather sensors, and other I/O, writes Steve Bush.

Called ‘capes’ after the cloak worn by the beagle superhero BeagleBoard mascot, the boards have been designed by the open source community and will be available through

“BeagleBone cape plug-in boards give open hardware examples of how to implement various interfaces and tested configurations that can be used for experimentation immediately,” said community advocate Jason Kridner. “In fact, these capes are inspiring thousands of community developers to build their own plug-in boards. I expect there to be more than a hundred by next year.”

Camera Cape removes the need to use up a USB port by adding a camera (from QuickLogic) to the same expansion headers that all capes connect to – up to four can be stacked on BeagleBone’s three pin headers.

LCD7 Cape has a 7in LCD touchscreen (4-wire resistive) and five user buttons. It comes with short feet, but can be angled up by buying a set of matched black aluminium stands.

There is also 3.5in LCD touchscreen cape.

Amongst other capes are:

Weather Cape, providing temperature, barometric pressure, humidity and ambient light data.

DVI-D Cape, adding a DVI-D interface for connecting an external monitor.

Breakout Cape for access to various BeagleBone components for troubleshooting.

Breadboard cape provides a solder-less prototyping space.

CANBus Cape makes use of DCAN1 interface of BeagleBone’s main processor, allowing automotive components and motor controllers to be connected. Robotics applications are predicted for this one.

RS232 Cape adds an RS-232 interface.

Battery Cape feeds BeagleBone with 5V from four lithium AA cells for portable use.

BeagleBone is credit card-sized and based around Texas Instrument’s Sitara AM335x system chip which includes an ARM Cortex-A8 processor.

Both Android 4.0 and Ubuntu are available for it.

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