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LEGO® lovers and Makers rejoice! FATCATLAB has created a BeagleBone Black attachment for the MINDSTORMS EV3 model—the EVB. This upgrade gives the newest version of MINDSTORMS monster processing power in an easy-to-use board.
“I think the EV3 is the best robot kit for young people and adults alike. And BeagleBone Black is arguably the best open source hardware computer ever invented,” said Andy Lau, the project’s lead designer. “Plus, both are driven by TI’s CPU usage and are totally open-source.”
LEGO released the source code for the EV3 under an open-source license on GitHub, so the team at FATCATLAB pounced on the opportunity to add a more powerful processing platform to the popular robot system.
EVB is a shield, or cape, for BeagleBone Black that fully supports the LEGO MINDSTORMS hardware and software. Because of the flexibility afforded by BeagleBone Black, this open hardware computer is easy for beginners to use, and also allows professionals and expert Makers to dive deeper into available coding and add-ons.
The EVB operating system is upgraded to a Sitara™ AM335x processor, plus it has all the expandability of BeagleBone Black. To detect the analog data from sensors, a 10-bit, 1-MSPS ADS7957 SAR analog-to-digital converter (ADC) was included. The robot requires five volts of power which are provided by a TPS54331 28 step-down converter. Additionally, a TPA6211A1 audio amplifier drives the speaker.
This project was not without its challenges, however. “The Linux operating system and the Sitara processors from Texas Instruments were new to me when developing the EVB add-on. Therefore, at the beginning of this project I spent about 70 percent of my time developing the drivers,” Andy said.
In the future, Andy and the team plan to add functionality to the EVB before moving on to new projects, which will justify the stronger performance of the added BeagleBone Black.
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