One of our focuses for researching the Internet of Things industry is to answer the question: how can I get involved right now? If you're a developer, IT professional ,or business leader, what can you do to jump into this growing field, and what solutions are available to you at your level. Due to that, one of our major focuses, and a focus already existing in the IoT community, is on "DIY IoT"--or building your own solutions for whatever you want to accomplish.
For some people, whether you're a lone wolf developer of you're creating a solution for existing team or product, will turn to building their own IoT-enabled device with single-board computers and microcontrollers, and this is a great (but potentially challenging) place to start. Micro-controllers are an amazing resource and for many they're going to be all that they need to make that front door alarm or temperature gauge for the pool, but some are going to need the extra power of a single-board computer with more processing power.
The big name in single-board computers is Raspberry Pi, and for a long time it didn't seem like that was ever going to change. They offer a top-notch product, and competitor products have spent a lot of time and money catching up to them. But another single-board product, BeagleBone, may be their best competitor out there is really closing the distance. One of the biggest advantages that BeagleBone has (besides being a Linux development board pretty inherently built to be useful out of the box) is a component add-on series called "capes". Capes expand the power and functionality of BeagleBone products into a surprising number of forms.
Here are some of the most exciting BeagleBone capes so far:
"The BeagleBone Breakout Cape provides accessibility to the various BeagleBone components during troubleshooting. If you are using a BeagleBone, there is a good chance your BeagleBone is stacked with one or more capes; If this happens, signals and testpoints on the topside of the BeagleBone will not be accessible. The BeagleBone Breakout Cape solves this problem by separating a BeagleBone and its cape on two different sets of connectors. Each BeagleBone Breakout Cape is made by thick PCB and equipped with six standoffs for stress endurance and stability."
"Ready to prototype your next Beagle Bone project? You'll certainly want this handy Proto-Plate! Not only is it really good looking, its also very useful, holding your Beagle Bone or Beagle Bone Black steady alongside a standard half-sized breadboard."
"The BeagleBone LCD7 Cape provides an LCD solution with touchscreen capability for BeagleBone boards. The 7" TFT LCD screen, attached to the topside of the board, can display up to a resolution of 800x480 and is a 4-wire resistive touchscreen. The board is equipped with seven buttons located at finger-friendly positions. These buttons include power, reset, and five user buttons, which are mapped to different GPIO signals. The backside of the cape is where the BeagleBone and additional cape can be mounted."
"The BeagleBone WL1835MOD W/ CHIP ANTENNA is an add-on board that provides Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® capability for the BeagleBone. This cape is equipped with Texas Instrument’s WL835MOD pre-certified module. It offers advanced WiFi features including 2.4-GHz MRC Support for Extended Range, 2x2 MIMO and 40-MHz Channels for High Throughput, Wi-Fi Direct Concurrent Operation (Multi-Channel, Multi-Role) and SmartConfig technology. It also supports Bluetooth 4.0 including Bluetooth and BLE and Built-In coexistence technology for Bluetooth-BLE and WLAN."
"The BeagleBone Battery Cape provides a portable power solution for BeagleBone boards and its capes. This cape provides 5V power supply to the BeagleBone using 4 Lithium AA battery cells. Power will be provided to BeagleBone’s VDD_5V power rail as soon as battery cells are installed. The BeagleBone Battery Cape is also equipped with a power switch, a power indicator LED, and an EEPROM for muxing configuration."
"The Power Cape provides integrated UPS-style functionality by combining a lithium battery charging circuit with a buck/boost regulator. If DC power is insufficient or unavailable, the supply will be supplied by the lithium battery. When DC input is available, the battery will be charged to 4.2V. The cape also has an INA219 power monitor on the battery input so that voltage and charge/discharge rates can be monitored by software. An AVR microcontroller acts as a power supervisor and provides power up/down on user-definable events (DC power good, timeout, external signal, or cape button press)"
"The BeagleBone Weather Cape provides weather data for the BeagleBone including temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, and ambient light. These weather input data can be accessed via I2C bus. The BeagleBone Weather Cape also features an LED to indicate that power is applied."