Bela + Beagle = ♥

Both Bela and Bela Mini use BeagleBoard computers as their central processors. BeagleBoard makes small, powerful, Linux-compatible single-board computers that support Bela’s connectivity and low-latency capabilities.

This article describes the BeagleBoard computers that power Bela and Bela Mini, and how Bela relates to the BeagleBoard organisation.

Table of contents

  1. Bela and BeagleBoard
  2. Getting BeagleBoard
  3. Bela and Bela Mini are BeagleBoard Approved
  4. BeagleBoard and Bela: Open source hardware
  5. Want to learn more about BeagleBoard?

Bela and BeagleBoard

Bela systems have used BeagleBoard computers from the very beginning. Bela uses the BeagleBone Black, and Bela Mini uses the PocketBeagle.

Both the BeagleBone Black and the PocketBeagle feature programmable real-time units, or PRUs, which are central to the way Bela works. These PRUs enable Bela’s ultra-low latency processing: They are fast (200MHz, 32-bit) processors with single-cycle I/O access to a number of the board’s pins, as well as full access to the internal memory and peripherals.

The processing power on these two platforms is identical. They both use 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processors and have 512MB of DDR RAM, and as a result both Bela and Bela Mini run the same Bela software. There are some small differences, such as the BeagleBone Black featuring an ethernet port and 4GB of flashable on-board memory, and the PocketBeagle’s astonishingly small form factor.

Getting BeagleBoard

Bela and Bela Mini are both available as Starter Kits that include everything you need to get started. The Bela Starter Kit includes the Bela cape installed on a BeagleBone Black, with the internal eMMC pre-flashed with the Bela software. The Bela Mini Starter Kit includes the Bela Mini cape soldered to a PocketBeagle board, as well as an SD card flashed with Bela software and a USB cable. Both kits also include two audio adapter cables. It’s also possible to buy just the Bela and Bela Mini cape, and supply your own BeagleBoard computer and SD card. (Bela Mini will have to be soldered to the PocketBeagle, which requires intermediate soldering skills - see our guide here.)

Bela and Bela Mini are BeagleBoard Approved

Both Bela and Bela Mini have been reviewed, tested and verified by the BeagleBoard foundation, and are BeagleBoard Approved. This means that Bela and Bela Mini have been deemed by BeagleBoard to be compatible and of good quality.

BeagleBoard and Bela: Open source hardware

BeagleBoard products are open-source hardware. Both the BeagleBoard hardware designs, as well as software and applications that run on them, are freely available online (find them on the BeagleBoard Github page). This means you can download the code and hardware designs, inspect them, learn from them, and extend them for your own use entirely for free.

Bela has followed this example, and all Bela products are also open source. Find the Bela core code and all of our hardware design files on the Bela Github page.

Want to learn more about BeagleBoard?

If you’d like to learn more about BeagleBoard and connect with their online community, please visit the website, join their discussion lists and online forum, and subscribe to their newsletter. A great starting point for learning more about the technical side of the Beaglebone Black is Derek Molloy’s page on the BeagleBone.