We were evaluating BeagleBone Black and Raspberry Pi for low cost control systems when we discovered that the modules, as shipped, were fundamentally unusable for anything other than connecting to your PC and programming.
For instance, some of the cautions listed in the BeagleBone Black Systems Reference Manual are:
"NOTE: Do not connect 5V logic
level signals to these pins or the board will be damaged.
NOTE: DO NOT APPLY VOLTAGE TO
ANY I/O PIN WHEN POWER IS NOT SUPPLIED TO THE BOARD. IT WILL DAMAGE THE
PROCESSOR AND VOID THE WARRANTY.
NO PINS ARE TO BE DRIVEN UNTIL
AFTER THE SYS_RESET LINE GOES HIGH."
Since we were required to provide some kind of voltage isolation in
order to connect the BeagleBone Black to any external devices, we
figured everyone else would need some form of isolation as well in order
to use BeagleBone Black in the real world.
An additional problem we discovered was that BeagleBone Black's default operating mode utilized many of the pins present on the I/O connectors and these were not available for general use without extensive operating system changes.
We also found that the Raspberry Pi has an extremely large user group and support. This has allowed people to develop a tremendous amount of software for various applications. However, like the BeagleBone Black,
it is limited in its real world expandability out of the box. We wanted
to allow existing users of Raspberry Pi to use BeagleBone Black like a
Highly Intelligent Super I/O to expand their projects into real world
applications. Additionally, this gives Raspberry Pi programmers a platform to easily port their routines to BeagleBone Black.
We created a multi-tool: an all-in-one 3.5" peripheral voltage isolating motherboard for
the BeagleBone Black and Raspberry Pi Model B computers and expanded out and isolated all of the default configuration pins
that were not being used by BeagleBone Black internal resources. We also created two different on-board communication links between Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black for advanced control functions. Now you are able to run both modules individually or simultaneously in the real world.
Allows BeagleBone Black and Raspberry Pi to simultaneously use
MotherBone™PiOne™ resources and I/O
Use various Linux Operating Systems
Protects BeagleBone Black I/O pins through opto-isolators and voltage
extensive combination of I/O (capes
& shields) incorporated on one board to enable complex projects
Simplifies software development with stable, standardized hardware
Open Architecture platform utilizes existing software libraries, such as
accessing I/O pins with open source Python libraries
Create smart control systems that utilize your tablet or smartphone for
control functions via WiFi
Onboard stable industrial grade power system with wide DC input range (7.5-36VDC)
Exclusive, high-powered 4-port USB Hub for powering downstream
selectable BonePi™Bridge™ provides communication between BeagleBone
Black and Raspberry Pi via Null modem and I2C
On-board I2C voltage
level translators allow use of various I2C devices for Arduino, Raspberry Pi,
Adafruit, Parallax, etc.
1 x BeagleBone Black
connection, 1 x MIDI, 1 x Raspberry Pi connection, 5 x relays, 7 x analog voltage inputs, 4 x USB, 3 x UART, 1 x BonePi™Bridge™, 1 x Raspberry Pi Pass Thru Header, 1 x 16-bit GPIO, 2
x PWMs, Front Panel Connections, 3 x 5VDC accessory connections, 1 x power input, 4 x I2C ports
The MotherBone™PiOne™ is designed and we have built and tested
prototypes. We have created the System
Reference Manual and Datasheet. The product is ready for production start up.
We are asking for financial support in order to start up production and set up a
dedicated manufacturing line at our shop in Oregon City, Oregon. This will provide a
constant and consistent supply of MotherBone™PiOne™ modules to the programming community. Having been in the electronics business for
many years, we at
APlus Mobile are dedicated to bringing manufacturing jobs back to the USA.
Following funding, we will order the first set of materials which takes approximately four weeks to receive. Concurrently, we will set up a dedicated manufacturing cell with tooling at APlus Mobile's shop in Oregon City, OR. (Completed June 2014)
Once the cell is set up, we will run the first batch of MotherBone™PiOne™ modules for the EARLY ADOPTERS. The first batch will be produced in approximately four weeks. (First shipment July 2014)
This will allow us to go into continuous production to fulfill rewards for the PRODUCTION and PHASE 2 BACKERS and beyond. We have designed the production process to be scalable depending on demand. (Weekly shipments to fulfill rewards starting in August 2014)
Take DIY Off Grid Energy Control to the Next Level by Rob Cermak
Off grid energy control just got easier... Is there a better way to get more control [of my DIY Off the Grid System]?
The Raspberry Pi would be a good next step, but I need a rock solid solution. Introducing the MotherBone™PiOne™ motherboard from APlus Mobile, Inc.
There are an amazing amount of features on this board. Pair the motherboard with a Beagle Board Black (BBB) and you have an amazing low power supply and controller that can snuggle right into a 24V off grid power system.
APlus Mobile has been in business since 2004 and has had success supplying DC-powered computers for use in communications networks, robotic vehicles, boats and aircraft. We have designed and manufactured various types of computers and peripherals that are installed in trash truck cabs, run on solar power for oil exploration, packed in suitcases for field deployment to remote locations, and others.
We would like to continue supporting education, but this time on a smaller scale, by making open sourced hardware tools more accessible to everyone.
Amy has been in the electronics business for 18 years in a variety of positions and for large international corporations. Amy specialized in product development and high volume manufacturing. Her responsibilities included Manager of Technical Writing and Documentation for Product Development groups, as well as supporting offshore manufacturing organizations and product transfer. As a co-founder of APlus Mobile, she is passionate about bringing manufacturing jobs to Oregon and creating locally sourced and produced electronic products.
Tim is the VP of Product Development and co-founder of APlus Mobile, and has been in the electronics business since 1979. He grew up building computers starting with the Z80 and 6800. Tim has a wide variety of technical skills and experience in every aspect of a high technology design and manufacturing organization. He has worked for large international corporations managing teams in Product Development, Design for Manufacturability, Manufacturing & Process Engineering and Electronic Failure Analysis in both commercial and military industries. Tim has also designed and managed high volume production lines. He managed a team for the design and development of robotics for automated assembly systems which resulted in four IEEE Nationally Published Papers. He is prolific in coming up with new ideas and his favorite question is, “How hard could it be?”
Tom is the Chief Engineer and co-founder of APlus Mobile, has a background in physics, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering and has been instrumental in developing complex production test systems and military products. He spent 40 years in the electronics industry in a wide variety of positions and has worked for large international corporations. In his spare time he hopes to visit all of America’s National Parks.
Risks and challenges
We have significant experience in product development and high volume manufacturing for products of this type so there is little risk in our ability to manufacture this product in sufficient quantity to meet demand.
We have also value engineered the product with component availability in mind, however, component availability lead time is always a risk with any manufactured product.
We will keep everyone aware of any lead time changes due to any reason.
You're exactly right - the Raspberry Pi does what you would expect a $25 computer to do, but that makes it inherently unusable for real world I/O expansion as a control system such as for automotive or home control. If Raspy users didn't have a BeagleBone, they could use the MotherBone™PiOne™ for a robust power system, I2C 16-bit GPIO slave, high powered USB hub and also utilize the five relays. Additionally, they can use the Raspberry Pi Pass Thru Header to use standard Raspberry Pi peripherals simultaneously. So without the BeagleBone Black present, there is still a lot of expanded capability using the MotherBone™PiOne™ for Raspberry Pi users. However if Raspberry Pi users do use the BeagleBone Black on board, it provides a highly intelligent Super I/O capability that unburdens the Raspberry Pi user interface and Operating System. Reading through the System Reference Manual, however dry and arduous it may be, will yield a lot of these "hidden" features of the MotherBone™PiOne™.
Volume drives price. The actual retail price should be under $200. If we could get large enough order volume it could be sold for much less, however in the hundreds it gets into the $200 range. Please remember that we are trying to set up a new Oregon based manufacturing line with this funding, which is why the rewards in this campaign are more expensive. Local manufacturing is beneficial for a constant and consistent supply of MotherBone™PiOne™ modules on the market. Unfortunately, if this funding is not successful, it is unknown if this module will ever be available.
BAREBONE SPECIAL: Get a low cost version of the MotherBone PiOne in this special depopulated edition. Three UARTs (two serial and one MIDI connections) have been completely removed. Also the three screw terminal headers (green connectors along edge) have been removed so you can simply solder wires to the pads. All other features remain intact!
READY TO START CODING: We will send you one MotherBone PiOne and a cable kit consisting of 26-pin Raspberry Pi ribbon cable, USB cable with 5-pin header for BeagleBone Black, three screw terminal blocks, 12" straight through I2C cable, 12" uncommitted crossover I2C cable for other modules
READY TO GO WITH RASPBERRY PI: We will send you one MotherBone PiOne, one Rasberry Pi Model B System, and cable kit consisting of 26-pin Raspberry Pi ribbon cable, USB cable with 5-pin header for BeagleBone Black, three screw terminal blocks, 12" straight through I2C cable, 12" uncommitted crossover I2C cable for other modules
READY TO GO WITH BEAGLEBONE: We will send you one MotherBone PiOne, one BeagleBone Black System, and one cable kit consisting of 26-pin Raspberry Pi ribbon cable, USB cable with 5-pin header for BeagleBone Black, three screw terminal blocks, 12" straight through I2C cable, 12" uncommitted crossover I2C cable for other modules
MANUFACTURING PATRON: We will send you a MotherBone PiOne module, stickers and t-shirts and include your name on a plaque at the APlus Mobile manufacturing facility dedicated to bringing manufacturing back to the USA.