The BeagleBone Black Turns Blue with BlueSteel-Basic, Loses HDMI and Flash

CircuitCo has just introduced BlueSteel-Basic, a development board based on the Beaglebone Black but with a Blue PCB, no HDMI output, and no eMMC flash that’s destined to be used by OEMs in their products. LinuxGizmos also reports that BlueSteel-Basic is to be followed by BlueSteel-IT, an industrial temperature grade (-40 to 100°C) board based on the Beaglebone Black, and Bluesteel-Core, a computer-on-module (CoM) based on Ti Sitara AM335x that are scheduled for July 2014.
Bluesteel-basicLet’s checkout BlueSteel-Basic specifications:

  • SoC – Texas Instruments Sitara AM3358BZCZ100 @ 1GHz (2000 MIPS) with PowerVR SGX530 3D GPU (20M Polygons/S)
  • System Memory – 512MB DDR3L @ 800MHz
  • Storage – micro SD slot
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet (RJ45)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x mini USB 2.0 port
  • Debugging – Serial header and optional on-board 20-pin CTI JTAG
  • Expansion Connectors Signals:
    • Power 5V, 3.3V, VDD_ADC (1.8V)
    • 3.3V I/O On All Signals
    • McASP0, SPI1, I2C, GPIO (69 max), LCD, GPMC, MMC1, MMC2, 7 AIN (1.8V Max), 4 Timers, 4 Serial Ports, CAN0, EHRPWM(0,2), XDMA Interrupt, Power Button, Expansion Board ID (Up to 4 can be stacked)
  • Misc – Indicators: 1-Power, 2-Ethernet, 4-User Controllable LEDs; Buttons: User input, boot, and power.
  • PMIC – TPS65217C PMIC regulator and one additional LDO
  • Power Supply – +5V via miniUSB USB or DC Jack, 5VDC external Via expansion Header
  • Dimensions – 8.6 x 5.3 cm – 6 layers PCB
  • Weight – TBD


And if you’d like to get a clearer picture of the differences between BeagleBone, BeagleBone Black and BlueSteel-Basic, there’s a table that for that!

BeagleBone BeagleBone Black BlueSteel-Basic
Processor AM3359ZCZ72, 720MHz AM3358BZCZ100, 1GHz AM3358BZCZ100, 1GHz
HDMI No Yes No
DRAM 256MB DDR2 400MHz 512MB DDR3L 800MHz 512MB DDR3L 800MHz
Flash uSD 4GB eMMC, uSD uSD
Onboard JTAG Yes, over USB Optional Optional
Serial via USB via header via header
PWR Exp Header Yes No No
Power 300-500 mA@5V 210-460 mA@5V TBD

Just like the BeagleBones, BlueSteel-Basic will be open source hardware simply because it’s exactly the same as the BeagleBone Black, but without the components required for HDMI and eMMC flash. That also means the capes, Beaglebone’s expansion boards, will be supported. The board will also leverage all the software brought to the the BeagleBone Black with support for Debian and Angstrom, but also Android, Gentoo, ArchLinux ARM, Minix, and more. You can find more technical details on BlueSteel-Basic Wiki.

BlueSteel-Basic will cost the same as BeagleBone Black Rev C, that is $55 and start shipping on June 30. You can pre-order BlueSteel-Basic on Boardzoo.

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15 Replies to “The BeagleBone Black Turns Blue with BlueSteel-Basic, Loses HDMI and Flash”

  1. “BlueSteel-Basic will cost the same as BeagleBone Black Rev C”
    I don’t see any benefit to this board over the BBB-C???

  2. @Joe


    the benefits are:

    * no restrictions on commercial usage
    * volume price discounts
    * all I/O is available on the expansion header

    as an OEM/ODM developer, the BeagleBone Black present a great starting point, however it does present a number of obstacles, in that has significant restrictions on the use of the BeagleBoard logo. In addition, there a limited set of authorized distributors who can sell BeagleBone Black, and are limited in the number of boards they can sell to a single customer. Another aspect is that most OEM/ODM developers who are including the BeagleBone Black (in violation of the terms of use) want to have the full set of I/O on the expansion header so that they can implement their own features on a daughter board. it is far easier to add a feature you need on a daughter board, than to take one off you don’t need off the main board.


  3. @Joe
    Benefit is that, since it costs less to produce, maybe they are not loosing money for every unit shipped. Hence they will deliver as many as you want.

  4. @predielis

    BBB does have commercial use restrictions, as i linked earlier. you can use the BBB for whatever you want, however, the limitations are that you may not qualify for RMA/Warranty, you can not use the BeagleBoard name as part of the project(without approval), in addition you are not guaranteed functionality or availability. as for the signals, the difference between BlueSteel and BBB are that ALL of the signals on the expansion headers are usable. on the BBB the signals used for eMMC and HDMI create a major muxing issue for those signals on the expansion headers. it is virtually impossible to properly implement the GPMC interface on BBB due to the fact that those signals are used with the eMMC.

  5. @David Anders

    You do know that HDMI and eMMC pins can be accessed by configuring the uBoot boot loader right?
    Many of the pins I need for the two peripheral PRUs conflict with HDMI so what I do is simply include “optargs=capemgr.disable_partno=BB-BONELT-HDMI,BB-BONELT-HDMIN,BB-BONE-EMMC-2G” in the /boot/uboot/uEnv.txt file – of course, I would need to boot from the SD card from then on without the ‘BB-BONE-EMMC-2G’ overlay but I also gain access to ALL pins as well.

    The advantage(s) I see, besides the amazing tint of blue, is availability and no commercial barriers. The disadvantage then would be that one would always need to have an SD card handy. Though that isn’t too serious of a downside because with SD cards, size varies: 4GB eMMC vs 2GB-64GB SD.

    Now, the one dilemma I would love to have looked into is RAM, or at least 64MB of high-speed buffer-space SDRAM (MT46v32M16)! 😉

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