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BeagleBone Robotic Projects by [Grimmett, Richard]
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Product Description

Product Description

In Detail

Thanks to new, inexpensive microcontrollers, robotics has become far more accessible than it was in the past. These microcontrollers provide a whole new set of capabilities to allow even the most inexperienced users to make amazingly complicated projects. Beaglebone is effectively a small, light, cheap computer in a similar vein to Raspberry Pi and Arduino. It has all of the extensibility of today's desktop machines, but without the bulk, expense, or noise.

This project guide provides step-by-step instructions to allow anyone to use this new, low cost platform in some fascinating robotics projects. By the time you are finished, your projects will be able to see, speak, listen, detect their surroundings, and move in a variety of amazing ways.

The book begins with unpacking and powering up the components.This will include guidance on what to purchase and how to connect it all successfully–and a primer on programming the BeagleBone Black. Chapter by chapter, we will add additional software functionality available from the open source community, including how to make the system see using a webcam, how to hear using a microphone, and how to speak using a speaker. We then add hardware to make your robots move–including wheeled and legged examples–as well as covering how to add sonar sensors to avoid or find objects, plus wireless control to make your robot truly autonomous. Adding GPS allows the robot to find itself. Finally the book covers how to integrate all of this functionality so that it can all work together, before developing the most impressive robotics projects: those that can sail, fly, and explore underwater.


Develop practical example projects with detailed explanations; combine the projects in a vast number of ways to create different robot designs, or work through them in sequence to discover the full capability of the BeagleBone Black.

Who this book is for

This book is for anyone who is curious about using new, low-cost hardware to create robotic projects that have previously been the domain of research labs, major universities or Defence departments. Some programming experience would be useful, but if you know how to use a personal computer, you can use this book to construct far more complex systems than you would have thought possible.

About the Author

Richard Grimmett

Richard Grimmett has always been fascinated by computers and electronics from his very first programming project that used Fortran on punch cards. He has a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Electrical Engineering and a PhD in Leadership Studies. He also has 26 years of experience in the Radar and Telecommunications industries, and even has one of the original brick phones. He now teaches Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Brigham Young University - Idaho where his office is filled with many of his robotics projects.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 48830 KB
  • Print Length: 246 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1783559322
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing (Dec 26 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HJR6R2W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #500,341 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa8a87ad4) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8c34f0c) out of 5 stars Disappointed Feb. 8 2014
By Fixmax - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a little bummed out on this book. I thought to myself when I first saw it listed - "Hey, finally here's a book that goes over the Beaglebone Black." (There aren't many books sad to say). I look in the sample, and see that the author chose Ubuntu over the Angstrom distro (which I cant stand), so I think cool. After working through the getting python up and running, I see the author go over Vision and Audio - over USB, and I go uh-oh. I scan through the rest of the book, and see nothing but USB sensors and devices.


The main excuse is - not wanting the user to damage his board. Duh. Why would I buy this board if I didn't want the hardware? I could have bought another RPi if I wanted that. There a lot easier to set up and use than the BBB.

For all I know, the GPIO isn't even functional on the BBB with Ubuntu. Didn't see one iota of proof of it.

Another complaint is the level of detail. An author of a book like this shouldn't gloss over detail on getting specific functionality - that is why you bought the book in the first place. With this book, your going to do a lot of googling to get the specifics. Not crazy about that.

Other than those grouching points - I would still buy this book, since there are just so few - I just wish the title had been "Beaglebone Black USB Robotic Projects". That would have nailed it on the head, and I would have been aware of what I was getting.

I was pretty much snookered on this one.

Now you won't be :)
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8c2b5e8) out of 5 stars Best of the field currently Feb. 12 2014
By Tim o Tee - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For people who learn by doing,this book will definitely hit the mark. The subject matter is presented through incremental builds of robotics projects, and delivers good value with lots of interesting and stimulating projects. I am definitely happy to own it, and the material gave me at least one or two missions after my current build.

Having said that, this book misses out on the deeper elements of the beaglebone. The projects are heavy on integrating usb peripherals, and definitely target more rudimentary features of the beaglebone. I would have liked to see a little more around the GPIO pins, memory mapping to improve performance, and general expansion on the more technical aspects of the beaglebone.

This book has plenty of positives going for it though, and I think it is a solid addition to the bookshelf. It was worth the money to me, and I would purchase it again in hindsight. I am still waiting for the brilliant technical reference to the beaglebone, but this book did a very nice job of walking readers through the possibilities of really neat experiments including vision, speech recognition, and autonomous behaviors. Would have gotten the 5th star if it took a dive into more geeky elements of the board.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8c2b60c) out of 5 stars A very good book for new BBB users. Jan. 26 2014
By Tom Hall - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"This book is designed for the informed beginner." is a quote from the author. I think it pretty accurately describes where I am with the Beaglebone Black. Actually, it is not too far from where I am with Linux as well.

The book title suggests that it is for those who have an interest in robotics. I didn't have any interest in robotics when I started, but I do now. I just ordered a Sparkfun 2 wheeled robot platform and a couple of Pololu motor controllers with the intend of building a few of the projects that i didn't have the parts for.

The Beaglebone Black can be frustrating - an Arduino clone it is not. But, it is a complete Linux 1Ghz computer with a lot of I/O. The default Angstrom distribution is not as close to being as stable as the Debian Wheezy distruibution supplied with the Raspberry Pi. (As of the time of this review the BBB is likely to get a default Debian distribution very soon.) Mr. Grimmett overcomes this by having you load an Ubuntu distribution on a sd card and boot from it instead. I used a 16GB card and have room to spare after reading the instructions on how to reclaim the unused space on page 89.

I liked this book. It was almost a perfect fit for me. I knew the BBB could do lots of things but never really had any luck with some of the online tutorials that I tried. Because of the book I got my USB camera to work, showing video via OpenCV. With one of those cheapie USB sound cards and a Logitech headset I was able to record and play sounds via the ALSA library. I even tried a little speech recognition. This book is very good at showcasing the BBB's built in capabilities and actually getting them to work. If you are really interested, Mr. Grimmett will also show you how you can operate your Beaglebone Black by land, by air or by sea(above and beneath).

The book covers programming with Python but is by no means a tutorial on the subject. That statement is pretty much true for robotics as well. Most of the robotics are made of simple to use USB type controllers for motors and servos and other sensors. Simple to use doesn't mean cheap! There is no doubt other ways of skinning this cat but I believe the author would have caused himself no end of grief by trying to describe a cheaper, more "solder it yourself" type of construction. To be honest, I had no idea you could build a robot by plugging in a bunch of controllers into a powered USB hub.

So, should you buy this book? Well, if you're an "informed beginner", by all means. I found it a lot of fun - not only getting my Beaglebone Black to do something but giving me more much needed confidence with Linux. I am also looking forward to the day my robot parts arrive. There is a lot to get from this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8c4c3a8) out of 5 stars A good book to stimulate your thinking for robotics projects Feb. 3 2014
By CNC guy - Published on
Format: Paperback
First Impressions

Disclaimer: I recognized the author of this book as a frequent participant in the BeagleBoard mailing list. Packt Publishing provided me with a copy of this book so that I could do this book review.

I liked this book almost immediately. The mission oriented chapter organization is good. Explanations are clear and concise. Good references are given for most topics if you want to get more in depth than what is covered in the book.

What the book covers

The book is organized in 11 chapters. The first chapter has a nice getting started with the BeagleBone Black (BBB). Chapter 2 briefly covers programming the BBB in Python with an even shorter intro to C++. In the third chapter things start to get good with an introduction to adding speech and speech recognition to the BBB.

The fourth chapter tells you how to connect a USB camera to the BBB. It also covers using the OpenCV framework for pattern recognition and object tracking. Chapters 5 and 6 let you take your BBB mobile by adding wheels, tracks, and legs.

Chapter 7 covers adding sensors to keep your robots out of trouble. The eighth chapter concerns remote control of your robots. Chapter 9 is about letting your BBB find itself with GPS guidance.

Chapter 10 tries to bring all the pieces together with a discussion of system dynamics. The final chapter discusses air and water vehicles for those not content to stay on the ground.

My favorite parts

I liked seeing the use of a full editor, emacs in the opening chapter. It seems that everyone is using a light editor like nano for books and presentations. This book covers many aspects that must be considered in any real world robotics project. For some reason, I thought the sailboat presented in the last chapter was particularly neat. It is also good to see people really making use of the BBB hardware and not just blinking LEDs.

The part I'm on the fence about

The book uses USB devices exclusively. On the one hand, this allows you to easily connect devices without doing any real wiring. It also allows you to focus on the functionality and less on the interface. On the other hand, this requires the use of a powered USB hub. The BBB has 92 pins on its expansion headers. It seems a shame to let all this I/O go to waste while funneling all the traffic through USB.

My wish list

As I said, I really liked this book. There are two things I would have liked to see in this book. While the exclusive use of USB devices is probably OK for the book. It would have been nice to have some coverage of using the BBB expansion headers as well. This would help readers who want to take things to the next level after reading the book.

My second item would be a complete robot project. I realize this is a tall order. All the pieces you need to build a robot are in the book. A complete robot might encourage readers to actually build something instead of just reading about it.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb4445c24) out of 5 stars A lot of information and great ideas - but you will have to tie some of the together yourself March 31 2014
By Juha Lumme - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
A disclaimer; I was given a review copy of the book.
I was really exited about the topic of the book, since I had never touched robotics before, and I thought it would be cool to incorporate something to my own projects as well.
The topics in the book hit exactly the areas that you would expect to be covered when working on robotics projects. There are chapters about movement, vision, audio control and feedback and even location awareness through GPS. Especially the introduction to OpenCV was very interesting, and I'm sure that I will be returning to this area more in the future as well.

However, I have to say that I felt like the book tried to cover too many topics in a hurry, and while there was a chapter about integration, in the end it felt like a bit of a mash-up. It's not really authors fault I think, since the domains of audio processing are just so vastly different from servo-motor control, but still a single project which would have been extended from beginning to the end would have helped with coherency.
I also wish integration to other peripherals would have not been left only to usb, as often many peripherals have a cheaper and smaller connectivity applications via I2C and SPI, I think a lot of BeableBone's capabilities were left out from the book now, and basically any tiny computer with usb-ports could be used for the tasks presented here (although this way most of these instructions would be suitable for RaspberryPi as well).

In the end, I think there is many good introductions to several areas, but the reader will have to think about how to integrate and write a coherent framework for his project.
It must have been demanding work for the author to tie these topics together in 240 pages, and I would really want to rate this book 3,5 stars, but since Amazon only accepts full stars, I will give it 3 stars. It's packed with information, but you will have to sort through it yourself once more.