Hardware explained

giuliomoro edited this page Mar 13, 2018 · 15 revisions


Bela's audio capabilities make it the perfect platform for creating musical instruments, modular synths or audio effect boxes. On the cape you have the following:

  • Audio Input: 16-bit stereo audio input at 44.1kHz
  • Audio Output: 16-bit stereo audio output at 44.1kHz
  • Audio power output: 2x 1W 8ohm speaker amplifiers (available when powered from DC jack)

With the audio expander caplet it is possible to extend Bela to have six audio inputs and six audio outputs for audio heavy projects.

Bela also provides you with many ways of connecting with the physical world:

  • Analog In: 8x 16-bit analog inputs at 22.05kHz
  • Analog Out: 8x 16-bit analog outputs at 22.05kHz
  • Digital channels: 16x digital GPIO at 44.1kHz or 88.2kHz
  • Analogue I/O is also software configurable to give 4 channels at 44.1kHz or 2 channels at 88.1kHz

You can also use ethernet, USB (including MIDI), SD card storage and other features of the BeagleBone Black. See, e.g.: the loggingSensors example, the various sample-... examples, MIDI and OSC.

Voltage levels

  • Audio I/O levels depend on the adjustable settings of the audio codec. You can comfortably plug in a guitar, a dynamic microphone, a piezo pickup, most stuff really, having up to 59.5dB of gain at your disposal. You can refer to the TLV320AIC3104 datasheet for more details. The gain can be set via the Project Settings tab in the IDE.

  • Analog ins are in the range 0-4.096V (inputs are 5V tolerant).

  • Analog outs are in the range 0-5V.

  • Digital I/O levels are 0/3.3V. Mind that these are the BeagleBone's AM3358's own digital pins, so make sure you NEVER exceed 3.3V or you will brick your BeagleBone Black.

The voltage ranges are translated into numbers in software: analog inputs are defaulted to a range of 0 to 1, while audio defaults to -1 to 1.

Pin diagram

See an interactive reference map of the pins and features of the cape: http://bela.io/belaDiagram/ This interactive reference map is also available in the Pin Diagram tab of the IDE.

Supply voltages

There are several places to get power supply voltages on the BeagleBone Black and Bela cape. For the pins below, refer to the interactive diagram above or to the BeagleBone header pinouts compiled by Derek Molloy.

  • 3.3V is available from the BeagleBone connector P9 pins 3 and 4. This is in the corner of the BeagleBone near the 5V power socket. Always use 3.3V with digital I/O!

  • 5V is available from three sources:

  • The Bela cape, on the Analog Out connector. This 5V source is in series with a 100 ohm resistor. This makes it the safest 5V source to use for experimentation and exploration, because a short circuit is unlikely to power off the board or cause damage. On the other hand, the resistor means it is not suitable for supplying more than a few milliamps of current.

  • P9 pins 7 and 8. This is the SYS_5V supply on the BeagleBone Black, which is the regulated supply coming from the USB port. It will always be available regardless of how the BeagleBone is powered, but it has a limit of 250mA of current.

  • P9 pins 5 and 6. This is the VDD_5V supply on the BeagleBone Black, which is only available when the BeagleBone Black is powered from the DC barrel connector. It is not available on the BeagleBone Green, which does not have the DC connector. Given a suitable power supply, these pins can supply up to 1A of current. These are the pins used to power the audio amplifiers on the Bela cape.

The 3.3V supply has much better noise performance than the 5V supply. Therefore, if you are using one of these supply voltages as a reference in a sensitive analog circuit, we recommend you use the 3.3V supply, or a separate low-noise voltage reference.

Unpopulated pads

On the board there are a number of unpopulated through-hole pads. An advanced user may want to solder headers or pins or components to enable the advanced features listed below. Refer to the board diagram for further details.

  • 5V power supply input on J1. This can be used to power the BeagleBone and the Bela cape (the 5V pin is the same as P9_05/P9_06 and the barrel jack).
  • DC-coupled, balanced line outs on J9/J10 (with optional effect loop between audio DAC and speakers).
  • Vref on TP1. This is a high-impedance low-noise reference voltage used internally by the analog ADC. If you were to use this as a voltage reference in your circuit, you should provide a high-impedance buffer.
  • MicBias on TP2 (Bela cape rev B2 onwards only): this provides plug-in power from the TLV320AIC3104. The user may want to solder a 1k resistor from MicBias to one of the inputs in order to provide 2V or 2.5V (selectable via software) plug-in power to an electret capsule. See e.g.: section 11.2.1 of the datasheet.
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