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How do I power my Beaglebone Black?

September 18, 2015

At ModMyPi we offer a range of different micro-development boards, which all require slightly different power sources! Some are very stringent in their required input; for example, the latest Raspberry Pi recommends 5V @ 2A as a minimum for stability, but some are more flexible, the Arduino can accept a range of voltage inputs (6 – 20V), and regulates this to desired level internally on board. Not only that, the boards themselves have different power input ports, and some can be powered at multiple points on the board! We’ve got a simple breakdown of what each unit requires! You can check the below tutorials on how to best power each device:

How do I power my Raspberry Pi?

How do I power my Arduino?

How do I power my Beaglebone Black?

How do I power my Beaglebone Black?

The Beaglebone Black uses the same type barrel connector (5.5mm/2.1mm) as the Arduino. However, it only requires 5V to power. The recommended minimum supply current is stated at 1.2A (6 Watts), but at least 2A (10 Watts) is recommended for boards connected to capes or USB periphery.

We stock a good quality Beaglebone Black 5V 2A Universal Power Supply here, which should be suitable for the majority of Beaglbone applications.

Mode 1 – DC Barrel Plug 5.5mm/2.1mm (Recommended 5V @ 2A)

The recommended way to power the Beaglebone Black is via the DC (Direct Current) barrel jack input. The barrel jack has the following requirements:

The Adaptor must be DC (Direct Current) not AC (Alternating Current)

  • The barrel plug must be centre positive (The middle pin of the plug has to be positive)
  • The barrel plug must have an inside diameter (ID) of 2.1mm.
  • The barrel plug must have an outside diameter (OD) of 5.5mm or less.
  • The operating voltage must be 5V.
  • The operating current is recommended to be 1.2A to 2A.
  • Barrel connector length of 9.5mm or greater is sufficient.

This is a common size barrel, and you’ll see 5.5mm/2.1mm featured on a lot of our items.

Mode 2 – Through the Mini USB Port (5V @ 500mA)

The Beaglebone Black comes with an included USB to Mini USB cable which can be used to power the Beaglebone Black. Please note, the Mini USB port (client) adjacent to the barrel plug should be utilised for powering the board, not the USB port (host) on the opposite side of the board.

When powered up over USB, the regulators are somewhat limited in what they can supply the system. The Beaglebone Black uses a TPS2051 USB Power Switch, which limits the USB Host port power to 500mA on the high end. For the use of high power USB periphery or capes, it is likely that power over Mini USB will not be sufficient for stability. The Beaglebone Black needs around 500mA for normal function and a low current usb device (keyboard, mouse). Using a Cape or a high current USB device would require a power supply that can meet or exceed that extra current draw. Hence, for simplicity and maximum capability, powering over the 5V barrel connector is typically recommended. 

Mode 3 – Power via Battery Pins

I won’t go into too much detail on this powering method, as it’s already been well documented (links below). But it should be noted that you can directly power the Beaglebone Black via the four battery power pins denoted in the following picture. It should also be noted that it’s very easy to derp your Beaglebone Black using this method, so please take extra case when plumbing in a DIY solution. 

The Beaglebone Black has a built-in power management IC based on the TI TPS65217C chipset. This device contains multiple regulators to provide all voltage levels needed for the entire board, and handles wake-up and power-down using the on-board push-button. The IC also contains built-in battery charging capability!

Apart from the USB requirement of 5V, there is no need to run the Beaglebone Black from 5V. This means that any small rechargeable Lithium Ion or Lithium Polymer battery can be used to power the board. A single 3.7V cell (preferably with built in circuit protection) is sufficient to power the entire board.

Further Reading

Beaglebone Black rechargeable on board battery system

Uninterruptible Power Supply for the Beaglebone Black

Last update: September 18, 2015

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