PandaBoard: my story

It was 24th March 2010 when one friend asked me do I want to be added to beta testers list for new omap hardware. One of questions was “what would you like to have on board” so I replied:

  • hdmi out (does not care much about vga/svideo/composite out)
  • 2xSD slots (SD or microsd type)
  • ethernet (but rather not on usb)
  • serial on db9/icd10 + serial/jtag by miniusb (think sheevaplug)
  • OTG is not needed but can be present
  • BT would be nice but not required as I have 5 micro dongles here
  • few usb ports — if possible (not omap3530) on more then one hub
  • few leds (multicolor?) would be nice (bug 2.0 has 2xblue + 2xmulticolor)
  • few buttons including power/reset ones
  • and 5V 2.1/2.5mm power jack. I do not need power-on-otg because it require 500mA ports
  • onboard lcd+ts is not needed for me
  • ah… and mounting holes like in beagleboard so board can be mounted anywhere
  • connector with i2c/spi/gpio/etc/etc
  • I missed audio in/out
  • battery for rtc

And suggested to place most of connectors on 2 edges as it helps to organize desk. Atmel’s at91sam9m10 was given as example cause it has all connectors on top and left edge.

And time passed… At UDS-M TI people said that there will be cheap OMAP4 based board named PandaBoard. During dinner (later same day) I got added second time to early adopters list. I wonder how Rob Clark reacted when he saw me on a list already :D

And again time passed… Ubuntu/ARM people were playing with prototypes of PandaBoard (ES1.0, ES2.0 6-layer etc) and I had occasion to play with boards during Ubuntu/Linaro platform sprint in Prague. It looked nice (if you did not looked at ES1.0 one) and was more or less working fine.

And finally at 15th September I was told that at the end of month there will be production run from which several boards will be shipped to early adopters and few selected projects. Board travelled half of the world, then got back to US and at the end of UDS-N I got it.

Arrived home, powered BeagleBoard C3 off and started to assemble new board. Panda got several accessories connected:

  • +5V 3.5A power supply
  • powered USB hub
  • small USB keyboard
  • wireless USB mouse
  • 20″ LCD monitor with 1680x1050px resolution (this is also connected to my desktop)
  • 320GB Serial-ATA hard drive in SATA->USB enclosure

Also connected Ethernet, serial (by usb-serial dongle + 2 usb extenders) and used one of floating SD cards to have place for bootloaders and kernel. Config is much nicer then it was when I used BeagleBoard.

As operating system I am using Ubuntu 11.04 ‘natty’ as this is current development version and I have some things to check under it. Anyway I plan to move backwards and install 10.10 ‘maverick’ as primary system cause this will allow me to test omap4 hardware acceleration of graphics and audio/video decoding.

What I am using it for? Package building and testing. So far rebuilt whole KDE4 but it was segfaulting all the time on EfikaMX Smartbook so I am waiting for official ones (as there are some things to fix there first).