BeagleBoard/GSoC/Ideas

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Welcome!

BeagleBoard.org has been accepted as a mentoring organization in the Google Summer of Code for 2016! Below, we've collected project ideas for the GSoC-2016.

What is Google Summer of Code?

Spend your summer break writing code and learning about open source development while earning money! Accepted students work with a mentor and become a part of the open source community. Many become lifetime open source developers! The 2016 student application window is March 14th to 25th.

Google Summer of Code is open to post-secondary students, age 18 and older in most countries.

Read more on the GSoC site BeagleBoard.org landing page and the FAQ.

BeagleBoard.org Background

BeagleBoard.org is a volunteer organization that seeks to advance the state of open-source software on open-source hardware platforms capable of running high-level languages and operating systems (primarily Linux) in embedded environments. Born from taking mobile phone processors and putting them on low-cost boards to build affordable desktop computers, BeagleBoard.org has evolved to focus on the needs of the "maker" community with greater focus on the I/O needed for controlling motors and reading sensors to build things like robots, 3d printers, flying drones, in-car computer systems and much more. Past BeagleBoard.org GSoC projects included creating an interpreter for tiny CPUs, adding SPI and sensor support to Python, an HTML and git based tutorial sharing environment, porting autopilot software to Linux, an open source 100MHz 14-channel logic analyzer, using Android tablets as Linux displays, putting ADC support in Linux under the IIO framework, using Android phones as a network boot source, Running Arduino code on Linux, Robot Operating System support within the Yocto Project build system, Minix I2C support, an RPC framework for heterogeneous processor communication, a transparent USB packet sniffer, ARM optimizations for XBMC, ARM optimizations for FFTs, make-shift pulse-width-modulation and RPC optimizations for OpenCV. BeagleBoard.org has benefited from sponsorship from Texas Instruments, CircuitCo, Digi-Key, element14 and others, but avoids any dependence on that sponsorship for sustaining the effort. The project has evolved over the past few years with over 1,000,000 boards in circulation with developers worldwide and strong roots in the Linaro, Yocto Project, Angstrom Distribution, Debian and Linux communities---and support for running most major Linux distributions including Ubuntu, Android, Fedora, ArchLinux, Gentoo, Buildroot and many more.

BeagleBoard was inspiration for Raspberry Pi[1] and is available for about $50 through over 30 distributors world-wide (and is even available at Micro Center and Radio Shack in the USA), but is more than a throw-away computer. It is an instance of true open hardware, exposing users to the broader world of electronics, demystifying computers and fostering an environment of clones that have changed the industry for good.

Students will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of cross-compiling before being accepted, but support for demonstration is available through the IRC channel that typically has approximately 150 online chatters logged on at any time, most with sufficient experience to explain the process.

Every accepted student will be sent a BeagleBone Black, SeeedStudio BeagleBone Green or BeagleBoard-X15 before the first week of coding for testing their project.

Additional hardware will be provided depending on need and value.

For more information, check out http://beagleboard.org and http://beagleboard.org/brief.

Students looking for ideas

Student proposals can encompass projects inspired from the following list of ideas or can include personal project ideas. Previous Google Summer of Code projects show that the key to success is being passionate about your project, so propose something that is extremely interesting to you, even if it is not on this list. We will be glad to help students develop ideas into projects via the BeagleBoard GSoC IRC or the BeagleBoard-GSoC mailing list. There are many potential project ideas and we will match students to projects based on their interests and help scope the proposals to something that can be completed in the Summer of Code timeframe.

There are more than 500 existing projects listed at http://beagleboard.org/project. If you are interested in any of the projects listed on the BeagleBoard.org projects page, contact the project members to see if there are any aspects of their projects that can be enhanced to create a GSoC project. There are also several ideas on the ECE497 class project idea list. You can also check out last year's idea page.

Mentors wondering where to help

Please start by registering your ideas for student projects below by following the template provided with the existing ideas. Furthermore, scroll down to the bottom and give everyone a bit of information about your expertise and availability by adding yourself to the table. Jason will make final approvals for mentor assignments based on if we first get accepted as a mentoring organization and best matching mentor skill sets with student project ideas deemed valuable to the community.

You will also need be invited by an administrator to register on the GSoC site and request to be a mentor for BeagleBoard.org.

General requirements

All projects have the following basic requirements:

  1. Once accepted, the project must be registered on http://beagleboard.org/project.
  2. All newly generated materials must be released under an open source license.
  3. Individual students shall retain copyright on their works.
  4. Source code generated during the project must be released on github.com (to be cloned to github.com/beagleboard on successful completion).
  5. The registration on http://beagleboard.org/project must include an RSS feed with project announcements and updates at every milestone. Sources for the RSS feed should be blogger.com, wordpress.com, or some other established blog-hosting service with known reliability.
  6. To help you to break your project down into manageable chunks and also to help the project's mentors to better support your efforts, weekly project status reports should be e-mailed to the project's mentors and the organization administrator (Jason Kridner). Each status report should outline:
    1. what was accomplished that week,
    2. any issues that prevented that week's goals from being completed and
    3. your goals for the next week.
  7. Students will provide two recorded audio/video presentations uploaded to youtube or vimeo (screencasts are appropriate), one near the beginning of the project summarizing their project goals and another in the wrap-up phase to summarize their accomplishments. Examples can be found on http://beagleboard.org/gsoc.
  8. Students will demonstrate their ability to cross-compile and utilize version control software by creating a "Hello World" application and generating a pull request to https://github.com/jadonk/gsoc-application/tree/master/ExampleEntryJasonKridner. For assistance, please visit http://beagleboard.org/chat or utilize the beagleboard-gsoc Google Group. The "Hello World" application must print your name and the date out in an ARM Linux environment. Freely available emulators may be used to test your application or you can ask anyone on the chat or mailing list to help you test.
  9. All projects will produce reusable software components and will not be "what–I-built-over-my-summer-vacation" projects. Including a hardware component is welcome, but the project *deliverable* will be software that may be utilized by a wide audience of the BeagleBoard.org community.

Idea template

Description

Goal:
Hardware Skills:
Software Skills:
Possible Mentors:
Upstream Repository:
References:

Ideas

Linux kernel support for embedded devices and interfaces

Improving the state of the Linux kernel, especially with regards to embedded devices and interfaces. Includes improved ARM/OMAP/Sitara platform support, simplifying the development of add-on hardware for embedded systems and exchanging hardware connectivity information with userspace.

Improving the BeagleBone low-latency multi-channel audio system

Based on existing hardware from http://www.creative-technologies.de/linux-based-low-latency-multichannel-audio-system-2/

  • Extend driver architecture to Beagle Board X15 (more computational power for more DSP capabilities), including performance test at CPU load conditions, add DSP library to make use of X15's DSPs
  • Create USB Audio Class 1 and/or 2 http://www.linux-usb.org/gadget/ Gadget Kernel Module, and optimizing throughput latency to allow cape to be used as independent PC soundcard
  • Further optimize available driver for BBG for latency, with focus on ASOC driver
  • Make a real-time audio processor box on beaglebone. Needs HD audio cape, could use PRUs for real-time sound processing (ie, guitar input) and second midi source using alsa or hardware cape. Also like to have pitch/envelope-following synth for analog instrument/mic input.

Heterogeneous co-processor support in open source operating systems and libraries

Enabling usage of DSPs, PRUs, FPGAs, Cortex-Ms, Arduinos, MSP430 launchpads and other attached processing platforms.

Process Sensor Data in Real-Time

  • Need a sonic anemometer for open source weather station (use PRUs to calculate sonic velocity and wind components). Needs ultrasonic ping sensors and mounting framework.
  • Port/implement MAV (drone) optical flow or stereo image processing to PRUs, use "Blue" or Black (via BBIO cape) as Ardupilot platform.

Sample PRU code interfacing with other kernel interfaces

Write sample code to demostrate how data to and from the PRU can be exposed via standard user interfaces. Possible samples include:

  • Expose the PRU as a I2C/UART/SPI etc. The would act as a bitbang I2C master interface that other I2C drivers can leverage.
  • Expose data from the PRU as an IIO, input, and/or character device.

The goal is to show the 2 pieces (kernel + PRU firmware) needed to use the PRU as a "normal" HW. Most likely this will have to use the remote proc interface.

Linux userspace support of embedded devices and interfaces in high-level languages

Improving the Bonescript JavaScript library, the PyBBIO Python library, Userspace Arduino, web-based interface libraries, examples or alternatives in other languages.

For PyBBIO this could include support for the latest 4.1 Linux kernel (see 4.1 milestone here), addressing open issues, adding new features and device drivers, etc..

BeagleSat Platform Integration

  • Goal: Integrate BeagleSat "satellite" platform into existing ArduPilot framework, including previous GSoC BeagleSat magnetometer application; BeagleBone blue has most of the required hardware, and black is already a supported hardware platform for ardupilot (via BBMini or Proto capes), however, ArduPilot does not have a satellite vehicle platform (should probably be derived from ArduCopter).
  • Hardware Skills: soldering/prototyping, serial/debug, sensors
  • Software Skills: high-level language skills (Python, C, etc), some knowledge of micro-controller compilers and targets, kernel config/programming (some)
  • Possible Mentors: Steve Arnold, Alexander Hiam
  • Upstream Repository: BeagleSat , BeaglePilot , BBMini
  • References: BeagleBone Blue board features , Building (ardupilot) for BeagleBone Black on Linux , MAVLink Commands

Improving initial experience for novice developers

Improving the methods for communicating how to build projects, improving the out-of-box experience for novices and consolidating support for simplified home manufacturing (CNC, 3D printers, laser cutters, pick-and-place machines, etc.), drones/bots (ROS, IMU, video streaming, etc.) or other common tasks.

SPI Flash Emulator (possibly via PRU)

Often in embedded devices, SPI NOR flash is being used more and more as the main non-volatile memory due to cost and technical abilities, but developing software and firmware for embedded devices which use SPI NOR flash as their main non-volatile memory often results in very slow code-compile-test sequences. This is due to SPI NOR flash's very slow erase and write times even when using a fast programmer like a Dediprog SF100 or Tin Can Tools SPI Hook. Typically, developers will purchase a SPI NOR flash emulator in order to speed development, as programming the emulator's memory can take 1% of the time it takes to program an actual SPI flash part which greatly improves the code-compile-test sequence throughput. However, typical emulators like this often cost upwards of $1000 or more. Creating a lower cost SPI NOR flash emulator which uses the McSPI interface on AM335x or the PRU to handle the physical SPI slave interface and Linux's USB gadget capabilities to load the data from a PC host would result in a much lower cost but high performance SPI NOR flash emulator.

Initial development likely could be done using breadboard circuits without needing any special cape hardware. Development and testing could use a single BBB to act as both the emulator and the target, such as having the emulator portion expose a 64 Mb (8 MB) emulated SPI flash and then have the normal AM335x SPI host port access it as a block device or through spidev. Longer term, special cape hardware could be designed to support level shifting but initial development should not require any special PCB.

Since the McSPI interface on AM335x can only operate at up to 16 MHz in slave mode (even in OPP100, it's slower in OPP50), it will first need to be evaluated if using a PRU is the best course of action or if just using the McSPI interface would be a better choice.

  • Goal: Create a generic SPI slave framework in Linux with McSPI as the first hardware layer and a SPI flash emulator as the first protocol driver.
  • Hardware Skills: General breadboarding with jumper wires.
  • Software Skills: Linux kernel C programming.
  • Possible Mentors: Andrew Bradford
  • Upstream Repository:kernel.org
  • References:

PRU Framebuffer

Like was done before on AM18xx (http://hackaday.com/2012/06/26/offloading-vga-generation-onto-a-coprocessor/) but bring the capability to AM335x. There is value in having a PRU video output system as some newer TI SoC have many PRU but no video output (such as AM5716) and sometimes the way pinouts work for a given design, the normal video output pins on a SoC may not be usable but a PRU may be able to reach usable pins.

  • Goal: PRU firmware which can drive a TTL LCD panel at a single or multiple standard resolutions along with Linux framebuffer driver enablement and communications to the PRU for both sending/receiving messages and sending of image data.
  • Hardware Skills: Ability to jumper wire BBB to an off the shelf TTL LCD panel breakout.
  • Software Skills: Linux kernel driver work.
  • Possible Mentors: Andrew Bradford
  • Upstream Repository: kernel.org
  • References: http://hackaday.com/2012/06/26/offloading-vga-generation-onto-a-coprocessor/

Open-AVB support for BeagleBone

Ethernet AVB is being designed into most next generation automotive audio systems and is starting to be adopted for professional audio environments such as studios. However, most Ethernet AVB stacks are available only as commercial products from competing vendors. The AVNu Alliance, the standards organization for Ethernet AVB, does sponsor the FOSS Open-AVB project (https://github.com/AVnu/Open-AVB). Open-AVB currently only has proof-of-concept support for x86 and the I210 Ethernet NIC. AM335x and AM57xx have the necessary silicon support to support Ethernet AVB.

  • Goal: Development can target two BeagleBones, supporting each in Open-AVB as both talker and listener. The effort will involve abstracting some of the x86 specific code in Open-AVB for ARMv7, enabling Open-AVB framing over CPSW Ethernet, and handling audio sourcing/sinking on each BeagleBone. The end goal is to use gstreamer to pass audio and/or video from a BeagleBone acting as a talker to a BeagleBone acting as a listener while complying with the AVB standards.
  • Hardware Skills: Basic skills in setting up Beaglebones and network cabling.
  • Software Skills: Ability to work in kernel and userspace in C. This will require work both in the AM335x Ethernet driver and the userspace Open-AVB project.
  • Possible Mentors: Matt Porter
  • Upstream Repository: https://git.kernel.org/cgit/ and https://github.com/AVnu/Open-AVB
  • References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_Video_Bridging

StratchX extension for BoneScript

ScratchX is a graphical programming tool for new programmers. BoneScript provides the ability to directly communicate with the I/O functions of a BeagleBone directly from within the browser. For examples see my presentation on JavaScript tricks. ScratchX provides a fairly simple extension mechanism for which it would be easy to add BoneScript support.

BeagleBone Blue APIs

  • Goal: To create easy-to-use APIs for the hardware on the BeagleBone Blue. This should consist of developing/improving kernel drivers for the on-board sensors, developing a kernel driver for the PRU servo driver, etc., then reimplementing the Strawson APIs to use these kernel drivers. If time allows, APIs could also be implemented in Bonescript and/or PyBBIO.
  • Hardware Skills: Some soldering, prototyping (hooking up and testing motors, etc.)
  • Software Skills: C, Linux kernel drivers, possibly PRU C or assembly, Device Tree
  • Possible Mentors: Alex Hiam, Deepak Karki
  • Upstream Repository: beagleboard/Linux
  • References: Strawson software

BBB-based Serial Terminal Server

Often in embedded development it is valuable to have a serial terminal server which can retain a serial port connection along with buffered past I/O separate from a typical host PC, either for longer term logging of serial port data or to enable remote management of a device via serial port. Commercial units which have this capability are very expensive. The BeagleBones have 4 highly capable UARTs exposed besides UART0 through the cape connectors and a simple cape hardware could easily enable a BeagleBone to physically have all the interfaces needed to be a serial terminal server. The cape hardware does not need to be created for this project to go forward, so long as other devices which connected to the BeagleBone terminal server used 3.3 V UARTs themselves.

This project would begin with a survey of existing software which could be adapted to provide a terminal server experience (for example something as simple as using GNU screen with some adaptations over an SSH connection to the BeagleBone) and then proceed to create software changes needed to enable such operation in an easy to use and deploy way. This resulting (or found) software would likely end up being generic for Linux based serial terminal servers. The end result of this project should likely be an easy to deploy SD card image to enable someone to setup a low cost serial terminal server based on a BeagleBone in only a few minutes.

A reach goal would be to enable the cape hardware and also to potentially provide DC relays which could switch 5-12 V at 2-3 A such that development boards could be powered on and off through the same software interface as is used for the serial communications. Since hardware is not the focus of GSoC, actual development of such hardware should not be the focus of the project itself.

USB support for HelenOS on BeagleBoard XM and BeagleBone computers

Implement HelenOS drivers for the USB host/OTG controllers as found on the BeagleBoard XM and BeagleBone single-board computers that will be part of the HelenOS DDF (Device Driver Framework) and USB stack.

HelenOS is a portable microkernel-based multiserver operating system designed and implemented from scratch. It decomposes key operating system functionality such as file systems, networking, device drivers and graphical user interface into a collection of fine-grained user space components that interact with each other via message passing. A failure or crash of one component does not directly harm others. HelenOS is therefore flexible, modular, extensible, fault tolerant and easy to understand.

HelenOS features basic support for the popular BeagleBoard XM and BeagleBone single-board computers. HelenOS also has its own USB stack, but because BeagleBone uses a non-standard USB host controller and BeagleBoard XM comes with a (sometimes) flaky EHCI host controller, and a non-standard OTG USB controller, HelenOS cannot unfold its full potential on these platforms, where most of the peripherals are meant to be attached via USB (mouse, keyboard, network, etc.).

FlightGear remote Cockpit on BBB

FlightGear is a free and open source cross-platform flight simulator platform or game. It support multiple computer and devices, so that we could build our remote cockpit at home, a example like this.

However, this project will only build a small prototype panel for FlightGear. It will use a small touch screen to display basic instruments for Aircraft - Atitude Indictor, Airspeed, Altitude and Heading, and two virtrual control "handle" for landing gear and flaps. The BBB will proform as a remote control device, it will connect to main flightgear instance FDM via network, and it could also connect to control devices or joystick/pedals as a control center.

On the other hand, when the remote panel is built, it could be used for Quadcopter and ROV remote control in the future.

Previous ideas

Mentors

Name IRC nickname Native language Other languages Timezone Software help Hardware help Focus projects
Jason Kridner jkridner English - US Eastern JavaScript, C, u-boot wiring, timing diagrams, basic debug BoneScript development
Hunyue Yau ds2 English - US Pacific Android, C, Linux, scripting, Kernel schematics, wiring, EE details Kernel/HW
Anuj Deshpande anujdeshpande English - UTC+530 C, Python, Golang Schematics Arduino, Android
Andrew Bradford bradfa English - US Eastern C, Linux, U-Boot KiCad, some RF DSP/PRU/M4 communication from Linux, wifi, USB gadget
Alex Hiam alexhiam English - US Eastern Python, C, programming... schematics, design, debugging, prototyping PRU, high-level userspace stuffs, kernel (device drivers?) X15?
Vladimir Pantelic av500 German English CET C, Android, embedded programming schematics, design, debugging, prototyping kernel, Android, dsp
Robert Manzke rma German English CET C, kernel, audio interfacing schematics, design, debugging, prototyping kernel, audio, dsp
Steve Arnold nerdboy English - PST8PDT Python, kernel/bootloader, OS, sensor interfaces design, debugging, prototyping kernel, sensors/data acquisition/processing
Matt Porter mdp English C :) US Eastern U-Boot, kernel, drivers, upstream, AVB, networking/ipcs Schematic review, part selection, debugging kernel, upstreaming, AVB, automotive
Kumar Abhishek Abhishek_ English, Hindi - IST,+0530 C, Kernel, PRU related, embedded Yes kernel, PRUs, X15
Jakub Jermář jermar Czech English CET everything HelenOS, C, Kernel, embedded basic HelenOS USB drivers for BeagleBone and BeagleBoard XM
Deepak Karki karki_ English Hindi, kannada India (IST) PyBBIO, PRU programming, basic kernel stuff. yes BeagleBone Blue APIs.
Michael Welling m_w English - US Central C, Linux Kernel, U-Boot, BASH KiCad, FPGA, Robotics Kernel, Robotics, FPGA
Tong Hui tonghuix Chinese English UTC+8 C, driver, Embedded Programming. KiCAD, schematics, design, debugging, testing Beaglebone Black, Flightgear
Andrew Henderson hendersa English - US Eastern C/C++, ARM asm, Linux, Linux kernel, Android Prototyping, Eagle PCB BeagleBone Black, Android, Linux userspace multimedia
Chris Simmonds simmondscd English - GMT Android, Linux, U-Boot, kernel, drivers, C, C++, Java Schematics, basic wiring, debugging Android, Hardware support, Real-time
Name IRC nickname Native language Other languages Timezone Software help Hardware help Focus projects

Previous mentors