BeagleBone Black Project Spotlight: Shield I/O

Some unlikely combinations just seem to work: Oreos and peanut butter, Dwight Schrute and Michael Scott and now Arduino and BeagleBone Black!

Shield I/O+ beside the BeagleBone Black

With the new Shield I/O, you can now use (almost) any Arduino shield with a BeagleBone Black. The Shield I/O, created by Andreas Behrend, adapts Arduino shields to be BeagleBone Black compatible, it doesn’t matter if you’re using 3.3V or 5V logic or up to 5V analog inputs. Precise resistor arrays divide the analog inputs and make it an option to measure up to 5V.

Shield I/O comes with dedicated level shifters for all 14 digital GPIO pins, PWM, I2C and SPI. Something interesting to note is that part of Shield I/O comes from an Atmel ATTiny that lets the user switch logic levels through software over I2C.

The device uses two TXB0108 level shifters for standard I/O lines and one TXS0102 shifting the I2C bus. Shield I/O also comes in a “Plus” version, which features a MCP23017 that is also accessible over the I2C bus.

Andreas saw a need for Shield I/O while working with microcontrollers that had to be rebooted to switch between different programs or adapt to new settings. He wanted to give developers an option for a ready-made Arduino Shield to use with a powerful embedded device, BeagleBone Black. Shield I/O makes it possible to communicate with Arduino shields without re-flashing or rebooting the whole system.

Andreas chose BeagleBone Black because of its power and compatibility.

“It’s the most powerful embedded device out there with enough PWM, SPI, I²C, Timers, analog inputs, which can be muxed to fit the Arduino pin mapping including 2 PRUs to get high speed timing wherever it’s needed,” Behrend stated.

Andreas is a student currently employed by impressx media, who supports the Shield I/O. Additionally, Andreas has worked as a graphic designer and has run his own business. His next project is in the works and will be used in the healthcare industry – a tracker used by doctors to monitor a patient’s overall health.

Just as each developer creates their own projects, the Shield I/O allows its user to employ their own creativity and make their own projects, with Shield I/O as its base.

For more information, or to donate to this project, visit Shield I/O’s IndieGoGo site: