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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Part Microcontroller- Part Computer Science
I had been reviewing the BeagleBone in the market place and its abilities and was considering recommending it to teach intro to Embedded Systems. When I looked for a good textbook for the BeagleBone this one came recommended.
I found the reviews on this book slightly confusing, with some people who absolutely loved the book and others that found it not helpful at...
Published 9 months ago by Larissa Swanland

versus
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Vague Coverage-Poor Editing
IMHO, this book is not worth the money! If the poor editing was not enough: (Pg 20 "You made (sic) [may] need to include other..." Pg 23, "It is important to pay (sic) learn about..." Pg 38, "...Bonescript is written to (sic) specifically for it. "...JavaScript interpreter that (sic) for running on the web host..." Pg 45, "We introduced each function on when-needed...
Published 13 months ago by Vapor


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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Vague Coverage-Poor Editing, July 25, 2013
This review is from: Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronics Systems with Beaglebone and BeagleBone Black (Paperback)
IMHO, this book is not worth the money! If the poor editing was not enough: (Pg 20 "You made (sic) [may] need to include other..." Pg 23, "It is important to pay (sic) learn about..." Pg 38, "...Bonescript is written to (sic) specifically for it. "...JavaScript interpreter that (sic) for running on the web host..." Pg 45, "We introduced each function on when-needed basis..." (correct phrase is "on an as-needed basis"), Pg 50, "...the sensor output voltage decreases with the range from the sensor to maze wall." Should this actually read, "...decreases as the range from the sensor to the maze wall increases."?, Pg 53, "The loop function calls several functions to read..." Should it be, "The loop function call a function to read..." (look at the code directly above this paragraph and it only has one call that reads: IR_sensor_value = b.analogRead(ainPin); in the while(1) loop. The other two function calls are digital writes. On Pg 58 he uses the abbreviation UML before ever defining to what it refers.) And I could go on about the extremely poor editing; then the lack of information makes it a zero!

On the technical side, the explanations are more suited for at least a Junior Level college course where students have had a couple of years of microcontroller interfacing and are knowledgeable about the ARM processor and the peripherals. The author only provides a vague overview with programming stubs stating that the details are left for exercises at the end of the chapter.

He provides only a cursory introduction on BoneScript. He does not present how the user loads, launches, or interacts with the interpreter.

He lists two different robot platforms for his exercises, one from Graymark International and a DFROBOT ROB00003 from Jameco. Both examples could utilize the DFROBOT and save the person trying to learn some money.

He provides a very poor explanation of the interface headers. He does not go into the different processor modes and why one would or would not choose one over the other. The person trying to learn Beagle is left to trial and error. Pick a header (8 or 9) and guess at what pin you should use. If you guess wrong, or if the processor is in the wrong mode, oh well, that is your problem.

He tries to push the use of UML Charts as some type of 'visualization' tool for embedded design. These charts appear to be nothing more than a torturing of the charts used in The Jackson Design Methodology (Ref. Creating Effective Software, Computer Program Design Using the Jackson Methodology, David King, Yourdon Press Computing Series, ISBN 0-13-189242-8. Yes, I know the Jackon approach is a transaction analysis and not embedded design. Or refer to Chapter 10 Transform Analysis in Structured Design, Fundamentals of a Discipline of Computer Program and System Design, Yourdon and Constantine, Prentice-Hall, Inc., ISBN 0-13-854471-9.

Or,if you really want to learn Object Oriented Programming (event driven programming) I would recommend Object-Oriented Analysis and Design, with Applications by Grady Booch, Benjamin/Cummings Publishing, Inc., ISBN 0-8053-5340-2. Or if it is still available, purchase a copy of the Object Oriented Programming in C++ by David S. Burris, Ph.D in Computing Science, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX 77340. An embedded system could be designed as a Top-down program, but Object-Oriented Programming is more suited to this paradigm. The purpose of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) is to develop an efficient system that is driven by events and not a top-down iteration. By nature, embedded systems are event driven. That is, the environment (albeit the user or some sensor) triggers an event and the processor must respond to the event. Events are not necessarily sequential or linear in their occurrence and frequency. They are random and the system should conform to the world it is trying to control.

All-in-all, I was greatly disappointed in this book. Being a first to market book, I thought it might be the "Beagle Bible". Instead, IMHO, it is the "Beagle-boondoggle." Hopefully Dale Wheat will write a BeagleBoneBlack Internals so everyone can learn the ins-and-outs of Beagle.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad for the BeagleBone, August 2, 2013
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This review is from: Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronics Systems with Beaglebone and BeagleBone Black (Paperback)
I had high hopes for this book, since the BeagleBone/board could use some concise, useful and practical information. However this book is just not helpful. The topics it covers range from a too quick discussion of Javascript, weirdly focusing on comparisons to other languages, to a lot of discussion of elementary electronics. The book is full of comments about how 'this will be more fully discussed elsewhere', but the 'elsewhere' is either not there, or is even more brief than the reference. The major thing I was looking for, namely insightful hints and comments on the internal workings and manipulation of the power of the BeagleBone is completely lacking. So I am back reading the online documentation, hoping that the next book will do a better job.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Puke. Can't give it zero stars..., July 16, 2013
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This review is from: Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronics Systems with Beaglebone and BeagleBone Black (Paperback)
I bought a BeagleBone Black DevKit and thought a printed reference would come in handy. As of last week, only Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronics Systems with Beaglebone and BeagleBone Black was available. I bought a copy.

A serious error on my part.

This book was hastily jammed out by a couple faculty types who can fill in the gaps during the lectures. Good on them - class or no, there are LOT of gaps. I'm not sure what their course is about, perhaps Embedded Systems programmed in C, but the material in the book is not comprehensive without a lot of help. There is a section on C, but it is really sketchy.

The overview of the BeagleBone Black hardware adds essentially nothing to the materials posted at BeagleBone.org. When compared to the free presentation by the CEO of BeagleBoard ([...] the book is a complete waste of time.

Bad to the Bone essentially presents some class projects, and gives enough material to maybe get through the work with the help of a decent TA, but newcomers aren't going to really learn the whys-and-wherefores. Project source codes are given, but I didn't spot a URL where one might get the sources. (I've found the effort of typing something blindly from a book isn't terribly educational - it's much more profitable to use the time to dig into why things are done a certain way, and what alternative techniques are available.)

There is more sketchiness about Linux programming. Over the top for hobby newcomers, not enough for people wanting to do something semi-serious (though I don't view Linux as appropriate for embedded systems).

Anyone interested in starting from scratch would be well advised to learn BoneScript as a way of goofing to learn or to quickly bringing up a new project.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hastily Pushed to Market, June 15, 2013
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This review is from: Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronics Systems with Beaglebone and BeagleBone Black (Paperback)
My overall impression of this book is that it was cobbled together quickly and pushed to market. I'm not sure what audience the authors meant to serve. The introductory sections on JavaScript and C aren't long enough to do a beginner any good and the experienced programmer will already know them. These topics are rightfully the subject of an entire book on their own. There are some code examples in the book but they're presented with little or no supporting explanation of why they were written as they were. The section talking about some of the supported communications subsystems consisted of "yes, the Beaglebone has (I2C, SPI, CAN) so buy a cape supporting it and you'll get documentation. The example on PWM is presented twice because it's handled differently in the version of Linux on the original Beaglebone and the Beaglebone Black. The text says it's for updating at 100 Hz and 50% duty cycle. The Original is correct but the Black version is really for a PWM updating at 50 Hz and 50% duty cycle. This book really didn't provide much value beyond what I already learned from the documentation and information I found online.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A book with little useful information, September 16, 2013
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This review is from: Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronics Systems with Beaglebone and BeagleBone Black (Paperback)
Like many others, I found this books to contain little useful information. The book contains many errors and is not recommended.

Disappointing purchase.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Part Microcontroller- Part Computer Science, November 30, 2013
This review is from: Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronics Systems with Beaglebone and BeagleBone Black (Paperback)
I had been reviewing the BeagleBone in the market place and its abilities and was considering recommending it to teach intro to Embedded Systems. When I looked for a good textbook for the BeagleBone this one came recommended.
I found the reviews on this book slightly confusing, with some people who absolutely loved the book and others that found it not helpful at all. The author pairing on this book was also different. One coming from a hardware/ microcontroller background (Barrett) and one coming from almost a software only background (Kridner). The Beaglebone was also similar in that it appeared to have the microcontroller peripheral abilities, but instead of using C/C++ Language to program-- had the ability to run higher level, linux based computer languages. After reading the book I found that the mix of reviews, plus the intersection of two completely different author backgrounds were related. This book is ideal for either Computer Science- type audiences who wish to get into hardware design (e.g. think the audience that buys a raspberry pi and uses an arduino) or microcontroller type people who wish to learn more about the world of embedded linux.

Positives:
+ The Book comes with homework examples and labs that you can use to set up. Full Bill of materials lists and exercises are available. (I was not sure if there was a solutions manual, but I didn't contact the author to ask).
+ The book is structured in a traditional embedded systems format and follows a semester long-style of course
+ the examples are detailed and easy to follow if you are familiar with traditional microcontroller-type courses
+ It is one of the only texts on the market that covers the white beaglebone which still can be purchased at retailers such as Microcenter

Negatives:
- The book spends a lot of time with different programming languages. Although it is an advantage of using an OS-based processor like this one, I felt there wasn't enough time spent on the differences between a microcontroller and this type of processor.
- The expectations of this book were very lofty, beginning with " New Comers" and even "experienced" ... it was difficult for me to gauge which audience I fit into and had to invest the time to read the book and decide for myself.

Additional Comments:
I felt the book perhaps needed a supplemental, "Linux for new people" section, since I am completely unfamiliar with anything running anything higher than a real time OS.

I come from a traditional microcontroller background, and found it a bit overkill to use a Linux based operating system to blink an LED. In a microcontroller-textbook the focus is usually on the interfacing with peripherals, software to handle the interupt nature of software and getting to learn the individual components inside of the processor to create an overall system. Bad to the Bone had many of these examples and the focus that one would normally find in a microcontroller text (such as building a robot and interfacing to seven segment displays). What was interesting for me was the intersection of the Linux, computer science material that was interspersed into the book.Computer science books have always been a bit of a struggle for me to get through (considering that most of the activity can be done on a computer and getting hands on isn't a priority).

I think all and all this is a good book, but you will need to have your expectations set before getting into it.
If you are looking for an in-depth understanding of the Cortex A Processor that is on-board, the resources mentioned in some of the reviews may be a better place to go.
If you are looking for a quick, Get Up and Running with some examples, the new Matt Richardson Book-- would be a better place to go.
However, if you are teaching embedded systems, are willing to invest the time to learn embedded linux or are in computer science and are looking for ways to make your programming courses more physical-computing type and an Arduino is not educational focused enough for you, then this book, in my opinion, would be a good fit.
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3.0 out of 5 stars this book, February 23, 2014
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This review is from: Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronics Systems with Beaglebone and BeagleBone Black (Paperback)
This is good book for beginners.
But if you tried to get all of this information from internet
You discover for yourself that these data which had appeared in the book are there.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not sure who this is targetting, August 30, 2013
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This review is from: Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronics Systems with Beaglebone and BeagleBone Black (Paperback)
I found this book to be too basic for any reasonable embedded needs, but too complicated for complete beginners. It is also all over the place and lacks focus.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Manual for the experienced Programmer, September 12, 2013
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This review is from: Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronics Systems with Beaglebone and BeagleBone Black (Paperback)
My background is LAMP[Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP] server setup/configuration and Web Engineering/Design. IE I can install many different flavors of Linux[my preferred currently being Ubuntu but ArchLinux is looking promising]. I am extremely well versed in PHP programming and moderately versed in JavaScript from a web design standpoint. I can hack/modify code in just about any language and have done a lot of that in C, C++, Python, Ruby - it is somewhat mandatory to learn those as a lot of Linux tools are written in them and many times there will be slight tweaks needed, or changes that need to be made to make programs compile[or even small hacks to Linux kernel code to compile the latest/greatest kernel].

I learned about electronics decades ago in college, but never really put those skills to use. In the past couple of years I started playing with small circuits, first with Texas Instruments MSP430 launchpad, and now with the BeagleBone Black. I can read the schematics, but I couldn't create my own[and as was pointed out recently, my reading of schematics is not 100% up]. Since I am a novice with electronics, there are many things that just are not "drilled" into my mindset. Like I know what a de-coupling capacitor does and sorta why it is important....but when I'm bread-boarding stuff it really doesn't spring to mind. Same thing with putting a resistor inline with an LED in order to ensure a reasonable current level - I know it has to be done, I know why, but it is not "second nature" so I've certainly blown my share of LED's playing around.

With this background in mind, I have found the book to be an excellent source of material. When they discuss how to design a program in C or Bonescript, they go into enough detail that someone familiar with programming can easily understand it - but they don't go into the tedious level of detail of teaching you to program from scratch. They do a high level overview of electronics that is not always enough to really explain WHY something works. For example, they explain how to use a capacitor to debounce a switch. They explain why you must debounce the switch. They explain how to do it. They don't go into the specifics of what the capacitor is doing that makes it work. In my viewpoint this is the perfect amount of data, enough for me to hack around and get something working, without pages of how electronics work that I can find much more easily by reading a book on electronic circuit design if I really want to know the details.

They also explain in sufficient detail many things that are just taken for granted. For example, I have found other books tend to discuss LCD displays in terms of using I2C interface boards because that is most efficient. In Bad to the Bone, they explain how to directly wire up an LCD display module AND then go on to explain how to use a serial to parallel conversion board to save pins.

They make sure to cover development for Linux using the 3.2 kernel[the version originally shipped with the Beagle Bone Black] AND the 3.8 kernel[where there are substantial underlying differences in programming].
All in all, I would say it is a great book for the experienced programmer who is not intensely familiar with electronics design.
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12 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Text On Cheap Powerful Physical Computing, May 30, 2013
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This review is from: Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronics Systems with Beaglebone and BeagleBone Black (Paperback)
This is a superb textbook on an open low-cost physical computing platform for those whose progress has gone beyond simple Led blinks on the Arduino. The Beaglebone Black the latest incarnation of this powerful physical computing development platform is fully Open (allowing you to reproduce the board for commercial products as well as to see source code); it costs roughly $45.00 has a diverse set of I/O ports including Analog to Digital Conversion; is more suited to electronic experimentation (without expansion) than the Raspberry Pi; and it has a diverse set of "Capes", daughterboards similar to Shields on the Arduino. The authors have exactly the right stuff to deliver an intermediate text on physical computing. Steve Barret is a lifelong teacher, with vast experience as a Professor of Electronic Engineering at the Air Force Academy and the University of Wyoming. Jason Kridner is a senior engineer and open product evangelist at Texas Instruments, who started and leads the Beagleboard (dot) Org community. This is a comprehensive and excellent textbook for those who have gone beyond "Beginning Arduino" skills. At almost 400 pages in heft it covers everything from a simple "Hello World" example in "Bonescript", a simple physical computing language based on Javascript and Node.js, to developing robots and much more sophisticated embedded physical computing platforms and systems.

This is a superb comprehensive text to move beyond the simplest work in physical computing. There is much to serve the needs of beginners and experts who are new at this particular platform; but I would recommend it most to those who have gone beyond simple LED blinking and traffic light simulations with Arduino and Raspberry Pi. For the intermediate physical and embedded computing experimenter there is much methodology on designing and specifying physical computing systems. I would select it most for the intermediate designer because it rely's for the most part on schematics rather than wire by wire photographs, and gives some taste of design with UML without a comprehensive introduction to real-time State, Sequence and Class diagrams.

This is a must have to advance anyone's knowledge in physical computing, electronics and embedded systems. It is also the first and most comprehensive text introducing the powerful Linux-based Beaglebone and Beaglebone Black. I highly recommend it. I do hope that the authors publish an index to this comprehensive text online to enable us to get additional access to its storehouse of knowledge.

--Ira Laefsky MS Engineering and MBA, Information Technology Consultant and Human Computer Interaction Researcher, also a Maker at the Hive 76 Philadelphia Hackerspace and formerly a Senior Consulant on the Staff of Arthur D. Little, Inc. and Digital Equipment Corporation
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Bad to the Bone: Crafting Electronics Systems with Beaglebone and BeagleBone Black
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