The original Bela board, a Beaglebone cape intended for low-latency audio, started life as a Kickstarter back near the start of 2016. With stereo audio, and both analog and digital I/O, along with dedicated hardware to providing real-time audio processing with 1ms latency, the Bela has since been used to build musical instruments, standalone synthesizers, and sound installations.
At the tail end of last week, the next Bela board was introduced: the Bela Mini.
The Bela Mini is only a third of the size of the original Bela board, intended to be used alongside the new PocketBeagle. The PocketBeagle debuted late last year and wouldn’t have been possible before the arrival of the Octavo Systems OSD3358 system-on-package — better known to makers as “the BeagleBone on a chip”—and was everything you’d expect from a BeagleBone, but just that much smaller.
“Bela Mini is just sort of project for which we created PocketBeagle. Bela Mini is tiny, provides a great experience for education and rapid prototyping, and builds on the unique real-time capabilities of PocketBeagle to give sub-millisecond response times in high-level programming environments. I can’t wait to give a couple workshops myself to see what kind of instruments people realize.”—Jason Kridner, founding board member at BeagleBoard.org
Bela Mini keeps the most popular features of the original Bela including 8×16-bit analog inputs (up to 44.1kHz for 4 inputs or 22.05kHz for 8 inputs), 16×digital I/Os, and stereo audio in/out (16 bit, 44.1kHz) with integrated headphone amplifier. It also maintains compatibility with perhaps the most interesting feature of the original Bela, the onboard browser-based IDE including an oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer, and an interactive pin diagram to help you visualize and debug your sensor and audio data in real-time.
The original Bela cost £70 (about $100) including worldwide shipping, while the new Bela Mini has a price tag of £55 (about $75) including shipping and is now available for pre-orders. The board is expected to ship in May 2018.