11.A3 Writing a New Image to the Beaglebone Black

Writing a new Image to the Beaglebone Black

The Beaglebone website has very clear instructions on writing a new image to the Beaglebone black, but this is just a quick post to detail some observations that I have had in case they are useful to others:

The summary steps are:

I’m using Windows for this installation as it is very straightforward:

  1. You get a file of the form: BBB-eMMC-flasher-2013.05.20.img.xz
  2. If you haven’t already, install 7zip to decompress this file: http://www.7-zip.org/
  3. Use this to extract the .xz file to a .img
  4. Install “Win32 Disk Imager” – it just extracts to a folder: http://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/files/latest/download Execute it directly in the folder and try to remember where you put it for the next time!
  5. Put your SD card into your computer and then start Win32 Disk Imager. It may not detect the SD Card if you do it the other way around.
  6. Using Win32 Disk Imager write the .img file to your SD Card (using its drive letter on your PC). This will take some time depending on your writer, but the progress bar should indicate the time remaining.
  7. Power off your Beaglebone Black (plug out 5V jack or disconnect USB).
  8. Put the SD Card in the Beaglebone Black’s micro-SD Card slot.
  9. Hold the boot button (S2) on the top right (near the sd card slot) and while holding the button insert the power. On an early board I had more success with the 5V jack than with the USB power, but it doesn’t seem to matter how you power the board. If everything goes correctly at this stage then the LEDs should flash and continue to flash for the next 25-45 minutes. The LED on the bottom (D5) stays on for most of the time (it does flash).
  10. Wait until the LEDs stop flashing and all 4 LEDs are fully lit. Again, this takes 25-45 minutes. This stage doesn’t work all of the time!!! One one board I have to do it twice or more before it works. If it fails, go back to step 9. and try again. The photograph in Figure 1 captures success!
  11. Disconnect the power.
  12. Remove the SD card – This is important! I once ended up writing the image to the board twice!
  13. Power and boot with your latest image (hopefully!)


 Figure 1. Success!

Some notes:

  • If you have one, do not put this SD Card into your Beaglebone White! Label the SD Card as only for the Beaglebone black with a big ‘B’. 
  • On point 9. above, on one board that I have I must press the Reset button (S1) after I apply the power or nothing seems to happen. In this case (while the board is powered) I press the Reset button (S1) and the Boot button (S2) at the same time and this seems to work.

I will modify this post with any other advice that you may have.

There is a great post on this topic at: http://circuitco.com/support/index.php?title=Updating_The_Software

These notes are copyright Dr. Derek Molloy, School of Electronic Engineering, Dublin City University, Ireland 2013-present. Please contact him directly before reproducing any of the content in any way.