Sunday, December 15, 2013

DIY DAC for Beaglebone Black

I ordered the PCM5102 DAC chip long time ago, planning to follow the discussion in a forum to build a DAC for my BBB. Finally got a chance a few weeks ago as I was taking sick leave to stay at home :P. Here is the summary:


  • The chip I used is PCM5102. There are discussions in the forum that there might be timing issue on the I2S signal with BBB. But audio seems to be not affected.

  • The schematic shown in the discussion forum was with headphone amplifier. Since I already owned too many DIY headphone amplifiers, I only implemented the PCM5102 part. In fact, it is quite similar to the "Typical Application Circuits" shown in the datashet.

  • Only some minor variations on components, e.g. the power capacitors, as I used whatever I could find in my spare-parts box

  • Two LM3940 used to convert 5V to 3.3v for PCM5102, one to analog and one to the rest of the chip. Granted that LM3940 is not very good at ripple and noise handling, but it should be cleaner than the 3.3v on BBB.

  • Pin 11 of PCM5102 set as high so filter runs in low latency mode

  • The BBB connects to my home wifi network with a dongle (Ralink RT8070 chipset)


  • My Beaglebone Black is running Debian with 3.8.13-bone30 kernel

  • To support UPnP such that I can control the playlist etc from my phones, tablets, and other computers etc, gmediarenderer was compiled and installed

  • With normal UPnP setup, the controller needs to be connected to the renderer all the time so that it can send instructions to play one song after another. This is undesirable as I wanted to use mobile devices to setup a playlist and then disconnect. One solution is to add an OpenHome renderer. This way, the playlist and play controls (e.g. random and loop) can be set and stored centrally.

  • As I paid for the BubbleUPnp on my Android devices, I chose to install the BubbleUPnP Server as the OpenHome renderer on BBB. It is a Java application. As mentioned in my previous post, I have the Oracle JDK 8 Early Access ARM VM on my BBB.

  • The gmediarenderer and BubbleUPnP JVM take around 15% CPU while playing music. My NAS (acting as UPnp server to serve music files) transcodes FLAC to WAV

  • I did test FLAC files on the setup using ffmpeg. The performance is OK too.


  • Of my 2 BBBs, only one works with the DIY DAC. Dont know if it is a hardware defect or something else

  • Do not set the playback volume to 100% on BBB. Seems that the PCM5102 charge pump is not providing rail-to-rail voltage. Setting the volume to 100% will cause clipping

  • Using ffmpeg to play back audio at 44.1kHz will produce occasional distortion. Can be prevented by upsampling the music in ffmpeg to 48k, 88.2k etc. No such issue with gmediarenderer

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Updating kernel of Beaglebone Black Debian

Notes to self. To update the kernel of Beaglebone Black Debian:

  • wget
  • sudo /bin/bash

PS. Using GPIO