RPi Tutorial Easy GPIO Hardware & Software

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Revision as of 10:31, 21 March 2012 by Meltwater (Talk | contribs) (Basic Circuits)

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GPIO Hardware & Software Tutorials:


While most of these circuits may interface directly to the RPi, the use of a buffered interface (such as the one supplied by the Gertboard) is recommended which will help protect against damage. Alternatively, experiment with one of the #Alternative Test Platforms.

Extreme caution should be exercised when interfacing hardware at a low level, you may damage your RPi, your equipment and potentially yourself and others. Doing so is at your own risk!


This tutorial is based on this thread and aims to introduce basic circuits which can be used with the RPi's General Purpose Input/Output (GPIO). Basic electronics knowledge will be required (i.e. familiarity with typical discrete components such as transistors, diodes and resistors).

Useful Links/Resources

  • The Electronics Club - An excellent resource for beginner electronics, explains many basic circuits.

Alternative Test Platforms

Until you have a RPi to test with, there are many alternative platforms available which will allow the testing of basic circuits. In addition, they may be interfaced with directly using the RPi in the future.

  • TI LaunchPad - A low cost development platform ($4.30 including free world shipping). Includes programmer/debug board, two processors (with 16 GPIO including I2C/SPI/UART, 8ch 10bit ADC etc).
  • Arduino - Common hobbyist development platform. Excellent community support and additional hardware.
  • STM32 Primer/EvoPrimer - Self-contained development platform. Mentioned since I may use one at some point (I bought the original Primer a long time ago). It includes a battery, acceleration sensors and built in display screen.

Completed Tutorials

Until RPi devices are available, I can not confirm this will work on a real RPi.
For now, I shall be using the TI LaunchPad (see  Alternative Test Platforms
for details) to test the hardware on (as it is cheap and the logic levels similar).

Basic Circuits

1. LED output

Directly driven (will need very low powered LED) or driven via transistor (allowing higher current). Includes example 8xLED Test Module.

3. Simple on/off switch input

With or without de-bouncing, protection resistors etc. Includes example 8xSwitch Test Module.

Planned Tutorials

Basic Circuits

1. LED output

Completed see above.

2. Small DC motor drive

MOSFET or Darlington Pair to provide high power drive and reverse bias diode to protect from motor coils.

3. Simple on/off switch input

Completed see above.

4. Analogue resistive sensor sampled as a digital input

Using a basic transistor switch circuit.

Intermediate Circuits

1. Shift Registers - Multiplexing Data

An introduction to using additional ICs. In this case, using a parallel to serial 8-bit shift register to read 8 digital inputs using two GPIO pins.

2. Analogue to Digital Circuit

Use of a ADC chip to sample inputs.

3. PWM Driving Circuit

For example motor speed control.

4. Alpha-numeric 2x16 LCD Display

(IN-PROGRESS) Control via 4-wire data (total 6 GPIO) and also alternative 2-wire interface circuit.

Advanced Circuits

1. Control Hardware Over The Internet

Implement web control and monitoring of GPIO connected components.

Contributing to this tutorial

This is an open project so please feel welcome to add your own sections and improve its content.

Please see the Talk:RPi Tutorial Easy GPIO Hardware & Software page to discuss this page.

  1. http://www.raspberrypi.org/forum/projects-and-collaboration-general/gpios-suitable-for-microswitches-joysticks/#p35307
  2. http://www.raspberrypi.org/forum/projects-and-collaboration-general/gpios-suitable-for-microswitches-joysticks/#p35309