In learning any programming language, you often begin with some sort of Hello, World! program. In CircuitPython, Hello, World! is blinking an LED. Blink is one of the simplest programs in CircuitPython. It involves three built-in modules, two lines of set up, and a short loop. Despite its simplicity, it shows you many of the basic concepts needed for most CircuitPython programs, and provides a solid basis for more complex projects. Time to get blinky!

LED Location

  • Along the top edge, towards the right end of the board, is a red LED (highlighted in red in the image), labeled LED on the board.

Blinking an LED

Save the following as code.py on your CIRCUITPY drive.

"""CircuitPython Blink Example - the CircuitPython 'Hello, World!'"""
import time
import board
import digitalio

led = digitalio.DigitalInOut(board.LED)
led.direction = digitalio.Direction.OUTPUT

while True:
    led.value = True
    time.sleep(0.5)
    led.value = False
    time.sleep(0.5)

The built-in LED begins blinking!

Note that the code is a little less "Pythonic" than it could be. It could also be written as led.value = not led.value with a single time.sleep(0.5). That way is more difficult to understand if you're new to programming, so the example is a bit longer than it needed to be to make it easier to read.

It's important to understand what is going on in this program.

First you import three modules: time, board and digitalio. This makes these modules available for use in your code. All three are built-in to CircuitPython, so you don't need to download anything to get started.

Next, you set up the LED. To interact with hardware in CircuitPython, your code must let the board know where to look for the hardware and what to do with it. So, you create a digitalio.DigitalInOut() object, provide it the LED pin using the board module, and save it to the variable led. Then, you tell the pin to act as an OUTPUT.

Finally, you create a while True: loop. This means all the code inside the loop will repeat indefinitely. Inside the loop, you set led.value = True which powers on the LED. Then, you use time.sleep(0.5) to tell the code to wait half a second before moving on to the next line. The next line sets led.value = False which turns the LED off. Then you use another time.sleep(0.5) to wait half a second before starting the loop over again.

With only a small update, you can control the blink speed. The blink speed is controlled by the amount of time you tell the code to wait before moving on using time.sleep(). The example uses 0.5, which is one half of one second. Try increasing or decreasing these values to see how the blinking changes.

That's all there is to blinking an LED using CircuitPython!

This guide was first published on Oct 12, 2021. It was last updated on 2021-10-18 13:27:30 -0400.

This page (Blink) was last updated on Dec 01, 2021.

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