A lot of sensors, displays, and devices can connect over I2C. I2C is a 2-wire 'bus' that allows multiple devices to all connect on one set of pins so it's very convenient for wiring!

When using your board, you'll probably want to connect up I2C devices, and it can be a little tricky the first time. The best way to debug I2C is go through a checklist and then perform an I2C scan

Common I2C Connectivity Issues

  • Have you connected four wires (at a minimum) for each I2C device? Power the device with whatever is the logic level of your microcontroller board (probably 3.3V), then a ground wire, and a SCL clock wire, and and a SDA data wire.
  • If you're using a STEMMA QT board - check if the power LED is lit. It's usually a green LED to the left side of the board.
  • Does the STEMMA QT/I2C port have switchable power or pullups? To reduce power, some boards have the ability to cut power to I2C devices or the pullup resistors. Check the documentation if you have to do something special to turn on the power or pullups.
  • If you are using a DIY I2C device, do you have pullup resistors? Many boards do not have pullup resistors built in and they are required! We suggest any common 2.2K to 10K resistors. You'll need two: one each connects from SDA to positive power, and SCL to positive power. Again, positive power (a.k.a VCC, VDD or V+) is often 3.3V
  • Do you have an address collision? You can only have one board per address. So you cannot, say, connect two AHT20's to one I2C port because they have the same address and will interfere. Check the sensor or documentation for the address. Sometimes there are ways to adjust the address.
  • Does your board have multiple I2C ports? Historically, boards only came with one. But nowadays you can have two or even three! This can help solve the "hey, but what if I want two devices with the same address" problem: just put one on each bus.
  • Are you hot-plugging devices? I2C does not support dynamic re-connection, you cannot connect and disconnect sensors as you please. They should all be connected on boot and not change. (Only exception is if you're using a hot-plug assistant but that'll cost you).
  • Are you keeping the total bus length reasonable? I2C was designed for maybe 6" max length. We like to push that with plug-n-play cables, but really please keep them as short as possible! (Only exception is if you're using an active bus extender).

The ItsyBitsy RP2040 has two I2C ports. They are available as WIRE1 on the SCL/SDA pins, and WIRE0 on GPIO24 and GPIO25.

Perform an I2C scan!

Install TestBed Library

To scan I2C, the Adafruit TestBed library is used. This library and example just makes the scan a little easier to run because it takes care of some of the basics. You will need to add support by installing the library. Good news: it is very easy to do it. Go to the Arduino Library Manager.

Search for TestBed and install the Adafruit TestBed library

Now open up the I2C Scan example

#include <Adafruit_TestBed.h>
extern Adafruit_TestBed TB;

#define DEFAULT_I2C_PORT &Wire

// Some boards have TWO I2C ports, how nifty. We should scan both
#if defined(ARDUINO_ARCH_RP2040) \
    || defined(ARDUINO_ADAFRUIT_QTPY_ESP32S2) \
    || defined(ARDUINO_ADAFRUIT_QTPY_ESP32S3) \
    || defined(ARDUINO_SAM_DUE) \
  #define SECONDARY_I2C_PORT &Wire1

void setup() {

  // Wait for Serial port to open
  while (!Serial) {
  Serial.println("Adafruit I2C Scanner");

#if defined(ARDUINO_ADAFRUIT_QTPY_ESP32S2) || \
    defined(ARDUINO_ADAFRUIT_QTPY_ESP32S3) || \
  // ESP32 is kinda odd in that secondary ports must be manually
  // assigned their pins with setPins()!
  Wire1.setPins(SDA1, SCL1);

  // turn on the I2C power by setting pin to opposite of 'rest state'
  pinMode(PIN_I2C_POWER, INPUT);
  bool polarity = digitalRead(PIN_I2C_POWER);
  digitalWrite(PIN_I2C_POWER, !polarity);

  digitalWrite(TFT_I2C_POWER, HIGH);

  digitalWrite(TFT_I2C_POWER, HIGH);

#if defined(ADAFRUIT_FEATHER_ESP32_V2)
  // Turn on the I2C power by pulling pin HIGH.
  digitalWrite(NEOPIXEL_I2C_POWER, HIGH);

void loop() {

  Serial.print("Default port (Wire) ");
  TB.theWire = DEFAULT_I2C_PORT;

#if defined(SECONDARY_I2C_PORT)
  Serial.print("Secondary port (Wire1) ");

  delay(3000); // wait 3 seconds

Wire up I2C device

While the examples here will be using the Adafruit MCP9808, a high accuracy temperature sensor, the overall process is the same for just about any I2C sensor or device.

The first thing you'll want to do is get the sensor connected so your board has I2C to talk to.

Top view of temperature sensor breakout above an OLED display FeatherWing. The OLED display reads "MCP9808 Temp: 24.19ºC"
The MCP9808 digital temperature sensor is one of the more accurate/precise we've ever seen, with a typical accuracy of ±0.25°C over the sensor's -40°C to...
In Stock
Angled of of JST SH 4-Pin Cable.
This 4-wire cable is 50mm / 1.9" long and fitted with JST SH female 4-pin connectors on both ends. Compared with the chunkier JST PH these are 1mm pitch instead of 2mm, but...
Out of Stock

Wiring the MCP9808

The MCP9808 comes with a STEMMA QT connector, which makes wiring it up quite simple and solder-free.

  • The black wire connects GND on the MCP9808 to ground on your board.
  • The red wire connects VIN on the MCP9808 to power on your board.
  • The yellow wire connects SCL on the MCP9808 to SCL on your board.
  • The blue wire connects SDA on the MCP9808 to SDA on your board.

Now upload the scanning sketch to your microcontroller and open the serial port to see the output. You should see something like this:

This guide was first published on Apr 30, 2021. It was last updated on Jul 22, 2024.

This page (I2C Scan Test) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

Text editor powered by tinymce.