Python & CircuitPython

It's easy to use the VL53L0X sensor with Python and CircuitPython, and the Adafruit CircuitPython VL53L0X module.  This module allows you to easily write Python code that reads the range from the sensor.

You can use this sensor with any CircuitPython microcontroller board or with a computer that has GPIO and Python thanks to Adafruit_Blinka, our CircuitPython-for-Python compatibility library.

CircuitPython Microcontroller Wiring

First wire up a VL53L0X to your board exactly as shown on the previous pages for Arduino.   Here's an example of wiring a Feather M0 to the sensor with an I2C connection:

  • Board 3V to sensor VIN
  • Board GND to sensor GND
  • Board SCL to sensor SCL
  • Board SDA to sensor SDA

Python Computer Wiring

Since there's dozens of Linux computers/boards you can use we will show wiring for Raspberry Pi. For other platforms, please visit the guide for CircuitPython on Linux to see whether your platform is supported

Here's the Raspberry Pi wired with I2C:

  • Pi 3V3 to sensor VIN
  • Pi GND to sensor GND
  • Pi SCL to sensor SCL
  • Pi SDA to sensor SDA

CircuitPython Installation of VL53L0X Library

You'll need to install the Adafruit CircuitPython VL53L0X library on your CircuitPython board.

First make sure you are running the latest version of Adafruit CircuitPython for your board.

Next you'll need to install the necessary libraries to use the hardware--carefully follow the steps to find and install these libraries from Adafruit's CircuitPython library bundle.  Our introduction guide has a great page on how to install the library bundle for both express and non-express boards.

Remember for non-express boards like the, you'll need to manually install the necessary libraries from the bundle:

  • adafruit_vl53l0x.mpy
  • adafruit_bus_device

You can also download the adafruit_vl53l0x.mpy from its releases page on Github.

Before continuing make sure your board's lib folder or root filesystem has the adafruit_vl53l0x.mpy, and adafruit_bus_device files and folders copied over.

Next connect to the board's serial REPL so you are at the CircuitPython >>> prompt.

Python Installation of VL53L0X Library

You'll need to install the Adafruit_Blinka library that provides the CircuitPython support in Python. This may also require enabling I2C on your platform and verifying you are running Python 3. Since each platform is a little different, and Linux changes often, please visit the CircuitPython on Linux guide to get your computer ready!

Once that's done, from your command line run the following command:

  • sudo pip3 install adafruit-circuitpython-vl53l0x

If your default Python is version 3 you may need to run 'pip' instead. Just make sure you aren't trying to use CircuitPython on Python 2.x, it isn't supported!

CircuitPython & Python Usage

To demonstrate the usage of the sensor we'll initialize it and read the range and more from the board's Python REPL.

Run the following code to import the necessary modules and initialize the I2C connection with the sensor:

Download: file
import board
import busio
import adafruit_vl53l0x
i2c = busio.I2C(board.SCL, board.SDA)
sensor = adafruit_vl53l0x.VL53L0X(i2c)

Now you're ready to read values from the sensor using any of these properties:

  • range - The distance in millimeter to an object in front of the sensor.
Download: file
print('Range: {}mm'.format(sensor.range))

In addition you can adjust the measurement timing budget to change the speed and accuracy of the sensor.  Get and set the measurement_timing_budget property with a value in nanoseconds.  For example to increase the timing budget to a more accurate but slower 200ms value:

Download: file
sensor.measurement_timing_budget = 200000

See the simpletest.py example for a complete demo of printing the range every second.  Save this as code.py on the board and examine the REPL output to see the range printed every second.

That's all there is to using the VL53L0X with CircuitPython!

Full Example Code

# Simple demo of the VL53L0X distance sensor.
# Will print the sensed range/distance every second.
import time

import board
import busio

import adafruit_vl53l0x

# Initialize I2C bus and sensor.
i2c = busio.I2C(board.SCL, board.SDA)
vl53 = adafruit_vl53l0x.VL53L0X(i2c)

# Optionally adjust the measurement timing budget to change speed and accuracy.
# See the example here for more details:
#   https://github.com/pololu/vl53l0x-arduino/blob/master/examples/Single/Single.ino
# For example a higher speed but less accurate timing budget of 20ms:
#vl53.measurement_timing_budget = 20000
# Or a slower but more accurate timing budget of 200ms:
#vl53.measurement_timing_budget = 200000
# The default timing budget is 33ms, a good compromise of speed and accuracy.

# Main loop will read the range and print it every second.
while True:
    print('Range: {0}mm'.format(vl53.range))
    time.sleep(1.0)
This guide was first published on Nov 23, 2016. It was last updated on Nov 23, 2016. This page (Python & CircuitPython) was last updated on Jul 19, 2019.