It's easy to use the VL53L1X with Python or CircuitPython, and the Adafruit CircuitPython VL53L1X module. This module allows you to easily write Python code that reads the distance from the VL53L1X 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 VL53L1X to your board exactly as shown below. Here's an example of wiring a Feather M4 to the sensor with I2C using one of the handy STEMMA QT connectors:

  • Board 3V to sensor VIN (red wire)
  • Board GND to sensor GND (black wire)
  • Board SCL to sensor SCL (yellow wire)
  • Board SDA to sensor SDA (blue wire)

You can also use the standard 0.100" pitch headers to wire it up on a breadboard:

  • Board 3V to sensor VIN (red wire)
  • Board GND to sensor GND (black wire)
  • Board SCL to sensor SCL (yellow wire)
  • Board SDA to sensor SDA (blue wire)

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 to the sensor using I2C and a STEMMA QT connector:

  • Pi 3V to sensor VIN (red wire)
  • Pi GND to sensor GND (black wire)
  • Pi SCL to sensor SCL (yellow wire)
  • Pi SDA to sensor SDA (blue wire)

Finally here is an example of how to wire up a Raspberry Pi to the sensor using a solderless breadboard:

  • Pi 3V to sensor VIN (red wire)
  • Pi GND to sensor GND (black wire)
  • Pi SCL to sensor SCL (yellow wire)
  • Pi SDA to sensor SDA (blue wire)

Python Installation of VL53L1X 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:

  • pip3 install adafruit-circuitpython-vl53l1x

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

CircuitPython Usage

To use with CircuitPython, you need to first install the VL53L1X library, and its dependencies, into the lib folder on your CIRCUITPY drive. Then you need to update code.py with the example script.

Thankfully, we can do this in one go. In the example below, click the Download Project Bundle button below to download the necessary libraries and the code.py file in a zip file. Extract the contents of the zip file, and copy the entire lib folder and the code.py file to your CIRCUITPY drive.

Your CIRCUITPY/lib folder should contain the following folder and file:

  • adafruit_bus_device/
  • adafruit_vl53l1x.mpy
CIRCUITPY

Python Usage

Once you have the library pip3 installed on your computer, copy or download the following example to your computer, and run the following, replacing code.py with whatever you named the file:

python3 code.py

Example Code

# SPDX-FileCopyrightText: 2017 Scott Shawcroft, written for Adafruit Industries
# SPDX-FileCopyrightText: Copyright (c) 2021 Carter Nelson for Adafruit Industries
#
# SPDX-License-Identifier: Unlicense

# Simple demo of the VL53L1X distance sensor.
# Will print the sensed range/distance every second.

import time
import board
import adafruit_vl53l1x

i2c = board.I2C()  # uses board.SCL and board.SDA
# i2c = board.STEMMA_I2C()  # For using the built-in STEMMA QT connector on a microcontroller

vl53 = adafruit_vl53l1x.VL53L1X(i2c)

# OPTIONAL: can set non-default values
vl53.distance_mode = 1
vl53.timing_budget = 100

print("VL53L1X Simple Test.")
print("--------------------")
model_id, module_type, mask_rev = vl53.model_info
print("Model ID: 0x{:0X}".format(model_id))
print("Module Type: 0x{:0X}".format(module_type))
print("Mask Revision: 0x{:0X}".format(mask_rev))
print("Distance Mode: ", end="")
if vl53.distance_mode == 1:
    print("SHORT")
elif vl53.distance_mode == 2:
    print("LONG")
else:
    print("UNKNOWN")
print("Timing Budget: {}".format(vl53.timing_budget))
print("--------------------")

vl53.start_ranging()

while True:
    if vl53.data_ready:
        print("Distance: {} cm".format(vl53.distance))
        vl53.clear_interrupt()
        time.sleep(1.0)

If running CircuitPython: Once everything is saved to the CIRCUITPY drive, connect to the serial console to see the data printed out!

If running Python: The console output will appear wherever you are running Python.

Now try holding your hand in front of the sensor, and moving it closer and further away to see the values change!

First you import the necessary modules and libraries. Then you instantiate the sensor on I2C.

Then you're ready to read data from the sensor, including the initial information printed to the serial console.

Finally, inside the loop, you check the distance every second.

That's all there is to using the VL53L1X with CircuitPython!

Connecting Multiple Sensors

I2C only allows one address-per-device so you have to make sure each I2C device has a unique address. The default address for the VL53L1X is 0x29 but you can change this in software.

To set the new address, you need to use set_address. The good news is its easy to change, the annoying part is each other sensor has to be in shutdown. You can shutdown each sensor by wiring up to the XSHUT pin to a microcontroller pin.

The following example shows how to use set_address to change the address on additional sensors plugged into the same I2C bus. It sets the addresses, prints the addresses in use, and then displays the distance data to the serial console. It is written for two sensors, but is easily modifiable to accommodate more.

# SPDX-FileCopyrightText: 2022 wrdaigle for Adafruit Industries
# SPDX-FileCopyrightText: 2022 Kattni Rembor for Adafruit Industries
#
# SPDX-License-Identifier: MIT
"""
VL53L1X multiple sensor I2C set_address demo.

This example is written for two sensors, but it can easily be modified to include more.

NOTE: A multitude of sensors may require more current than the on-board 3V regulator can output.
The typical current consumption during active range readings is about 19 mA per sensor.
"""

import time
import board
import digitalio
import adafruit_vl53l1x

# Define the I2C pins.
i2c = board.I2C()  # uses board.SCL and board.SDA
# i2c = board.STEMMA_I2C()  # For using the built-in STEMMA QT connector on a microcontroller

xshut = [
    # Update the D6 and D5 pins to match the pins to which you wired your sensor XSHUT pins.
    digitalio.DigitalInOut(board.D6),
    digitalio.DigitalInOut(board.D5),
    # Add more VL53L1X sensors by defining their XSHUT pins here.
]

for shutdown_pin in xshut:
    # Set the shutdown pins to output, and pull them low.
    shutdown_pin.switch_to_output(value=False)
    # These pins are active when Low, meaning:
    #   If the output signal is LOW, then the VL53L1X sensor is off.
    #   If the output signal is HIGH, then the VL53L1X sensor is on.
# All VL53L1X sensors are now off.

# Create a list to be used for the array of VL53L1X sensors.
vl53l1x = []

# Change the address of the additional VL53L1X sensors.
for pin_number, shutdown_pin in enumerate(xshut):
    # Turn on the VL53L1X sensors to allow hardware check.
    shutdown_pin.value = True
    # Instantiate the VL53L1X I2C object and insert it into the vl53l1x list.
    # This also performs VL53L1X hardware check.
    sensor_i2c = adafruit_vl53l1x.VL53L1X(i2c)
    vl53l1x.append(sensor_i2c)
    # This ensures no address change on one sensor board, specifically the last one in the series.
    if pin_number < len(xshut) - 1:
        # The default address is 0x29. Update it to an address that is not already in use.
        sensor_i2c.set_address(pin_number + 0x30)

# Print the various sensor I2C addresses to the serial console.
if i2c.try_lock():
    print("Sensor I2C addresses:", [hex(x) for x in i2c.scan()])
    i2c.unlock()

# Start ranging for sensor data collection.
for sensor in vl53l1x:
    sensor.start_ranging()
while True:
    # Extract the appropriate data from the current list, and print
    # the sensor distance readings for all available sensors.
    for sensor_number, sensor in enumerate(vl53l1x):
        if sensor.data_ready:
            print("Sensor {}: {}".format(sensor_number + 1, sensor.distance))
            sensor.clear_interrupt()
    time.sleep(0.5)

That's all there is to setting the address of an additional sensor using CircuitPython!

This guide was first published on Oct 27, 2021. It was last updated on Apr 20, 2024.

This page (Python & CircuitPython) was last updated on Apr 20, 2024.

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