Right now, Blinka only supports the Jetson Nano Dev Kit (because that's the only board we've got for testing).
Be sure to use the very latest Jetson Nano Dev Kit image because earlier versions required you to re-flash the board to enable SPI.

Install Jetson Nano Developer Kit on your Jetson Nano

We decided to try getting Blinka running in the Jetson Nano Developer Kit because that's the recommended installation available for the Jetson Nano. Other distros could be made to work but you'd probably need to figure out how to detect the platform. Using other operating systems and CircuitPython is your call, we cannot provide support for that.

Due to the size of the Dev Kit Image, you will need at least a minimum of a 16GB SD card.

Download and install the latest Jetson Nano Developer Kit, for example we're using https://developer.nvidia.com/embedded/learn/get-started-jetson-nano-devkit#write

There's some documentation to get started at https://developer.nvidia.com/embedded/learn/get-started-jetson-nano-devkit

Blinka only supports the Jetson Nano Developer Kit on the Jetson Nano because that's the recommended OS we could find and it's easy to detect which board you have

Preparing the Board

A monitor and keyboard are required to set this board up. A mouse is helpful too.

Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo - One USB Port!

Add a good quality, slim chiclet keyboard as well as an optical mouse to your Raspberry Pi, Beagle Bone Black or other mini-computer with this wireless combo set. Best of all,...

After you burn the image to the SD card, you'll need to install it into the Nano. The card slot is located on the underside of the large heatsink.

Connect a monitor (HDMI or DisplayPort), USB mouse, and keyboard to continue. An End User License Agreement will need to be accepted before you can continue.

As you go through the configuration wizard, take note of the fields your name and your computer's name. These will be your username and hostname for connecting by SSH.

Logging in

Once you have completed the wizard, you can either continue using that, connect a serial console cable, or log in through SSH. We've found the easiest way to connect is through a console cable, wired to the J44 connector and then on your computer, use a serial monitor at 115200 baud.

You can also connect via SSH using either the command prompt on a Mac of Linux computer or using a terminal program such as PuTTY on windows. In either case, you will need your username and hostname from earlier in the setup wizard.

USB to TTL Serial Cable - Debug / Console Cable for Raspberry Pi

The cable is easiest way ever to connect to your microcontroller/Raspberry Pi/WiFi router serial console port. Inside the big USB plug is a USB<->Serial conversion chip and at...

Connect the RX, TX and ground wires of the console cable like so:

Once powered correctly and with the right SD card you should get a command prompt as the username you selected in the configuration wizard. You may need to press enter if it appears to stop.

Log in to get to a shell

Set your Python install to Python 3 Default

There's a few ways to do this, we recommend something like this:

  • sudo apt install -y python3 git python3-pip
  • sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/python python /usr/bin/python2.7 1
  • sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/python python /usr/bin/python3.6 2
  • sudo update-alternatives --config python

Of course, change the version numbers if a newer version of Python is distributed.

Update Your Board and Python

Run the standard updates:

sudo apt update

sudo apt upgrade


sudo pip3 install --upgrade setuptools

Update all your Python 3 packages with

pip3 freeze - local | grep -v '^\-e' | cut -d = -f 1 | xargs -n1 pip3 install -U


sudo bash

pip3 freeze - local | grep -v '^\-e' | cut -d = -f 1 | xargs -n1 pip3 install -U

Nano (no relationship to the board), which is very handy for quickly editing python scripts, isn't installed by default. So let's add that:

sudo apt install nano

Enable UART, I2C and SPI

A vast number of our CircuitPython drivers use UART, I2C and SPI for interfacing, so you'll want to get those enabled.

I2C and UART are enabled by default, so you don't need to take any additional steps.

To enable SPI, you will need to run the Jetson-IO utility. Be sure your terminal window is expanded first, or it may not display the full utility:

sudo /opt/nvidia/jetson-io/jetson-io.py

Select Configure 40-pin expansion header at the bottom.

Select spi1 (19, 21, 23, 24, 26) and then select Back

Finally select Save and reboot to reconfigure pins. This will create a config file and reboot the Jetson Nano.

After the Nano boots up again, verify you have the I2C devices with the command ls /dev/i2c* /dev/spi*

You should see at least one I2C device and one SPI device

You can test to see what I2C addresses are connected by running sudo i2cdetect -r -y 0(on pins 27/28) or sudo i2cdetect -r -y 1 (on pins 3/5)

In this case I do have a sensor on the 'standard' i2c port i2c-1 under address 0x77

The UART Serial Console on the Jetson Nano is connected to /dev/ttyS0. The UART GPIO Serial Port is connected to /dev/ttyTHS1.

Set User Permissions

In order to use the Jetson GPIO Library, the correct user permissions/groups must be set first. Start by creating a new gpio user group.

sudo groupadd -f -r gpio
sudo usermod -a -G gpio pi

Clone the Repo and copy the rules

cd ~
git clone https://github.com/NVIDIA/jetson-gpio.git
sudo cp ~/jetson-gpio/lib/python/Jetson/GPIO/99-gpio.rules /etc/udev/rules.d

Now reboot so that the new rules take place.

Install Python Libraries

Now you're ready to install all the Python support.

Next, run the following command to install adafruit_blinka:

pip3 install adafruit-blinka

The computer will install a few different libraries such as Adafruit-PureIO (our ioctl-only i2c library),  Jetson.GPIO (for handling GPIO), Adafruit-PlatformDetect (for detecting your board) and of course adafruit-blinka.

That's pretty much it! You're now ready to test.

Create a new file called blinkatest.py with nano or your favorite text editor and put the following in:

Download: file
import board
import digitalio
import busio

print("Hello blinka!")

# Try to great a Digital input
pin = digitalio.DigitalInOut(board.D4)
print("Digital IO ok!")

# Try to create an I2C device
i2c = busio.I2C(board.SCL, board.SDA)
print("I2C 1 ok!")
i2c = busio.I2C(board.SCL_1, board.SDA_1)
print("I2C 2 ok!")


Save it and run at the command line with

python3 blinkatest.py

You should see the following, indicating digital i/o, I2C and SPI all worked

This guide was first published on Sep 10, 2019. It was last updated on Sep 10, 2019.
This page (Initial Setup) was last updated on Oct 19, 2020.