I2C Sensors & Devices

The most popular electronic sensors use I2C to communicate. This is a 'shared bus' 2 wire protocol, you can have multiple sensors connected to the two SDA and SCL pins as long as they have unique addresses (check this guide for a list of many popular devices and their addresses)

Lets show how to wire up a popular BME280. This sensor provides temperature, barometric pressure and humidity data over I2C

We're going to do this in a lot more depth than our guide pages for each sensor, but the overall technique is basically identical for any and all I2C sensors.

Honestly, the hardest part of using I2C devices is figuring out the I2C address and which pin is SDA and which pin is SCL!

Don't forget you have to enable I2C overlay

Parts Used

Adafruit BME280 I2C or SPI Temperature Humidity Pressure Sensor

PRODUCT ID: 2652
Bosch has stepped up their game with their new BME280 sensor, an environmental sensor with temperature, barometric pressure and humidity! This sensor is great for all sorts...
$19.95
IN STOCK

We recommend using a breadboard and some female-male wires.

Premium Female/Male 'Extension' Jumper Wires - 40 x 6" (150mm)

PRODUCT ID: 826
Handy for making wire harnesses or jumpering between headers on PCB's. These premium jumper wires are 6" (150mm) long and come in a 'strip' of 40 (4 pieces of each of ten rainbow...
$3.95
IN STOCK

You can use a Cobbler to make this a little easier, the pins are then labeled!

Adafruit Pi Cobbler + Kit- Breakout Cable for Pi B+/A+/Pi 2/Pi 3

PRODUCT ID: 1990
The Raspberry Pi B+ has landed on the Maker World like a 40-GPIO pinned, quad-USB ported, credit card sized bomb of DIY joy. And while you can use most of our great Model B accessories...
OUT OF STOCK

Assembled Pi T-Cobbler Plus - GPIO Breakout

PRODUCT ID: 2028
This is the assembled version of the Pi T-Cobbler Plus.  It only works with the Raspberry Pi Model Zero, A+, B+, Pi 2,Pi 3! (Any Pi with 2x20 connector)
$7.95
IN STOCK

Wiring

  • Connect the Orange Pi 3.3V power pin to Vin
  • Connect the Orange Pi GND pin to GND
  • Connect the Pi SDA pin to the BME280 SDI
  • Connect the Pi SCL pin to to the BME280 SCK
There's no Orange Pi PC Fritzing object so we're showing Raspberry Pi which has the same pinout

Double-check you have the right wires connected to the right location, it can be tough to keep track of Pi pins as there are forty of them!

After wiring, we recommend running I2C detection with sudo i2cdetect -y 0 to verify that you see the device, in this case its address 77

Install the CircuitPython BME280 Library

OK onto the good stuff, you can now install the Adafruit BME280 CircuitPython library.

As of this writing, not all libraries are up on PyPI so you may want to search before trying to install. Look for circuitpython and then the driver you want.

Once you know the name, install it with

pip3 install adafruit-circuitpython-bme280

You'll notice we also installed a dependancy called adafruit-circuitpython-busdevice. This is a great thing about pip, if you have other required libraries they'll get installed too!

We also recommend an adafruit-blinka update in case we've fixed bugs:

pip3 install --upgrade adafruit_blinka

Run that code!

The finish line is right up ahead. You can now run one of the (many in some cases) example scripts we've written for you.

Check out the examples for your library by visiting the repository for the library and looking in the example folder. In this case, it would be https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit_CircuitPython_BME280/tree/master/examples

As of this writing there's only one example. But that's cool, here it is:

import time

import board
import busio
import adafruit_bme280

# Create library object using our Bus I2C port
i2c = busio.I2C(board.SCL, board.SDA)
bme280 = adafruit_bme280.Adafruit_BME280_I2C(i2c)

# OR create library object using our Bus SPI port
#spi = busio.SPI(board.SCK, board.MOSI, board.MISO)
#bme_cs = digitalio.DigitalInOut(board.D10)
#bme280 = adafruit_bme280.Adafruit_BME280_SPI(spi, bme_cs)

# change this to match the location's pressure (hPa) at sea level
bme280.sea_level_pressure = 1013.25

while True:
    print("\nTemperature: %0.1f C" % bme280.temperature)
    print("Humidity: %0.1f %%" % bme280.humidity)
    print("Pressure: %0.1f hPa" % bme280.pressure)
    print("Altitude = %0.2f meters" % bme280.altitude)
    time.sleep(2)

Save this code to your Pi by copying and pasting it into a text file, downloading it directly from the Pi, etc.

Then in your command line run

python3 bme280_simpletest.py

The code will loop with the sensor data until you quit with a Control-C

That's it! Now if you want to read the documentation on the library, what each function does in depth, visit our readthedocs documentation at

https://circuitpython.readthedocs.io/projects/bme280/en/latest/

This guide was first published on Dec 02, 2018. It was last updated on Dec 02, 2018. This page (I2C Sensors & Devices) was last updated on Jul 24, 2019.