CircuitPython

The examples in this guide are no longer supported. Check out this OLED guide for CircuitPython usage: https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-oled-featherwing/python-circuitpython

Adafruit CircuitPython Module Install

To use the SSD1306 with your Adafruit CircuitPython board you'll need to install the Adafruit_CircuitPython_SSD1306 module on your board.

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

Bundle Install

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_ssd1306
  • adafruit_bus_device
  • adafruit_register

If your board supports USB mass storage, like the M0-based boards, then simply drag the files to the board's file system.

If your board doesn't support USB mass storage, like the ESP8266, then use a tool like ampy to copy the file to the board. You can use the latest version of ampy and its new directory copy command to easily move module directories to the board.

Furthermore, CircuitPython for smaller M0 boards like the Trinket and Gemma do not have the framebuf module built in to save flash space. So, please download and install the pure Python implementation of framebuf and copy it to lib folder of the board as well. You do not need to do this for Express CircuitPython boards (they have enough space for framebuf!)

Before continuing make sure your board's lib folder or root filesystem has at least the adafruit_ssd1306adafruit_bus_deviceadafruit_register, and if necessary framebuf folders/modules copied over.

Usage

The following section will show how to control the LED backpack from the board's Python prompt / REPL.  You'll walk through how to control the LED display and learn how to use the CircuitPython module built for the display.

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

I2C Initialization

If your display is connected to the board using I2C (like if using a Feather and the FeatherWing OLED) you'll first need to initialize the I2C bus.  First import the necessary modules:

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import board
import busio as io

Note if you're using the ESP8266 or other boards which do not support hardware I2C you need to import from the bitbangio module instead of busio:

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import board
import bitbangio as io

Now for either board run this command to create the I2C instance using the default SCL and SDA pins (which will be marked on the boards pins if using a Feather or similar Adafruit board):

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i2c = io.I2C(board.SCL, board.SDA)

After initializing the I2C interface for your firmware as described above you can create an instance of the SSD1306 I2C driver by running:

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import adafruit_ssd1306
oled = adafruit_ssd1306.SSD1306_I2C(128, 32, i2c)

Note that the first two parameters to the SSD1306_I2C class initializer are the width and height of the display in pixels.  Be sure to use the right values for the display you're using!

128 x 64 size OLEDs (or changing the I2C address)

If you are using a 128x64 display, the I2C address is probably different (0x3d), unless you've changed it by soldering some jumpers:

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oled = adafruit_ssd1306.SSD1306_I2C(128, 64, i2c, addr=0x3d)

Adding hardware reset pin

If you have a reset pin (which may be required if your OLED does not have an auto-reset chip like the FeatherWing) also pass in a reset pin like so:

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from digitalio import DigitalInOut

reset_pin = DigitalInOut(board.D5) # any pin!
oled = adafruit_ssd1306.SSD1306_I2C(128, 32, i2c, reset=reset_pin)

At this point your I2C bus and display are initialized, skip down to the drawing section.

SPI Initialization

If your display is connected to the board using SPI you'll first need to initialize the SPI bus. Run the following commands:

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import adafruit_ssd1306
import board
import busio
from digitalio import DigitalInOut

spi = busio.SPI(board.CLK, MOSI=board.MOSI, MISO=board.MISO)
dc_pin = DigitalInOut(board.D5)    # any pin!
reset_pin = DigitalInOut(board.D6) # any pin!
cs_pin = DigitalInOut(board.D9)    # any pin!

oled = adafruit_ssd1306.SSD1306_SPI(128, 32, spi, dc_pin, reset_pin, cs_pin)

Note the first two parameters to the SSD1306_SPI class initializer are the width and height of the display in pixels.  Be sure to use the right values for the display you're using!

The next parameters to the initializer are the pins connected to the display's DCreset, and CS lines in that order.  Again make sure to use the right pin names as you have wired up to your board!

Drawing

The SSD1306 module currently supports a basic set of commands to draw on the display.  You can set individual pixels, fill the screen, and write lines of text.  There aren't yet more advanced functions like line drawing, etc. but check the module GitHub repository for future releases which might include more functions.

To fill or clear the entire screen use the fill function.  This function takes a parameter which specifies the color to fill with, either 0 for black or 1 for white.  For example to fill the screen white:

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oled.fill(1)
oled.show()

Notice the fill function doesn't actually change the display.  You must call show after making drawing commands to send the updated pixel data to the display!

To clear the screen to black just call fill again but with the color 0:

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oled.fill(0)
oled.show()

To set a pixel use the pixel function.  This function takes the following parameters:

  • Pixel X position
  • Pixel Y position
  • Pixel color (0 = black, 1 = white)

For example to set the first pixel white:

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oled.pixel(0, 0, 1)
oled.show()

Try setting other pixels white by changing the X and Y position.  Remember you have to call show after setting pixels to see them appear!

You can write a line of text with the text function.  This function takes the following parameters:

  • String of text
  • Text X position
  • Text Y position
  • Optional text color (0 = black, 1 = white, the default)

For example to clear the screen and then write two lines of text:

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oled.fill(0)
oled.text('Hello', 0, 0)
oled.text('World', 0, 10)
oled.show()

Note that not all boards support built-in text rendering.  In particular the non-express boards like Gemma and Trinket M0 don't have the memory to build in text drawing.  You can however on those boards load a separate Python text drawing library to draw text.  See the Drawing Text guide!

Notice the second line of text starts at Y position 10, this moves it down the display 10 pixels so it's below the first line of text.  The font used by the text function is 8 pixels tall so a size of 10 gives a bit of room between the lines.

Finally you can invert the display colors with the invert function:

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oled.invert(True)

Note that the invert function doesn't need to have show called after it to see the change.

To go back to a non-inverted display run:

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oled.invert(False)

That's all there is to drawing on the SSD1306 OLED display with CircuitPython!  The drawing functions are basic but provide building blocks for more advanced usage.  For example you can display text with sensor readings or other state, or even program a simple game like pong!

You can find more drawing functions for basic shapes and text by following these guides (which work with both CircuitPython and MicroPython):

This guide was first published on Oct 21, 2016. It was last updated on Oct 21, 2016. This page (CircuitPython) was last updated on Nov 21, 2019.