Heinrich Hartmann

Raspberry Pi Sunfounder Gpio Layout

Written on 2014-11-22

I have recently bought a Raspberry Pi together with a SunFounder LCD Starter Kit in order to do some experiments. Of special interest are the GPIO pins that enable communication with electroinc components like LEDs, buttons, all kinds of sensors and even simple LED screens.

These pins can be addressed from a python program using a simple syntax. An example is provided here:

import RPi.GPIO as GPIO  ## Import GPIO library
GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BOARD) ## Use board pin numbering
GPIO.setup(7, GPIO.OUT)  ## Setup GPIO Pin 7 to OUT
GPIO.output(7,True)      ## Turn on GPIO pin 7

This will turn on GPIO pin no. 7. But which one is it? It turns out this question is surprisingly hard to anwser. There are several subtilities in the pin referencing:

  1. There are two different referencing schemes: BCM and BOARD
  2. The BCM reference schemes differes for different Raspberry Pi versions
  3. The SunFounder extension board (see below) mixes up the pins again and is neither consistent with BCM nor with BOARD referencing.

As you might imagine, this is more than enough complexity to cause a lot of errors. In this note I am going to explain how to get a thorough grip on the referencing scheme.

Setup a LED Probe

Grab a 3.3V LED, a 1K OHM resistor and some wires and connect them like described in this document here. The top right pin of the Raspberry Pi board is always connected to 3.3V. The lower right pin is always connected to the ground. The connected LED is shown below:

LED Probe
Figure 1: LED Probe [JPG]

Once you have completed this setup, you can disconnect the wire from the ground pin (white wire) and use the free wire as a probe.

Now we want to identify pin “No 7” in the above example. By probing along the with our white wire we find several pins that are also connected to a ground (LED on) or a potential of 3.3V or 5V (LED off). But which on is the right one?

To simplify this task, we can set pin “No 7” to an alternating signal. The following script does the trick:

sudo python blink.py BOARD 7

Now we can find the correct pin by watching out for a blinking LED. (Solution: 4th pin counting from the black wire downwards.)

In a similar fashing we can go on and find all pin references in the BOARD and BCM schemes. The full table for my RPi looks like that:

3.3V (1) 2 5V
2 3 4 5V
3 5 (6) GND
4 7 8 14
GND (9) 10 15
17 11 12 18
27 13 (14) GND
22 15 16 23
3.3V (17) 18 24
10 19 (20) GND
9 21 22 25
11 23 24 8
GND (25) 26 7

The numbers in parantheses correspond to pins, that are not available via the GPIO api but have a special meaning. E.g. the pins 1 and 25 used in the above examples are always wired to 3.3V and ground (GND).

Meltwaters GPIO Layout Script

Thankfully, you do not have to repeat this exercise above for your every RPi again. Meltwaters has published a script that finds the precise Raspberry Pi version and prints out the BCM pin layount on the console.

The script can be used as follows:

curl http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=T43HpgYp > iolayout.py
less iolayout.py

Check carefully, that you downloaded the right code. Then run as root:

sudo python iolayout.py

You should see an output that resembles the above tables but might differ slightly.

Monks Raspberry Pi leaf

If you want to make sure you do remember the BCM labeling of the pins, you can us the following brilliant “Raspberry PI leaf” by Dr. Monk:

Rasperry PI IO Leaf
Figure 2: Rasperry PI IO Leaf [JPG]

It can be obtained here make sure to downlaod the right one by comparing with the output of iolayout.py.

SunFounder Extension Board Referencing

The SunFounder starter kit comes with an ribbon-cable and an extension board that grately simplifys access to the pins.

GPIO Extension Board
Figure 3: GPIO Extension Board [JPG]

Surprisingly the lables on the SunFounder extension board do not match the BCM, nor the BOARD referencing scheme. Manuall checking with the LED Probe reveals the following table:

7 26 CE1 P0 11 17
8 24 CE0 P1 12 18
11 23 SCLK P2 13 27
9 21 MSOP P3 15 22
10 19 MOSP P4 16 23
15 10 RXD P5 18 24
14 8 TXD P6 22 25
3 5 SCL P7 7 4
2 3 SDA GND - -

The wiring of the LED probe on the extension board is much easier to handle, and with the above table the pin referencing can easily be translated to the SunFounder extension board labels.

LED on extension board
Figure 4: LED on extension board [JPG]

Further Reading