Raspberry Pi LESSON 29: Configuring GPIO Pins as Inputs

We are now ready to learn how to “read” values from the Raspberry Pi GPIO pins. In order to demonstrate this, we will show a simple example using buttons. If you ordered the Raspberry Pi kit we recommend, you already have everything you need, or you can pick your kit up HERE. To start with, you need to put together a simple circuit that connects two push buttons to your Raspberry Pi. Connect according to this schematic.

Raspberry Pi Buttons
Simple Circuit Connecting Two Push Buttons to the Raspberry Pi

Note that one leg of each button is connected to the ground rail on the breadboard, that is connected to the Pi ground at physical pin 6. Then we connect the left leg of the left button to physical pin 16, and the left leg of the right button to physical pin 12.

In order to read the state of these buttons, that is, whether they are being pressed or not, we need to write a python program. To begin with we must import GPIO library and specify that we want to

 Now we are ready to set the pin modes on the pins we are using. We are using pins 12 and 16. We will set up variables so that we can reference the pins by descriptive variables.

Note in our GPIO.setup commands, we are not just defining the pins as inputs, we are also activating pullup resistors with

With this command, the raspberry pi places a pullup resistor between the designated pin and the 3.3 V rail. This means that if we simply read the pin, we will read a “1”, “True”, or “High”, since the pin will see the rail through the pullup resistor. If we connect the pin to ground by pressing a button or switch, the pin will then read a “0”, “False” or “Low” because it will be a straight connection to ground, and as current flows through the pullup resistor, the 3.3 Volts will drop across the pullup resistor. Hence, the pin sees 0 volts.

The result is that with the pullup resistor activated, the pin will always report a “1” until something connects the pin to ground, and then it will read a “0”. This configuration should work for most things, but if you are getting unpredictable results which can result from electrical noise, then try using external pullup resistors.

 Now we are ready to read the values from the pins.

Notice that we read from the pin using the GPIO.input command. Also note that for reliable results you need to usually put a small delay in your code. This will help debounce the button, and will also give more stable results.

OK, so our final code is as follows:

This code will sit and monitor the buttons, and when one is pressed it will report that that button has been pressed.

5 thoughts on “Raspberry Pi LESSON 29: Configuring GPIO Pins as Inputs”

  1. Thanks for the all the lessons. Waiting for a pi zero for 4 pounds. ($5). Everywhere sold out.

    Two things Brits love about Texas, Paul’s lessons and Fast n loud. What about a robot that marks (grades in US?) students books, :~)

  2. Thanks, the lessons are great, have been following since lesson 1 and they have really helped.

  3. Thanks for the video.
    I am facing the problem can you please help me.
    I am using 8 channel relay with raspberry pi and programming in python. i want to read or sense the all 8 pins if they or low every 5 seconds and to print the output in .txt or .csv file. for one pin i have attached the code and it working fine but how i can expand to all 8 channels. please help me
    python code:

    import time
    from time import sleep # Allows us to call the sleep function to slow down our loop
    import RPi.GPIO as GPIO # Allows us to call our GPIO pins and names it just GPIO

    GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BCM) # Set’s GPIO pins to BCM GPIO numbering
    INPUT_PIN = 26 # Write GPIO pin number.
    GPIO.setup(INPUT_PIN, GPIO.IN) # Set our input pin to be an input
    # Start a loop that never ends
    while True:
    if (GPIO.input(INPUT_PIN) == True):
    # load is turned off.
    print (time.strftime (“%Y/%m/%d , %H:%M:%S”),”0″)
    #now 20 watt load is turned ON!.
    print(time.strftime (“%Y/%m/%d , %H:%M:%S”),”20″)
    sleep(10); # Sleep for 10 seconds.

    and i want to save all the data in a .csv or .txt file with time stamp at the start and other 8 columns for pins status that are connected with relay.
    my output should look like

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