How to Enable SPI on your Raspberry Pi

What is SPI?

SPI stands for Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI). It is made up of 4 wires normally and it was a standard designed by Motorola for use with their microcontrollers. SPI is easy to use and fast. The bus is fully duplex, meaning devices can transmit and receive data at the same time, and it is used for short distance, single master communication, for example in embedded systems, sensors e.g. DS1722, and SD cards. The SPI bus can operate with a single master device and with one or more slave devices. Here is what a standard SPI bus looks like, multiple slaves is optional. SPI is accessible via the GPIO connector on the Raspberry Pi board. The MISO and MOSI wires are located on pins GPIO 9 and GPIO 10 respectively. These pins operate as standard GPIO pins until their SPI functionality is enabled. How to Enable SPI on your Raspberry Pi

Loading SPI on the Raspberry Pi under Raspbian ‚Äúwheezy‚ÄĚ

At the moment, the Raspberry Pi only implements master mode¬†and has 2 chip-select pins, so it can only directly control 2 SPI devices/channels.¬†On many Raspberry Pi distributions, including Raspbian, the SPI and I2C device drivers are not loaded by default on boot. The raspi-blacklist.conf¬†file stored in the¬†‚Äė/etc/modprobe.d/‚Äô directory indicates which kernel modules must not be loaded. Since I2C and SPI, aren‚Äôt needed by most users, they need to be explicitly removed from that list by placing a ‚Äė#‚Äô mark (comment) in front of the ‚Äėblacklist‚Äô command.

  1. Edit and save ‚Äė/etc/modprobe.d/raspi-blacklist.conf‚Äô and make sure that the lines containing¬†blacklist spi-bcm2708 and blacklist i2c-bcm2708 are commented out.¬† You can do this by¬†making¬†sure there IS a # before blacklist spi-bcm2708, so it looks like this ‚Äst#blacklist spi-bcm2708.¬†Adding this ‚Äė#‚Äô prevents SPI from being disabled.

To gain access to SPI¬†devices, their kernel¬†device drivers must be loaded, either manually using the ‚Äėmodprobe‚Äô (module probe) command or on boot.¬†To load them on boot, edit and save the file named ‚Äė/etc/modules‚Äô as shown below¬†so it contains the following¬†lines (it may contain more lines):

  1. Finally, reboot the Raspberry Pi‚Äô with the ‚Äėreboot‚Äô command to get all the kernel module drivers loaded or use the modprobe command if you don‚Äôt want to reboot your Pi. Verify that all the kernel module drivers have been loaded as expected with the ‚Äėlsmod‚Äô (list module)¬†command.root@raspberrypi:/# lsmod
    i2c_bcm2708             3681  0
    spi_bcm2708             4401  0

How to Enable SPI on your Raspberry Pi schematic

Test the SPI Port

Test the SPI port is working by typing:

ls /dev/spidev*

You should see the following:

/dev/spidev0.0  /dev/spidev0.1

There are 2 spidev devices shown.  The first number refers to the SPI peripheral which in both cases is 0 (the RPi only has 1 SPI port), the second number represents the chip select pins CS0 and CS1.


For more detail: How to Enable SPI on your Raspberry Pi

About The Author

Ibrar Ayyub

I am an experienced technical writer holding a Master's degree in computer science from BZU Multan, Pakistan University. With a background spanning various industries, particularly in home automation and engineering, I have honed my skills in crafting clear and concise content. Proficient in leveraging infographics and diagrams, I strive to simplify complex concepts for readers. My strength lies in thorough research and presenting information in a structured and logical format.

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