How to use native I2C on Linux (SMBUS2)

Related Config File Sections

MPF can control I2C devices on Linux using the Python smbus2 extension.

1. Install the smbus2 extension

Install smbus2 via pip:

pip3 install smbus2

2. Figure out which bus to use

  • Some boards such as the Raspberry Pi have native I2C buses. Figure out which bus to use and make sure MPF has sufficient permissions to use it (Alternatively, you can also controll the I2C on the RPi remotely using the RPi platform).
  • You can build an adapter to tap I2C out of a spare VGA, DVI or HDMI port:
  • Commercial USB-I2C adapters exist but are usually very expensive
  • You can build your own USB-I2C adapter. Hardware can be bought ready-made for less than 10 bucks.

3. Connect your hardware

Connect the hardware to the bus. This will be at least SDA, SCL and ground. Usually, you have to power your device somehow and in a lot of cases this power can be provided from the controller.

4. Set your I2C devices to use the “smbus2” platform

Next you need to configure I2C in MPF to use the smbus2 platform. By default, all types of devices are assumed to be using the same platform that you have set in the hardware: of your machine config file. So if your platform is set to fast, MPF assumes your I2C devices are connected to a FAST controller, and if your platform is set to p3_roc, MPF assumes your I2C devices are connected to the P3-Roc board.

To configure MPF to use native I2C, you can add an entry to the hardware: section of your machine config to tell it to override the default platform for your I2C devices and to instead use the smbus2 platform, like this:

    platform: p_roc
    driverboards: pdb
    i2c: smbus2

See the Mixing-and-Matching hardware platforms guide for more information about setting device-specific default platforms versus overriding the platform for individual devices.

5. Understanding I2C numbering

When using I2C addresses in I2C devices smbus2 will interpret those as bus-address. If you only provide an address it will use bus 0. On Linux bus 0 will ususally be /dev/i2c-0, 1 will be /dev/i2c-1 and so on.