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Using a Level Shifter With the Raspberry Pi

October 30, 2020

Using a Level Shifter With the Raspberry Pi

When working with circuitry, you should be aware of the logic voltage level of the components you are using. They should ideally fall within the same level so they can send and receive signals between one another effectively. For some projects, though, you may need to connect modules that do not all operate with the same binary voltage thresholds. When faced with this scenario, you may need to utilize a level shifter. We’ll go into detail about using a level shifter with the Raspberry Pi here to help you.

Level Shifters and Raspberry Pi

A level shifter is a circuit that looks like a small rectangle with several small points of connection, called pins, lined up on its top face. The pins are labeled LV and HV, and each has a number attached to the end. LV stands for low value, HV stands for high value, and the numbers indicate which channel the pins belong to. For example, LV1 and HV1 correspond to Channel 1. The high and low values are the two different binary signals that circuit devices use to communicate. High values are ones, and low values are zeros. There are also two GND (ground) pins that serve as the reference point when you measure voltage in the circuit, as they are set at zero volts.

The Raspberry Pi, which uses 3.3V logic levels, can serve as a signal converter that lets you connect your Pi with components that use 5V logic levels. It will both translate 5V inputs into 3.3V and translate 3.3V outputs into ones that are recognizable by 5V modules. With the level shifter, you won’t risk irreparably damaging your Pi through these exchanges.

Setting Up a Level Shifter Circuit

Using a level shifter with the Raspberry Pi requires that you know exactly where to connect multiple wires. You can look up a chart that labels what each of the numbered pins on the side of the Pi is for. You need to connect a GND pin on the level shifter with any GND on the Pi to complete the circuit and make a GND connection between the 5V component and the Pi. The LV pin on the level shifter without a number should link to Pin 1 on the Pi (or the other 3.3V pin, which is Pin 17 on the Pi 4). Meanwhile, the level shifter’s HV pin connects to Pin 2 (or the other 5V pin, which is Pin 4 on the Pi 4). There are usually two 3.3V and two 5V pins to choose from on the Pi.

Assuming you’re using only one channel, you should then wire the level shifter’s LV1 pin to any GPIO (general-purpose input/output) pin on the Pi. In this instance, the GPIO pin will act as an input. The matching HV1 pin must go to the output pin of the 5V device. Finally, you will connect the 5V module’s 5V pin with the free 5V pin on your Pi.

With this information, you’re ready to tackle some more complex wiring projects. Apply this knowledge and find the supplies you need for your makers’ electronics endeavors by visiting Chicago Electronic Distributors online. We are a premier DIY electronics store that stocks all the Raspberry Pi components that you need.




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