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Python interface to the Raspberry Pi PiFace board

Project Description

This package provides a Python interface to the [PiFace Digital][pifaceboard]
peripheral I/O board for the [Raspberry Pi][rpi].
A [PiFace Digital][pifaceboard] board offers 8 digital inputs and 8
digital outputs. This package allows a Python program to read the inputs
and write the outputs on the board via the Raspberry Pi SPI bus.

The newer [PiFace Digital 2][pifaceboard2] board is exactly compatible
with the original board and so is also supported by this package.

Multiple [PiFace Digital][pifaceboard] boards are supported, on either
or both of the RPi SPI bus chip selects. This pifaceio package is
focussed on simplicity and performance for polled implementations and is
an alternative to the [pifacedigitalio][] and [piface][] (now
depreciated) Python packages for the [PiFace Digital][pifaceboard]
board. In my simple polled read and write benchmarks, pifaceio performs
significantly faster and with much less overhead than

Interrupts are not supported. See [pifacedigitalio][] for interrupt and
other functionality.

The pifaceio package is implemented in pure Python code using only the
Python standard library, uses no external 3rd party packages, and is
compatible with Python versions 2 and 3.


Install necessary packages on your Raspberry Pi for build etc:

sudo apt-get install git python-setuptools

Get this package:

git clone

Install (can alternately do this as ordinary user in a virtualenv
of course):

sudo python ./ install

To set up permissions/groups/udev etc for spidev device on RPi, run the
following included script and then reboot.

sudo ./

Note that the [pifaceio pypi package][pifaceio] is also available from
[PyPi][pypi] so alternatively you can install it using [pip][] (with or
without a [virtualenv][]).


Board addresses, input pins, and output pins are always numbered from 0.

In general, you start with a once-off allocation of a PiFace board
instance at startup with:

pf = pifaceio.PiFace()

Default is first PiFace board (0). Optionally takes an argument 0 to 7
for up to 8 PiFace board addresses. Create multiple PiFace() instances
if you want to use multiple boards in parallel.

There are also other (rarely needed) options to disable the input pull
up resistors, and to invert the input and output bit polarities. See for details.

At each poll time, e.g. every part second, read all the inputs (i.e. the
single input byte) with: # returns the input byte you can use directly if you prefer

Then read and write individual pins according to your logic with:

in_val = pf.read_pin(pin_in)
pf.write_pin(pin_out, out_val)

Finally, write all the outputs at the end of processing (i.e. write the
single output byte) with:

pf.write() # optionally, takes an output byte to write directly

Note that `read_pin()` is just a convenience method wrapping a bit
test around the previously read input byte from `read()` and
`write_pin()` is just a convenience method wrapping a bit set/clear
around the output byte pending it being written by `write()`. You don't
have to use `read_pin()` or `write_pin()` if you just want to read,
test/manipulate, and write the 8 bit input and/or output byte directly.
In that case you would just use `read()`, and `write()` only in your


Simple example to just reflect all PiFace 8 inputs to the 8 outputs
every 10 msec, on the default first PiFace board:

import pifaceio, time
pf = pifaceio.PiFace()

while True:

Same example, but do it across 4 PiFace boards:

import pifaceio, time
pifaces = [pifaceio.PiFace(n) for n in range(4)]

while True:
for pf in pifaces:

Simple example to test if both input pin 0 and 1 are on at same time,
and then set output pin 7 if true:

import pifaceio
pf = pifaceio.PiFace()
# Fetch inputs (i.e. single byte)
first_two_inputs_on = pf.read_pin(0) and pf.read_pin(1)

# Now write that state to output pin 7
pf.write_pin(7, first_two_inputs_on)

# Do final (actual) write when all output pin states are set.

Simulated "interrupt" processing example by light-weight poll every 10 msecs:

import pifaceio, time
pf = pifaceio.PiFace()

def process_change():
'On any changed inputs, read inputs and write outputs'
pf.write_pin(7, pf.read_pin(0) and pf.read_pin(1))

# .. etc .. do logic using pf.read_pin() and pf.write_pin()

# Loop forever polling inputs ..
last = None
while True:
data =

# Do processing only on change
if last != data:
last = data
pf.write() # note write() only writes if output changes



The following [piface][] API will work compatibly, but performance is
slightly degraded compared to reading and writing the single input and
output bytes using the canonical new pifaceio API described above.

#import piface.pfio as pf (change this to next line)
import pifaceio as pf

# The following calls should be approximately compatible:
value = pf.digital_read(pin)
pf.digital_write(pin, value)

You can also use multiple boards with this compatibility interface, e.g.
as follows where board can be from 0 to 7.

value = pf.digital_read(pin, board)
pf.digital_write(pin, value, board)


cd pifaceio # source dir, as above
git pull
sudo python ./ install


Copyright (C) 2013 Mark Blakeney. This program is distributed under the
terms of the GNU General Public License.
This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it
under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the
Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or any later
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but
WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
Public License at <> for more details.


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