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Nick Lowery
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rpi_gpio v0.3.3

Ruby conversion of RPi.GPIO Python module


Manipulate your Raspberry Pi's GPIO pins from Ruby!

  • Boolean input/output
  • Software-driven PWM (written in C for speed)

Up-to-date with RPi.GPIO Python module version 0.6.3, so it works on all Raspberry Pi models!

Sample Usage

I aimed to make the gem's usage exactly the same as its Python counterpart -- only with a few semantic differences to utilize Ruby's readability. If anything is confusing, you can always check here for the original Python module's documentation.

Download the gem

The easiest way to download the gem is to use Bundler with a Gemfile. In your Gemfile, include the line

gem 'rpi_gpio'

Then you can run bundle install to automatically download and compile the gem for your system. To include the gem in a Ruby file, use the line require 'rpi_gpio'.

Pin numbering

Before you can do anything with the GPIO pins, you need to specify how you want to number them.

RPi::GPIO.set_numbering :board
# or
RPi::GPIO.set_numbering :bcm

:board numbering refers to the physical pin numbers on the Pi, whereas :bcm numbering refers to the Broadcom SOC channel numbering. Note that :bcm numbering differs between Pi models, while :board numbering does not.


To receive input from a GPIO pin, you must first initialize it as an input pin:

RPi::GPIO.setup PIN_NUM, :as => :input

The pin number will differ based on your selected numbering system and which pin you want to use.

Now you can use the calls


to receive either true or false.

You can use the additional hash argument :pull to apply a pull-up or pull-down resistor to the input pin like so:

RPi::GPIO.setup PIN_NUM, :as => :input, :pull => :down
# or
RPi::GPIO.setup PIN_NUM, :as => :input, :pull => :up
# or (not necessary; :off is the default value)
RPi::GPIO.setup PIN_NUM, :as => :input, :pull => :off


To send output to a GPIO pin, you must first initialize it as an output pin:

RPi::GPIO.setup PIN_NUM, :as => :output

Now you can use the calls

RPi::GPIO.set_high PIN_NUM
RPi::GPIO.set_low PIN_NUM

to set the pin either high or low.

You can use the additional hash argument :initialize to set the pin's initial state like so:

RPi::GPIO.setup PIN_NUM, :as => :output, :initialize => :high
# or
RPi::GPIO.setup PIN_NUM, :as => :output, :initialize => :low

PWM (pulse-width modulation)

Pulse-width modulation is a useful tool for controlling things like LED brightness or motor speed. To utilize PWM, first create a PWM object for an output pin.


The PWM_FREQ is a value in hertz that specifies the amount of pulse cycles per second.

Now you can call the following method to start PWM:

pwm.start DUTY_CYCLE

DUTY_CYCLE is a value from 0.0 to 100.0 indicating the percent of the time that the signal will be high.

Once running, you can get/set the PWM duty cycle with

pwm.duty_cycle # get
pwm.duty_cycle = NEW_DUTY_CYCLE # set

get/set the PWM frequency with

pwm.frequency # get
pwm.frequency = NEW_FREQUENCY # set

and get the PWM GPIO number with


Note that this number corresponds to :bcm numbering of the GPIO pins, so it will be different than pin number you used if you created the PWM with :board numbering.

To stop PWM, use


To check if a PWM object is currently running, use


Cleaning up

After your program is finished using the GPIO pins, it's a good idea to release them so other programs can use them later. Simply call

RPi::GPIO.clean_up PIN_NUM

to release a specific pin, or


to release all allocated pins.

Alternatively, you can call


to clean up all pins and to also reset the selected numbering mode.


Original Python code by Ben Croston modified for Ruby by Nick Lowery

Copyright (c) 2014-2015 Nick Lowery

View LICENSE for full license.