Device tree overlay and support scripts for using most available hardware I/O on the BeagleBone without editing dts files or rebuilding the kernel
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Device tree overlay and support scripts for using most available hardware I/O on the BeagleBone without editing dts files or rebuilding the kernel.

This project is a series of four overlay files, designed to work with the BeagleBone Black:

  • cape-universal Exports all pins not used by HDMIN and eMMC (including audio)
  • cape-universaln Exports all pins not used by HDMI and eMMC (no audio pins are exported)
  • cape-unversalh Exports all pins not used by eMMC
  • cape-unversala Exports all pins
  • cape-univ-emmc Exports pins used by eMMC, load if eMMC is disabled
  • cape-univ-hdmi Exports pins used by HDMI video, load if HDMI is disabled
  • cape-univ-audio Exports pins used by HDMI audio


If using a 3.14 or newer kernel, make sure your device tree inclues the pinmux helper entries required for the pins you want to use. If you're using an RCN built kernel (if you don't know, you probably are), these should be present by default.

If using a 3.8.13 kernel with capemgr, load the overlay as usual

echo cape-universaln > /sys/devices/bone_capemgr.*/slots

At this point, the various devices are loaded and all gpio have been exported. All pins currently default to gpio inputs, with pull up or pull down resistors set the same as when the AM335x comes out of reset. This behavior may change, however. If the BeagleBone begins shipping with some I/O pins configured by default at boot, this overlay will likely change to match.

The provided config-pin utility is intended to assist with setting up the various pin modes and querying the current pin state.

# Configure a pin for a specific mode
config-pin P8.07 timer

# Configure a pin as gpio output and setting the state
config-pin P8.07 hi
config-pin P8.07 low

# Configure a pin as a gpio input
config-pin P8.07 in

# List the valid modes for a specific pin
config-pin -l P8.07

# Query the status of a pin (note the appropriate universal cape
# must be loaded for this to work)
config-pin -q P8.07

# Complete usage details
config-pin -h


You can find a Qt based graphical user interface for the beaglebone-universal-io here:


If you wish to setup the pins manually, or to know what is happening behind the curtain, keep reading.

To control the gpio pins, you may use the sysfs interface. Each exported gpio pin has an entry under /sys/class/gpio/gpioNN, where NN represents the kernel gpio number for that pin. If you have forgotten the BeagleBone pin to kernel gpio number mapping, you may refer to the list created for you in the status file of the device tree overlay:

root@arm:~# cat /sys/devices/ocp.*/cape-universal.*/status
 0 P9_92                    114 IN  0
 1 P9_42                      7 IN  0
 2 P9_91                    116 IN  0
 3 P9_41                     20 IN  0
 4 P9_31                    110 IN  0
 5 P9_30                    112 IN  0

Pin multiplexing is controled via files in /sys/devices/ocp.*/, where each exported I/O pin has a pinmux control directory. The directory is named using the actual BeagleBone pin header number, so P8_ or P9_ followed by the pin number, the suffix _pinmux, and an instance number (that is subject to change). So a typical full path to the pinmux control directory for P8 pin 7 might be:


However since the instance numbers are subject to change, you are advised to use shell wildcards for the instance values when referencing these paths:


Each pinmux directory contains a state file, which you can read to determine the current pinmux setting of the pin:

root@arm:~# cat /sys/devices/ocp.*/P8_07_pinmux.*/state

Or you can write to change the pinmux setting for the pin:

root@arm:~# echo timer > /sys/devices/ocp.*/P8_07_pinmux.*/state
root@arm:~# cat /sys/devices/ocp.*/P8_07_pinmux.*/state

Each pin has a default state and a gpio state. Currently the default state for all pins is gpio with pull-up/down resistor set to the reset default value, but this could change. If the BeagleBone begins shipping with a default I/O setup that enables some special functions, this overlay will likely change to match. Most pins have other functions available besides gpio, see the list below for valid settings.

For a list of valid pinmux states for each pin, use the config-pin utility:

config-pin -l <pin>

You will need to reference the AM335x data sheet and Technical Reference Manual from TI to determine how to setup pin multiplexing for the various special functions. I find the following reference quite helpful, particularly the spreadsheet file: