Arduino peripherals guide series

How to find your device I2C address

How do you find out the address of an I2C device that is poorly documented?

The I2C bus is shared so that a single data line can deliver communications between a single master (like an Arduino) and several slave devices (like LCD screens and real-time clocks).

How to find the I2C address of a device

So, how do you know which address belongs to a device, especially since in most cases, the manufacturer will not tell you?

The easiest way is to use an I2C address scanner.

The scanner is a small sketch that you can upload on your Arduino.

Connect the device you want to probe to the Arduino (preferably without connecting other I2C devices at the same time), and run the sketch.

The scanner will cycle through all possible I2C addresses, and once it receives a response from the device, it will inform you of the address that worked. 

Then, repeat the process for other I2C devices. 

How to deal with I2C address conflict

What if there is a conflict? What if you have two devices that "listen" on the same address?

In that case, you must select an alternate address for one of the devices.

Let's take, for example, the common parallel to I2C LCD adapter. In most cases, it has a default address of 0x27. You can choose to change this address to something else.

An I2C LCD display adaptor. The red circle shows the position of the I2C address configuration pads.

On this board, there are three pairs of pads, titled A0, A1, and A2.

You can change the address by creating shorts between these pads with a soldering iron and some solder.

If there is no documentation to tell you which short combination creates which address, then repeat the probing process I described at the start of this email to determine the new I2C of the device.

Many I2C devices offer a similar method of configuring an alternate address. While solder pads are most common, you can also find versions that use jumpers or switches.

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