Introduction to the Raspberry Pi 

Lesson 17

Control an LED with GPIOZERO

You have an LED connected to GPIO4. How can you make it blink? I’ll show you in this chapter.
As you can probably guess, there are many ways to achieve the same result when it comes to programming and electronics. I will show you two ways to manipulate the LED.

The first one involves using a feature of the GPIO Zero library that you installed in an earlier lesson. Back then, you only used this library to print out a pin map on the console. But the library contains a lot of functionality, including simple functions to manipulate an LED.

Let’s try it out.

Login to your Raspberry Pi as the “pi” user. Then, invoke the CLI for Python 3:

[email protected]:~ $ python3
Python 3.7.3 (default, Dec 20 2019, 18:57:59)
[GCC 8.3.0] on linux
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.

Next, import the LED module from the gpiozero library:

>>> from gpiozero import LED

This gives you access to the specific functions that allow you to manipulate the state of an LED.
Before you can turn the LED on, you must define the GPIO to which it is connected. Remember you have connected the anode of the LED to GPIO4.

So, you will issue this command:

>>> led = LED(4)

What you just did is to create an LED object that is connected to GPIO4 and assigned it to the “led” variable.

Now, you can call the “on()” and “off()” functions on this object to turn it on and off.

Try this:

>>> led.on()

Did your LED turn on? It should look like this:

My LED, on.

Can you turn it off?



Here’s the complete CLI session:

[email protected]:~ $ python3
Python 3.7.3 (default, Dec 20 2019, 18:57:59)
[GCC 8.3.0] on linux
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> from gpiozero import LED
>>> led = LED(4)
>>> led.on()
>>> exit()

You can also achieve the same thing by writing a small Python program and executing it with the Python3 interpreter.

Create a new text file with Vim, and call it “”. Type this code in the buffer:

from gpiozero import LED
from time import sleep

led = LED(4)

while True:

Your Vim should look like this:

This program will blink an LED on and off in 1 second intervals.

Save your program and exit Vim (“:wq”).

Now, execute it like this:

$ python3

Your LED will blink on and off.

In the code for this program, we imported the “time” Python module because it contains the “sleep” function. The “sleep” function is useful when you want to delay the execution of a program for a while. In our case, we used it to keep the LED on or off for 1 second. Feel free to replace “1” with another number if you want to create a different delay.

To end the program, use this keyboard shortcut: Ctr-C.

"Raspberry Pi Getting Started" series

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  • ​The Linux operating system and the command line, 
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