SparkFun Block for Intel® Edison - GPIO

The Intel® Edison is an ultra small computing platform that will change the way you look at embedded electronics. Each Edison is packed with a huge amount of tech goodies into a tiny package while still providing the same robust strength of your go-to single board computer. Powered by the Intel® Atom™ SoC dual-core CPU and including an integrated WiFi, Bluetooth LE, and a 70-pin connector to attach a veritable slew of shield-like "Blocks" which can be stacked on top of each other. It's no wonder how this little guy is lowering the barrier of entry on the world of electronics!

The GPIO Block is a simple breakout board to bring the GPIO from the Intel® Edison to the user. Bread board friendly, the GPIO Block provides access to all basic GPIO, PWM, and UART2 pins. All GPIO is level shifted to a selectable 3.3v or VSYS. The GPIO add-on also provides access to all three power rails found on the Intel® Edison. 3.3v, 1.8v, VSYS, and GND are accessible for bread board prototyping. Note: Since the level shifting is accomplished through a auto direction sensing translator, driving high current components (Such as Relays, Motors, and high power LED’s) will require an external switch. See the Hookup Guide to learn more.

If you are looking to add a little more stability to your Intel® Edison stack, check out this Hardware Pack. It will provide you with increased mechanical strength for stacking Blocks on your Edison!

SparkFun Block for Intel® Edison - GPIO Product Help and Resources

General Guide to SparkFun Blocks for Intel® Edison

January 5, 2015

A general guide for using SparkFun Blocks for Intel® Edison in your next project!

Installing libmraa on Ubilinux for Edison

January 5, 2015

libmraa is a tool kit for interacting with various Intel single board computers.

Loading Debian (Ubilinux) on the Edison

December 5, 2014

How to load a Debian distribution (specifically Ubilinux) onto the Edison.

Programming the Intel® Edison: Beyond the Arduino IDE

January 7, 2015

Intel's Edison module goes beyond being just another Arduino clone. Check this tutorial for advice on how to get the most out of your Edison by writing code in C++!

Edison Getting Started Guide

December 5, 2014

An introduction to the Intel® Edison. Then a quick walk through on interacting with the console, connecting to WiFi, and doing...stuff.

SparkFun Inventor's Kit for Edison Experiment Guide

December 17, 2015

Learn how to harness the power of the Intel® Edison using JavaScript to post data to the cloud, control electronics from smartphones, and host web pages that interact with circuits.

Core Skill: Programming

If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.

3 Programming

Skill Level: Competent - The toolchain for programming is a bit more complex and will examples may not be explicitly provided for you. You will be required to have a fundamental knowledge of programming and be required to provide your own code. You may need to modify existing libraries or code to work with your specific hardware. Sensor and hardware interfaces will be SPI or I2C.
See all skill levels

Core Skill: Electrical Prototyping

If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.

2 Electrical Prototyping

Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
See all skill levels


Looking for answers to technical questions?

We welcome your comments and suggestions below. However, if you are looking for solutions to technical questions please see our Technical Assistance page.

  • j.tilghman / about 8 years ago / 1

    Could this be used to read a 3.3v - 5v signal coming from a wheel encoder like this one ?

    36-Position Quadrature Encoder Set

    If so, can I just hook it up or would this need current limiter even if it was run at 3.3v ?

  • Member #770801 / about 8 years ago / 1

    I can't find the size of this board, maybe I've missed it. Does anyone know it ?

  • Member #222576 / about 9 years ago / 2

    This is the only board I have connected to the Edison, and I am attempting to power it with VSYS at 3.31V. It appears as though the Edison is not powering up (3.3V and 1.8V rails read zero). I've tried several Edisons, all power on normally with the Intel mini breakout board. Is this expected behavior for the GPIO board? Maybe POWERBTN or DCIN need to be pulled high/low?

  • Member #405622 / about 10 years ago / 2

    has anyone actually been able to control the gpio pins using the latest mraa build? or even sys/class/gpio? i've been trying everything and the results have been unexpected

    • Member #457417 / about 9 years ago / 1

      can use echo in sys/class/gpio......set 1 to value is ok, but set 0 to value still measured 1Volt......must be some pull up thing need to figure out ......

    • tripzero / about 9 years ago / 1

      Try the latest version. I have pwm working...

      • Member #145390 / about 9 years ago / 1

        Any quick guidance I have spent the better part of a day trying to get PWM working with no luck. In fact cannot even get GPIO working on the shared PWM/GPIO pins even after checking and setting pinmux mode (works fine on the pure GPIO pins). MRAA gets me no closer to a working solution even with the base sample code in Intel XDK , linux, or python solutions. As soon as I turn it on it gives me constant voltage even when set to 0%. Starting to think the PWM pins in my Edison are bad...but all the guides on the web are for Arduino Kit

  • Yodadadida / about 10 years ago / 2

    Would Really like to see the Eagle file for this so I could do the following on the back: 1. Level shifters with 3.3/5v jumper/solder-tab 2. header 0.1 spacing x number of gpio pins pointing down (as in "into a breadboard") 3. space to solder on a micor-sd card holdr (with Mosi, Miso, etc going to it)

    With #1 and 2 above on this board -- it would become a "glue" board (on the end of the Edison stack) to 3.3/5v sensor daughterboards already on sale at Sparkfun (nudge-nudge, wink-wink, . . . see how I put the carrot there for the business weenies to see how this SMALL mod to this existing board would be infinitely marketable???). TTFN, Yodadida

    • We have our template up and ready if you want to make your own. We have another proto run coming soon with some level shifting.

      • Member #395908 / about 10 years ago / 1

        Hi Case, What are those two chips on the back side of this board? Are they level shifters? The description mentions "raw access", so I am wondering what those 2 chips are for. And as you've mentioned in you comment above, I'd appreciate if you could share/provide the eagle template for this board. Thanks Flavio

        • We are actually updating the description soon. We had enough customers ask for level shifting. The two chips are txb0108's that provide a push-pull level shifting capability. Stay tuned for more documentation.

      • Member #518130 / about 10 years ago / 1

        Thank you! The Edison looks like a great processor, and with level shifting I won't have to make my own block.

  • Member #593090 / about 10 years ago / 2

    Would it not have been better to make this board with a level shifter on it to 3.3v for the I/O pins ?

    • SFUptownMaker / about 10 years ago / 2

      Might happen before release. We'll see. Broadly, though, our history has been to leave it to the user to set the level. If we set the I/O voltage to 3.3V, some people will complain that it's not at 5V. Set it to 5V and people will want 3.3V.

      • mikalhart / about 10 years ago / 2

        Quite true. But won't almost everyone complain if you leave it at 1.8V?

        • seulater / about 10 years ago / 2

          A simple jumper for 3.3 , or 5v will take care of that. Much like the Arduino board has.

        • XLT_Frank / about 10 years ago / 1

          Especially with the wasted space. At least maybe provide an area on the board for people to install their own.

  • A few notes about using the GPIO Block:

    • The output drive current is incredibly weak (think 1-2 mA). To drive something like an LED effectively, you will need to use some kind of amplifier. A BJT or MOSFET transistor works well.
    • To us it as an input, the TXB0108 requires at least 2 mA to function (see p.13 on the datasheet). If you are using a pullup (or pulldown) resistor, it needs to be relatively strong. 10k won't work (you'll get weird voltages in the 1-2 V range). A 1k pullup seems to work well.

  • Isdale / about 9 years ago / 1

    I got my GPIO as part of the StarterPack. I added some header pins to the gpio breakout, attached the edison and ... dang it doesnt quite fit on my breadboard. It seems that the distance from the first pins (3.3v/Gnd) and the main board are just a little bit too small. The edison (which is below the GPIO, so I can add other blocks on top) hits the edge of breadboard, so that end is raise up - whole stack is on a slight angle to the breadboard. It appears to make connection but it is not solid... nothing like a flaky connection to give you debugging headaches

  • Member #719250 / about 9 years ago / 1

    be warned: you need to buy headers to easily attach this to a breadboard for prototyping

  • Member #699495 / about 9 years ago / 1

    Nice product. A nice addition would be one that would make it possible for the user to supply an external 5V rather than hack the current board.

    Aside from that something that brought out the SPI and had level translation would be a big help.

  • fgodfrey / about 9 years ago / 1

    Has SparkFun considered releasing this in any of the following forms: With the thing that sticks out going out 180 degrees around; with the attachments as through-holes within the normal block area and not sticking out; or consolidated with another block like the base block or the SD card block? The reason I ask is that I'm trying to make a gadget (see below, if you're interested) that needs to go into a case. Ideally the user (aka, my wife) will be able plug into the USB OTG and remove the SD card from outside the case. However, that's not possible since the GPIO header sticks out over those ports and thus can't be in the case. I'd do the Eagle layout and have a board spun myself, but, honestly, there's no way I can solder that Edison connector.

    (The gadget in question is going to pretend to be a Canon GPS unit and talk to her camera as well as do NFC or RFID to log who was taking pictures at any given time. Eventually, I'd like to interface libgphoto from the Edison to the camera over USB among other things.)

  • Member #121336 / about 9 years ago / 1

    I am using the GPIO board with my application. I am able to read pins by using this tutorial I have no issues for what I test. I see the levels shift as I expect. However, when I use the MRAA test programs from Intel, I execute the mraa test program called gpio and enter ./gpio get 15. I see no change -- the same changes I see when executing the Spakfun tutorials. Why does the Sparkfun tutorial return what I expect -- for pin 15 -- and the MRAA test program show no changes? Thanks

  • neslekkim / about 9 years ago / 1

    I got this today, and thought I could use it together with the edison breakout kit, but not so, it doesn't fit due to the jumpers on one side of the breakout board from Intel.. damn, so now I cannot use this until I get an baseboard or something..

  • SRLM / about 9 years ago / 1

    Could you add the physical dimensions to your Edison blocks? This one in particular (the long tongue is undocumented), but also the height for each block.

  • Can I use this block to power the i-Edison with 3v3?

  • Member #457417 / about 10 years ago / 1

    you guys are awesome another block finished!

  • n8o / about 10 years ago / 1

    The description mentions the power output, but can we also power the Edison from here (without the battery module)? I suspect this is what VSYS does, but want to be sure.

  • Will there be a SPI pin exposed in this GPIO block?

    • Not in this version. What would you like to see in a future SPI Block?

      • e

        I would like to see a level shifter from 1.8 to 3.3V exposing the SPI pins

      • Well for my design project, I am required to connect a SPI Camera module to the Edison. Currently there aren't any SparkFUN block that does this...

        • SPI camera specifically because we need real-time stream of low-resolution video at 15FPS for personal security purpose. UART's baudrate just doesn't cut it

  • Member #612821 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Is there a difference between this product and the Intel Edison Breakout Board?

    Of course apart from being able to buy this on its own, while the Breakout Board can only be purchased as part of a kit, and also apart from level shifting.

  • seulater / about 10 years ago / 1

    Why wouldn't you make a board that brings all the hirose pins out.

  • Logxen / about 10 years ago / 1

    I know the edison i/o runs at 1.8V ... but I can't find any info on what voltage the pins are tolerant to. Presumably this means they are only tolerant of 1.8V? most any mcu that I might want to use with one can hear 1.8V no problem ... but what will the edison think if the mcu talks back at 3.3V?

    • The Edison is only 1.8v tolerant. We have a second prototype of the GPIO breakout that has level shifting for 3.3v

      • neslekkim / about 9 years ago / 1

        a second prototype?, maybe some of these comments should reflect the product?, since it states that this one is 3v3 level shifted?, or is it not?

        • Sorry for the confusion, this comment was written in the pre-sale phase before we added level shifted gpio. This board will work with 3.3v logic levels.

          • neslekkim / about 9 years ago / 1

            yes, to bad that the prototype have the same productpage as the final product, due to all the questions from the prototyping stage. Similarly, the baseboard and batteryboard have info about it beeing able to short out, wonder if that was only the prototype or not also?

            I'm sitting with this gpio board now, but cannot use it, since it does not fit toghether with the intel breakout board, so I have no way of powering it, and talking to it, so I need to find out if I should order baseboard or other board, and a batteryboard..

            Would be nice if there was a board similar to the original breakout, but levelshifted..

  • Ogre / about 10 years ago / 0


Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5

Based on 4 ratings:

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1 of 1 found this helpful:

Did not need it after all...

I bought this to interface an ADA Fruit OLED display to my Edison via the Edison breakout board from intel. The 2 issues I had were: a) This GPIO board was just a little too big to fit onto the break-out board. The PCB hits the power input connector on the breakout board. b) It turns out that you only need to send info TO the OLED display (no need to use MISO signal), so I was able to have it work directly from the 1.8V Edison I/O without level shifting.

I was able to snip off a corner of this PCB with dykes, then attach it to the Edison and breakout PCB, and toggle the IOs as a test.

Great Product Big Help

This is a good product. Very helpful since it has the level shifters on board to shift up the 1.8V levels to the 3.3V levels. I used this part in my christmas video on youtube. Check it out at the following link.

This is a good product. Very helpful since I had problems connecting an GPS module true other level shifter types that did not work. This has the level shifters on board to shift up the 1.8V levels to the 3.3V/VSYS levels.

The amperage on the IO ports are too low

I tried to use this to connect to a relay. It worked fine just by testing it between the 3.3v and GND. But connecting it to one of the GPIOs does not work. Reading the data sheet on the TXB0108, it seems the max output current is 50mA (from my understanding). I don't get why no one is making a small GPIO breakout that can do up to 5v and can handle an equiparable power output to an arduino board.