RIoT Core: Accessing GPIO

RIoT provides wrappers around the PI4J library’s objects to access input and output GPIO pins. To create one of these wrappers, use the GPIO class.

Creating Akka Streams components

Simply use the in method to access a pin as an input, out to access it as an output, passing the Wiring / Pi4J pin number as a parameter (these differ from the numberring scheme used by Broadcom for the CPU). Then call asSource, asSink or asFlow to create an Akka Streams source, sink, or flow object:

gpio3InputSource =;
gpio7OutputSink = GPIO.out(7).asSink(system);

You can further configure the GPIO pin by calling methods before the final asSource, asSink or asFlow call:

  • Pins default to Digital mode (they have a state that is either High or Low, On or Off). call analog() for an Analog pin, that can have a range of values between 0 and 1. Call pwm() on an output pin to get a PWM output, as would be used for servos.
  • The Broadcom CPU is able to switch resistors between a pin and the ground or positive. Use withPullupResistor() to have a resistor between the pin and positive, and withPullDownResistor() to have one between the pin and ground. For example, if you have wired a switch between an input pin and the ground, you’ll want a resistor between that pin and positive, so that this pin’s state is ‘pulled’ high when the switch is not pressed.
  • Output pins can have a value set before the constructred RIoT object has received any message: Use initiallyHigh() and initiallyLow() to set this initial value with digital pins, and use initiallyAt(...) to set the initial value of an analog or PWM pin.
  • Similarly, the value they will be reset to when the program terminates can be set using shuttingDownHigh() and ishuttingDownLow() for digital pins, and shuttindDownAt(...) for analog or PWM pins.

Behaviour of the Akka Streams components

GPIO defines an enum called State, which models the states that a digital GPIO port can have.

  • A digital GPIO Source will emit either State.HIGH or State.LOW whenever a Pin’s state changes.
  • A digital GPIO Sinkwill accept State.HIGH, State.LOW, or State.TOGGLE, setting the state high, low, or the opposite of its current state, respectively.
  • A digital GPIO Flow will accept the same messages, and emit the current state of the Pin: If State.TOGGLE is repeatedly sent to it, it will altenatingly emit State.HIGH, then State.LOW.

Analog pins can have any value between 0 and 1. The streams components behave similarly as with digital pins, but using Float objects:

  • An analog GPIO Source will emit a Float whenever its measured value changes.
  • An analog GPIO Sink will accept Float messages, and set the value accordingly.
  • A digital GPIO Flow will accept Float messages, and emit the current value of the Pin.

PWM pins behave similarly, but accept, in addition to the Float, also Integer messages with a value expressed in number of PWM steps (bewteen 0 and 1024).

Constructing Akka actors

Regular Akka actors can also be created. Using the GPIO class’ toProps() methods to create an Akka Props object, then Akka’s actorOf method to get an ActorRef. GPIO.State, Float or Integer messages, depending on the GPIO type, can then be sent to it:

Props gpio7Props = GPIO.out(7).asProps();
ActorRef gpio7 = system.actorOf(gpio7Props);
gpio7.tell(GPIO.State.HIGH, self());

For the actor to send updates about the pin’s state, it will need to know the recipient’s ActorRef. This is done at construction time using the notifyActor method:

Props gpio7Props = notifyActor(myOtherActor).asProps();