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Lesson 11 Driving 7-Segment Display by 74HC595


Since we've got some knowledge of the 74HC595 in the previous lesson, now let's try to use it and drive a 7-segment display to show a figure from 0 to 9.


-  1* Raspberry Pi

-  1* Breadboard

-  1* 74HC595

-  1* 7-segment display

-  1* Resistor (1KΩ)

-  Jumper wires


7-Segment Display

A 7-segment display is an 8-shaped component which packages 7 LEDs. Each LED is called a segment – when energized, one segment forms part of a numeral (both decimal and hexadecimal) to be displayed. An additional 8th LED is sometimes used within the same package thus allowing the indication of a decimal point (DP) when two or more 7-segment displays are connected together to display numbers greater than ten.

Each of the LEDs in the display is given a positional segment with one of its connection pins led out from the rectangular plastic package. These LED pins are labeled from "a" through to "g" representing each individual LED. The other LED pins are connected together forming a common pin. So by forward biasing the appropriate pins of the LED segments in a particular order, some segments will brighten and others stay dim, thus showing the corresponding character on the display. 

The common pin of the display generally tells its type. There are two types of pin connection: a pin of connected cathodes and one of connected anodes, indicating Common Cathode (CC) and Common Anode (CA). As the name suggests, a CC display has all the cathodes of the 7 LEDs connected when a CA display has all the anodes of the 7 segments connected.

Common Cathode 7-Segment Display

In a common cathode display, the cathodes of all the LED segments are connected to the logic "0" or ground. Then an individual segment (a-g) is energized by a "HIGH", or logic "1" signal via a current limiting resistor to forward bias the anode of the segment.

Common Anode 7-Segment Display

In a common anode display, the anodes of all the LED segments are connected to the logic "1". Then an individual segment (a-g) is energized by a ground, logic "0" or "LOW" signal via a current limiting resistor to the cathode of the segment.

In this experiment, a common cathode 7-segment display is use. It should be connected to ground. When the anode of an LED in a certain segment is at high level, the corresponding segment will light up; when it is at low, the segment will stay dim.


Connect pin ST_CP of 74HC595 to Raspberry Pi GPIO1, SH_CP to GPIO2, DS to GPIO0, parallel output ports to 8 segments of the LED segment display. Input data in DS pin to shift register when SH_CP (the clock input of shift register) is at the rising edge and to memory register when ST_CP (the clock input of memory) is at the rising edge. Then you can control the states of SH_CP and ST_CP via the Raspberry Pi GPIOs to transform serial data input into parallel data output so as to save Raspberry Pi GPIOs and drive the display.

Experimental Procedures

Step 1: Build the circuit


For C language users:

Step 2: Change directory

cd /home/pi/Sunfounder_SuperKit_C_code_for_RaspberryPi/11_Segment/

Step 3: Compile

      gcc segment1.c –o segment1 -lwiringPi

Step 4: Run

         sudo ./segment1

For Python users:

Step 2: Change directory

cd /home/pi/Sunfounder_SuperKit_ Python_code_for_RaspberryPi/

Step 3: Run

      sudo python


You should see the 7-segment display from 0 to 9, and A to F. 


Further Exploration

You can slightly modify the hardware and software based on this experiment to make a dice. For hardware, add a button to the original board. 

Build the circuit

Next, enter into the directory 11_Segment, and compile dice.c

     gcc dice.c –o dice –lwiringPi


   sudo ./dice

Now you should see a number flashing between 0 and 6 quickly on the segment display. Press the button on the breadboard, and the display will statically display a random number between 0 and 6 for 2 seconds and then circularly flash randomly between 0 and 6 again.



Through this lesson, you may have mastered the basic principle and programming for 7-segment display based on Raspberry Pi, as well as more knowledge about using 74HC595. Now you can apply what you’ve learnt and put it into practice to create your own works !

C Code

#include <wiringPi.h>
#include <stdio.h>

#define   SDI   0   //serial data input
#define   RCLK  1   //memory clock input(STCP)
#define   SRCLK 2   //shift register clock input(SHCP)

unsigned char SegCode[17] = {0x3f,0x06,0x5b,0x4f,0x66,0x6d,0x7d,0x07,0x7f,0x6f,0x77,0x7c,0x39,0x5e,0x79,0x71,0x80};

void init(void)
	pinMode(SDI, OUTPUT); //make P0 output
	pinMode(RCLK, OUTPUT); //make P0 output
	pinMode(SRCLK, OUTPUT); //make P0 output

	digitalWrite(SDI, 0);
	digitalWrite(RCLK, 0);
	digitalWrite(SRCLK, 0);

void hc595_shift(unsigned char dat)
	int i;

		digitalWrite(SDI, 0x80 & (dat << i));
		digitalWrite(SRCLK, 1);
		digitalWrite(SRCLK, 0);

		digitalWrite(RCLK, 1);
		digitalWrite(RCLK, 0);

int main(void)
	int i;

	if(wiringPiSetup() == -1){ //when initialize wiring failed,print messageto screen
		printf("setup wiringPi failed !");
		return 1; 



	return 0;

Python Code

#!/usr/bin/env python
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
import time

SDI   = 11
RCLK  = 12
SRCLK = 13

segCode = [0x3f,0x06,0x5b,0x4f,0x66,0x6d,0x7d,0x07,0x7f,0x6f,0x77,0x7c,0x39,0x5e,0x79,0x71,0x80]

def print_msg():
	print 'Program is running...'
	print 'Please press Ctrl+C to end the program...'

def setup():
	GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BOARD)    #Number GPIOs by its physical location

def hc595_shift(dat):
	for bit in range(0, 8):	
		GPIO.output(SDI, 0x80 & (dat << bit))

def loop():
	while True:
		for i in range(0, len(segCode)):

def destroy():   #When program ending, the function is executed. 

if __name__ == '__main__': #Program starting from here 
	except KeyboardInterrupt:  


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Apr 05 2017 at 01:36 am

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