Get tutorials Raspberry Pi Super Kit V2.0 for RaspberryPi

Lesson 4 Breathing LED


In this lesson, we will try something interesting - gradually increase and decrease the luminance of an LED with PWM, just like breathing. So we give it a magical name - Breathing LED.


- 1* Raspberry Pi

- 1* Breadboard

- 1* LED

- 1* Resistor (220Ω)

- Jumper wires



Pulse Width Modulation, or PWM, is a technique for getting analog results with digital means. Digital control is used to create a square wave, a signal switched between on and off. This on-off pattern can simulate voltages in between full on (3.3 Volts) and off (0 Volts) by changing the portion of the time the signal spends on versus the time that the signal spends off. The duration of "on time" is called pulse width. To get varying analog values, you change, or modulate, that width. If you repeat this on-off pattern fast enough with some device, an LED for example, the result would be like this: the signal is a steady voltage between 0 and 3.3v controlling the brightness of the LED. (See the PWM description on the official website of Arduino)

Duty Cycle

A duty cycle is the percentage of one period in which a signal is active. A period is the time it takes for a signal to complete an on-and-off cycle. As a formula, a duty cycle may be expressed as:


where D  is the duty cycle, T  is the time the signal is active, and P  is the total period of the signal. Thus, a 60% duty cycle means the signal is on 60% of the time but off 40% of the time. The "on time" for a 60% duty cycle could be a fraction of a second, a day, or even a week, depending on the length of the period.


In this experiment,we use this technology to make the LED brighten and dim slowly so it looks like our breath.

Experimental Procedures

Step 1: Build the circuit



For C language users:

Step 2: Change directory

cd /home/pi/Sunfounder_SuperKit_C_code_for_RaspberryPi/04_PwmLed

Step 3: Compile

          gcc PwmLed.c –o PwmLed -lwiringPi

Step 4: Run

       sudo ./PwmLed

For Python users:

Step 2: Change directory

cd /home/pi/Sunfounder_SuperKit_ Python_code_for_RaspberryPi/

Step 3: Run

       sudo python


Now you will see the gradual change of the LED luminance,between bright and dim.



Through this experiment, you should have mastered the principle of PWM and how to program Raspberry Pi with PWM. You can apply this technology to DC motor speed regulation later.

C  Code

* Filename    : pwmLed.c
* Description : Make a breathing led.
* Author      : Robot
* E-mail      :
* website     :
* Date        : 2014/08/27

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

#define LedPin    1

int main(void)
	int i;

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

			pwmWrite(LedPin, i);

	return 0;


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

LedPin = 12

def setup():
	global p
	GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BOARD)       # Numbers GPIOs by physical location
	GPIO.setup(LedPin, GPIO.OUT)   # Set LedPin's mode is output
	GPIO.output(LedPin, GPIO.LOW)  # Set LedPin to low(0V)

	p = GPIO.PWM(LedPin, 1000)     # set Frequece to 1KHz
	p.start(0)                     # Duty Cycle = 0

def loop():
	while True:
		for dc in range(0, 101, 4):   # Increase duty cycle: 0~100
			p.ChangeDutyCycle(dc)     # Change duty cycle
		for dc in range(100, -1, -4): # Decrease duty cycle: 100~0

def destroy():
	GPIO.output(LedPin, GPIO.HIGH)    # turn off all leds

if __name__ == '__main__':     # Program start from here
	except KeyboardInterrupt:  # When 'Ctrl+C' is pressed, the child program destroy() will be  executed.


Copyright © 2012 - 2016 SunFounder. All Rights Reserved.

Previous chapter: Lesson 3 Flowing LED Lights

Next chapter: Lesson 5 RGB LED

Apr 02 2017 at 03:12 am

© Developed by CommerceLab