5. Reading a Button Press

Up until now, we’ve focused mostly on outputs. Now we’re going to go to the other end of spectrum and play around with inputs. In Experiment 2, we used an analog input to read the potentiometer. In this experiment, we’ll be reading one of the most common and simple inputs – a push button – by using a digital input. We will use it to cycle through different colors on the RGB.

You will need the following parts:
1x Breadboard
1x Arduino
3x 330Ω Resistor
8x Jumper Wires
1x Push Button
1x 10K Resistors

Suggested Reading
Before continuing with this tutorial, I recommend you be somewhat familiar with the concepts in these tutorials:

Introducing the Push Button
A momentary push button closes or completes the circuit only while it is being pressed. The button has four pins, which are broken out into two sets of two pins. When you press down on the button and get a nice “click,” the button bridges the two sets of pins and allows current to flow through the circuit. How do you know which pins are paired up? The buttons included in this kit will only fit across the breadboard ditch in one direction. Once you get the button pressed firmly into the breadboard (across the ditch), the pins are horizontally paired. The pins toward the top of the breadboard are connected, and the pins toward the button of the breadboard are connected. Note: Not all buttons share this pin format. Please refer to the data sheet of your specific button to determine which pins are paired up.

Hardware Hookup
Ready to start hooking everything up? Check out the wiring diagram and hookup table below to see how everything is connected.

Pay special attention to the component’s markings indicating how to place it on the breadboard. Polarized components can only be connected to a circuit in one direction.

Wiring Diagram for the Experiment

Having a hard time seeing the circuit? Click on the wiring diagram for a closer look.

Digital Input
Previously we’ve used the analog pins for input; now we’ll use the digital pins for input as well. Because digital pins only know about HIGH and LOW signals, they’re perfect for interfacing to pushbuttons and switches that also only have “on” and “off” states. We’ll connect one side of the pushbutton to ground, and the other side to a digital pin. When we press down on the pushbutton, the pin will be connected to ground, and therefore will be read as “LOW” by the Arduino board. But wait – what happens when you’re not pushing the button? In this state, the pin is disconnected from everything, which we call “floating.” What will the pin read as then, HIGH or LOW? It’s hard to say, because there’s no solid connection to either 3.3V or ground. The pin could read as either one. To deal with this issue, we’ll connect a small (10K, or 10,000 Ohm) resistance between the signal pin and 3.3V. This “pullup” resistor will ensure that when you’re NOT pushing the button, the pin will still have a weak connection to 3.3 volts, and therefore read as HIGH.

Advanced: When you get used to pullup resistors and know when they’re required, you can activate internal pullup resistors on the ATmega processor in Arduino. See http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/DigitalPins for information.

Open the Sketch
Open the Arduino IDE software on your computer. Coding in the Arduino language will control your circuit. Copy and Paste the following code into the Arduino IDE. Hit upload and see what happens!

GCD BA Unit 2 - Starters Kit
Orriginal code by Spark Fun Electronics
Example sketch 05


  Use pushbuttons for digital input

This sketch was written by SparkFun Electronics,
with lots of help from the Arduino community.
This code is completely free for any use.
Visit http://learn.sparkfun.com/products/2 for SIK information.
Visit http://www.arduino.cc to learn about the Arduino.


// First we'll set up constants for the pin numbers.
// This will make it easier to follow the code below.

 // pushbutton pin
 const int buttonPin = 3;

 //RGB LED pins
 const int redPin = 11;    
 const int greenPin = 10;
 const int bluePin = 9;

//create a variable to store a counter and set it to 0
int counter = 0;
void setup()
  // Set up the pushbutton pins to be an input:
  pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT);

  // Set up the RGB pins to be an outputs:
  pinMode(redPin, OUTPUT);  

void loop()
 // local variable to hold the pushbutton states
  int buttonState;  

  //read the digital state of buttonPin with digitalRead() function and store the           //value in buttonState variable
  buttonState = digitalRead(buttonPin);

  //if the button is pressed increment counter and wait a tiny bit to give us some          //time to release the button
  if (buttonState == LOW) // light the LED

  //use the if satement to check the value of counter. If counter is equal to 0 all         //pins are off
  if(counter == 0)

  //else if counter is equal to 1, redPin is HIGH
  else if(counter == 1)

  //else if counter is equal to 2 greenPin is HIGH
  else if(counter ==2)

  //else if counter is equal to 3 bluePin is HIGH
  else if(counter ==3)

  //else reset the counter to 0 (which turns all pins off)
   counter =0;

Code to Note
pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT); The digital pins can be used as inputs as well as outputs. Before you do either, you need to tell the Arduino which direction you’re going. buttonState = digitalRead(buttonPin); To read a digital input, you use the digitalRead() function. It will return HIGH if there’s 3.3V present at the pin, or LOW if there’s 0V present at the pin. if (button1State == LOW) Because we’ve connected the button to GND, it will read LOW when it’s being pressed. Here we’re using the “equivalence” operator (“==”) to see if the button is being pressed.

What You Should See
You should see the LED turn on if you press either button, and off if you press both buttons. (See the code to find out why!) If it isn’t working, make sure you have assembled the circuit correctly and verified and uploaded the code to your board, or see the Troubleshooting section. alt text


Light Not Turning On
The pushbutton is square, and because of this it is easy to put it in the wrong way. Give it a 90 degree twist and see if it starts working.

No worries; these circuits are all super stripped-down to make playing with the components easy, but once you throw them together the sky is the limit. 

6. Reading a Photoresistor