SPIDriver is now available from Crowd Supply.


Getting Started

SPIDriver lets you easily drive SPI devices from any computer. When you first connect it to the USB port, the display blinks white for a moment then shows something like this:

Connect the six colored hookup wires as shown, following the same sequence as on the screen

SCK orange
MISO yellow
MOSI green
CS blue
A purple
B gray

The top six signals carry power. There are two each of GND, 3.3 V and 5 V.

Across the top of the display SPIDriver continuously measures the USB input voltage, and the current output.

Software installation

The source for all the SPIDriver software is the repository. Available are:

Installation of the GUI and command-line utilities varies by platform.


This installer contains the GUI and command-line utilities. The GUI shortcut is installed on the desktop:

launching it brings up the control window:

If there is only one serial device, the SPIDriver device should be automatically selected. If there is more than one device, select its COM port from the pulldown menu at the top. Once connected, you can control the signal lines and transmit hex values.

The command line utility spicl is also installed. For example to display status information:

C:\>"c:\Program Files\Excamera Labs\SPIDriver\spicl.exe" COM3 i
uptime 1625  4.810 V  45 mA  23.3 C

See below for more information on the command-line syntax.


The Linux GUI is available for download as spigui-linux64. Or you can run the native Python GUI directly as shown below.

For the command-line tool, clone the repository , then do:

cd spidriver/c
make -f linux/Makefile
./build/spicl /dev/ttyUSB0 i

and you should see something like:

uptime 2285  4.812 V  45 mA  23.6 C


The MacOS GUI is available for download as spigui-macos. This is a Mac executable, so after downloading it do:

$ cd Downloads
$ chmod a+x spigui-macos
$ ./spigui-macos

Or you can run the native Python GUI directly as shown below.

For the command-line tool, clone the repository , then do:

cd spidriver/c
make -f linux/Makefile
./build/spicl /dev/cu.usbserial-DO00QS8D i

(substituting your actual SPIDriver's ID for DO00QS8D) and you should see something like:

uptime 2285  4.812 V  45 mA  23.6 C

Note that the port to use is /dev/cu.usbserial-XXXXXXXX, as explained here.

Python 2 and 3

The SPIDriver bindings can be installed with pip like this:

pip install spidriver

then from Python you can do:

>>> from spidriver import SPIDriver
>>> s = SPIDriver("/dev/ttyUSB0") # or something like COM16 for Windows
>>> s.sel()                       # start command
>>> s.write([0x9f])               # command 9F is READ JEDEC ID
>>> list(s.read(3))               # read next 3 bytes
[239, 64, 24]
>>> s.unsel()                     # end command

and you should see something like:

under python/samples. The GUI (which uses wxPython) can be run with:

python spigui.py

which depending on your distribution looks something like this:

There are more examples in the samples folder in the repository, Some are shown in the examples.


SPIDriver is contained in a single source file with a single header. Both are in this subdirectory. Usage follows the Python API and is fairly self-explanatory.

The command-line tool spicl

spicl is the same on all platforms.

The first parameter to the command is the serial port, which depends on your operating system. All following parameters are control commands. These are:

i display status information (uptime, voltage, current, temperature)
s SPI select
u SPI unselect
w write bytes to SPI
r N read N bytes from SPI
a 0/1 Set A line
b 0/1 Set B line

For example the command:

spicl /dev/ttyUSB0 s w 0x9f r 3 u

does the following:

s SPI select
w 0x9f Write byte 0x9f
r 3 Read 3 bytes from slave
u SPI unselect

Example uses

ST7735R 1.8" LCD

Connect the LCD panel like this:

SPIDriver   LCD
3.3V brown LED
SCK orange SCK
MOSI green SDA
A purple A0
B gray RESET
CS blue CS
GND black GND
3.3V red VCC

There is a Python demonstration program for loading images onto the display. It requires pillow for image loading, so you may need to install its prerequisites:

pip install pillow spidriver

Then in the SPIDriver repository do:

cd python/samples
python st7735s.py -h /dev/ttyUSB0 grace.png

You can supply any image files as the last argument, and the script will resize and display them in order.

SPI Flash

First confirm the flash pinout on its datasheet. Modern SPI flash chips have a pinout like this one:

Connect the clip to the flash, oriented with the red cable on pin 1. For example this is the clip connected to the flash on a ESP8266 board:

For the ESP8266, the CPU needs to be kept in reset so there is no contention while SPIDriver is driving to the flash. Connect SPIDriver's A signal (purple) to the ESP8266 reset:

and connect the clip cable pins to the SPIDriver like this:

SPIDriver   flash
CS blue 1
MISO yellow 2
GND black 4
MOSI green 5
SCK orange 6
3.3V red 8

You should be able to use the command-line utility to confirm the flash 3-byte JEDEC ID. For example:

$ spicl /dev/ttyUSB0 a 0 u s w 0x9f r 3 u

The specific ID codes vary by manufacturer, and are listed in the datasheet for each flash part. The third byte is the flash size in bits, so the flash above is 219 = 524288 bytes, or 512K bytes. If you don't see a valid ID, and you've checked the pinout, make sure that the clip is properly making contact with all of the flash pins.

There is a Python example flash.py that can read and write flash contents using standard SPI flash commands. With no options, it prints out JEDEC ID as confirmation:

$ python flash.py -h /dev/ttyUSB0
Got JEDEC ID: c8 40 13
Flash size is 524288 bytes

You can read all of flash into a file with the -r option:

$ python flash.py -h /dev/ttyUSB0 -r flashfile
Got JEDEC ID: c8 40 13
Flash size is 524288 bytes
0/512 KBytes
8/512 KBytes
504/512 KBytes

Similarly the -w option erases the flash and writes a file to it:

$ python flash.py -h /dev/ttyUSB0 -w flashfile
Got JEDEC ID: c8 40 13
Flash size is 524288 bytes
0/512 KBytes
504/512 KBytes

The Shield Adapter

The shield adapter connects the SPIDriver signals to the Arduino's standard SPI locations, so you can use Arduino shields with the SPIDriver. In addition to power (GND, 3.3 V and 5 V) it connects:

SPIDriver Arduino Pin
SCK 13
CS 8
A 9
B 10

Technical notes

Electrical specifications

SPI speed 500 Kpbps ± 1%
Voltage accuracy 0.01 V
Current accuracy 5 mA
Uptime accuracy 150 ppm
Uptime wrap 31.7 years
Temperature accuracy ± 2 C
Maximum input voltage (MISO) 5 V
Maximum output current (SCK, MOSI, CS, A, B) 8 mA
Maximum output current 470 mA
Current consumption 25 mA

Port names

The serial port that SPIDriver appears at depends on your operating system.

On Windows, it appears as COM1, COM2, COM3 etc. You can use the Device Manager or the MODE command to display the available ports. This article describes how to set a device to a fixed port.

On Linux, it appears as /dev/ttyUSB0, 1, 2 etc. The actual number depends on the order that devices were added. However it also appears as something like:


Where DO00QS8D is the serial code of the SPIDriver (which is handily printed on the bottom of each SPIDriver). This is longer, of course, but always the same for a given device.

Similarly on Mac OS, it appears as /dev/cu.usbserial-DO00QS8D.

Decreasing the USB latency timer

SPIDriver performance can be increased by setting the USB latency timer to its minimum value of 1 ms. This can increase the speed of two-way SPI traffic by up to 10X.

On Linux do:

setserial /dev/ttyUSB0 low_latency

On Windows and Mac OS follow these instructions.

Temperature sensor

The temperature sensor is located in the on-board EFM8 microcontroller. It is calibrated at manufacture to within 2 C. A sudden temperature rise may indicate that one of the output pins (MOSI, SCK, CS, A, or B) is shorted to VCC or GND.

Raw protocol

SPIDriver uses a serial protocol to send and receive SPI commands. Connect to the SPIDriver at 460800 baud, 8 bits, no parity, 1 stop bit (460800 8N1).

Because many SPIDriver commands are ASCII, you can control it interactively from any terminal application that can connect at 460800 baud. For example typing u and s toggles the CS line and ? displays the status info.

Commands are:

? transmit status info
e <byte> echo <byte>
s select
u unselect
a <byte> set A signal to 0/1
b <byte> set B signal to 0/1
x disconnect from SPI bus
0x80-bf write and read 1-64 bytes
0xc0-ff write 1-64 bytes

So for example to select, then transfer two bytes 0x12, and unselect, the host sends 5 bytes:


The command 0x81 is a two byte send/receive, so two bytes are returned to the PC.

The status response is always 80 characters, space padded. For example:

[spidriver1 DO00QS8D 000007219 4.807 045 25.4 1 1 1 49c1                       ]

The fields are space-delimited:

spidriver1 fixed identifier
serial serial code identifier
uptime SPIDriver uptime 0-999999999, in seconds
voltage USB bus voltage, in volts
current attached device current, in mA
temperature junction temperature, in C
CS CS line state
A A line state
B B line state
crc 16-bit CRC of all input and output bytes (CRC-16-CCITT)

The sample confirm.py shows the CRC-16-CCITT calculation.