class Signal – control and sense external I/O devices

The Signal class is a simple extension of Pin class. Unlike Pin, which can be only in “absolute” 0 and 1 states, a Signal can be in “asserted” (on) or “deasserted” (off) states, while being inverted (active-low) or not. Summing up, it adds logical inversion support to Pin functionality. While this may seem a simple addition, it is exactly what is needed to support wide array of simple digital devices in a way portable across different boards, which is one of the major MicroPython goals. Regardless whether different users have an active-high or active-low LED, a normally open or normally closed relay - you can develop single, nicely looking application which works with each of them, and capture hardware configuration differences in few lines on the config file of your app.

Following is the guide when Signal vs Pin should be used:

  • Use Signal: If you want to control a simple on/off (including software PWM!) devices like LEDs, multi-segment indicators, relays, buzzers, or read simple binary sensors, like normally open or normally closed buttons, pulled high or low, Reed switches, moisture/flame detectors, etc. etc. Summing up, if you have a real physical device/sensor requiring GPIO access, you likely should use a Signal.
  • Use Pin: If you implement a higher-level protocol or bus to communicate with more complex devices.

The split between Pin and Signal come from the usecases above and the architecture of MicroPython: Pin offers the lowest overhead, which may be important when bit-banging protocols. But Signal adds additional flexibility on top of Pin, at the cost of minor overhead (much smaller than if you implemented active-high vs active-low device differences in Python manually!). Also, Pin is low-level object which needs to be implemented for each support board, while Signal is a high-level object which comes for free once Pin is implemented.

If in doubt, give the Signal a try! Once again, it is developed to save developers from the need to handle unexciting differences like active-low vs active-high signals, and allow other users to share and enjoy your application, instead of being frustrated by the fact that it doesn’t work for them simply because their LEDs or relays are wired in a slightly different way.


class machine.Signal(pin_obj, invert=False)
class machine.Signal(pin_arguments..., *, invert=False)

Create a Signal object. There’re two ways to create it:

  • By wrapping existing Pin object - universal method which works for any board.
  • By passing required Pin parameters directly to Signal constructor, skipping the need to create intermediate Pin object. Available on many, but not all boards.

The arguments are:

  • pin_obj is existing Pin object.
  • pin_arguments are the same arguments as can be passed to Pin constructor.
  • invert - if True, the signal will be inverted (active low).



This method allows to set and get the value of the signal, depending on whether the argument x is supplied or not.

If the argument is omitted then this method gets the signal level, 1 meaning signal is asserted (active) and 0 - signal inactive.

If the argument is supplied then this method sets the signal level. The argument x can be anything that converts to a boolean. If it converts to True, the signal is active, otherwise it is inactive.

Correspondence between signal being active and actual logic level on the underlying pin depends on whether signal is inverted (active-low) or not. For non-inverted signal, active status corresponds to logical 1, inactive - to logical 0. For inverted/active-low signal, active status corresponds to logical 0, while inactive - to logical 1.


Activate signal.

Deactivate signal.