Controlling a seven-segment display from the Raspberry Pi - Part 2

Custom characters

You can create your own character output on a per-segment basis. Each character is simply an 8-bit binary number, or two hexadecimal digits. The table below describes the hexadecimal and binary codes for each segment:

Character Hexidecimal Binary
0x01 0000 0001
0x02 0000 0010
0x04 0000 0100
0x08 0000 1000
0x10 0001 0000
0x20 0010 0000
0x40 0100 0000
Decimal point 0x80 1000 0000

For example, to generate a capital H:

Character Hexidecimal Binary
0x10 (bottom left)
0x20 (top left)
0x40 (centre)
0x02 (top right)
0x04 (bottom right)
0001 0000 (bottom left)
0010 0000 (top left)
0100 0000 (centre)
0000 0010 (top right)
0000 0100 (bottom right)
0111 0110


Let’s connect the seven segment display along with a momentary button, as in the following diagram:

Exercise #1

Write a program that uses the button to increment the count displayed on the seven segment display. The counter will increase if the button is depressed, and remain the same otherwise.

Exercise #2

Now, we are going to write a program inspired by the reaction tester at the Ontario Science Centre. The tester is similar in appearance to the driver’s seat of a vehicle. The simulation starts when the user presses the accelerator pedal. At a random time, a STOP indicator is shown. When the user sees the STOP indicator, they are supposed to hit the brake pedal. The tester then shows you a comparative view of your reaction time.

Write a program that displays ‘go’ to simulate acceleration. It will then delay for a random amount of time (between 2 seconds and 5 seconds in duration), before displaying ‘stop’. To generate a random number and sleep for that amount of time (in seconds):

import time
import random

delay = random.randrange(2000, 5000) / 1000.0

Once stop is displayed, record the time and start polling the button input (GPIO #17). Then the button is pressed, record the time again. Use the following code as a template:

import datetime

startTime =

# ... do something ...

endTime =

elapsed = endTime - startTime
elapsedSeconds = elapsed.total_seconds()

Display the user’s reaction time using the seven segment display.

Last updated February 5, 2020 Migrate back to shortcodes. (c01d76e)