Friday 25 March 2016

Raspberry Pi gpiozero holdable button

The current release of gpiozero doesn't have the support to hold a button down e.g. when a button is pressed and then held down for 1 second something happens.

This is really useful when building hardware projects and you want 1 button to do 2 things, say turn something on when pressed, and turn off when held down.

I needed this for a project so I thought I would create a new HoldableButton class using gpiozero. Hopefully this will be incorporated into gpiozero, but until then you can use the class below.

The code is also available here as a gist.

You will need to add the HoldableButton class to your Python program:
from gpiozero import Button
from threading import Timer

class HoldableButton(Button):
    def __init__(self, pin=None, pull_up=True, bounce_time=None, 
                 hold_time=1, repeat=False): 

        super(HoldableButton, self).__init__(pin, pull_up, bounce_time)

        # Set Button when_pressed and when_released to call local functions
        # cant use super() as it doesn't support setters
        Button.when_pressed.fset(self, self._when_button_pressed)
        Button.when_released.fset(self, self._when_button_released)

        self._when_held = None
        self._when_pressed = None
        self._when_released = None
        self._is_held = False

        self.hold_time = hold_time
        self.repeat = repeat
        self._held_timer = None

    #override button when_pressed and when_released
    def when_pressed(self):
        return self._when_pressed

    def when_pressed(self, value):
        self._when_pressed = value

    def when_released(self):
        return self._when_released

    def when_released(self, value):
        self._when_released = value

    def when_held(self):
        return self._when_held

    def when_held(self, value):
        self._when_held = value

    def is_held(self):
        return self._is_held

    def _when_button_pressed(self):
        if self._when_pressed != None:

    def _when_button_released(self):
        self._is_held = False
        if self._when_released != None:

    def _start_hold(self):
        self._held_timer = Timer(self.hold_time, self._button_held)

    def _stop_hold(self):
        if self._held_timer != None:

    def _button_held(self):
        self._is_held = True
        if self._when_held != None:
            if self.repeat and self.is_pressed:
Using the HoldableButton class is pretty simple, similar to the gpiozero Button class and can be swapped for the Button class with no other changes.
holdbutton = HoldableButton(pin, hold_time = 1, repeat = False)
You have to pass a pin number and optional hold_time and repeat values:
  • hold_time - is the number of seconds after the button is pressed before the button is consider 'held'
  • repeat - is a boolean and if set to True will occur 'button held' events to be repeated after each hold_time
You can use all the same methods and properties of the Button class, when_pressed, when_released, is_pressed, etc.

There are 2 additional properties is_held, which will return a boolean stating whether the button has been held down for the 'hold_time' and when_held which when assigned a function will cause the function to be called when the button is held down.
def myheldfunction():
    print("button held")

holdbutton.when_held = myheldfunction
Now when a button is held down, the function will be called and "button held" printed.

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