Thanks in advance!

I am using a Pi 3B to detect activation of a sensor on my model railroad layout. The sensor by default only offers a rising edge detection scenario. I decided to go with gpiozero library to setup a gpiozero.Button on GPIO 17, with pull_up=False.

enter image description here

I am facing this strange situation where the button.is_active is correctly set when the sensor is active, but the button.when_activated event is not firing on the rising edge. When the sensor deactivates, both the when_activated and when_deactivated events are fired.

I wrote a test script which sets up the event handlers, and also sets up a while loop to monitor the button.is_active property.

from gpiozero import Button
from gpiozero import InputDevice
from time import sleep
from gpiozero import DigitalInputDevice
from signal import pause
from datetime import datetime

# event handlers
def activated(self):
    print(f"{datetime.now()}: Activated {str(self.pin.number)}")

def deactivated(self):
    print(f"{datetime.now()}: Deactivated {str(self.pin.number)}")

# Set GPIO 17 with pull down resistor
button = Button(17, pull_up=False,  bounce_time=0.2)

# Set up handlers
button.when_activated = activated
button.when_deactivated = deactivated

# Loop to monitor button active state
state = button.is_active
while (True):

    # Create a debounce
    condition1 = button.is_active != state
    if condition1:
        new_state = button.is_active
        condition2 = new_state != state
        if condition2:

            # Print states and set the stored state to new state 
            print(f"{datetime.now()}: Stored state value is {state} and Button is {new_state}")
            state = new_state

Here is the output of the code:

2022-03-12 07:52:11.679051: Stored state value is False and Button is True
2022-03-12 07:52:20.950999: Activated 17
2022-03-12 07:52:21.146104: Deactivated 17
2022-03-12 07:52:21.351971: Stored state value is True and Button is False

The button.is_active was detected in the while loop at 7:52:11, but the when_activated event fired only when the sensor deactivated and the two events (when_activated, when_deactivated) are packed along with the button.is_active detection on the falling edge.

Any thoughts what might be going on? Any help is much appreciated. This situation is driving me bonkers.

I am using a Raspberry Pi 3B+ running Raspbian Bullseye OS. The gpiozero library is 1.6.1

  • Thanks CoderMike. But, "self" is just a convention in Python. Its not a reserved word, like "this" in Java/C#. neopythonic.blogspot.com/2008/10/…. I will try to see if there is some issue going on with the GPIOThreadQueue. I am going through the gpiozero code base. There is a lot going on with GPIOThread and Thread queues. But, thanks for the suggestion. Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 7:42

1 Answer 1


Do NOT import classes you don't need from gpiozero import InputDevice - this may not hurt but wastes memory and makes the code harder to follow.

If you are using callbacks DO NOT attempt to test the state.
Button DOES NOT have a member is_active (although the base class may have you SHOULD NOT use it).

Get rid of everything after # Loop to monitor button active state and it should work.
You will need pause() or similar.
See https://gpiozero.readthedocs.io/en/v1.6.2/faq.html?highlight=pause()#how-do-i-keep-my-script-running

Your Question lacks detail about what is connected.

You said "The sensor by default only offers a rising edge detection scenario" but is an opto-isolator, which imposes no such condition.

Your circuit has a number of limitations.

  1. A bare 3.3V connection is a potential hazard, usually avoided by engineers.
  2. The internal pullup/pulldown are weak ~50kΩ and subject to interference/noise - which is to be expected where motors are involved.

I would use a low impedance circuit with an external low resistance pullup (~1kΩ).


simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

This should satisfy the electrical requirements, although depending on the nature of the unspecified sensor and expected function may need additional conditioning (hardware and/or software).

As no Button is in use DO NOT use the Button class use DigitalInputDevice.

  • Thanks Milliways for the quick response. Please see a picture of the setup I have on my model railroad. Its a current detector which has a Opto-isolator output. There is no way to make the output work other than as an active-high system. I tried with the DigitalInputDeivce and faced the same challenge of the two events firing at the deactivation of the sensor. I added the while loop only to test the system, otherwise the whole code runs as part of a TCP server on the Raspberry Pi. Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 1:38
  • Sorry Milliways, I should have added that final detail on why I said its rising-edge only. The device i use is a Quad Current Detector with Common positive for all the four opto-isolators. The collectors of all the four opto-detectors are tied together and I dont have a way to access them individually. I get access to the four emitters only. I will try to run it as a DigitalInputDevice only and see if it will help. Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 7:13
  • @SreekarKrishna It should make no difference which way it is wired, BUT running bare 3.3V wiring has the possibility of shorting the 3.3V rail - which will most likely destroy the Pi. But use sensible pulldown otherwise you are just connecting an antenna to your GPIO. You could use a small (10Ω) resistor in the 3.3V line near the Pi for protection and should not affect operation.
    – Milliways
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 7:28
  • Great idea. Thanks for that suggestion. I will include a small resistor for protection purposes. Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 14:37

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