Can I do anything with the GPIO pins/ breadboard connections while my pi is turned on? It would be awesome if I didnt have to shut it off every time I want to change something since I am just learning the very basics.

I read somewhere that you should never connect/disconnect anything to the pins themselves while its on, but some tutorials dont bother to mention this. Maybe it's ok to switch breadboard connections as long as I dont mess with the pins? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.


The general advice not to connect to a live circuit is sound, but not always necessary or possible.

Provided you exercise reasonable care it is quite safe.

The most important thing is to connect in the correct order. 1. Ground 2. Power 3. Other connections.

USB plugs (and other connectors designed for hot plugging) are designed to make sure this happens.

One thing I would not do is plug a complete circuit into the Pi GPIO connector, as you cannot guarantee the order in which things connect.

You should also avoid connecting circuits with large capacitors or inductors, unless you are sure what the potential impact may be.

  • So the generally idea i'm getting from this answer is that it's ok to change the wiring around on the breadboard while the pi is powered on, but do not plug directly into in the GPIO pins unless you're very sure of what you're doing? – user20451 Sep 22 '14 at 3:52
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    Yes, I think the general rule would be take care and consider the potential damage. Don't connect a power pin to ground. Don't connect a voltage greater than 3.3V to a gpio. Don't connect a gpio set as a high output to a gpio set as a low output. Don't connect 5V to the 3V3 pin. Don't spill a drink over the board. Don't lay the board on a conductive surface. The most important thing to learn will be to understand what actions will cause damage and why. – joan Sep 22 '14 at 7:34
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    It might also be wise to use buffer circuits to decouple a breadboard assembly from a 30$-device. Nothings more disappointing then to blow a GPIO pin by some wrong wiring on the breadboard. The 74HC244 (mark the "HC" not "HCT") should do the trick and works fine at 3V3 voltage levels. – Ghanima Sep 22 '14 at 10:48
  • @Ghanima, that was exactly what I was looking for! Thanks. Using 74HC244 to output signals from RaspberryPi to the breadboard seems pretty straightforward - you connect a GPIO pin to the IC's data input pin and connect the non-inverting output to your circuit. But how to protect an GPIO pin that was setup as an input? – rmartinsjr Apr 23 '16 at 15:37

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