As what I see on the scheme, there are 2 channels for slaves - CS0 and CS1. Does it mean that I can only connect 2 chips, like MCP3008 or something? Or can I attach more slaves to these 2 attached slaves.

Does Raspberry scheme have support or anything in common with this SPI slaves connection scheme taken from Wikipedia? Is it possible to make it like this?

SPI slaves

  • "Is it possible to make it like this?" -> Seems to me that's exactly how it is, except the Pi has CE0 and CE1 instead of SS1, SS2, SS3. The SCLK, MOSI, and MISO bus lines are shared amongst all devices in both cases.
    – goldilocks
    May 26, 2015 at 18:40

3 Answers 3


Many ways.

You can sort of bit bang the slave selects, i.e. connect all the devices with shared MISO/MOSI/SCLK and ground but separate CS. Just set CS low for the device you want before calling the SPI driver. The SPI driver will try to set an CS but won't know it is not connected.

The Pis with the 40 pin expansion header have another SPI device with 3 chip selects. My pigpio library supports that device.

You can software bit bang the whole protocol.

You can add additional hardware to switch the CS line to any device you want.

Etc., etc.


The "proper" Raspberry Pi Linux SPI driver is currently going through review to allow arbitrary gpios to be used as CS.


The current Linux SPI driver (spi_bcm2853) is said to support arbitrary GPIO as chip selects. See /boot/overlays/README.

  • 1
    "allow arbitrary gpios" a good idea in its own right and what one might expect from an embedded system. Thanks for the input.
    – Ghanima
    May 26, 2015 at 19:01
  • Joan, please explain how to use "another SPI device with 3 chip selects" with "pigpio" library, or link to code example. This will help answer the question. Thanks
    – Alex
    Mar 16, 2016 at 15:28
  • See abyz.co.uk/rpi/pigpio/cif.html#spiOpen. GPIO 16-21 are connected to the auxiliary SPI. See abyz.co.uk/rpi/pigpio/index.html#Type_3. Alternatively the now current Linux SPI driver (spi_bcm2853) is said to support arbitrary GPIO as chip selects. See /boot/overlays/README.
    – joan
    Mar 16, 2016 at 15:34
  • "The Pis with the 40 pin expansion header have another SPI device with 3 chip selects" there is only 2 cs on 40 pin header
    – user45238
    Oct 3, 2016 at 16:36
  • 1
    @meh There are 5 chip selects on the 40 pin expansion header. Two for the main SPI and 3 for the auxiliary SPI. The auxiliary SPI signals are shown in lower case at abyz.co.uk/rpi/pigpio/index.html#Type_3
    – joan
    Oct 3, 2016 at 16:43

You are right that the RaspberryPi does provide only two chip selects at its SPI bus (see here). And I assume that the SPI drivers and software solutions rely on that fact (although @joan's answer suggests that different libraries handle it differently and the official driver will allow arbitrary GPIO pins to be used as chip selects in the future).

You have however to keep in mind that a chip select is nothing more than a dedicated digital output of the Pi. Therefore you can always have a larger amount of chip selects if you use the GPIO pins. In which case however your software will be responsible to set the appropriate pins to address the right SPI slave.

Since the whole idea of chip selects is to mutually exclusively select just one single slave you can furthermore use some simple digital circuitry to decrease the amount of "wasted" GPIO pins (if you need them for other purposes too). Something like the 74HC/HCT138 a 3-to-8 line decoder/demultiplexer could be used to address 8 slaves via 8 chip selects with just 3 GPIO pins.

It's noteworthy to keep in mind that the bus lines SCLK and MOSI are shared amongst all slaves. So when plugging multiple slaves to the Pi make sure that the fan-out of the Pi is not exceeded by the load (resistance and capacitance of the input pins of the slaves) - although this is less of a problem today with the low capacitance and high resistance of digital inputs.


There is actually an very good answer for this by an RPi engineer, PhilE, at the raspberry forum, see Sep 28, 2015. Basically, he gives an example of a Device Tree overlay that uses the possibility with spi-bcm2835 to have any free GPIOs as chip select.

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