Raspberry Pi + GPIOs with DS18B20 + Azure + C# = Internet Thermometer! (part 1/2)

In my previous post I explained how you could run .NET code on your Raspberry Pi with the help of the Mono open source project. In the long-run I’d like to use my Raspberry Pi as a web gateway, in between my Arduino sensors and the Azure cloud. So the next step in this journey is to connect the Pi to that Azure cloud. Instead of posting dummy “hello world” data to the cloud, I decided to try to get some data from a sensor, directly connected to the Raspberry Pi. Yrasp_therm_gpioou may be wondering how you can connect a dumb sensor to the Pi, well the answer is General Purpose Input/Output pins (or GPIO’s for short). Every Raspberry Pi has a bunch of them, exposed as pins on the edge of your board. You can think of the GPIO’s as:

  • switches which the Pi can turn on/off programmatically (output)
  • switches which can be turned on/off externally and the corresponding state can be read by the Pi (input)


As you know, if the Pi can send signals and receive signals, it can communicate with the outside world, which is exactly the goal of the GPIO’s. In this example that outside world will be a temperature sensor, the famous DS18B20: a fairly cheap, but very accurate sensor, which can be placed in a bus so you can chain multiple of them together.

In this sample I’ll send the output of this sensor (the temperature), to an Azure Mobile Service. In real life, when you have many, many sensors posting their data to the cloud, Azure Event Hubs is probably a better choice. But for simplicity I’ll stick to a Mobile Service for now and we’ll come back to Event Hubs in a later post. If you haven’t set up your Raspberry Pi so you it can run .NET applications, follow step 1 and 2 from my previous post. If you don’t have a DS18B20 sensor, or you just want to learn how use Azure Mobile Services on your Raspberry Pi, you can skip ahead to part 2 of this post (of course you won’t have real temperature data to post).

Step 1: connecting the DS18B20 sensor

At this point in time you probably want to pay close attention because if you mess up you could, and probably will, damage your Raspberry Pi (disclaimer: don’t blame me if it happens, I warned you). The DS18B20 sensor has 3 contacts (or legs), when you hold the sensor in front of you (with the flat side facing towards you, and its legs pointing down, like in the picture above) they are identified as follows:

  • left leg (pin 1) = negative supply (aka ground)
  • right leg (pin 3) = positive supply (aka voltage)
  • middle leg (pin 2) = data (aka DQ)

Each of the DS18B20 pins need to be connected to a GPIO of the Raspberry Pi as follows: (check how the GPIO’s are numbered on the official Raspberry Pi site)

  • DS18B20 pin 1 to Raspberry Pi pin 6 (ground)
  • DS18B20 pin 2 to Raspberry Pi pin 7 (data)
  • DS18B20 pin 3 to Raspberry Pi pin 1 (voltage)

rasp_thermOn top of that, we need to have a so called pull-up resistor of 4.7KOhm between the DS18B20 pin 2 and 3. If you want to avoid soldering everything together (which I highly recommend in your test/prototype phase), you can use a so-called breadboard and some jumper wires. The picture on the right shows how I connected my Raspberry Pi to the DS18B20 using such a breadboard. When you make these connections, make sure to power off your Raspberry Pi. When you are ready, give your Pi power and pay close attention to what happens: e.g. if your DS18B20 gets very, very hot, you probably make a wiring mistake and you need to remove power very quickly or you will fry your sensor, the Pi (or both).

Step 2: reading the DS18B20 on your Raspberry Pi

There are a couple of ways you can use to access the GPIO’s of the Raspberry Pi: via the memory access, the file system, an HTTP interface etc. There are .NET libraries wrapping the these methods like RaspberryPi.NET and Raspberry.IO. But once again, I’ll be using the easiest way to access the DS18B20, using the file system.

To get going, just open a SSH terminal session to your Raspberry Pi (see my previous post for more details), and type the command modprobe w1-gpio, this will load the kernel module to access the GPIO’s. Then type the command modprobe w1-therm, which will add the kernel module to access devices via the One Wire protocol, used by DS18B20 sensor but also others.


Next you can navigate to the directory /sys/bus/w1/devices by executing the command cd /sys/bus/w1/devices. This directory corresponds with all the devices found on the One Wire bus. If everything is OK you will find one directory with the name w1_bus_master1 (corresponding with the One Wire bus itself), and a directory with the name 28- and some more numbers. This last directory will correspond with your DS18B20 sensor’s unique serial number. If you have very good eyes you can find it printed on the sensor itself. If you have more sensors on the bus, you’ll find more 28-* directories over there.


When you navigate into the 28-* directory, you’ll find a file with the name w1_slave. When accessing this file (it’s just a text file), the actual sensor will be probed to fetch the latest data. With the cat w1_slave command, you can display the contents of that file.

The interesting part is the value behind t=. That value is the temperature in millidegrees Celcius, so if you device it by 1000, you’ll get the temperature in degrees. So in my living room, it’s 21.437 °C at the time of writing. 🙂

Step 3: creating a .NET application to read the temperature

Now we know where to find the sensor data on the file system, writing a .NET C# Console Application to access it is pretty easy. The following code snippet will loop over all directories in /sys/bus/w1/devices which are prefixed with 28 (so which correspond with a sensor). For every directory found, the w1_slave text file is opened, and the value after t= is converted into a double. Finally the Console Application will output a line of text displaying the device ID and the measured temperature.

using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;

namespace testds
    class Program
        static void Main(string[] args)
            DirectoryInfo devicesDir = new DirectoryInfo("/sys/bus/w1/devices");
            foreach (var deviceDir in devicesDir.EnumerateDirectories("28*"))
                var w1slavetext = 
                string temptext = 
                    w1slavetext.Split(new string[] { "t=" }, StringSplitOptions.RemoveEmptyEntries)[1];
                double temp = double.Parse(temptext) / 1000;

                Console.WriteLine(string.Format("Device {0} reported temperature {1}C",
                    deviceDir.Name, temp));


Build to code and copy the assembly (.EXE) to your Raspberry Pi (once again, previous post for details). When you execute the Console Application with the mono yourname.exe command, you’ll see the output. A sample output from my living room is:


In the second part of this post, we’ll finish up this example by building an Azure Mobile Service which will be used by the Raspberry Pi to send data to. So stay tuned for Part 2, and in the meanwhile if you have any questions, remarks, suggestions … drop a comment, or let me know via Twitter.

  12 comments for “Raspberry Pi + GPIOs with DS18B20 + Azure + C# = Internet Thermometer! (part 1/2)

  1. Ian
    November 25, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Excellent example, I’m going to try recreating it for the code club I help run in school.

    The Pi has internal pull up/down resistors which can be set programmatically 🙂

    • Jan
      November 25, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      Thanks! And good tip, did not know about the internal resistor.

  2. promikhail
    January 2, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    i try to run this code in cycle? but in second iteration throws error:
    Sharing violation on path /sys/bus/w1/devices/22-000000217af0/w1_slave

    can’t determine the cause, please help

    • promikhail
      January 2, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      localized to this line of code:
      var w1slavetext=deviceDir.GetFiles(“w1_slave”).FirstOrDefault().OpenText().ReadToEnd();

      but still don’t know cause

    • promikhail
      January 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      i found the reason!

      with this request is not closed stream. and therefore in the next iteration, the previous stream blocks the file.
      you need to force close the stream, something like:

      var w1slavefiles =
                                   device.GetFiles ("w1_slave");
                               var w1slavefirst =
                                   w1slavefiles.FirstOrDefault ();
                               var w1slaveopentext =
                                   w1slavefirst.OpenText ();
                               var w1slavetext =
                                   w1slaveopentext.ReadToEnd ();
                               w1slaveopentext.Close ();

  3. Terrence
    February 24, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    >>use my Raspberry Pi as a web gateway, in between my Arduino sensors and the Azure cloud

    What are you using to communicate with your arduino sensor nodes?
    Do you have any code to share on how you are doing it?
    Thanks for your GREAT posts on these PI – Azure topics.

    • jan
      February 24, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      Hi Terrence, I’m using cheap nRF24L01+ radio modules on a bunch of battery-powered Arduino’s. I’ve created my own stripped-down board to be able to run such a wireless node for a couple of months on 3 AAA batteries. Currently I’m using this library to create a mesh network: https://maniacbug.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/rf24network/

      • Terrence
        February 24, 2015 at 8:37 pm

        Jan, I want that stripped down board. I just need to send a bit from a board triggered by a PIR module to my netduino gateway, soon to be RPI2 gateway. Can you talk a little bit more about your setup?

        • jan
          February 25, 2015 at 6:03 am

          I followed this guide to create a breadboard Arduino: http://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Standalone . Skip the voltage regulator if you want to run it from batteries. Btw, I haven’t been able to run a PIR module from a battery for longer than a week, so let me know if you find a way. 🙂

  4. Terrence
    March 6, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Jan, see this low powered PIR. I have not used one yet, but you might be interested in checking it out.


    Low Power Mini PIR Sensor Module

    New Very Low Power Mini PIR Sensor Module, this unit is complete with Sensor, Lens and Motion Detection IC. The unit draws less than 50 µA’s making it ideal for battery powered PIR Sensors. Ideal for use in door monitors, moveable sense units and remote locations where mains power is not available. The unit comes complete with premounted header pins for connection to a larger board and the unit can easily be incorporated into a final product or security system.

    Part Code: MINI_PIR_MOD_B


    •Complete with PIR, Motion Detection IC and Fresnel Lens
    •Advanced Accuracy Sensor with Low Noise and High Sensitivity
    •Current Drain: Less Than 50µA
    •Wide Supply Voltage: 5-20Vdc
    •Delay Time Adjustable: 1 second to 18 minutes (Factory Set)
    •Detection Length: 2 to 5 meters
    •Standard TTL Output
    •Module Dimensions: 28mm Length, 10mm Width, Sensor Diameter 13.5mm

  5. December 6, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Hi Jan,

    Thanks for your clear example. I found my sensor wasn’t detected, even after running modprobe.

    I used http://www.raspberrypi-spy.co.uk/2013/03/raspberry-pi-1-wire-digital-thermometer-sensor/ to discover that I had to edit
    sudo nano /boot/config.txt
    and add
    and then reboot.

    The sensor is now working correctly.

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