SparkFun Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay Kit Hookup Guide

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Introduction

We love our Solid State Relay - 40A. We love it so much we've designed the SparkFun Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay Kit. This kit allows you to assemble up to four of these solid state relays on a single PCB and control them all via I2C from your favorite microcontroller. The Quad Solid State Relay Kit comes with four solid state relays rated up to 40A at voltages between 28-380 VAC so you can switch some serious power with this board all from a single Qwiic connector attached to an Arduino or other low-powered microcontroller.

SparkFun Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay Kit

SparkFun Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay Kit

KIT-16833
$39.95
4

In this tutorial we'll cover what is included with the Quad Solid State Relay Kit along with how to assemble and finally how to connect it to an Arduino and Raspberry Pi to use the examples included in our Arduino Library and Python package.

Required Materials

You will need a microcontroller to control the Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay in order to follow along with this tutorial. Below are a few options that come Qwiic-enabled out of the box:

SparkFun Thing Plus - ESP32 WROOM

SparkFun Thing Plus - ESP32 WROOM

WRL-15663
$20.95
6
SparkFun Qwiic Pro Micro - USB-C (ATmega32U4)

SparkFun Qwiic Pro Micro - USB-C (ATmega32U4)

DEV-15795
$19.95
4
SparkFun RedBoard Qwiic

SparkFun RedBoard Qwiic

DEV-15123
$19.95
8
SparkFun RedBoard Artemis

SparkFun RedBoard Artemis

DEV-15444
$19.95
8

We also have a Python package available for this and our other Qwiic Relay boards so you can use a Raspberry Pi as your controller as well.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (2 GB)

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (2 GB)

DEV-15446
$35.00
4
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (4 GB)

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (4 GB)

DEV-15447
$55.00
16
Raspberry Pi 3 B+

Raspberry Pi 3 B+

DEV-14643
$35.00
34

SparkFun Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit - 4GB

KIT-16386

If your chosen microcontroller is not already Qwiic-enabled, you can add that functionality with one or more of the following items:

SparkFun Qwiic Adapter

SparkFun Qwiic Adapter

DEV-14495
$1.50
1
SparkFun Qwiic Shield for Arduino

SparkFun Qwiic Shield for Arduino

DEV-14352
$6.95
6
SparkFun Qwiic SHIM for Raspberry Pi

SparkFun Qwiic SHIM for Raspberry Pi

DEV-15794
$0.95
8
SparkFun Qwiic pHAT v2.0 for Raspberry Pi

SparkFun Qwiic pHAT v2.0 for Raspberry Pi

DEV-15945
$6.95
2

You will also need at least one Qwiic cable to connect your Quad Solid State Relay Kit to your microcontroller.

Qwiic Cable - 100mm

Qwiic Cable - 100mm

PRT-14427
$1.50
Qwiic Cable - 50mm

Qwiic Cable - 50mm

PRT-14426
$0.95
Qwiic Cable - 200mm

Qwiic Cable - 200mm

PRT-14428
$1.50
Qwiic Cable - 500mm

Qwiic Cable - 500mm

PRT-14429
$1.95
1

Required Tools

While there is no soldering required to assemble the Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay, there is some minor assembly involved. You will need a screwdriver as well as wire strippers to assemble your kit and prepare your wires.

Self-Adjusting Wire Strippers

Self-Adjusting Wire Strippers

TOL-14872
$16.95
2
SparkFun Mini Screwdriver

SparkFun Mini Screwdriver

TOL-09146
$0.95
3
Pocket Screwdriver Set

Pocket Screwdriver Set

TOL-12891
$3.95
5
Wire Strippers - 20-30AWG

Wire Strippers - 20-30AWG

TOL-15220
$10.95
1

Suggested Reading

If you aren't familiar with the Qwiic system, we recommend reading here for an overview:

Qwiic Connect System

We would also suggest reading through the following tutorials if you are not familiar with the concepts covered in them:

Serial Communication

Asynchronous serial communication concepts: packets, signal levels, baud rates, UARTs and more!

Working with Wire

How to strip, crimp, and work with wire.

Electric Power

An overview of electric power, the rate of energy transfer. We'll talk definition of power, watts, equations, and power ratings. 1.21 gigawatts of tutorial fun!

I2C

An introduction to I2C, one of the main embedded communications protocols in use today.

Hardware Overview

The Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay Kit builds on the design for our Qwiic Quad Relay using an ATTiny84 to act as the "brain" for the board. To allow for faster and quieter switching of the loads, this board uses solid state relays instead of electromechanical relays.

In this section we'll cover the hardware present on the Quad Solid State Relay Kit and note some of the unique functionality of the components.

Solid State vs Mechanical Relays

Let's talk briefly about two types of relays before we get into the details on everything included with the kit. A relay is a special kind of switch that has a switching mechanism inside isolated from the switch. This allows us to control the high-voltage output of the relay from a low-power input like a microcontroller.

Now let's compare an electromechanical relay (EMR) and a solid state relay (SSR). The primary difference is an EMR uses an electromagnetic field to physically close a switch inside the relay where a SSR uses a semiconductor like a MOSFET or an opto-isolator to switch the load on and off. This allows the SSR to switch at much higher speeds than an EMR and also increases their durability. Theoretically, and if used within spec, an SSR can last forever where EMR's are designed with an expected lifetime. EMR's are typically cheaper and also can allow multiple loads on a single relay (if it has multiple contacts) where SSR's are limited to a single load.

There is a lot of discussion out there about which type of relay is best but it really comes down to two things: budget and versatility. This brief outline covers the very basics of mechanical and solid state relays. Take some time to do a bit more research to help you decide which type of relay will be best suited for your project. For a short yet informative overview of electromechanical relays vs solid state relays, check out this blog post.

40A Solid State Relays

The kit includes four of our 40A Solid State Relays (SSR's) for you to assemble on to your board. Let's cover some characteristics from the relay's datasheet so you know what to expect from them and the Quad Solid State Relay.

Characteristic Range
Input Voltage 3V-32V
Supply Current 7.5mA @12V (40 mA @3.3V)
Load Voltage 24-380VAC
Max Current (Through Relay) 40A (@240 VAC)

The relays use the Zero Cross trigger method so when operating on a 60Hz AC carrier signal you can switch the relays up to 120 times per second! Read on in the Arduino Examples and Python Examples sections where we'll demonstrate how to do that using a PWM signal.

The four 2-pin screw terminal blocks on the board connect the control signal inputs of the relays to the ATTiny84. The kit includes two lengths of wire for you to use to connect the relays to the board. Read on to the Hardware Hookup section for tips on assembling your kit.

Highlighting relay spaces and screw terminal blocks

Having trouble viewing the details in the image? Click on it for a larger view!

One last note before we move on from the relays. The circuit for controlling the relays is designed for a Normally Open circuit only. This means your load is normally off until the relay is switched on. For more information on how this circuit is configured, check out the schematic and the relay datasheet.

Note on Heat Sinks: For small loads (eg. ≤10A) a heat sink should not be required if there is air cooling available. For larger loads, a heat sink is strongly recommended! Review the relay's datasheet for recommendations on heat sink dimensions.

ATTiny84

The ATTiny84 on this board comes pre-programmed with firmware to control up to four relays via I2C commands. The ATTiny84's I2C address is 0x08 by default. Each relay control input is connected to an I/O pin on the ATTiny84 via a transistor circuit to protect the I/O pins as each relay takes ~40mA to toggle @3.3V. Each relay also has a blue STAT LED tied to the I/O circuit to indicate when the relay is on.

There is also a 2x3 header broken out on the back of the board for programming the ATTiny84. This is primarily used for programming during manufacturing but you can re-program the IC if you would like. You can download and modify the firmware from the Hardware GitHub Repository.

Highlighting ATTiny and Transistor circuits

Having trouble viewing the details in the image? Click on it for a larger view!

Need help re-programming the ATTiny84 on your Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay? Take a look at our Tiny AVR Programmer Hookup Guide and our Re-Programming the LilyTiny/LilyTwinkle Tutorial.

Power

Power for the board is provided either via the Qwiic interface or through the labeled 3.3V and GND pins broken out on the bottom left of the board.

Qwiic and I2C Interface

The I2C interface is broken out to two Qwiic connectors on either side of the board as well as 0.1"-spaced header pins for those who prefer a more traditional soldered connection.

Highlighting Qwiic and I2C Interface

Having trouble viewing the details in the image? Click on it for a larger view!

Jumpers

If you have never worked with solder jumpers and PCB traces before or would like a quick refresher, check out our How to Work with Solder Jumpers and PCB Traces tutorial for detailed instructions and tips.

There are three jumpers on the Qwiic Quad Relay labeled PWR, I2C and ADR. The PWR jumper enables the Power LED, the I2C jumper pulls the SDA and SCL lines to 3.3V and the ADR jumper sets the I2C address of the ATTiny84.

Highlighting solder jumpers.

Having trouble viewing the details in the image? Click on it for a larger view!

Power Jumper

The power jumper (labeled PWR) controls voltage to the power LED on the board. This jumper is closed by default. To disable the power LED, simply open the jumper by severing the trace in between the two pads. Disabling the power LED can help reduce the total current draw of the board.

Address Jumper

The address jumper (labeled ADR) sets the I2C address for the ATTiny84. The jumper is closed by default with the address set to 0x08. Opening the jumper will change the address to 0x09.

I2C Jumper

The I2C Jumper pulls the SDA and SCL lines to 3.3V via two 4.7K Ohm resistors. The jumper is closed by default. Open this jumper if you have multiple devices connected to the bus with their own pull-up resistors enabled to avoid causing the parallel equivalent resistance creating too strong of a pull-up for the bus to operate correctly. As a general rule, disable all but one pair of pull-up resistors if multiple devices are connected to the bus.

Note: If you disable the pull-up resistors on your Qwiic Quad Relay, make sure the rest of your I2C bus is operating at 3.3V Logic. If your bus is running at a different logic, you will need to shift that logic to 3.3V to avoid damaging the ATTiny84 on this board.

Board Dimensions

The Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay is quite large to fit all four relays and measures 7.30" x 3.30" (185.42mm x 91.44mm). There are eight mounting holes that fit a 4-40 screw.

Board Dimensions

Having trouble seeing the details? Click on the image for a larger view.

With all the hardware included with the Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay covered, it's time to start assembling it!

Hardware Assembly

While the Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay does not require any soldering, there is some minor assembly needed prior to using your board. In this section we'll provide a brief set of instructions to assemble your board and afterward you can start switching some high power loads.

Quad SSR Kit and recommended tools

Wire Strippers and Screwdriver sold separately.

Preparation and Initial Relay Assembly

First, we want to attach our SSR's to the Qwiic Quad Solid Relay board. All you need here is a screwdriver, the screws included with the kit and your relays. Place one of the relays in the area outlined on the PCB and secure it in place from the opposite side of the PCB. Make sure the relays are oriented properly with the side labeled Input closest to the screw terminals.

Attaching relay through the PCB using included hardware.

We just used hand-tightening for the relays here but if your installation is going to be more permanent you'll want to use some pliers or a socket to hold the nut into place while securing the relay.

Next, locate the lengths of wire included with your kit as we'll need them to connect our relays to their respective screw terminal block. Cut each wire into four even lengths and strip away a small portion of the insulation on each end. With everything unpowered, take one of your prepared wires, secure one end to the terminal labeled "-" and the other to the terminal on your relay labeled "4/-". Next, take another of your wires and secure one end to the terminal labeled "+" and the other to the terminal on your relay labeled "3/+".

One relay attached to board and wired to screw terminal

For the purpose of this tutorial we're only fully assembling one of the included SSR's but feel free to attach the other three at this point.

Relay Output Load Assembly

Next up we'll want to prepare our AC load we are controlling with the relays.

You'll have to cut and strip your load AC line (usually black or red) and connect one end of the cut wire to the terminal on your relay labeled 1 and the other end to the terminal labeled 2.

First relay attached and wired to AC Load

Connecting to Microcontroller

Now that your Quad SSR Kit is fully assembled and connected to your load you can connect it to your development board using a Qwiic cable or adapter cable. If you would prefer to not use the Qwiic connectors, you can connect to the 0.1" header pins broken out on the bottom left of the board.

Quad SSR Kit with all four relays connected to a SparkFun RedBoard

Note: The black standoffs and screws securing them to the relay board pictured here are not included with the kit.

If you decide to use the PTH pins broken out on the board you will need to solder to them. If you are not familiar with through-hole soldering take a look at this tutorial:

How to Solder: Through-Hole Soldering

September 19, 2013

This tutorial covers everything you need to know about through-hole soldering.

With the Qwiic Quad SSR Kit assembled and connected to your microcontroller it's time to get some code uploaded and start taking measurements!

Qwiic Relay Arduino Library

Note: This example assumes you are using the latest version of the Arduino IDE on your desktop. If this is your first time using Arduino, please review our tutorial on installing the Arduino IDE. If you have not previously installed an Arduino library, please check out our installation guide.

The SparkFun Qwiic Relay Arduino Library works with all SparkFun Qwiic Relay boards to help you use your Qwiic Relay to its full functionality. You can click the link below to download the file or navigate through the Arduino Library Manager by searching SparkFun Qwiic Relay. You can also go the library's GitHub repo and download it from there.

Library Functions Overview

The list below outlines all of the functions of the Qwiic Relay library along with short descriptions of what they do. The examples cover nearly all of the functions so take a look at those for help integrating them into your own code.

These functions will work with all SparkFun Qwiic Relay boards.

  • bool begin(TwoWire &wirePort = Wire); - Initialize the Qwiic Relay on the I2C bus.
  • float singleRelayVersion(); - Returns the version number of the relay.
  • void turnRelayOn(uint8_t relay); - Turn the given relay on. For example, turnRelayOn(1); will toggle the first relay. If using the single Qwiic Single Relay leave the unsigned integer blank.
  • void turnRelayOff(uint8_t relay); - Turn the selected relay off. Similar to the above function, select values between 1 and 4 to turn the chosen relay off. Leave the integer blank if using the Qwiic Single Relay.
  • void toggleRelay(uint8_relay) - Toggles the selected relay to the opposite state. The function first checks the status of the relay and is toggled to either on or off depending on what the status check returns.
  • void turnAllRelaysOn(); - Turns all relays on the board on.
  • void turnAllRelaysOff(); - Turns all relays on the board off.
  • void toggleAllRelays(); - Checks the state of each relay and toggles all relays on the board to the opposite state.
  • uint8_t getState(uint8_t relay); - Returns the status of the selected relay. Returns 1 if on or 0 if off.
  • bool changeAddress(uint8_t newAddress); - Changes the I2C address of the Qwiic Relay. The new address is written to the memory location in EEPROM that determines the address.

The below function is intended for the Qwiic Solid State Relay boards only. It will not work on either of the Qwiic Mechanical Relay boards.

  • bool setSlowPWM(uint8_t relay, uint8_t pwmValue); - Starts a slow PWM (1Hz) with a range from 0-120 for the selected relay. The PWM range is limited to 0-120 as this is the maximum PWM resolution for Zero-crossing SSR's at 60Hz. Setting pwmValue to 120 will give you 100% duty cycle and the selected relay will be always on.

Arduino Examples

The examples included with the SparkFun Qwiic Relay Arduino Library work with all Qwiic Relay boards with one exception. Example 7 - Slow PWM was added specifically for the Quad Solid State Relay Kit to demonstrate how to use the setSlowPWM(uint8_t relay, uint8_t pwmValue); function. As mentioned in the previous section, this function will only work on the SSR boards and not the EMR boards. In this section we'll explore this example and explain how it works and how to modify it.

Example 7 - Slow PWM

If you are not familiar with how Pulse Width Modulation works or what we mean by "duty cycle", head on over to our Pulse Width Modulation tutorial for a detailed introduction to how this type of signal works.

This example generates a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) signal from the ATTiny84 on the board to quickly switch a selected relay on and off. Open the example in Arduino by navigating to File > Examples > SparkFun Qwiic Relay Arduino Library > Example7_Slow_PWM. Next, open the Tools menu and select your board (in our case, Arduino Uno) and the correct Port your board enumerated on.

Upload the code and open your serial monitor with the baud set to 115200. The code prints out whether or not the initialization of the Quad SSR Kit was successful and then prints the PWM value for each relay set using the setSlowPWM(); function. Let's take a closer look at the code:

First, in all code for the Quad SSR Kit, you will need to declare the I2C address:

language:c
Qwiic_Relay quadRelay(QUAD_SSR_DEFAULT_ADDRESS);

If you have altered the ADR jumper or changed the address using Example 6 - Change I2C Address you will need to adjust this to the correct value.

The code sets up each of the four relays to run at a PWM value of 75 (62.5% duty-cycle). Try playing around with the PWM values set in the setSlowPWM(); function for each relay to see how it affects the behavior of your load(s).

language:c
// To turn on a relay give the function the number you want to turn on (or
// off).
quadRelay.setSlowPWM(1, 75);
quadRelay.setSlowPWM(2, 75);
quadRelay.setSlowPWM(3, 75);
quadRelay.setSlowPWM(4, 75);

Note, as we mentioned in the previous section, the PWM resolution is capped at 120 since the relay cannot switch more times than that in one second on a 60Hz signal.

The code also demonstrates how to use the getSlowPWM(); function by printing out the PWM value set for each relay:

language:c
Serial.println(quadRelay.getSlowPWM(1));
Serial.println(quadRelay.getSlowPWM(2));
Serial.println(quadRelay.getSlowPWM(3));
Serial.println(quadRelay.getSlowPWM(4));

Quad SSR Kit switching a desk lamp

Check out that pulsing desk lamp action!

If Arduino isn't your jam, head on to the next section where we cover the Python package we wrote for this and our other Qwiic Relay boards.

Qwiic Relay Python Package

Note: This example assumes you are using the latest version of Python 3. If this is your first time using Python or I2C hardware on a Raspberry Pi, please checkout our tutorial on Python Programming with the Raspberry Pi and the Raspberry Pi SPI and I2C Tutorial.

We've written a Python package to control the Qwiic Relay family including the Quad Solid State Relay Kit. You can install the sparkfun-qwiic-relay Python package hosted by PyPi. However, if you prefer to manually download and build the libraries from the GitHub repository, you can grab them here (*Please be aware of any package dependencies. You can also check out the repository documentation page, hosted on Read the Docs.):

Installation

Note: Don't forget to double check that the hardware I2C connection is enabled on your Raspberry Pi or other single board computer.

PyPi Installation

This repository is hosted on PyPi as the sparkfun-qwiic-relay package. On systems that support PyPi installation via pip3 (use pip for Python 2) is simple, using the following commands:

For all users (note: the user must have sudo privileges):

language:bash
sudo pip3 install sparkfun-qwiic-relay

For the current user:

language:bash
pip3 install sparkfun-qwiic-relay

Local Installation

To install, make sure the setuptools package is installed on the system.

Direct installation at the command line (use python for Python 2):

language:bash
python3 setup.py install

To build a package for use with pip3:

language:bash
python3 setup.py sdist

A package file is built and placed in a subdirectory called dist. This package file can be installed using pip3.

language:bash
cd dist
pip3 install sparkfun_qwiic_relay-<version>.tar.gz

Dependencies

This Python package has a few dependencies in the code, listed below:

language:python
from __future__ import print_function
import math
import qwiic_i2c

Function Overview

For a full overview of all the functions included with the Qwiic Relay Py package, head on over to the ReadtheDocs page.

Python Examples

Now that you have the Qwiic Relay Py package installed, it's time to check out the examples included with the package.

Example 1 - The Basics

This example demonstrates the basics of turning relays on and off. The code initializes the Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay on the I2C bus, turns on relays 1 and 3 and prints the status of all relays.

language:python
 if myRelays.begin() == False:
    print("The Qwiic Relay isn't connected to the system. Please check your connection", \
        file=sys.stderr)
    return

#Turn on relays one and three
myRelays.set_relay_on(1)
myRelays.set_relay_on(3)
time.sleep(1)

#Print the status of all relays
for relayNum in range(4):
    current_status = None
    if myRelays.get_relay_state(relayNum) is True:
        current_status = "On"
    else:
        current_status = "Off"
    print("Status 1: " + current_status + "\n")

Next, the code turns off relays 1 and 3 and turns on relays 2 and 4.

language:python
#Turn off 1 and 3, turn on 2 and 4
myRelays.set_relay_off(1)
myRelays.set_relay_on(2)
myRelays.set_relay_off(3)
myRelays.set_relay_on(4)
time.sleep(1)

Finally, the code turns all relays on for one second and then turns them all off.

language:python
#Turn all relays on, then turn them all off
myRelays.set_all_relays_on()
time.sleep(1)

myRelays.set_all_relays_off()

With the basics of toggling all the relays, it's time to move on to using the Slow PWM function to pulse our Solid State Relays.

Example 2 - Slow PWM

The second example included with the Python package demonstrates how to use the set_slow_pwm() function. The example starts just like the first by initializing the Quad SSR Kit on the I2C bus and then sets the PWM duty-cycle for each relay and uses the get_slow_pwm() function to print the PWM value set for each relay:

language:python
myRelays.set_slow_pwm(1, 30) #25% duty cycle
myRelays.set_slow_pwm(2, 60) #50% duty cycle
myRelays.set_slow_pwm(3, 90) #75% duty cycle
myRelays.set_slow_pwm(4, 120) #100% duty cycle

for relay_num in range(4):
    pwm_value = myRelays.get_slow_pwm(relay_num)
    print("PWM Value for relay ")
    print(relay_num)
    print(": ")
    print(pwm_value)
#Let the slow PWM run for a while
time.sleep(15)

Each relay is set to a different duty cycle to demonstrate how that affects the behavior of the load and will run for 15 seconds. Want your relay to pulse at a 50% duty cycle? Set the slow PWM value to 60. Note: Just like the Arduino Library, the PWM resolution is limited to 0-120 since there are only 120 times where the zero crossing relay can switch in one second.

After our 15 seconds is up, the code turns all relays off by setting the PWM value to 0 and prints out the new PWM values:

language:python
myRelays.set_slow_pwm(1, 0)
myRelays.set_slow_pwm(2, 0)
myRelays.set_slow_pwm(3, 0)
myRelays.set_slow_pwm(4, 0)


for relay_num in range(4):
    pwm_value = myRelays.get_slow_pwm(relay_num)
    print("PWM Value for relay ")
    print(relay_num)
    print(": ")
    print(pwm_value)

That's all for the basics of our Python package! Try using the various functions included here to write your own code for your next relay project.

Register Map

Below is the I2C register map if you would prefer to write your own code package or use a different language to control the Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay Kit.

Register Map

You can also download the PDF.

Resources and Going Further

Now that you've successfully assembled your SparkFun Qwiic Quad Solid State Relay and gotten it up and running, it's time to incorporate it into your own project!

For more information, check out the resources below:

Need some inspiration for your next project? Check out some of these other relay and power control related tutorials.

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