I2C Level Converter

You’ve got several devices which communicate via the I2C protocol, but some of them can only operate at 3.3V while the rest are hungry for a 5V connection. What to do? [Linux-works] built this I2C level converter to solve the problem.

The circuit comes from an NXP app note (PDF) on the issue. You can take a quick peek at the suggested schematic from that document. The design uses two MOSFETS for each side of the adaptor. Perhaps a better way to explain this is that you need one for the higher voltage and one for the lower voltage on each of the two data lines for a total of four parts. This allows for both of the buses to communicate as one, while still having their own 3.3V and 5V pull-up resistors.

[Linux-works] concedes that there are chips designed to do this for you, but he was able to source the BSS138 MOSFETs locally and for about ten cents a piece. Not a bad alternative to putting in a parts order.