Sensors

Jenn Case's picture

Adafruit Ultimate GPS Breakout

Introduction

The Adafruit Ultimate GPS Breakout board is an excellent way to get started with GPS and Arduino. Adafruit does an excellent job providing tutorials and code for the user. I would suggest checking out their provided tutorials and code before looking elsewhere.

When I was working with the GPS, I made a few changes to the code that Adafruit provided based on how the Arduino handles floats (or doesn't handle them). The changes that I made are not particularly necessary depending on what it is being used for, but does increase the accuracy of the module on the code level. However, I suggest that you become familiar with how the unit works first before attempting to alter the code.

Jenn Case's picture

Joystick

Introduction

Joysticks have become a common tool among various devices, such as gaming controllers. They can be an interesting addition to projects as well. Joysticks are fairly simply components that use two potentiameters to give the readings from two axes. They may also include a button to see if the user has clicked the joystick.

Jenn Case's picture

Simple Security System

Introduction

Who hasn't wanted to monitor what goes on when they aren't there. When I was little, I was always curious about whether or not anyone was going into my room and would have loved a camera monitoring system. It may even be a good idea to have a simple security setup for an apartment.

This tutorial shows how to set up a PIR sensor along with a small TTL camera and an SD card to capture images whenever there is movement in the monitored area.

The necessary libraries are: SoftwareSerial (for the camera) and SDFat (for the SD card).

Evan Boldt's picture

ArduIMU

Introduction

An ArduIMU v3, taken form the top  An ArduIMU v3 picture, taken from the bottom

An IMU is something used to detect primarily orientation, but is a general term for an Inertial Measurement Unit. Needless to say, they can provide some vital information for mobile robots. In particular, flying robots need them since there is no way to guess orientation using wheel encoders.

An advantage to having an all-in-one unit instead of just using each of its sensors yourself is that the board can cross-check and merge the data for you. For example, a gyro gives you changes in orientation in each axis, but an accelerometer and magnetometer both send 3D directions - both in different directions too. Furhtermore, the acceleration doesn't even always point down.

One would hope that these sensors would be able to give velocity or even position information. Sadly, the sensors are just not accurate enough to be able to numerically integrate and avoid drift error. It can be possible to use the information to refine something that is capable of giving position information - like a GPS. That is partly why many of these boards include a GPS port. The other is that they are primarily used in flying drones, which usually want a GPS anyway and it is not too expensive to add the connector.

Jenn Case's picture

Linksprite JPEG Camera

Introduction

Cameras can be used in numerous applications: survellience, hobbies, robotics, etc. They are very useful to see what is happening when a robot is moving on its own or even to just have fun with.

I got a UART camera to play around with and that I intend to stick on a robot. However, getting the code functioning on the camera was more difficult than I initially expected and there did not appear to be any good tutorials available.

I modified the code provided by Linksprite for their camera so that it will continuously take pictures rather than take one and stop. After all, if this camera is going to be used on a robot, it should be able to take more than one picture.

Adafruit and Sparkfun both provide sample code, but they required having an SD card, which I did not have at the time. This will print the images directly to the serial port and then the images can be translated with the Python code.

Jenn Case's picture

PIR Sensor (HC-SR501)

Introduction

Passive Infra-Red (PIR) sensors are used to detect motion based on the infrared heat in the surrounding area. This makes them a popular choice when building a system to detect potential intruders or people in general. These sensors can take for 10-60 seconds to warm up, so try to avoid motion during that time.

Evan Boldt's picture

GP2Y0A02YK Infrared Sensor in Real Distance

Introduction

This is a longer range version of the GP2Y0D810 Infrared Sensor. They're about 15$, and work fairly well for distances between 0.5 meters and 1.5 meters. It is important to note that the distance to voltage curve is not linear. So, if you want the real distance, measured in mm, you'll need to come up with a best fit curve based on some experimental data.

Like the midrange version, the wiring is easy. Red goes to +5V, Black goes to GND, and white goes to an analog pin (in my case A0). You can even hook multples of them up as long as you use a seperate white to analog pin.

Again, IR does not the same on all surfaces. It depends on their reflectivity. For example, black surfaces tend to appear to be really far away since they don't bounce back much light. So, when you gather your data to make a best fit curve, you should use a surface similar to the one you plan on detecting.

Jenn Case's picture

GP2Y0D810 Infrared Sensor

Introduction

Infrared sensors are a form of distance sensors. They tend to be more susceptible to inaccuracies. This is because they send out infrared light and wait for the light to tell distance. Certain colors, especially black, absorb some of the infrared light and may return a false reading.

This was tested on a variety of objects that were what would be considered black. A reading was obtained from almost all of the tested objects, although the distance returned varied. There was one black object that the sensor could not detect at all. The moral of this story is do not rely solely on infrared sensors for distance detection. Redundancy is key when working on robots.

For the GP2Y0D810 sensor, Pololu makes a breakout board that has three pins on it: VIN, GND, and OUT.

Jenn Case's picture

HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Distance Sensor

Introduction

The HC-SR04 distance sensor is an ultrasonic sensor that is used for distance measurements.

Ultrasonic sensors work by sending out a sound wave and waiting until that wave bounces back to the sensor. This means that the sensor's accuracy can actually change with the speed of sound. However, this is usually not an issue.

This is a cheaper alternative to the Ping sensor. Instead of three pins, it has four: +5V, GND, Trigger, and Echo. This means that one less pin is available on the Arduino, but, depending on the project, that may not matter.

Jenn Case's picture

Ping))) Ultrasonic Sensor

Introduction

Parallax's Ping))) sensor is an ultrasonic sensor that is used for distance measurements.

Ultrasonic sensors work by sending out a sound wave and waiting until that wave bounces back to the sensor. This means that the sensor's accuracy can actually change with the speed of sound. However, this is usually not an issue.

The advantage of the Ping sensor over similar ultrasonic sensors is that it only has three pins: +5V, GND, Trigger. This means that one less pin is used on the Arduino, which may be crucial to a project.

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