HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Distance Sensor

Submitted by Jenn Case on Wed, 02/06/2013 - 13:17


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.


The sensor is connected as follows:


Coding the HC-SR04 is simple since the pre-existing code for the Ping may quickly be developed to work with it. For example:

//Adapted from David A. Mellis' code for Ping sensor
const int trigPin = 7;
const int echoPin = 8;

void setup() {
  // initialize serial communication:

void loop()
  long duration, inches, cm;

  digitalWrite(trigPin, LOW);
  digitalWrite(trigPin, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(trigPin, LOW);

  duration = pulseIn(echoPin, HIGH);

  // convert the time into a distance
  inches = microsecondsToInches(duration);
  cm = microsecondsToCentimeters(duration);
  Serial.print("in, ");

long microsecondsToInches(long microseconds)
  // According to Parallax's datasheet for the PING))), there are
  // 73.746 microseconds per inch (i.e. sound travels at 1130 feet per
  // second).  This gives the distance travelled by the ping, outbound
  // and return, so we divide by 2 to get the distance of the obstacle.
  // See: http://www.parallax.com/dl/docs/prod/acc/28015-PING-v1.3.pdf
  return microseconds / 74 / 2;

long microsecondsToCentimeters(long microseconds)
  // The speed of sound is 340 m/s or 29 microseconds per centimeter.
  // The ping travels out and back, so to find the distance of the
  // object we take half of the distance travelled.
  return microseconds / 29 / 2;

This code simply takes into account that the one pin on the Ping is two seperate pins on the HC-SR04 sensor.