Posts with «range finder» label

360 Degree proximity sensor

Laser Rangefinder Brought to Life With Arduino

Range finders are amazing tools for doing pretty much anything involving distance calculations. Want to blink some lights when people are nearby? There’s a rangefinder for that. Need to tell how far away the next peak of a mountain range is? There’s a rangefinder for that. But if you’re new to range finders and want one that’s hackable and configurable, look no further than the SF02/F rangefinder with the Arduino shield, and [Laser Developer]’s dive into what this pair can do.

Once the rangefinder and shield have been paired is when the magic really starts to happen. Using USB, the Arduino can instantly report a huge amount of raw data coming from the rangefinder. From there, [Laser Developer] shows us how to put the device into a “settings” mode which expands the capabilities of the rangefinder even more. The data can be dumped into a graph, for example, which can show trends between distance, laser strength, and many other data sets. [Laser Developer] goes one step further and demonstrates how to use this to calculate the speed of light, but from there pretty much anything else is possible as well.

And while you can just buy a rangefinder off the shelf, they are fairly limiting in their features and can cost exponentially more. This is a great start into using a tool like this, especially if you need specific data or have a unique application. But, if laser range finding isn’t for you or if this project is too expensive, maybe this $5 ultrasonic rangefinder will work better for your application.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks
Hack a Day 22 Oct 03:00

Visual Navigator. Making it MOBILE !

Obstacle avoiding vehicle, continue in “3D Laser Range Finder” series ( project 1, project 2). The basic idea is the same, measuring distance using red laser pointers, CCD analog camera and Arduino UNO.  Modification was made in geometry.  Two lasers were set for “far field” obstacle detection, few meters in front of vehicle on left or right side. Primary mission is to trigger left / right turn before a car get too close to the “continuous” but not necessarily “high”  object, for example, sidewalk stone. Of course, this distance depends on the vehicle speed, and “alert” should be dispatched in right time “window”, or there would be no space left to making a turn ( proportional speed adaptation is not implemented yet). Low height of such road infrastructure is making useless ultrasound based range finder.


Two additional lasers were set in “cross” configuration, in order to detect any object that comes dangerously close to the front of vehicle. “Near field” obstacle detection or “head on collision” avoidance. Theirs two beams form reflective “trip-wires” and able to detect as narrow object as leg of a chair or desk, open door frame, anything that at least 1 mm wide.  One laser, pointed to the left, is also works as sidewalk / wall follow navigation system, keeping this distance constant.

Now couple words on “autopilot” algorithm. Three main feature of the project:

  1. wall / sidewalk following;
  2. “far field” obstacle avoidance;
  3. “near field” head on collision avoidance.

were classified in 3 priority levels: 1 – warning, 2 – major, 3 – critical.

0 – clear level, corresponds to normal  R/C radio control, or by  ”man / operator”  navigation via  remote R/C module. Operator is also has “authority” to decline warning class navigator status. But it’s not the case when navigator’s “autopilot” subroutine performs class 2 or 3 maneuver, with status “major” and “critical”. When vehicle performs maneuver 2, “left / right” command from R/C remote module are ignored, the same with “forward / backward” command in status “3 – critical”, making algorithm completely “fool – proof”.

More video will be posted, Link to Arduino UNO sketch: Visual_Navigator.

 5 August 2012.

I’d like to publish more pictures from “inside”, which show interface between arduino and R/C receiver module in the car. Well, not quite arduino, I build a “clone” using pre-programmed AtMega328. As you can see, the receiver was left almost intact, what I did, is just identified two on-board H-bridges which supply power to steering control motor and main vehicles motor-driver. Than, remove 4 resistors in series with controls lines, and routed 8 wires to the arduino ( 4 inputs from R/C receiver and 4 outputs to H-bridges ). Here you are, now arduino could intercept any command coming from R/C transmitter, and based on data from the sensors, make a decision if it makes sense to follow them. Also, “autopilot” function could “directly” address two motors in order to execute “obstacle avoiding” maneuver not asking anyone’s permission!.  What more, arduino control a power delivered to motors via software PWM,  making 7! different speed level available like in real vehicle. Unfortunately, the model I “hack” doesn’t use proportional steering control, but still PWM power management helpful to save a battery energy, limiting unnecessary current delivered to motor.


Bike alert tells drivers to back off

Bicycle commuters are often in a battle with drivers for space on the road. [Hammock Boy] does all of his commuting on two human-powered wheels, and is quite interested in not getting hit by a car. He decided to ply his hobby skills to build a device that helps keep him safe. It’s not just a tail light, it’s a sensor that shines brighter the closer a car is to the back of the bike.

The sensor portion is the ultrasonic range finder seen in the center of the protoboard. Surrounding it is a set of LEDs. Each is individually addressable with the whole package controlled by an Arduino. The sketch measures the distance between the back of the bike and whatever’s behind it. If there’s nothing, one Red led is illuminated. If there is an object, the lights shine brighter, and in different patterns as the distance decreases.

Certainly the next iteration could use a standalone chip without the need for the whole Arduino. This could even work with two battery cells and no voltage regulator. We also think the use of any other color than Red LEDs is suspect but we do love the concept.

Filed under: transportation hacks

Optical Magnet, Arduino project next in a series Laser Tracking 3D

This blog considered to be next stage in the series published earlier, concentrated around the idea tracking object in the space. There are an enormous quantity of similar projects could be developed on this platform. I’ll name a few:

- star / rocket / vehicle tracking;
- follow me / robot / hands / cap etc;
- navigation to charging station / landing pad / around area;
- contact-less measurements rotational speed / angle to surface / shifting.

All of this on a few dollars micro-controller and cheap CMOS camera! Real-time, up to 60 Hz update rate!
Please, check on the first and second version, as I’d skip explanation basic design concept here.

  Most important features in this series of projects:

* 3. TRACKING 3-D.
* 5. TRACKING 6-D.

Feature considered to be independent, so you can star  from  project 1:
than move on next stage, and so on depends on a budget, parts availability or your interest!

This version of hardware/software system design capable to track object in

6 – D ++ space:

*   -  Linear motion along X, Y, Z coordinates (3D);
*   -  Rotation around fixed axis (6D);

I put two ++ plus signs, in order to underline capability of the hardware design to track Rotation of the object based not only on distance measurements, but also Reflectivity. As Power Control Loop strictly hold lasers radiation under control, simple calculation in periodicity of the emitted power would provide information about angular speed round / cylindrical object. Phase difference in 4 signals gives rotational center for Z. It’s also apply for linear motion, tracking of the object could be based on reflectivity or distance or BOTH simultaneously ,  which opens enormously great amount of possibilities.

Optical Magnet:
*  – Attract closest surface;
*  – Repel;
*  – Attract or repel surface with specific reflectivity (BLACK, WHITE, OR COLOR)!!!
*    * work in progress, Reflectivity math are not implemented yet       *
*    * algorithm to track rotation is not included, this is version for demonstration purposes  mainly.*

Link to download Arduino Uno sketch:  Optical_Magnet_6D

8 January, 2012.
Release notes of the version 3.2 software:

-  Video is De-interlaced, full image size 512 (active 492) lines;
-  digitalWrite, analogWrite functions of the arduino IDE were replaced by direct port manipulation, in order  to improve time performance of critical section of the code – interrupt subroutine and to avoid blocking interruption call (functions have locking mechanism in theirs body);
- minor changes in Power Control Loop algorithm, to prevent oscillation;

Link to download Arduino Uno sketch:  Optical_Magnet_6D_V3


ARDUINO Laser 3D Tracking / Range Finder

 The idea of using triangulation for distance measurements is well known since Pythagorean time, when his brilliant formula become available for mathematicians.
What is new in this design, is lasers power control via “blooming” effect of CMOS camera. Here this “negative” effect was put to work instead of ADC. No need high price “no-blooming” camera! (More information on this link: ) There are few others design approach, that I was trying to make in hardware/software, and some of them not fully implemented yet ( project just started ).
Power Control Loop (PCL) allows to get stable  readings of the reflected back light beams, doesn’t matter what is reflectivity of the object’s surface, how well illuminated background and what distance range !!! edited: / (Regarding stability measurements in varying illumination conditions, right now there is a resistor for manual adjustment comparator trigger level, depends on average  “black-fixed” video. Gonna get rid off it shortly)./
Probably, someone could “hack” a camera, and redesign build-in AGC to provide stable, “fixed-white” level of video signal. But it would be extremely difficult to do with this SMD components, lack of documentation and too complicated for average hobbyist. Plus after that camera is not “in use” anymore for it’s main purpose.

Arduino has low size of RAM memory and 8-bit low power microprocessor, so full image processing could not be done. Instead, “build-in” 1-bit comparator forms visual map, where each cell stores time stamp, when events was captured. As video frame created from top to bottom line by line, line number corresponds to Y coordinate, and time of events on this line – X consequently. At this stage project is more like test bench, than final solution -);.
Right now I’m looking for optical zooming devices, to cover long / short distances automatically. Green lasers, I’m sure ‘d bring better resolution, just have to find couple of them for affordable price.
Approximate range with low cost CMOS camera and w/o optical zoom: 0.2 – 10 meters. Accuracy would greatly depends on lasers base/spacing. Lasers base also defines minimum size of the tracking object in Z coordinate.  NTSC camera:
has viewing angle 52 degrees. Forget about pixels resolution for a moment, we are in analog television world -);   Math to calculate the distance (I call it Z coordinate) is pretty simple:   D =  B / tan ( phi ),  where D is distance, B is lasers base, and phi is an angle what camera reports.  Phi = 52 degree / 832 = 0.0625 degree per coordinate difference.(See below where 832 comes from).  D = B / tan (( X1 – X2 ) * 0.0625).  For example, B = 6 cm, X1 = 500, X2 = 512, than: D = 0.06 / tan ( ( 512 – 500) * 0.0625) = 4.58 meters.

Basically, one laser would be sufficient to measure distance. I installed two of them, because it looks cool! If seriously, there are a few advantages:
- redundancy;
- better accuracy;
- no interruption in distance measurements, even when object is in “vision field” area. I defined this area, for PCL operation. Width of vision field area is adaptive, it’s  narrowing to a few lines! after start-up system.

This version of software capable to follow 1 object in X axes. edited: see below Version 2 release notes. Object has to be visible by itself (rocket, vehicle, any source of light in general) OR highlighted by external light source – not focused to cover bigger space area. Reflectivity of object would define necessary power of the light source in this case, for specific distance range. Optical zoom would significantly improve systems performance.
Tracking in Vertical (Y axes) is not implemented yet, but coordinate reported on serial monitor. Math calculus of Z dimension is not included, simple trigonometry formula could be used. Calibration of mechanical setup would be necessary in order to get meaningful measurements results.

Some technical specification: edge detection resolution -  52 microsecond / per line x 16 MHz  = 832 pixel; 235 lines / per frame;    235 x 832 overall. Speed 60 frame / second. There is no issue to get 486 vertical lines with lower speed 30 fps.

52 microsecond is essential characteristic of the NTSC standard, which represents active line duration.  I used NTSC cam, and for PAL/SECAM it’s the same. 16 MHz oscillators frequency Arduino Uno board. I’m saying edge detection instead of spacial resolution as in current setup left edge is only detected with highest possible time accuracy 16 MHz. Technically it easy to modify settings to detect right side edge as well, and measure size of object, shape, and track few of them the same time. It wouldn’t be 832 pixels, as interrupt routine timing overhead will slow down time response, and there is not much memory in Arduino to do  a complex analysis of the picture anyway. This is why decision was made not to bother with right side. In current design, capture timing of event completely done by hardware. There is a link with details on video format:

If you can imagine a balloon brightly highlighted from left side, with right edge invisible in shadow, it’d be close approximation.  For time sync extraction: LM1881. Two sync signal vertical/horizontal are attached on pins 2 and 3. Hardware interrupt feature of AtMega 328 continuously updates synchronization information – current line number. Time capture done by analog comparator and timer 1. DC voltage has to be adjusted in order to trigger comparator reliable at specific level of the video signal.
And one more things to mention, servo motor driving. In order to avoid interrupt routines racing , between lines/frame syncs and servo motor software library, which generate a jitter in position of the servo, plus timing noise on video raster, I didn’t use a standard Arduino Servo library, and generate servo-sync synchronously with frame sync. Frequency is up to 60 Hz instead of regular 50 Hz, but there is no complain from my Parallax servo, and I think it would the same with any other motors as well.

Link to download sketch:  Arduino_Laser_TRF

12 December 2011   *****  VERSION 2  *****

*     There are 4 main features in the project:
* 1. LOCALIZATION XY. CMOS Camera, LM1881.
* 2. RANGE FINDER Z.  Two Lasers plus Camera.
* 3. TRACKING 3D.        2 Servo Motors, plus all of the above.
* 4. TRACE TOOL.      Doesn’t require hardware, software only.
Feature considered to be independent, so you can star to build from first one, than move on next stage, and so on depends on a budget, parts availability or your interest! This version of software capable to track object in 3D space, X, Y and Z coordinates. Tracking feature requires
object to be visible in normal “visible” spectrum or near IR. Spectral range could be extended to thermal vision with different Image sensors. Emitting light by itself Object (rocket, star, any source of light in general) OR highlighted by external light source – not focused to cover bigger space area. For distance measurements Reflectivity of object and distance would define necessary power of the external light source in this case.
Z coordinate / distance is calculated in real time, based on simple trigonometry formula D = B * tan (phi).
Calibration of mechanical setup would be necessary in order to get accurate measurements results, especially
on long distances, when angle phi becomes really small. 

Link to download sketch:  Arduino_Laser_TRF_V2
* I’m not removing first version from download section, as it’s smaller and easier to understand logic
behind some software sub-module. Please, be advised that  V1 has bugs in servo motor position calculation. V1 is preferable to hobbyist, who want only localization and distance measurements features.