Giving Your Arduino Eyes and Ears!

Arduino is AWESOME, but by itself it can't do very much.

Once you get past the basics of controlling LED's, Switches and Buzzers you'll want to start doing other stuff.

In order to do that, you'll need sensors, and a lot of them!

Buying individual sensors is pricey, that's why this kit is so awesome. It has 37 sensors in one kit, AND it comes in an awesome carrying case.

Let's jump in a see some of the coolest sensors this kit has to offer!

Ultra Sonic Sensor!This sensor gives your Arduino a pair of eyes and is probably one of the coolest sensors, I have ever seen. Pardon the bad pun...

It operates on the same principles that a bat's ears work. One of the "eyes" sends out an ultrasonic pulse, while the other one sits there and listens for it to return.

It can detect objects from .78" to a little over 13 feet! How cool is that, especially when you mount this bad boy to a servo which can move around.

Strap a set of wheels and some motors on to it all and BAM, you have yourself a pretty cool robot that can avoid walls, objects, cats.... or just about anything else!

 

Tell Me Something Good!

This little guy, while not a "sensor" in a traditional sense, is a welcomed addition to this kit as it serves as a nice replacement to the serial monitor contained within Arduino's IDE.

Let's say that you built the little robot from the example above and need to start testing.

Keeping the USB cable tethered to the robot so that you can debug what's going on isn't really an option.

This LCD makes being able to see what's going on in your code a breeze.

Instead of using serial monitor to output your variables or whatever else you need to see just output it to this screen.

With a generous 16 x 2 line display which has a nice back-light so its visible even in the sunlight, this will definitely speed up your development time!

What Time Is It?

 

Keeping track of time when your Arduino is on is pretty simple, keeping time when your Arduino is off...well... that's a different story.

But before we get to that...

Using Arduino's built in millis() function is a pretty handy way of knowing how much time has passed since it was powered on.

The problem is keeping a reliable tick is not easy. Since millis() is dependent on the Arduino's external crystal, over time(pardon the pun again), your tick won't be very accurate.

What you will begin to see is that sometimes the tick rate is a bit faster, a bit slower, or just about correct.

That's because the onboard crystal isn't a high precision low PPM crystal, so the longer it runs for the more time you will lose.

Instead of attempting to compensate with fancy formulas, (trust me, spent way too much time doing that) use the dedicated SQW pin from this module and attach it directly to the interrupt pin of the Arduino.

Simply set the rate at which you want the SQW pin to toggle and you will have a very accurate time keeper!

Now, let's shift our attention to the importance of knowing how much time has passed when the power is removed.

Using the built in standard CR2032 battery, this little module will continue to track time even when off! How cool is that?

When Would You Need To Know How Much Time Has Passed?

Here is a unique situation when you would need to know how much time has passed so that when power gets reapplied, you take a certain action.

In the world of X-ray equipment, X-ray tubes need to be "seasoned". Which just means that have to be warmed up before using them.

If it's not done at a very specific interval and the technician decides to skip the seasoning step, or applies the wrong seasoning profile to the tube, very bad things happen which can damage the tube permanently.

Xray tubes can run anywhere from a few hundred bucks to thousands, so knowing which seasoning profile to apply and when is extremely important.

If the tube is used everyday, its not an issue to know when the last time it was seasoned. BUT!

What if it was turned off and left off for weeks, upon turning the x-ray tube on, you have no idea of knowing how long the tube has been off for.

The technician may think that applying the seasoning profile from yesterday would be fine, but in fact they should actually be running the seasoning profile for when the tube has been off for weeks.

This is exactly where keeping track of time when the power is off is extremely useful!

This simple and cheap component can literally save thousands of dollars!

Well... these are 3 of my most favorite parts of the sensor kit. There are 34 more included!

Click the picture below to see everything it has and what it comes with!

 

 

 

 

 


2 comments

  • Wonder if this could be used to monitor a driveway or approaches to a door ?

    Bill
  • I could use another one of these. I enjoy the sensor kits.

    Robert Stalcup

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