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Ultrasonic range finding - components

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Danny T, Jan 13, 2005.

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  1. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    Hi all,

    I want to build a simple ultrasonic range counter. I've got 400ST/400SR
    transducers. I found a simple schematic here:

    But I don't need the LCD. I just want to send 40Mhz pulses, wait a few
    ms, then start listening for the start of the reply. Can anyone suggest
    the components suitable for the amplifier shown here? As I understand
    it, I can detect the range from the time taken between my pulsing, and
    the echo, so all I need to do is drive a PIC input high. Somewhere else
    I read that I need to amplify the signal by around 1000 times to do this?

  2. This would be kHz, I guess.
    That 'schematic' is useless.

    Here is one schematic, but it doesn't look all that promising:

    Here is another one from EDN, who occasionally have useful stuff, but it
    isn't pic-centric: Range Finder/Ultrasonic.htm

    Here is one from TI: Range Finder II/slaa136a.pdf

    If you search for 'ultrasonic ranger' or 'ultrasonic distance
    measurement' you'll get several thousand hits.

    Robert Monsen

    "Your Highness, I have no need of this hypothesis."
    - Pierre Laplace (1749-1827), to Napoleon,
    on why his works on celestial mechanics make no mention of God.

  3. There are several changes needed to make your range
    finder work something like you probably hope.
    1. The gain needs to be varied, from low to high, as echoes
    (or their absence) from greater ranges are collected. This is
    because signals become progressively weaker with range.
    2. There should be some kind of frequency selection in your
    receiver. Otherwise, its noise performance will be many
    times worse than it needs to be.
    3. You need some kind of detector, a circuit that converts
    the 40 MHz received wavelets into baseband bumplets.

    You may want to look at the AD8331 by Analog Devices.
    It will handle the time varying gain if you are willing to provide
    a ramped voltage to it. Its gain is appropriate for sonar, if
    your detector can see a few hundred mV.

    There are range-finding IC's available. By some measures,
    those will be simpler than anything you can do with a lot of
    separate parts.
  4. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    I thought so too, but it looked simple compared to others ;)

    I know, I found lots, but many seem to be very complex, such as having
    555 timers and tone decoders, which I believe I don't need. The timing
    can be done by my chip, and as I understand it, the time delay in
    receiving the response is enough to calculate the distance, so the
    actual signal isn't important. I also believe my transducers are geared
    for around the 40Khz range, so noise hopefully won't be a problem...?
  5. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    As I understand it, the signal isn't that important, just the time
    delay. As long as I can get the start of the signal, I can use the
    timing to calculate the distance, and ignore the waves of the signal?
    I was looking at the NE567 tone decoder, but I think the transducers are
    heard for 40Khz anyway. Rapid seem to have the NE567 as "discontinued"
    with no replacements - if you think it'd be beneficial, I'm sure I could
    get some from somewhere.?

    As long as the first sign of a signal is enough to be picked up by my
    PIC, is it that important?

    I understand that, but I'm doing it to gain knowledge, not the end
    product, and this way looks like it'll teach me a lot! :)

  6. Unless your tranducers are quite efficient, the noise
    that appears to exist at the amplifier input will not
    be limited to the bandwidth of the tranducer.

    Good luck with your 1-bit DSP software.
  7. There are a couple important principles in detection that
    you overlook at the expense of performance. One is to
    match the receiver sensitivity spectrum to the expected
    signal spectrum. Another is to set the detection threshold
    above the noise but not so far above as to miss events.
    Without time-varying gain or threshold, you cannot effect
    the latter. Without some frequency selectivity, you cannot
    effect the former.
    Something as simple as an LC bandpass filter would be
    just about as good. The NE567 might not lock onto the
    returned echo fast enough to yield decent range resolution.
    If you operate your device in an otherwise quiet environment,
    and do not care about getting as much range as your preamp
    and transducer would allow, then, no, it is not important. My
    bet is that you will discover many acoustic noise sources that
    you do not yet deem significant.

    I hope you have an oscilloscope for this project. If so, you
    may want to hook it up with some gain to your transducer
    and see what is floating around where you plan to do sonar.
    Very likely, and more than you imagine just now.

    I would ask, (rhetorically), what do you hope to learn? You
    appear to already understand the most basic idea of sonar
    range measurement. Do you hope to go beyond that? If so,
    you would do well to at least understand how the above two
    principles apply to the problem.
  8. Not a schematic, more of a block diagram.

    I did this a little while back. It's more difficult than it first
    appears, but not as bad as some people here would have you believe.
    Usable results can be obtained without varying the gain on the receiver
    amplifier or bandpass filtering the received signal, but it would be
    better to have those things in an ideal world.

    My device worked well at 8' - 10' which was plenty good enough for robot
    work. One interesting thing that I uncovered while working with these
    devices was that the transducers are very narrow banded. They are
    practically deaf at frequencies that stray very far from their center
    frequency (usually around 40KHz, but can be much higher in industry
    applications). This is like getting free bandpass filtering by the
    device itself. Look up Q factor as it pertains to tuned circuits for
    more information on this phenomena. They are not completely immune to
    noise (such as hand clapping near the transducer), but with careful
    processing of your data you can filter out the garbage. Normal ambient
    noise in a house caused virtually no problems.

    I used a 741 op-amp as the first stage of amplification and then fed
    that straight into one side of a 393 comparator to square up the pulses
    and push them up to near 5V. The other input of the comparator had a
    voltage divider that set the pins voltage just a few (10-15) millivolts
    higher than the DC idling output of the 741. The output of the
    comparator was fed to the RB0 interrupt pin on a PIC so that the
    received pulses arrival could be timed accurately.

    I would send about 5 or 6 cycles of 40KHz signal out the sending
    transducer (connected to two PIC pins for generating a 10V signal across
    the transducer) and then started a timer running in the PIC (actually
    just cleared it to 0). Wait a millisecond or so for the sending
    transducer to quit "ringing" and to blank out the directly received
    signal. I then turn on the interrupts and the ISR takes snapshots of
    the timer and sticks them in a circular queue. At main level I just
    crunch on the timer snapshot values at leisure. Granted this is not
    ideal if you are seeking extreme precision, but it's plenty good enough
    to help keep from running into things.

    You really need to have an oscilloscope for playing with this stuff.
    This is fairly involved project and you may wish to do something a bit
    easier first, like adding sensors to your wheels so you can measure how
    far you've traveled and how fast you're going. It also makes it easier
    to travel in straight lines. Another thing, infrared sensors are good
    for a couple of feet and work fairly well for distance measurement close
    up AIUI. They would also be much easier to process.
  9. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    I understand, but I'd like to start simple. If I can build something
    that's confused by handclaps, I'll post back here and find out why ;-)

    If I'm given a complex schematic to build, I won't understand the
    purpose of every component, but building simple and adding to it, I
    reckon I'll learn more :)
    Sounds good. I'm not too bothered by noise for now - if I can get
    something up and running, I've then got a "test" bed for plugging "noise
    reduction" in.

    Sounds easy enough. The 741 I understand just amplifies, but I don't
    understand the 393. Does it just go high/low if one side is higher than
    the other?

    I'd like the range to be a bit more accurate than yours, probably 5-20
    inches. What would you suggest is better to increase this - bandpsas
    filtering (you sugggest this isn't all that important) or altering the
    gain? What's the best way to alter the gain? Any particular components
    (or at least, any specs I might need) for this? :)

    I know, but they're not quite as cheap as a multimeter, so when I've
    decided electronics is for me, I'll think about getting one :)
  10. Andrew Holme

    Andrew Holme Guest

    You can build kits, or follow someone else's _detailed_ plans; but you
    need to be very experienced or very lucky to successfully design AC
    circuits of this complexity without a 'scope.

    Cheap 'scopes sell on e-Bay all the time. You don't know what you're
  11. You don't need to, it's because handclapping contains a broad range of
    frequencies, some of them ultrasonic.
    Yes, experimentation can teach you something in minutes that you may
    never understand by just reading about it.
    As with all but the simplest projects, you want to do things in
    managable stages. For example, I spent quite a few hours trying to
    understand op-amps. What I learned is that being an expert on op-amp
    behavior and usage is a whole career field in itself. :-o However, I
    was able to get my 741 to do what I wanted which was to amplify the
    output of the transducer. The circuitry involved is quite simple.

    At these frequencies, the 741 was not the best choice for the job. It
    *was* what I had available and the datasheet indicated that it would
    work at those frequencies, albeit with much reduced gain. Normally, I
    would have expected that I would have needed to follow the 741 with some
    kind of band-pass or high-pass audio filter to keep out the lower
    frequencies (and even some pre-741 passive filtering. But my scope
    showed that to be unnecessary since the transducers were doing a nice
    job of filtering out noise on their own.
    Yes. It operates very much like an op-amp with very high gain. I
    haven't done so yet, but I'd imagine that audio wouldn't sound too good
    coming out of it. ;-)
    20 inches is no problem, but the problem with 5 inches is the
    turn-around time for the signal is less than 1mS. It's workable, but
    you start running into the issue of the receiver hearing the directly
    transmitted signal first, and not a reflection. I would suggest using
    the Sharp IR sensors for the close in stuff and edge detection (so you
    won't roll off a table for example). Check these out:
    A scope is probably the best single instrument you can own for tinkering
    with this stuff. You can pick them up really cheap on e-bay. You don't
    need a 650Mhz tripple beam scope, but a dual trace with 20 - 50MHz
    bandwidth would be nice for your robotics/electronice/microcontroller
    tinkering. You can get them so cheap that you could sell it if you
    decide you don't like electronics and not really lose any money.

    This looks pretty nice, heck I might bid on it ;-D
    I have a 20ish year old Hitachi 65MHz scope that I got used about 15
    years ago. There are plenty of scopes out there for less than $100.00
    that will work fine and go a long way towards saving your sanity while
    working with PIC chips. ;-)
  12. Stef Mientki

    Stef Mientki Guest

    I think here a mistake is made:
    to get high time accuracy,
    or in other words to get lots of information,
    you need the highest possible bandwidth !!
    So you need a Dirac puls (infinity bandwidth) and you can detect very
    accurate. The yields both for transmitting and reception.
    Why do you think they use high bandwitdhs in medical ultrasound (upto
    100 MHz) or Radar (upto 10 GHz ?)

    I've here a very old digitizer, you can put pictures on it, point with a
    special pen to positions on the foto, and the distances on the picture
    are measured ultrasone with an accuracy better then 0.1 mm !! AFAIK the
    receiver is just a 40 kHz transducer, electrical match to get the
    highest possible bandwidth (yes, you must both mechanical and electrical
    do impedance matching), and then great trick: the transmitter is a very
    small spark bridge, generating almost dirac pulses.

    So the very narrow bandwidth only serves 1 goal:
    to detect if there's an echo or not,
    but not what time travelled the echo.

    This is not completly true. In fact the amount of information available
    is time*bandwidth. So another (but quiet inpractical way) is to use a
    small bandwidth over a large time. But then you've to correlate the
    incoming signal with the transmitted signal over the total time. This
    used in radar (tsirp modulation).

    An other problem with high Q-systems (or in fact the same problem),
    whatever sound you put in, you always get you cenntral frequency out ;-)

    Stef Mientki
  13. Brian

    Brian Guest

    Recently I did a project for an ultrasonic ranging device. Since the
    receiver is the more tricky part, I drew only the receiver for you (with a
    few comments on it's design). It probably has a greater sensitivity than you
    need, but you can reduce that). You can see it at
  14. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    That looks simple enough for even me - thanks Brian. I'll give it a go
    when my breadboards aren't so full of other wires :)
  15. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Guest

  16. Guest

  17. Well looky there, they stole my design. ;-) I opted for the
    differential input method on the op-amp though.
  18. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Guest

    Post yours on alt.binaries.schematics.electronic ... The above link does not
    the source code in the pdf with the schematic. In my opinion, it is
    without the code. A hex file would be nice too so that no compiler is
  19. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    "so cheap"?
    The one you linked to sold for nearly $300! :p
  20. Danny T

    Danny T Guest

    Excellent. I've printed it out, and when my clock isn't taking up my
    breadboards, I'll have a fiddle. I've got a couple of op-amps n things
    now, with some more stuff (hopefully!) arriving from Rapid tomorrow :)
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