Infrared sensors can give robotics projects useful data about nearby objects, but what if you want to actually see that data yourself? –

I recently acquired a few Sharp GP2Y0A21YK0F IR distance sensors. This is an inexpensive proximity sensor which can detect objects from 10-80cm. A nice tutorial on this sensor can be found at These sensors only detect objects within a narrow beam, so I decided to mount mine on a servo, so that I could pan the sensor approximately 180 degrees, and take multiple readings to build up an idea of what obstacles are in front of my robot. I like to visualize things, so I decided to write a small program in processing to visualize the sensor data for debugging and to help me better understand what the sensor is seeing.

Though not scaled precisely to match, the above overlay illustrates how the outside world appears via sensor panning. This could prove quite useful for remote ‘exploratory missions’. Instructions and source code available at uC Hobby.

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