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July 27, 2012 AT 2:00 am

Tutorial: Using Basic Resistor Sensor Reading on Raspberry Pi – Adafruit Learning System #piday #raspberrypi @Raspberry_Pi

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Tutorial: Using Basic Resistor Sensor Reading on Raspberry Pi @ Adafruit Learning System.

We’ve already covered how to use an Analog-to-Digital Converter chip with a Pi. These chips are the best way to read analog voltages from the Pi. However, there’s a way to read many sensors without an ADC! By measuring the sensor as a resistor that is used to ‘fill up’ a capacitor, we can count how long it takes. It’s not nearly as precise as an ADC and its a little flakey (since it depends on the Pi timing itself which can vary based on how ‘busy’ the computer is)

The way we do this is by taking advantage of a basic electronic property of resistors and capacitors. It turns out that if you take a capacitor that is initially storing no voltage, and then connect it to power (like 3.3V) through a resistor, it will charge up to the power voltage slowly. The bigger the resistor, the slower it is.

This technique only works with sensors that act like resistors. however, there are quite a few fun sensors that act this way: photocells, thermistors (temperature sensors), flex sensors, force-sensitive resistors, and many more.

It cannot be used with sensors that have a pure analog output like IR distance sensors or analog accelerometers.

Learn more


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