A basic ultrasonic sensor consists of one or more ultrasonic transmitters (basically speakers), a receiver, and a control circuit. The transmitters emit a high frequency ultrasonic sound, which bounce off any nearby solid objects. Some of that ultrasonic noise is reflected and detected by the receiver on the sensor. That return signal is then processed by the control circuit to calculate the time difference between the signal being transmitted and received. This time can subsequently be used, along with some clever math, to calculate the distance between the sensor and the reflecting object.
The HC-SR04 Ultrasonic sensor we’ll be using in this tutorial for the Raspberry Pi has four pins: ground (GND), Echo Pulse Output (ECHO), Trigger Pulse Input (TRIG), and 5V Supply (Vcc). We power the module using Vcc, ground it using GND, and use our Raspberry Pi to send an input signal to TRIG, which triggers the sensor to send an ultrasonic pulse. The pulse waves bounce off any nearby objects and some are reflected back to the sensor. The sensor detects these return waves and measures the time between the trigger and returned pulse, and then sends a 5V signal on the ECHO pin.
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