Inside (and hacking) a 1 dollar radar motion sensor

10maurycy10 recently bought some cheap RCWL-0516 microwave motion sensors, mostly wondering how China managed to make a radar for under a dollar.

Getting one working was quite easy, I just connected the VIN pin to 5 volts, GND to ground, and added a 1 uF decoupling capacitor on the 3V3 pin. When someone moves within ~5 meters, the OUT pin goes up to 3 volts for 3 seconds.

So it works, but how?

First, I found a datasheet for the the large SOIC-16 chip. It turns out the BISS0001 is an infrared motion sensor chip? How does that work?

Generally, motion and speed sensing (doppler) radars work by sending out a continuous carrier and mixing the received signal with the transmitted carrier to create a low frequency IF signal. If reflections are coming from a moving object, the received signal will slowly drift in and out of phase with the transmitted signal, creating a beat frequency at just a few hertz. Because a motion sensor doesn’t care about the exact speed, all the chip has to do is look for millivolt-level changes: all the hard work is already done.

At first glance, the whole thing is just a single transistor oscillator working at a frequency of 3.18 GHz,ut it’s actually 2 oscillators in one, the microwave oscillation is pulsed at around 20 MHz.

See how the module was hacked in the post here.

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here:

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in!

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.