Piezo Element

Piezo elements come in handy when you need to detect vibration or a knock. You can use these for tap or knock sensors pretty easily by reading the voltage on the output. They can also be used for a very small audio transducer such as a buzzer.

Piezo Element Product Help and Resources

Resources and Going Further

For examples using a piezo, check out the following:

Core Skill: Electrical Prototyping

If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.

2 Electrical Prototyping

Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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Looking for answers to technical questions?

We welcome your comments and suggestions below. However, if you are looking for solutions to technical questions please see our Technical Assistance page.

  • Member #797661 / about 6 years ago / 1

    Can this be safely used with the Max3232 breakout (BOB-11189)? I couldn't find a max Vp-p rating in the datasheet or on this page.

  • Member #858581 / about 8 years ago / 1

    I am considering using the piezo pressure sensitive element on a motorcycle to determine when the rider is attempting to up shift, pull the shift lever up. I need to know the amount of pressure applied, to avoid false/positive shift attempts(e.g. accidentally touches shift lever). I also need to know when the shift has been completed (shift lever released by rider).

    Will the piezo element continue to return positive values while pressure is applied, when polled via GPIO, or does it return a single value the first time pressure is applied?

  • bbotany / about 14 years ago / 4

    With wires ALREADY soldered on? Now that is convenience! At least to those of us who are used to getting them without wires. The disk proper is usually more likely to just be neighborly to solder than friendly..

  • Member #669728 / about 9 years ago / 1

    Does the knock have to be on the piezo element or just on the same surface?

    • M-Short / about 9 years ago / 1

      It has to make the piezo element vibrate. If firmly attached to a surface like a door knocking on the door will cause it to vibrate. If firmly attached to a piece of foam, well, probably not. So it depends on the surface and the method for mounting.

  • caseyh / about 9 years ago / 1

    Any trick or tips to boost the loudness of this element when using it as a speaker? It's pretty quiet on it's own -- even with 5V PWM. I understand it is a transducer and, sure, it works great under a pint of beer. I was hoping to make something loud, yet, low profile with this.

  • Member #484615 / about 10 years ago / 1

    Got a high sensitivity vibration sensor working nicely with Ardiuno Uno, including code to avoid false positives. More in my blog at http://davidhoulding.blogspot.com/2014/11/advanced-high-sensitivity-vibration.html

  • Member #484615 / about 10 years ago * / 1

    Used this in a high sensitivity vibration sensor for Ardunio. Blog with details

  • mouseduckalien / about 11 years ago / 1

    If I rip off the speakers off a pair of cheap earbuds and replace them with two of these... do I get music playing in my skull?

  • Sparky91381 / about 11 years ago / 1

    buzz buzzz - pwm is that you talking? knock knock - analog says "Who's There"

  • abcd.ca / about 11 years ago / 1

    I'm looking to miniaturize my project that currently uses this buzzer for tones (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/7950). Is this capable of playing tones and would it be as loud? Is this the smallest option? I am looking to add tones to a small PCB to put inside a digital thermometer of sorts. Thanks!

  • Member #483275 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Would this be able to measure the level of a voice if placed near the neck or mouth?

    Another question I have is, would this be able to detect Tremors or "shakes" in some ones hand without picking up normal movements and vibrations (example of normal vibrations: putting a hand on the table or object)?

    Thanks in advanced

    • hmmmmm / about 10 years ago / 1

      Are you trying to measure SPL? What types of tremors/shakes are you trying to pick up?

  • Member #467167 / about 11 years ago / 1

    If I put a straight dc current through this will it buzz? Trying to find a cheap buzzer for the "squishy circuits" projects.

  • Member #409373 / about 11 years ago / 1

    Does anyone have experience using the this piezo element as a throat microphone? i have seen projects where it has been used as a guitar pickup, but i haven't seen anyone use it to record voice. can this pickup the vibrations of my voice if it held against my throat? i trying to find a super simple microphone circuit that can record my voice in very windy conditions.

    • Member #497313 / about 11 years ago / 1

      yes. it works, and sounds really cool and somewhat muffled. you can make some really weird noises with it that you usually can't.

  • AndyTau / about 11 years ago / 1

    Hi, do I need a zener diode or a simple resistor in parallel is enough ? Which is the maximum voltage produced by the piezo ? Bye

  • Member #396019 / about 12 years ago / 1

    Is this product identically to SHOCK SENSOR 801S?

  • distractedninja / about 12 years ago / 1

    Would I be able to use this and a simple transistor circuit to detect taps using this piezo element and light up some LEDs based on vibration? I am planning a light up drum project and I need something to detect hits.

  • Member #40615 / about 12 years ago * / 1

    These can be handy for detecting small signals when troubleshooting. They're not picky about voltages so you can use them places you can't use a logic probe; I've stuck them on RS485 serial lines for instance, one pin on signal, one on ground, for audio feedback when anything is happening.

    They have a (relatively) big capacitance though so would probably badly distort anything analog you attach them to.

  • These work as awesome pickups for small scale guitar.

  • mklauber / about 12 years ago / 1

    Does anyone know if these things, held against the chest or a wrist, would be able to pick up your heartbeat?

    • Maybe, but these definately will! http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9196 send me a link to your project if you ever get around to making it!

  • Could I stick one of these in a sugru cube and have a working, if crappy, surface speaker? Because I have driven a piezo buzzer from a Melody sketch uploaded to my SerIO...

    • aml25 / about 12 years ago / 1

      These work well as surface speakers, the sound quality is not 'crappy'

  • dimitristzortzis / about 13 years ago * / 1

    I connected the red lead to the positive of my multimeter and the black lead to the ground. Shouldn't I be getting some voltage by knocking on it? All I get is a few millivolts (negative values too). I used it with a 2.2 KΩ resistor.

    • Member #40615 / about 12 years ago * / 4

      A digital multimeter isn't going to be fast enough to see it, especially since the signal goes positive, then goes back negative. A multimeter would average the brief pulse out to zero.

    • Maybe try w/o the resistor?

  • SomeGuy123 / about 14 years ago * / 1

    How similar are these to the elements in Nike+Ipod devices?

    • Very very similar. I don't know the exact specs on the Nike iPod piezo, but they are functionally identical.
      Tutorial with pictures of what we're talking about: http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/41

  • just a warning to everyone out there watch out for the solder joints i havent specifically tried these ones that sparkfun has ordered but all others that i have used, the leads fell off

    • The need for strain relief is assumed. You will need to make sure the wires don't move excessively. Also, the wires can be soldered back easily.

      • MattTheGeek / about 14 years ago / 3

        A little hot glue or epoxy should do the trick ;)

      • Kli_Womagni / about 14 years ago / 3

        Be extra careful if you're soldering to the back of these. The inner wire is attached to a sputtered layer, which is solder soluble (in my experience). This means that excessive soldering reduces electrode area, and the sound output is reduced proportionally. If you're aware of this, and don't spend forever soldering it (I was using it for a ground plane on a tiny alarm clock), you should be fine.

Customer Reviews

5 out of 5

Based on 2 ratings:

Currently viewing all customer reviews.

5 of 5 found this helpful:

Works great, need some mass

This piezo element needs some mass to make a loud noise or detect vibrations.

After I did that, it has a nice high pitched frequency range. It can also detect footsteps throughout my entire house with the standard Arduino ADC and no amplification. How awesome is that?

1 of 1 found this helpful:

Very sensitive

Nothing to add to the previous review - put some mass on (not a lot though) and it will detect slightest vibrations. Make sure it suits your application though.