This is the HC-SR04 ultrasonic ranging sensor. This economical sensor provides 2cm to 400cm of non-contact measurement functionality with a ranging accuracy that can reach up to 3mm. Each HC-SR04 module includes an ultrasonic transmitter, a receiver and a control circuit.
There are only four pins that you need to worry about on the HC-SR04: VCC (Power), Trig (Trigger), Echo (Receive), and GND (Ground). You will find this sensor very easy to set up and use for your next range-finding project!
Just like any ultrasonic sensor, this product can be sensitive to other ultrasonic sensors and acoustic noise in the area. If your readings are jumping down to 0 inches even though you have an object placed a few inches away from the sensor, it could be due to interference caused by other ultrasonic sensors and your environment. If you have more than one ultrasonic sensor, try to turn each one on individually after a certain amount of time. If there is a lot of noise and and an HVAC in your area, it’s possible that it is tuned just enough where it interferes with the HC-SR04 ultrasonic range finder.
Doing a quick search online, there is indicating that acoustic noise can cause problems with an ultrasonic sensor. Further research indicates that an HVAC can cause interference for 25-40kHz ultrasonic sensors [pg 10 - http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/NLPIP/PDF/VIEW/SROS2.pdf ]:
"For the open-office testing, the room’s HVAC system was turned off for testing the ultrasonic occupancy sensors since these products can be affected by the HVAC system..."
The HVAC used in our custom made building was actually tuned just enough to interfere with the sensor’s reading in certain parts of our building. We had issues getting it to work reliably in our education department wherever we heard the acoustic noise.
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