Thursday, 9 May 2013

Raspberry Pi HC-SR04 Module

The Raspberry Pi is a small, fairly cheap little computer which was developed mainly for use in education but has caught the imagination of a lot of hobbyists and geeks of various types.
Lachlan got one for Christmas and has been learning a bit of Python programming on it. More recently, he created a simple circuit with LEDs, controlled using a wee Python program. Not that thrilling, but a nice little step and enough to prompt me to spend my birthday money on a pi of my own to have a play with and try a few things out.
So, what have I done with it?
First step was to install TightVNC (as per the guide on so it can be easily accessed from another computer.
Then I built a wee case using Lego.
Then, on a whim, I got an HC-SR04 ultrasonic thingummybob so I could build this...
What is it? Well, it's basically a distance measuring device. Run the correct software and it can tell you how far away things are from its buggy eye things.
Again, none of this is very exciting but it's been fun to try things out and the same basic code would work to stop a robot crashing into things or detecting someone in a certain place or who knows what.

The code I developed was based around code found here which appears to have been cobbled together from other sources:

My code below...

# Module:
# This module can be used to operate an HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor
# from a raspberry pi GPIO.

import time
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO

# setup which pins are which
TRIG = 8
ECHO = 10

# set the trigger pulse length and timeouts
pulsetrigger = 0.0001 # Trigger duration in seconds
timeout = 2100        # Length of time for timeout

def configure(trigger, echo):
    TRIG = trigger
    ECHO = echo
    GPIO.setup(TRIG, GPIO.OUT)
    GPIO.setup(ECHO, GPIO.IN)

def fire_trigger():
    # Set trigger high for 0.0001s then drop it low
    GPIO.output(TRIG, True)
    GPIO.output(TRIG, False)

def wait_for_echo(desired_state):
    countdown = timeout
    while (GPIO.input(ECHO) != desired_state and countdown > 0):
        countdown = countdown - 1
    return (countdown > 0) # Return true if success, false if timeout

def measure_time():
    # Fire the trigger to set the whole thing in motion

    # Check that the echo goes high....
    if wait_for_echo(1):
        # Start the timer and wait for the echo to go low
        echo_start = time.time()
        if wait_for_echo(0):
            # Stop the timer
            echo_end = time.time()
            return echo_end - echo_start
            print "Timeout 2"
            return -1
        print "Timeout 1"
        return -1
def measure_average_time():
    count = 1
    total_time = 0
    while(count <= 3):
        total_time = total_time + measure_time()
        count = count + 1
    return total_time / 3
def distance_cm():
    time = measure_average_time()
    if time < 0:
        return -1
        return time * (1000000 / 58)

if __name__ == "__main__":
    print "Starting ultrasound test"
    # Set up the GPIO board

    # Tell the Pi which pins the ultrasound is on
    configure(TRIG, ECHO)

        while True:
            distance = distance_cm()
            if distance < 0:
                print "Timeout"
                print "Distance = %.0f cm" % (int(round(distance)))

    except KeyboardInterrupt:
        print "Stopping"

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