How Ultrasonic Sensors Actually Work


Ultrasonic sensors send out sound waves that bounce back to the sensorOne of the most versatile technologies used for object detection and level measurement is ultrasonic. An ultrasonic sensor works by using the principals of sound. The term ultrasonic means above human hearing as the sensor uses a frequency we cannot hear. This is important to the function of the sensor because the specific frequency used is very rarely generated elsewhere – avoiding interference with other sources of sound.

Ultrasonic sensors transmit a series of sound waves that hit the intended target and bounce back. The distance is calculated based on the time it takes the sound waves to travel to and from the target. A microprocessor can then determine level, volume, even open channel flow. They are also used for presence detection and object profiling in certain applications.

There are some limitations with ultrasonic technology. The shape of the target surface, distance, size, and angle can affect the accuracy of the readings. The ideal target surface is hard and smooth. This type of surface will reflect a greater amount of signal than a soft or uneven surface. Materials such as granules and powders will reduce the operating range of the sensor and decrease measurement accuracy. Ultrasonic sensors require an unobstructed column of air to sense through.

Distance from an object can also affect the accuracy of an ultrasonic. If the object being measured or detected is further away it will require better reflective characteristics than targets at closer range.

If you have questions about ultrasonic sensors, and if they can solve your application challenges, drop us a line in the comments below, or give us a call at 888-525-7300.

Let us know how ultrasonic technology has worked for you. Have you had great success? If not, what sensors have you used instead?

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