Frequently Asked Questions about Ultrasonic Sensors
Will Ultrasonic Sensors Work for My Project?
Our sensors are used in a lot of different applications.
They are used in distance, proximity, and level sending applications.
If you need to build a robot with obstacle avoidance or detect levels in a chemical filled tank, we have solutions for those applications and more.
Your sensors are expensive compared to other solutions, Why is that?
Our sensors are priced competitively for their quality. The cost of repairs in the field quickly add up to the overall sensor cost making the “cheaper” sensors much more costly in time, money spent and reputation.
MaxBotix sensors are designed and tested for an MTBF of at least 200,000 hours.
Our proprietary processes to ensure reliability which allows us to stand by the products we sell.
This means we’ve built these sensors to last.
We also offer price breaks for bulk orders of our sensors. If you’re buying our sensors as a standard customer, you’ll see the price breaks on our product pages. It looks like the image below:
If you’re a distributor or OEM manufacturer, be sure to email us at [email protected] for a quote.
Do you offer Educational Discounts?
Yes, many of our clients are from Universities and High Schools.
If you would like to order for your institution, feel free to email us at [email protected] and let our sales associates know you’d like an educational discount.
The discount is subject to verification.
Do you ship Worldwide?
Yes, we ship worldwide. If you would like a shipping quote, feel free to email us at [email protected] We’d be happy to help.
We also have many distributors worldwide that you can order from as well.
Are Your Sensors Waterproof?
We don’t currently market our sensors as “waterproof”, but our WR sensors are IP67 rated. The sensor pinout is required to be sealed by the customer unless the shielded cable attach is used.
What that means is they are rated as “dust tight” and protected against immersion for 30 minutes at depths from 150 mm-1000 mm.
In order to further protect your sensor for water intrusion we suggest the following add-ons:
- The F-Option – This addition provides weather resistant sensors with extra protection against corrosive chemical environments. (Will make the sensor IP68 rated).
- Shielded Cable Attach – This addition will fully project the pin out of your MaxSonar and it also includes 3ft (90cm) of wire.
How Do You Solder The Sensors?
We have written a guide to show you the proper techniques to solder our sensors.
As you’re testing our sensors, you may not want to solder our sensors (as you can’t return them after doing so). You can test the sensors with clip leads*.
Also, we have new header options for our indoor (non-protective) sensors which will eliminate the need for soldering any of your sensors.
If you’re using WR sensors in your project, it could be beneficial to use the Shielded Cable Attach to fully seal the sensor and remove the need to solder your wires to the sensor (as we’ll do this for you).
If you’re interested in this feature, add it to your order at checkout or email us at [email protected] with your request.
What are the Advantages of Ultrasonics?
Main advantages of using ultrasonic sensors vs. others include.
- High Frequency, high sensitivity and high penetrating power, it can easily detect external or deep objects.
- These sensors easily interface with microcontrollers or any type of controller.
- Ultrasonic sensors are easy to use and not dangerous during operation to nearby objects, people or equipment.
- Not affected by dust, dirt, or high-moisture environments.
*Our SCXL‑MaxSonar‑WR Product line is self-cleaning. Which allows for continuous running and less downtime.
I have a specific problem I need to be solved, how do I choose the right sensor for the project?
Currently, we have 20 different product lines that are broken up into 2 applications, Protected (Indoor environments) and Unprotected (outdoor environments).
We have developed sensors for particular applications, such as:
- Kiosk Applications (Indoor and Outdoor)
- Robotic Applications (Indoor and Outdoor)
- UAV Applications (Indoor and Outdoor)
- Vehicle Profiling Applications (Indoor and Outdoor)
- People Detection Applications (Indoor and Outdoor)
- Parking Garage Applications (Indoor and Outdoor)
- Tank Applications (Outdoor)
- Snow Depth Measurement Applications (Outdoor)
- Bin Level Measurement Applications (Outdoor)
- Trash Level Measurement Applications (Indoor and Outdoor)
While we have 20 different lines, there are many variations we have to suit your use.
Along with a variant of housing options, we also offer options for protection.
We offer the F-Option, which is our IP68 rated Fluorosilicone sealant for Outdoor use. It offers additional protection in hazardous chemical environments, like corrosive gases or liquids.
We also offer the P-option, which is a Parylene coating we apply to the surface of the aluminum transducer. It helps improve the corrosion resistance of the aluminum transducer.
Contact Technical Support for more information and support with sensor selection.
What type of targets do MaxBotix Ultrasonic Sensors detect?
Ultrasonic sensors detect solids, liquids, or powders.
Our sensors are used to detect surfaces whether they are wet, dry, dirty, clean, rough or smooth.
Light, fog, dirt or dust have no impact on our ultrasonic sensors ability to sense.
The ideal surface to detect with our sensors is hard, smooth and non-porous.
How do I know what the measured distance is?
The transducer vibrates at the 42kHz, transmitting the ultrasonic wave, This wave will bounce off of the sensor’s target and return to the transducer. At this point, the return wave will vibrate the transducer as well, generating a voltage which will be converted into a distance measurement via the sensor firmware/programming.
How do you mount the ultrasonic sensors?
Mounting your ultrasonic sensor for your project depends on your application.
We’ve detailed the mounting of a sensor in a pipe, here.
When considering mounting a sensor in a tank for liquid or grain level sensing, read this article here, about Tank Level Monitoring for more information.
If you’re mounting a Snow Sensor, review our notes on Snow Sensor Mounting.
Our technical support has assisted many engineers in their mounting configurations.
If our published resources don’t provide an answer, email us at [email protected] to allow us to help you figure out a solution.
Interfacing our Ultrasonic sensors with Controllers?
We’ve written quite a bit about interfacing our sensors with an Arduino or Raspberry Pi.
Those resources can be found here:
Raspberry Pi Resources
- Interface Raspberry Pi with an ultrasonic sensor to read serial data
- Interface Raspberry Pi with an ultrasonic sensor to read serial data pt. 2
- Connect a Raspberry Pi Zero with an USB Ultrasonic Sensor
- Setting up the Raspberry Pi Zero for an I2C Sensor
While we haven’t worked with a Pixhawk inhouse, we’ve compiled this short list of resources used by creators to interface our sensors with a Pixhawk.
What else are you interfacing our rangefinders with? Contact us today with any feedback or see how we can help.
How do you read our MaxSonar Beam Patterns?
We provide beam patterns for all of our ultrasonic sensors to assist you to choose the right sensor for your application, target size, and distance.
We’ve provided this resource to help you find the right sensor for your application based on beam pattern:
Can I switch the beam pattern of a sensor model after ordering it or should I order a specific beam pattern for each?
You would need to select a sensor with a beam pattern that fits your application needs. The beam pattern of the sensor cannot be changed and would be specific to each sensor. To understand how to read our beam patterns, reference our “Reading MaxSonar Beam Patterns” Tutorial.
What aren’t these sensors used for?
- Safety-critical applications (such as life support) or other applications where a failure of the product could cause a severe personal injury or death.
Sidenote: a popular use of our product is for canes for the blind. Unfortunately, we do not support such applications because many sensors do not include the self-checking redundant circuitry needed for such use.
- Aerospace applications or environments.
- Mounted on or in automobiles snowmobiles, boats, aircraft or other motorized vehicles (land, water or air based) regardless of whether they require registration with a government entity.
I don’t see the particular sensor I need on the site, what is the process for acquiring a custom sensor?
We do offer custom engineering services to customize any of our existing sensors in our product line to meet any requirements of a specific project, solution or product development. We offer a wide range of customization services including custom firmware, hardware or aesthetic modification to accommodate individualized solutions.
What would be the price range for a custom application that would fit our needs?
This will depend on your specific application needs and would be determined by our Sales and Engineering teams after an in-depth discussion with you. If your range and power requirements are flexible, we may have a sensor that would work in your application off the shelf.