Pololu Distance Sensor with Pulse Width Output, 50cm Max

Product Code: Pololu #4064

Pololu Distance Sensor with Pulse Width Output, 50cm Max
Pololu Distance Sensor with Pulse Width Output, 50cm Max
Pololu Distance Sensor with Pulse Width Output, 50cm Max
Pololu Distance Sensor with Pulse Width Output, 50cm Max

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This compact sensor makes it possible to measure the distance of objects up to about 50 cm (20″) away using a simple digital pulse width interface (similar to a hobby servo control signal). It uses a short-range lidar module to precisely measure how long it takes for emitted pulses of infrared, eye-safe laser light to reach the nearest object and be reflected back, allowing for 3 mm resolution. As long as the sensor is enabled, it takes continuous distance measurements and encodes the ranges as the widths of high pulses, which can then be timed by a microcontroller using a single digital input.

The relationship between measured distance d (in mm) and pulse width t (in µs) is as follows:

     d=3 mm4 µs⋅(t –1000 µs)d=3 mm4 µs⋅(t –1000 µs)

     t=1000 µs+4 µs3 mm⋅dt=1000 µs+4 µs3 mm⋅d

The timing uncertainty is approximately ±5%. As objects approach the sensor, the output pulse width will approach 1.0 ms, while an object detected at 50 cm will produce a 1.667 ms pulse width. The sensor uses a pulse width of 2.0 ms to indicate no detection. The pulse period T ranges from around 9 ms to 20 ms, depending on the proximity of the detected object.

The maximum detection range depends on object reflectivity and ambient lighting conditions. In our tests, the sensor was able to reliably detect a white sheet of paper out to around 50 cm away, and it could reliably detect a hand out to around 30 cm away. The following graph shows the measured distances of five units versus their actual distances from a white paper target at several different ranges:

Please note that while this sensor can detect objects almost all the way up to the sensor face, the effective minimum distance it can measure is around 1 cm, so objects closer than 1 cm might still result in a measured distance of around 1 cm.


  • Operating voltage: 3.0 V to 5.5 V
  • Current consumption: 30 mA (typical) when enabled, 0.4 mA when disabled
  • Maximum range: approximately 50 cm (20″) (for high-reflectivity targets in good ambient conditions; lower-reflectivity targets or poor ambient conditions will reduce the maximum detection range)
  • Update rate: 50 Hz to 110 Hz (20 ms to 9 ms period)
  • Field of view (FOV): 15° typical; can vary with object reflectance and ambient conditions
  • Output type: digital pulse width
  • Dimensions: 0.85″ × 0.35″ × 0.122″ (21.6 × 8.9 × 3.1 mm); see the dimension diagram (192k pdf) for more information
  • Weight: 0.014 oz (0.4 g)

Using the sensor

Three connections are necessary to use this module: VIN, GND, and OUT. These pins are accessible through a row of 0.1″-pitch through holes, which work with standard 0.1″ (2.54 mm) male headers and 0.1″ female headers (available separately). The VIN pin should be connected to a 3 V to 5.5 V source, and GND should be connected to 0 volts. The sensor outputs its digital pulses on the OUT pin. The low level of the pulses is 0 V, and the high level is VIN. A red LED on the back side of the board also lights whenever an object is detected (the closer the object, the brighter the LED).The board has an optional ENABLE pin that can be driven low to put it into a low-power state that consumes approximately 0.4 mA. This pin can be accessed through a via or its neighboring surface-mount pad on the back side labeled “EN” on the silkscreen. The ENABLE pin is pulled up to VIN, enabling the sensor by default.

The board features four surface-mount configuration jumpers that determine its operation mode. Different versions of the Pololu Digital Distance sensors ship with the appropriate jumpers pre-populated with 0 Ω resistors. These resistors can be desoldered from the populated spots or solder bridges can be added across the unpopulated spots to convert one sensor version into another. The table in the section below shows the jumper settings for the different versions.



Size: 0.85″ × 0.35″ × 0.122″
Weight: 0.4 g

General specifications

Resolution: 3 mm
Maximum range: 50 cm
Sampling rate: 50 Hz1
Minimum operating voltage: 3.0 V
Maximum operating voltage: 5.5 V
Supply current: 30 mA2
Output type: digital pulse width

Identifying markings

PCB dev codes: irs16a
Other PCB markings: 0J13085


  • Minimum.
  • Typical average current draw when enabled; disabling via the EN pin reduces it to around 0.4 mA.
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