Sensor effectiveness through plastic?

For my project I have my robot contained within a plastic hamster ball I am wondering if that would hinder the use of the Sharp GP2Y0D810Z0F Digital Distance Sensor and other sensors sold on this site?


The effectiveness of the sensor is related to how transparent the plastic is to infrared light (this sensor’s wavelength is 870 ± 70nm). You can’t assume that because the material is transparent to visible light it will be to IR (e.g. glass is opaque to some UV radiation even though it lets through lots of visible light). I don’t know how well that plastic will transmit that wavelength, your best bet is probably going to be trying it out yourself, or figure out what material they use in that ball.

- Ryan

In the other thread did you say you already had the hamster ball?

For a quick test you could try using a TV (or other IR) remote control through the ball. IR remote signals bounce off of walls and other objects quite effectively, so try to cover up any path the light could take from the remote except for going through the plastic.

Now, this is no guarantee, as different remotes use different (but not too different) base IR wavelengths, and emitter strength and detector sensitivity will vary. I would say if your IR remote works through the ball it’s a fair bet that the distance sensor will work too, and if the remote doesn’t work there is almost no chance the distance sensor will.


Thank you for the information, I will check when I next get a chance. I do not currently have any of the materials for my project as I am still planning and want to finalize my design first.