Sonic Rangefinder

This is an ADVANCED course. If registering for a Weekend Workshop, you must take one of our Intro-level electrical courses first. If you cannot take one of these courses for some reason or feel that you are already qualified without the prerequisite, please contact us to discuss your situation.
Summer Camps are open to all students, regardless of experience level.

Imagine building an electronic circuit that uses sound waves to measure distance!

You'll learn how it works so you can optimize it for long range or ultra-accurate short range or upgrade it to the SuperRangefinder by adding a light burst. Yes, you can learn this; you don't have to wait until college. We're going to walk you through it, discovery by discovery, just like a real engineer.

See the oscilloscope screenshot to the right?

This kind of view is called "infinite persistence" and it shows the results of many pings from the rangefinder all measuring the exact same distance over and over. Notice how the sudden increase in the yellow voltage waveform always happens at the exact same time (within only 25 microseconds of each other). This tells you that the sonic rangefinder is very precise. If I change the distance between the speaker and microphone, even just a couple tenths of an inch, the sonic rangefinder circuit can measure the difference!

But that's not even the best part. Wild discoveries await you on this odyssey of a journey! The path to make this invention work has some pitfalls along the way. You will uncover a really neat scientific phenomenon that will cause your first invention idea to fail to work as planned. You must learn to understand this science phenomenon and then adjust the design of your sonic rangefinder to over come it. Infinite persistence isn't just for the oscilloscope — you need it too! Engineers and scientists must persist through failures and keep trying until they figure it out. Inventing new technology and discovering the mysteries of the universe are not easy!



Note: The project built during class is sold separately. Students will be given the opportunity to buy their sonic rangefinder at the end of class.

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