Sensor category

1 Cent Lab-On-A-Chip For Early Diagnostics

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a way to produce a cheap and reusable diagnostic “lab on a chip” with the help of an ordinary inkjet printer. At a production cost of as little as 1 cent per chip, the new combination of microfluidics, electronics and inkjet printing technology could usher in a medical diagnostics revolution like the kind brought on by low-cost genome sequencing, said Ron Davis, PhD, professor of biochemistry and of genetics and director of the Stanford Genome Technology Center.

Lab on a Chip – Zahra Koochak

The lab on a chip consists of two parts: a clear silicone microfluidic chamber for housing cells and a reusable electronic strip and  a regular inkjet printer that can be used to print the electronic strip onto a flexible sheet of polyester using commercially available conductive nano-particle ink.

“Enabling early detection of diseases is one of the greatest opportunities we have for developing effective treatments,” Rahim Esfandyarpour said, a PhD and an engineering research associate at the genome center. “Maybe $1 in the U.S. doesn’t count that much, but somewhere in the developing world, it’s a lot of money.”

Designed as a multi-functional platform, one of its applications is that it allows users to analyse different cell types without using fluorescent or magnetic labels that are typically required to track cells. Instead, the chip separates cells based on their intrinsic electrical properties:

When an electric potential is applied across the inkjet-printed strip, cells loaded into the microfluidic chamber get pulled in different directions depending on their “polarisability” in a process called dielectrophoresis. This label-free method to analyse cells greatly improves precision and cuts lengthy labeling processes.

Rahim Esfandyarpour helped to develop a way to create a diagnostic “lab on a chip” for just a penny.
Zahra Koochak

The tool is designed to handle small-volume samples for a variety of assays. The researchers showed the device can help capture single cells from a mix, isolate rare cells and count cells based on cell types.The low cost of the chips could democratize diagnostics similar to how low-cost sequencing created a revolution in health care and personalized medicine, Davis said. Inexpensive sequencing technology allows clinicians to sequence tumor DNA to identify specific mutations and recommend personalized treatment plans. In the same way, the lab on a chip has the potential to diagnose cancer early by detecting tumor cells that circulate in the bloodstream.

Via: Stanford Medicine

Fast Single-Pixel Camera

Compressed sensing is an new computational technique to extract large amounts of information from a signal. Researchers from Rice University, for example, have built a camera that can generate 2D-images using only a single light sensor (‘pixel’) instead of the millions of pixels in the sensor of a conventional camera.

This compressed sensing technology is rather inefficient for forming images: such a single-pixel camera needs to take thousands of pictures to produce a single, reasonably sharp image. Researchers from the MIT Media Lab however, have developed a new technique that makes image acquisition using compressed sensing fifty times more efficient. In the example of the single-pixel camera that means that the number of exposures can be reduces to several tens.

One intriguing aspect of compressed sensing is that no lens is required – again in contrast with a conventional camera. That makes this technique also particularly interesting for applications at wavelengths outside of the visible spectrum.

In compressed sensing, use is made of the time differences between the reflected light waves from the object to be imaged. In addition, the light that strikes the sensor has a pattern – as if it passed through a checkerboard with irregular positioned transparent and opaque fields. This could be obtained with a filter or using a micro-mirror array where some mirrors are directed towards the sensor and others are not.

The sensor each time measures only the cumulative intensity of the incoming light. But when this measurement is repeated often enough, each time with a different pattern, then the software can derive the intensity of the light that is reflected from different points of the subject.

Source: Elektor

Ther Robot Core

Robot Core – The Ultimate Raspberry Pi Robot Controller

The Robot Core, which is a robot control board for the Raspberry Pi and Arduino, brings many different elements into one awesome package. It allows you to efficiently control motors, servos, and read sensor data without needing 3-4 additional boards to hookup. Several Robot Core boards can be connected together in a linear series to add even more functionality.

The Robot Core board
The Robot Core board

Robot Core uses I²C (Inter-Integrated Circuit) to communicate with Raspberry Pi. I²C is a widely used serial computer bus invented by Philips Semiconductor. It is a very easy-to-use two-wire bus that your Pi has no difficulty talking with. A built-in level shifter ensures compatibility to both 3.3 volt and 5 volts I²C buses. The Robot Core supports all Raspberry Pi boards (the past and present versions) and some Arduino boards also.

Now, let’s talk about the technical details.

Software Support:

The board has software provided in the form of libraries and python example programs to get you started fast. Thanks to Second Robotics for making the software Open Source. All required resources will be available in July 2017. Currently, available links are – Drivers and LibrariesSupport Documents.

Software for The Robot Core
Software for The Robot Core
The Robot Core Python Script
The Robot Core Python Script

Motor Drive:

This board provides up to two 5 Amp continuous load DC motor outputs that can be used as a pair to drive a single stepper motor. The Robot Core’s built in safety protection prevents overheating and detects the motor failure.

Servo Control:

The Robot Core can set servos to exact position with the help of 16 bit PWM signal. It has eight ports for both analog and digital conventional servos. You can tune each servo using software-based GUI tuning method and also set their start-up positions individually.

Two ports are provided for connecting Dynamixel servos. Connecting multiple Dynamixel servos at the same time is supported. All functionalities are accessible by simple low-level commands. Many example python codes are available there to get started with Dynamixel servos.

Ultrasonic Sensors:

You can connect up to 4 ultrasonic sensors (HC-SR04) with the board. Given libraries convert measured distance into millimeter. The Robot Core board can provide filtered outputs with higher accuracy or raw outputs with greater speed, the choice is yours.

Analog Input:

Up to 8 12-bit analog inputs are supported for sensors or feedback. Each input has a range of 0-5V and the board also provides protection from exceeding the input limits. The additional analog reading for main power voltage lets you monitor supply voltage in real-time. The Robot Core has configurable warnings for low power.


The range of input voltage is 6.4v to 14v. An onboard DC-DC regulator is there for generating 5 volts, capable of providing 6 Amps current to the load. Optional separate power supply inputs for servos and for Dynamixel servos are also present.

Other Technical Information:

  • Clear on-board labeling. Each port and screw terminal has its pins labeled.
  • Prototyping space for adding more functionality. This space removable to make the board smaller.
  • Easy to access voltage rails.
  • Access to the Raspberry Pi I²C at 5V logic level.
  • Status LEDs are for main power voltage, DC motor status, and script controllable status.
RobotCore board details
Robot Core board details

Application Of The Robotcore Board:

The Robot Core is an all-in-one solution for many projects. One can do pretty much any autonomous and/or robotics projects with this board. The possibilities are endless. Below are just some example projects:

  • A smart plant monitoring system that reads ambient light, temperature, plant moisture, and even uses two water pumps to water two different plants.
  • Using a single board, you can build a 2 wheeled robot with a ring of 8 analog ultrasonic sensors and a strong Dynamixel smart servo arm.
  • With an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) tied into the I²C bus, you can create a two-wheeled self-balancing robot.
  • Build a biped walker robot with sensors to navigate based around the board and a Pi using powerful servos or Dynamixel smart servos.
  • Make an automated greenhouse. Have analog sensors for light, temperature, carbon dioxide, moisture, water leaks, and also control two water pumps.
The Robot Core plant watering system
The Robot Core plant watering system

Smallest seismic sensor uses vibration spectral analysis

Graham Prophet @ discuss about a new small seismic sensor from Omron:

Omron Electronic Components believes it has the world’s smallest class size seismic sensor, specifically designed to trigger the shutdown of potentially hazardous or easily damaged systems in the event of an earthquake.

Smallest seismic sensor uses vibration spectral analysis – [Link]

Color sensor achieves high dynamic range with auto exposure

Massimo Gottardi@ writes:

The Design Idea in Figure 1 is a color detector capable of generating an RGB triplet over a high dynamic range, a useful attribute for machine vision applications. The circuit implements auto-exposure control to achieve this. Thus, RGB values for a subject are invariant over a range of light intensity.

Color sensor achieves high dynamic range with auto exposure – [Link]

Simple Pressure Sensor Amplifier & Over Pressure Switch

The pressure sensor amplifier built using LM358 op-amp and MPXM2051GS pressure sensor from NXP semiconductor.  The circuit provides 4V output for full scale pressure input 0-7.5PSI.  One op-amp is used as amplifier and 2nd op-amp is used as comparator to provide an output at set value that can be used as over pressure switch to control a pump or solenoid.  This is a low cost general-purpose circuit for those applications where +/-3% performance is acceptable. Multi turn potentiometers are provided for Offset, span adjust & over/under Pressure set point to control output devices like solid state relay, Pump, and solenoid.


  • Supply 12V DC
  • Pressure Sensor range 0-7.5PSI
  • Output 0-4V (Approx.)
  • PR1 Multi-Turn Potentiometer Offset
  • PR2 Multi-Turn Potentiometer Span Set
  • PR3 Multi-Turn Potentiometer Comparator (Switch) output Set
  • D1 Power LED
  • CN1 4 Header Connector Outputs & Supply Input

Simple Pressure Sensor Amplifier & Over Pressure Switch – [Link]

Creating a Smart Water Sensor with the ESP32 Thing

Alex the Giant @ has a tutorial on how to build smart and connected water sensor using ESP32. He writes:

For this project, you can use either the ESP8266 Thing, or the ESP32 Thing. One of the many improvements made on the ESP32 is the capacitive touch circuitry built in to ten of the IO pins (we can see the pins capable of capacitive touch in the datasheet below). It should be noted though, that Touch1 cannot be used as capacitive touch sensor because of the pull-up resistor connected to GPIO pin 0. With the capacitive touch, we’ll be able to sense water with just two pins; the first will be connected directly to a capacitive touch pin, and the second will be connected to ground.

Creating a Smart Water Sensor with the ESP32 Thing – [Link]

The First and Only Long-Term Stable Metal-Oxide Gas Sensor

At this year’s Sensor+Test 2017 in Nuremberg (May 30 – June 1), Sensirion AG, the expert in environmental and flow sensor solutions, introduces the SGP – the first and only long-term stable metal-oxide gas sensor.

The SGP gas sensor is based on Sensirion’s multi-pixel platform, which integrates four gas sensing elements into a very small 2.45 x 2.45 x 0.9 mm3 DFN package featuring a fully calibrated air quality output signal. The unprecedented combination of long-term stability and multi-pixel technology opens up new possibilities for environmental monitoring in smart home, appliances and Internet of Things applications. Thanks to its unique performance, the SGP allows for the first time the integration of metal-oxide gas sensors into mobile devices.

The First and Only Long-Term Stable Metal-Oxide Gas Sensor – [Link]

Making the Electronics for CDM324 – 24GHz Doppler Motion Sensor

limpkin @ tries out the CDM324 / IPM165 Doppler effect sensor and proposes an amplification circuit to get the readings out of the sensor. He writes:

You may recall the article I wrote a couple of years ago about a nearly identical Doppler sensor, the HB100.
While the HB100 is using a 10.525GHz frequency, this new module uses 24.125GHz! This has the main advantage of being compatible with European regulations (ETSI #300 400) and having good penetration in dry materials. Moreover, as the main frequency is higher the patch antennas are smaller, hence the tiny 25x25x6mm module.

Making the Electronics for CDM324 – 24GHz Doppler Motion Sensor – [Link]

Tune Your String Instruments Perfectly With Roadie Tuner

Roadie Tuner is a dream come true for guitarists! The automatic ring tuner, that is quick, easy to use, and three times more accurate than the human ear, is dedicated to beginner guitarists who are almost always frustrated with not knowing how to tune their guitar. This ultimate musician’s tool works on all string instrument to fine tune them in seconds, including bass guitars.

Roadie Tuner pairs with a free app on your smartphone, iPod or tablet through Bluetooth 4.0 smart. All the audio processing happens on the smartphone which sends tuning commands to Roadie. You can choose from a list of alternate tunings or you can easily create your own.

You can set up a profile for your instrument in Roadie Tuner app and it will track its maintenance history. Thus, it will inform you of the quality of your strings and recommend restringing as soon as the tone quality deteriorates.

Roadie tuner team had just launched their second version of this amazing product, Roadie 2. The new about this tuner the fact that it is  fully standalone and uses vibration detection to tune in even the noisiest of environments. Thus, no need to be paired with a mobile app anymore to tune your instruments.

Below are Roadie 2 technical specifications:

  • Metallic gearbox: Built with a 380:1 gear ratio motor that insures Roadie 2 will turn those rusty pegs for you. The motor can turn in micro-movements to achieve unparalleled precision.
  • Battery:Powered by a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery (included). Lasts 1 month on a single charge. Includes a battery indicator to show you how much juice is left.
  • USB-C: With a charging cable included.
  • Built-in user interface: For easy selection of instruments and tunings.
  • Bluetooth 4.0 low energy
  • Haptic feedback: When a string is in tune, Roadie will give you a little shake to move on to the next string.
  • OLED screen Invisible when off, lights up beautifully as soon as you turn Roadie 2 on.
  • Knob interface: Intuitive and fast to scroll through your instruments and tunings.
  • Weight: Product weight: 3.2 ounces. Shipping weight: 9.9 ounces.
  • Product dimensions: 3.4 x 3.0 x 1.0 inches.
  • Material / Color:Plastic / Black.

“I think the concept is fantastic and I would be thrilled to have one of these because I actually play twelve string guitars. You don’t know how bloody difficult it is to keep a twelve string in tune” – Spike Edney, Queen

More details about extra features within the Roadie Tuner app, the product versions and more are available at the Kickstarter campaign the team had launched 2 days ago. Within only 3 hours, the campaign had achieved its goal and it is already 300% funded. Early bird offers still has 8 hours to go, you can pre-order your own Roadie for $79! Also check out the official website for more information.