Rotating Radar Visualization

We ask, who wouldn’t want a rotating motion and distance tracking radar? Sure in today’s day and age anyone could purchase a wide-angle sonar or IR solution that achieves the same goal, but [LuckyLarry] took it old school and made his own rotating radar. He used an Arduino, servo, and ultrasonic sensor as a base to gather data, and the open source programming language Processing to draw the data on the screen. He says it’s a little inaccurate currently, but will try out some other sensors in the future.

32 thoughts on “Rotating Radar Visualization

  1. I was a little confused by the video at first until I looked at his page.

    Basically, the way he is rendering it isn’t how we expect a radar to work like in the movies. Instead of it plotting a point at the distance the signal is bounced back at, it fills in the area green until it his a target. So in the video, that green blob is showing the varying distances between the objects in front of the sensor.

    So that indent to the left side of the display is the flat surface of the book, which is closer than the bottles.

    Not sure why he chose to render it that way, as it seems harder to read than the more traditional output. Plus it doesn’t help that his scale seems to be set for a much longer distance than what is necessary for this test.

  2. Looks like a fun project (though I’m sorry but have to say: it’s NOT Radar). As someone mentioned, it looks like the displayed range is greater than required for this demo. It would be cool if he had a button or something to adjust the displayed range. Not sure if that’s possible with processing or not (no experience with it).

    It does seem that his display would make more sense to observers if he inverted the current display, and made the targets green and the blank areas black. I’m curious whether it’s at all possible to resolve two targets at the same azimuth but differing range with sensors like the one used here.

    Hope to see future improvements on this project.


    I still don’t get the problem so many people have with Arduino. If you dislike arduino, then go out, get yourself a 555 timer, some transistors, and a piece of duct tape, and make something cool and impressive (and probably impractical) to show us all. Then we’ll all bow to your great 1337 $ki11z! Until then, shut up and enjoy the view.

  3. heh cool. :)

    Well I can assure you it does work, but then the video sucks – its not exactly the best material for a video.

    I rendered it as a big green blob and not lines etc.. as the sensors not too accurate and I also wanted to see what the sensor saw as open space – kinda obvious really…

    Poor implementation M4CGYV3R? sorry, but how would you implement a radar style screen – by making it out of a biro and an elastic band in a shit TV series with a mullet? :P

  4. @therian
    Thanks for your helpful suggestion, but I have already read it. What exactly about my posting (or digi’s for that matter) makes you so confident that we’re so unable to read an article? What exactly about our posts do you disagree with? Please don’t throw out assumptions without explaining what you mean.

  5. So he made a SONAR display and not a RADAR display.

    Why is everyone calling it radar when it’s using sound? It’s not, it’s Sonar until he replaces the ultrasonics with a RF transmitter and receiver.

  6. Heh, my job is actually as a Radar Technician. Lately in my personal projects, I’ve been using AVRs and the LPC2148, and studying FPGA/CPLD development with Xilinx chips. I’m finishing up my BS in EE/ME. And even still I can appreciate something as useful and simple to work with as an Arduino. So again, if you have an actual valid point, go ahead and make it. But the Arduino platform has it’s place just as much as any other tool.

  7. Now I know why I rarely read comments, Flame fest… maybe they should force registration to keep out the riff raff…

    And WOW everyone noticed its not RF its sound and there for sonar is a better term…

    Maybe they should rename it to RADAR-Looking Sonar… It was more than likely described that way to help the not so technically inclined along the way, oh wait the internet was built by geeks for geeks and all others should just leave?

    Honestly… its a great looking project, Thanks for sharing it Larry I have actually been working on something similar for an ROV your work will help me out…

    For the Arduino haters… Don’t like em? Dont use em! Last I checked you can get dev boards for whatever you want… Personally I’ll take an Arduino over a PIC or BASIC Stamp anyday.. are they the Uber microcontroller? Maybe not but they are GREAT at what they do and have a massive HELPFUL community.

    //end rant…

  8. I guess it is called a ‘radar’ as it is using a …radar plot! At least, with JPGraph (a php graphing lib), they call it radar plot.

    A good name, as otherwise he would have to change it from SONAR to LIDAR when using an optical distance sensor. So using RADAR plots, isn’t that silly.

  9. Ooooh you just gave me an idea!

    Get a highly directional microphone, and run the sweep. Gather amplitude vs angle, and build yourself a waterfall display!

    You could even record the amplitude of frequency ranges. Nifty!

  10. I think the point of people who complain about arduino projects is that using electronics to build a project, while interesting in it’s own right, is NOT a hack. The site is called Hack a Day, not Project a Day.

    That being said, personally I enjoy seeing all the projects, and think the people who are stuck on black and white pictures, who are anti-ardunio, and who are only happy when someone truly hacks something, are being too picky and naive. If this site turned down every project that wasn’t strictly a hack of existing devices made for a completely different purpose, it would be far less interesting. IMO of course.

    At least it would be for me because I couldn’t care less what OS someone decides to put on their roomba or if Linux can run on the new DVD player they just bought. Hacks like that don’t have much purpose except to say “I did it”. That has it’s own worth sometimes, but surely we can all agree that Linux has been put on everything, and will be able to run on everything in the future, so it’s not a novelty anymore.

    New electronics projects, arduino or not, are interesting to see. I consider adding traditional new electronics projects to the mix here a good growth move. Maybe a name change would make sense, but why go through all that just to satisfy the people who can’t get over it?

    And yes, I know there are some crap projects here and there, but you don’t HAVE to read them. Read the headline and if you don’t care for the project then move on. I know I certainly wouldn’t want to be responsible for filling up a site like this with content. So I leave the guys that do it alone and enjoy the gems that crop up from time to time.

    /pointless rant

  11. @Inventorjack

    Prossing is defiantly capable of creating a little scroll that controls the ranged I mean all he need is 2 buttons that when clicked add/subtract 5 from the Range value :)

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