Arduino-Powered Missile System Uses Ultrasound To Aim

In the real world, missile systems use advanced radars, infrared sensors, and other hardware to track and prosecute their targets. [Raspduino Uno] on YouTube has instead used ultrasound for targeting for an altogether simpler desktop fire control solution.

This fun build uses a common off-the-shelf USB “missile launcher” that fires foam darts. To supply targeting data for the launcher, an Arduino Uno uses an ultrasonic sensor pair mounted atop a servo. As the servo rotates, the returns from the ultrasonic sensor are plotted on a screen run by a Raspberry Pi. If an object is detected in the 180-degree field of view of the sweeping sensor, a missile is fired using the dart launcher.

It’s a relatively simple build, but nonetheless would serve as a useful classroom demonstration of radar-like targeting techniques to a young audience. Real military hardware remains altogether more sophisticated. Video after the break.


12 thoughts on “Arduino-Powered Missile System Uses Ultrasound To Aim

    1. I share your concern. But unless I’ve misunderstood something a 90 Db ultrasonic sound isn’t any more dangerous to a dog or whatever than 90 Db black metal or Call of Duty noises.

      1. 90db is pretty load, enough to cause hearing damage if extended duration. Not sure there is any effect when in range we can’t hear. But that is enough in normal range to be painful for some people. So, similar to cranking stereo high enough to cause hearing damage, sure pets don’t like that either in house of someone making themselves slowly deaf.

  1. When i worked on my masters theses ultrasound was the choice because of simplicity.
    It was easy to detect an obstacle in the lab, but when you go to the real world…. all sensors that use ultrasound (ie. car parking sensor) would interfere with mine because of its sensitivity (and those were random moments that were hard to predict).

  2. Bit sketchy on essential details: how is the USB missile launcher connected to the Arduino?
    The screen apparently runs on a Raspberry Pi (so why use the Arduino at all?), how is the Raspberry Pi connected to the Arduino?

  3. Layman question time.

    Ultrasonic sensors work like Radar and Lidar, right? Measuring the delta for signal transmit and return timing data indexed against angle at time of transmit. So, how difficult would it be to incorporate the short range radar module from the bumper of a Civic or Prius, and a Scanse Sweep Lidar module into this build?

    The radar code should be pretty straight forward. The Lidar might be a bit much, but you wouldn’t be storing, processing, or rendering the point cloud, just looking for changes that correlate to the angle and range being seen by the ultrasonic and radar sensors. It might be possible to use it as a “slew to cue” system similar to the Phalanx CIWS which has two separate radar sets for detection and targeting; just watching for changes in the point cloud that show closing bearing and decreasing range.

    Not that I’m trying to build my own multi spectrum CIWS (which would be REALLY cool), but this could all kinds of applications. Paint ball, laser tag, pest control in gardens, bird control around sensitive outside equipment, predator deterrent in national parks, unmanned security posts…

    1. I hope that you’re joking.

      This is a fun, but super basic, starter electronics project. Elaborating on it would make a great science fair entry. I hope that high-schoolers are watching this type of project — the gov’t has better things to do.

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