This compact module packs three IR LED/phototransistor pairs onto a 1.25″ × 0.3″ board. The sensors are mounted on a 0.375″ pitch, allowing this array to be used as a minimal detector for a line-following robot. Each sensor provides a separate digital I/O-measurable voltage output.
The QTR-3RC reflectance sensor array is intended as a line sensor, but it can be used as a general-purpose proximity or reflectance sensor. The module is a convenient carrier for three IR emitter and receiver (phototransistor) pairs. With sensors spaced at intervals of 0.375″ (9.525 mm) along of the board’s longer axis, this array works well as a minimal detector for line-following robots, as line-following courses are commonly made using 3/4″ (19 mm) black electrical tape. The middle sensor is slightly offset along the short axis of the board.
To use a sensor, you must first charge the output node by applying a voltage to its OUT pin. You can then read the reflectance by withdrawing that externally applied voltage on the OUT pin and timing how long it takes the output voltage to decay due to the integrated phototransistor. Shorter decay time is an indication of greater reflection. This measurement approach has several advantages, especially when multiple units are used:
- No analog-to-digital converter (ADC) is required
- Improved sensitivity over voltage-divider analog output
- Parallel reading of multiple sensors is possible with most microcontrollers
The LED current-limiting resistors are set to deliver approximately 17 mA to the LEDs when VCC is 5 V, making the total board consumption just over 50 mA.
More technical information at Pololu.