Three LEDs signal bumper-barrier distance

Infra-red operation, indoor use

Circuit diagram:

Park Aid


R1_____________10K   1/4W Resistor
R2,R5,R6,R9_____1K   1/4W Resistors
R3_____________33R   1/4W Resistor
R4,R11__________1M   1/4W Resistors
R7______________4K7  1/4W Resistor
R8______________1K5  1/4W Resistor
R10,R12-R14_____1K   1/4W Resistors

C1,C4___________1µF  63V Electrolytic or Polyester Capacitors
C2_____________47pF  63V Ceramic Capacitor
C3,C5_________100µF  25V Electrolytic Capacitors

D1_____________Infra-red LED
D2_____________Infra-red Photo Diode (see Notes)
D3,D4________1N4148  75V 150mA Diodes
D5-7___________LEDs  (Any color and size)

IC1_____________555  Timer IC
IC2___________LM324  Low Power Quad Op-amp
IC3____________7812  12V 1A Positive voltage regulator IC

Device purpose:

This circuit was designed as an aid in parking the car near the garage wall when backing up. LED D7 illuminates when bumper-wall distance is about 20 cm., D7+D6 illuminate at about 10 cm. and D7+D6+D5 at about 6 cm. In this manner you are alerted when approaching too close to the wall.
All distances mentioned before can vary, depending on infra-red transmitting and receiving LEDs used and are mostly affected by the color of the reflecting surface. Black surfaces lower greatly the device sensitivity.
Obviously, you can use this circuit in other applications like liquids level detection, proximity devices etc.

Circuit operation:

IC1 forms an oscillator driving the infra-red LED by means of 0.8mSec. pulses at 120Hz frequency and about 300mA peak current. D1 & D2 are placed facing the car on the same line, a couple of centimeters apart, on a short breadboard strip fastened to the wall. D2 picks-up the infra-red beam generated by D1 and reflected by the surface placed in front of it. The signal is amplified by IC2A and peak detected by D4 & C4. Diode D3, with R5 & R6, compensates for the forward diode drop of D4. A DC voltage proportional to the distance of the reflecting object and D1 & D2 feeds the inverting inputs of three voltage comparators. These comparators switch on and off the LEDs, referring to voltages at their non-inverting inputs set by the voltage divider resistor chain R7-R10.

Circuit modification:

A circuit modification featuring an audible alert instead of the visual one is available here: Park-Aid Modification