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Infrared (IR) break-beam sensors are a simple way to detect motion. They work by having an emitter side that sends out a beam of human-invisible IR light, then a receiver across the way which is sensitive to that same light. When something passes between the two, and its not transparent to IR, then the 'beam is broken' and the receiver will let you know.

Compared to PIR sensors, breakbeams are faster and allow better control of where you want to detect the motion. Compared to Sonar modules, they're less expensive. However, you do need both emitter and receiver on opposite sides of the area you want to monitor.

This is the 3mm IR version.  It works up to 25cm / 10". You can power it from 3.3V or 5V, but 5V will get you better range and is what we suggest. The receiver is open collector transistor output which means that you do need a pull up resistor if you want to read a digital signal off the signal wire. Most microcontrollers have the ability to turn on a built in pull up resistor. If you do not, connect a 10K resistor between the white wire of the receiver and the red wire. If you want to control a relay or LED or whatever, it can sink up to 100mA to ground

Check out our IR breakbeam tutorial for how to get started quickly

We also carry a 5mm version that works for slightly longer distances.

Technical Details

  • Sensing Distance: Approx 25cm / 10"
  • Power Voltage: 3.3 - 5.5VDC
  • Emitter Current Draw: 10mA @ 3.3V, 20mA @ 5V
  • Output Current Capability of receiver: 100mA sink
  • Transmitter/Receiver LED Angle: 10°
  • Response Time: <2 ms
  • Dimensions: 20mm x 10mm x 8mm / 0.8" x 0.4" x 0.3"
  • Cable Length: 234mm / 9.2"
  • Weight (of each half): ~3g
  • Datasheet


Learn

Get going quickly with these simple IR breakbeam sensors

Infra-Red Break Beam Sensor - 3mm LEDs [2167]

  • Brand: Adafruit
  • Product Code: ADA-2167
  • Reward Points: 3
  • Availability: 9
  • £4.74

  • Ex Tax: £3.95
  • Price in reward points: 100

Infra-Red Proximity Sensor - 80cm (Grove)

Infra-Red Proximity Sensor - 80cm (Grove)

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The 80cm Infrared Proximity Sensor takes a continuous distance reading and returns a corresponding ...

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Infra-Red Reflective Sensor (Grove)

Infra-Red Reflective Sensor (Grove)

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Grove - Infrared Reflective Sensor utilizes a RPR220 reflective photosensor module to detect colour ...

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Infra-Red Distance Interrupter (Grove)

Infra-Red Distance Interrupter (Grove)

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This IR Distance Interrupter features a high-sensitivity RFR-359F photoreflector to perform distance ...

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Infra-Red Break Beam Sensor - 5mm LEDs [2168]

Infra-Red Break Beam Sensor - 5mm LEDs [2168]

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This Infrared (IR) break-beam sensor is the 5mm IR version which works up to 50cm / 20".

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Infra-Red Reflective Sensor with 470 and 10K Resistors [2349]

Infra-Red Reflective Sensor with 470 and 10K Resistors [2349]

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Control the IR LED and turn it on to bounce IR off objects to determine their reflectivity.

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IR Distance Interrupter v1.2 (Grove)

IR Distance Interrupter v1.2 (Grove)

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Detect if there is an object in front of it using GaAs infared light emitting diode and a silicon ...

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