An Introduction To Sensors

This course is meant to create a pathway into learning about sensors, for people who are scared of the math and general trickery that usually comes with them. A hands-on approach is taken in this course through a combination of lecture and experimentation to teach you about the different basic components used as sensors. Additionally, visuals are used throughout lectures to explain the theory behind how each sensor works and their role in the everyday electronics that we use, while keeping the math to a minimum.

  1. The Introduction

    Lesson 1: The Introduction

    Want to learn about the different types of electronic sensors? Please start here! This lesson explains the course content, what expectations you should have and what parts are needed for the course.

    • Tilt Sensor

      Lesson 2: Tilt Sensor

      The mechanical tilt sensor is one of the most basic types of sensors available. In this lesson we will learn how the tilt sensor uses some conductive balls to detect when the sensor has passed ± 90° of tilt.

      • Temperature Sensor

        Lesson 3: Temperature Sensor

        The temperature sensor is a small component that packs a powerful punch. In this lesson, we’ll use a temperature sensor to output the current temperature inside the range of -40°C to +125°C.

        • IR Proximity Sensor

          Lesson 4: IR Proximity Sensor

          Knowing if something is in front of you is very useful for many different electronic applications. In this lesson we will use an infrared emitter and detector to sense if an object has crossed the sensor’s path.

          • Infrared Encoder

            Lesson 5: Infrared Encoder

            Detecting changes in color and reflectivity can be achieved using an infrared emitter and phototransistor. In this lesson we’ll do just that by making a rotary encoder for tracking a motor’s movement.

            • Sound Sensor

              Lesson 6: Sound Sensor

              We all hear and use sound in our daily lives, so we must also learn how to detect sound electronically. In this lesson we will use an electret microphone to convert sound from an acoustic wave, into an electrical signal.

              • Ultrasonic Proximity

                Lesson 7: Ultrasonic Proximity Sensor

                Proximity detection is important for any application that needs to know if an object has crossed a sensor’s path. In this lesson we will learn how to use an ultrasonic proximity sensor to detect how far away an object is.

                • Light Sensor

                  Lesson 8: Light Sensor

                  Light is an element that is crucial for life on earth and it is also something we can easily sense electronically. In this lesson we will use a photoresistor to detect changes in brightness by making a laser trip-line.

                  • Motion Sensor

                    Lesson 9: Motion Sensor

                    Motion detection is vital for most security systems and the PIR motion sensor is a popular choice in that area. In this lesson we will learn how the PIR motion sensor works and how we can use it to set off an alarm when motion is detected.

                    • Magnetic Sensor

                      Lesson 10: Magnetic Sensor

                      Magnetic fields may be invisible but they are all around us with different strengths. In this lesson we’ll see how a hall effect sensor can be used to detect a magnetic field and be used as a magnetic motor encoder.


                      Generally, electronics is a difficult subject mathematically, however theoretically it's actually not as bad if you take a hands-on approach and create vivid imagery to demonstrate what is going on. Using this approach, virtually anyone with a basic math background and a desire to know more about electronics can get started. So the following prerequisites are necessary for this course:



                      This Introduction To Sensors course will be split up into 10 lessons with the lecture video for each lesson hosted on youtube. The lectures will be to 8-12 minutes in length so that you have enough time to see the information and can go over it twice to perform any of the experiments while following along with the video. Each lecture will contain 4 main sections: an introduction, a plain english theoretical explanation, an experiment and a real world example. In addition, each lesson video will be hosted at PyroEDU with downloadable offline information and material like homework, schematics, code and parts information.

                      Course Content

                      1. Introduction (Live!)
                      2. Tilt Sensor (Live!)
                      3. Temperature Sensor (Live!)
                      4. Infrared Proximity Sensor (Live!)
                      5. Infrared Encoder (Live!)
                      6. Sound Sensor (Live!)
                      7. Ultrasonic Proximity Sensor (Live!)
                      8. Light Sensor (Live!)
                      9. Motion Sensor (Live!)
                      10. Magnetic Sensor (Live!)


                      This course is meant to take you, the learner, from a blank slate to a more informed individual by teaching about electronic sensors in a hands-on way, as the lecture videos will emphasize and guide you with experimentation. You should expect to learn the basic theory behind how several types of sensors operate and how to build a circuit to use a sensor to interpret the real world.

                      Additional information

                      This course and its additional material is located at:


                      From there you can access all of the lectures (as we do them) and download homework, schematics, code and extra parts information.

                      Teacher qualifications

                      Hello! Aside from building many electronics tutorials and projects, and posting their full hardware schematics and source code on PyroElectro.com, I studied computer and electrical engineering at university and have Bachelor's + Master's degrees in the subject. My work is typically more slanted to digital hardware, however the basics are the same no matter if you're an analog designer or a digital designer.

                      Latest Update
                      Lesson 6 - Sound Sensor Live! (2015-06-04 21:38:55)

                      "Hello Students!

                      Time to use some sound sensors in our new PyroEDU Introduction to Sensors course. This is a lesson about interfacing with sound sensors, here's a quick overview of this lesson:

                      We all hear and use sound in our daily lives, so we must also learn how to detect sound electronically. In this lesson we will use an electret microphone to convert sound from an acoustic wave, into an electrical signal.

                      Lesson 6 Link: http://www.pyroelectro.com/edu/sensors/sound/

                      Chris @ PyroElectro.com"

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