Creating a vibrating distance sensor with a flashlight and ATtiny85

This vibrating distance sensor lets you navigate around a dark room in bat-like fashion.

If you’ve ever lost power in the middle of the night and had to stumble through a dark room, you know just how daunting of a task that can be, particularly if it’s in an unfamiliar place. Luckily, one Maker by the name of “24Eng” has set out to solve this common conundrum by creating a vibrating distance sensor that enables you to make your way around an area in bat-like fashion.


In other words, all a user needs to do is point the intuitive device in the direction that they want to look or feel, press down its little black button and let the sensor take care of the rest. The intensity of the vibrations will increase whenever an object is nearby, and weaker as it gets further away.

“Imagine waking up next to a light sleeper and you have to get to the bathroom but you’re in an pitch black hotel room. Even a flashlight will wake him or her up but you can’t hold it for the next three hours when the alarm goes off,” 24Eng writes. “With a vibrating distance sensor you can ‘feel’ walls up to fifteen feet away rather than groping blindly.”


The system is based on an ATtiny85 MCU, which is connected to both an ultrasonic sensor and a vibrating motor. The distance sensor uses sound to determine the distance of an object by calculating how long it takes for an emitted noise to return to the sensor. Beyond that, the sensor utilizes sounds that are above the range of human hearing, so no one sleeping in the room or in close proximity will hear it. The entire circuit is powered by a 9V battery and housed inside an old flashlight.

Hate navigating around at night? Then head over to the Maker’s Instructables page here.

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