RCWL 0516 Microwave Radar Sensor The Best Proximity Sensor (PIR alternative)

RCWL 0516 microwave radar sensor (PIR alternative)


The RCWL-0516 Microwave Proximity Sensor module has been designed specially for motion sensing and that to after considering the outcomes of common PIR motion sensors. Earlier PIR sensor was widely used in auto motion sensing devices like burglar alarms, security lights, motion sensing relay switch etc. Just like the PIR sensor, this sensor also detects movement within its detection range, but uses a different principle.

PIR sensor uses incoming Infra red radiation from the obstruction in the sensing area. But RCWL-0516 uses RADAR principle for movement sensing. It continuously keeps on transmitting a frequency and the moment it senses a change in the reflected pattern of the frequency it sends a trigger in the form of output voltage at OUT pins which is used for detection of motion.

Specifications and Features of RCWL 0516 microwave radar sensor

  1. Transmission signal processing control chip RCWL-9196
  2. Wide operating voltage range 4.0 to 28.0 Volts
  3. Penetrating detection capability. It can easily pass through glass and thin surfaces as compared with the traditional PIR sensor.
  4. Adjustable Block time and distance using capacitors / resistance.
  5. Operating Current: 2.8mA (typical); 3mA (max)
  6. RCWL-0516 sensitivity range: 7 meters
  7. Transmitting Power: 20mW (typical); 30mW (max)
  8. Output Voltage: 3.3 Volts
  9. Output Voltage Driving Capacity:100mA

RCWL-0516 Pinout:

VIN — 4- to 28-V DC supply input
OUT — HIGH (3.3 V) motion detected/LOW (0 V) idle
GND — Ground/0 V
3V3 — Regulated DC output (100 mA max)

rcwl-0516 Pinout


RCWL-0516 delay time adjustment

Actually RCWL 0516 module gives low logic just after 2 seconds. It means when rcwl-0516 microwave motion sensor senses the motion it gives logic high on OUT pin, but for only 2 seconds. After 2 seconds you get low logic at OUT pin. So, it means you continuously need to have in motion for constant high logic at the pin. But here is a trick you can extend this delay.

For extending the delay you can connect 100 Nano farads capacitor (104) at  C-TM. It will dramatically extend the delay time to approx 40 seconds. If you need more you can further increase the capacitance value.

RCWL-0516 distance adjustment (range)

At R-GN you can add 1 Mega ohm’s resistor to reduce the detection range from 7 M to 5 M (RCWL-0516 reduce range). If you are interested in further increasing the range than I can suggest you a link. Where peoples are still experimenting with this. But I cannot tell you how those modifications behave. The link is for experimental purpose only. Do not blame me if something goes wrong.

For further increasing the range I didn’t find any link on the internet. As 7 m is a good range. People are more interested in reducing its range rather than increasing. If you get more information kindly comment.

RCWL-0516 LDR with additional night sensing feature

At CDS you can add a LDR (light-dependent resistor) to do motion detection during night only. For example if you need to use this module for motion sensing light for outdoor than LDR is a must. Without LDR light will glow in day time also which is the waste of electricity.

My Views:

RCWL-0516 Microwave motion sensor is definitely the best module for making projects related to human body motion sensor. You can consider it as a PIR alternative. Due to its low cost, efficiency, reliability and modular nature it is widely used in home automation products. It gives the luxury feel in cheap price. Kindly, share your links in the comment box, if you have something more to share.

Useful Links:

rcwl-0516 data sheet from the manufacturer






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