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Three LEDs signal bumper-barrier distance
Infra-red operation, indoor use

Circuit diagram:




10K   1/4W Resistor


1K   1/4W Resistors


33R   1/4W Resistor


1M   1/4W Resistors


4K7 1/4W Resistor


1K5 1/4W Resistor


1K   1/4W Resistors



1µF 63V Electrolytic or Polyester Capacitors


47pF 63V Ceramic Capacitor


100µF 25V Electrolytic Capacitors



Infra-red LED


Infra-red Photo Diode (see Notes)


1N4148 75V 150mA Diodes


LEDs (Any color and size)



555 Timer IC


LM324 Low Power Quad Op-amp


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.


  • Power supply must be regulated (hence the use of IC3) for precise reference voltages. The circuit can be fed by a commercial wall plug-in adapter, having a DC output voltage in the range 12-24V.
  • Current drawing: LEDs off 40mA; all LEDs on 60mA @ 12V DC supply.
  • The infra-red Photo Diode D2, should be of the type incorporating an optical sunlight filter: these components appear in black plastic cases. Some of them resemble TO92 transistors: in this case, please note that the sensitive surface is the curved, not the flat one.
  • Avoid sun or artificial light hitting directly D1 & D2.
  • If your car has black bumpers, you can line-up the infra-red diodes with the (mostly white) license or number plate.
  • It is wiser to place all the circuitry near the infra-red LEDs in a small box. The 3 signaling LEDs can be placed far from the main box at an height making them well visible by the car driver.
  • The best setup is obtained bringing D2 nearer to D1 (without a reflecting object) until D5 illuminates; then moving it a bit until D5 is clearly off. Usually D1-D2 optimum distance lies in the range 1.5-3 cm.
  • If you are needing a simpler circuit of this kind driving a LED or a relay, click Infra-red Level Detector.

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Fragments of discussion:Full version of discussion »
  • what is the important components in park-aid? what is park-aid really about, i meaning just for introduction. hm why infra-red Led, infra-red photodiode,555 timer,LM 324 and 7812 is applied in this circuit? what are the other IC 7812 that have same function with this IC?
  • Dear Mz Dragonal, Please make your question more exact. You do not understand how the scheme works? Or do not understand why the LED is infrared? Or both that and another?

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