LV-EZ0 Maxbotix Ultrasonic Rangefinder provides very short to long-range detection and ranging, in an incredibly small package. It can detect objects from 0-inches to 254-inches (6.45-meters) and provides sonar range information from 6-inches out to 254-inches with 1-inch resolution. (Objects from 0 inches to 6-inches range as 6-inches.) The interface output formats included are pulse width output (PWM), analog voltage output (Vcc/512 volts per inch), and serial digital output (9600 baud).
A good sensor for when a Sharp IR distance sensor won't cut it. For example of using this with an Arduino, see the Halloween Pumpkin project.
The different LV models have different beam width patterns, check this image for a comparison of all the LV model beam patterns. For higher sensitivity, check out the HR-LV models - they have up to 1mm sensitivity and 5 meter range!
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