Simple radar with Python

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In this tutorial I would like to show you how easily and quickly you can create a radar interface. At the end of these instructions you should be able to expand them yourself and use them for your DIY projects.

1 micro:Driver Expansion Board
1 Servo Motor
1 Ultrasonic Distance Sensor
Required hardware for project
Connect the hardware

Connecting the hardware is super easy! Plug the UNIHIKER board into the micro:Driver expansion board (Gravity standard interface). Next, connect the ultrasonic sensor via I2C with UNIHIKER board. Then connect the servo motor to the micro:Driver expansion board (for example to pin S8). Finally you have to attach the ultrasonic sensor to the servo motor. I used some cardboard and velcro. It doesn't look very nice, but it was quick and lasted.


connect all hardware parts


Write the Python code

Now we start with the Python code. In order to ensure better maintainability and reusability, we create two Python scripts. It is recommended to create the UI as a Python module (for example as a class). In your development project you should create a “lib” folder and create a “radar.py” file in it (eq. YOUR-PROJECT/lib/radar.py).

from tkinter import Tk, Canvas, BOTH
from math import cos, sin, radians

class Radar:
    Radar class to represent a Radar UI via a Tk interface

    _DISTANCE: str = "cm"
    _FONT: str = "Helvetica"
    _COLORS: dict = {
        'radar': 'white',
        'background': 'black',
        'point': 'yellow',
        'line': 'lawn green',
        'line_text': 'cyan'
    _ARC_STEPS: int = 3
    _SONAR_OBJECTS: dict = {}

    def __init__(self, screen_width: int, screen_height: int) -> None:
        Radar UI interface constructor
        :param screen_width: width of the screen
        :param screen_height: height of the screen
        self._screen_width = int(screen_width)
        self._screen_height = int(screen_height)
        self._center_x = self._screen_width // 2
        self._center_y = self._screen_height - 50
        self._line_width = None
        self._angle_start = None
        self._angle_end = None
        self._max_radius = None
        self._arc_distance = None

        self.screen = Tk()
        self.screen.resizable(width=False, height=False)

        self.canvas = Canvas(self.screen, bg=self._COLORS['background'])
        self.canvas.pack(expand=True, fill=BOTH)

    def configure(self, line_width: int, max_radius: int, arc_distance: int, start_angle: int, end_angle: int) -> None:
        Configure the radar
        :param line_width: line width of the graphics
        :param max_radius: arc max radius
        :param arc_distance: arc distance in pixel
        :param start_angle: start angle in degrees for arcs
        :param end_angle: end angle in degrees for arcs
        :return: None
        self._line_width = int(line_width)
        self._angle_start = int(start_angle)
        self._angle_end = int(end_angle)
        self._max_radius = int(max_radius)
        self._arc_distance = int(arc_distance)

    def _draw_line(self, angle: int, color: str) -> None:
        Draw line with given angle and color on interface
        :param angle: angle in degrees
        :return: None
        in_radian = radians(int(angle))
        x1 = self._center_x
        y1 = self._center_y
        x2 = x1 + self._max_radius * cos(in_radian)
        y2 = y1 - self._max_radius * sin(in_radian)

        self.canvas.create_line(x1, y1, x2, y2, width=self._line_width, fill=str(color))

    def _draw_text(self, x: int, y: int, text: str, color: str, font_size: int = 20) -> None:
        Draw given text with values on interface
        :param x: x position as integer
        :param y: y position as integer
        :param text: string with current line angle
        :param color: color of the text as string
        :param font_size: optional font size (default: 20)
        :return: None
        x_pos = int(x)
        y_pos = int(y)
        font = (self._FONT, int(font_size))

        self.canvas.create_text(x_pos, y_pos, text=str(text), font=font, fill=color)

    def _draw_background(self, show_measurement: bool = True) -> None:
        Draw radar background graphic on interface
        :param show_measurement: whether to show the measurement or not
        :return: None
        color = self._COLORS['radar']
        angle_total = self._angle_start + self._angle_end
        x1 = self._center_x - self._max_radius
        y1 = self._center_y - self._max_radius
        x2 = self._center_x + self._max_radius
        y2 = self._center_y + self._max_radius

        for _ in range(self._ARC_STEPS):
            self.canvas.create_arc(x1, y1, x2, y2,

            x1 += self._arc_distance
            y1 += self._arc_distance
            x2 -= self._arc_distance
            y2 -= self._arc_distance

        for value in range(0, 360, 45):
            if self._angle_start <= value <= angle_total:
                self._draw_line(angle=value, color=color)

        radius = self._max_radius

        if bool(show_measurement):
            for _ in range(self._ARC_STEPS):
                text_start_x = self._center_x + radius * cos(radians(self._angle_start))
                text_start_y = self._center_y - radius * sin(radians(self._angle_start))
                text_end_x = self._center_x + radius * cos(radians(angle_total))
                text_end_y = self._center_y - radius * sin(radians(angle_total))

                if self._angle_start == 0:
                    text_start_x -= 25
                    text_start_y += 10

                if angle_total == 180:
                    text_end_x += 25
                    text_end_y += 10

                if self._angle_start <= 90:
                    text_start_x += 25

                if angle_total >= 90:
                    text_end_x -= 25



                radius -= self._arc_distance

    def _draw_point(self, distance: int, angle: int) -> None:
        Draw point on radar with given distance and angle on interface
        :param distance: distance in centimeters
        :param angle: angle in degrees
        :return: None
        color = self._COLORS['point']

        in_radian = radians(int(angle))
        x = self._center_x + int(distance) * cos(in_radian)
        y = self._center_y - int(distance) * sin(in_radian)

        self.canvas.create_oval(x - 5, y - 5, x + 5, y + 5, fill=color)

    def update(self, distance: int, angle: int) -> None:
        Update the radar with given distance and angle
        :param distance: distance in centimeters
        :param angle: angle in radian
        :return: None
        current_distance = int(distance)
        current_angle = int(angle)

        self._SONAR_OBJECTS[angle] = current_distance
        end = self._angle_start + self._angle_end


                        y=self._center_y + 15,

        for key, value in self._SONAR_OBJECTS.items():
            if 1 <= value <= self._max_radius and self._angle_start <= key <= end:
                self._draw_point(distance=value, angle=key)

        if self._angle_start <= current_angle <= end:
            self._draw_line(angle=current_angle, color=self._COLORS['line'])

Directly in the project folder you create another file “main.py” (eq. YOUR-PROJECT/main.py). Here all other libraries are actually just imported, the servo motor is controlled and the ultrasonic sensor is read out.

from time import sleep
from pinpong.board import Board
from pinpong.libs.dfrobot_urm09 import URM09
from pinpong.libs.microbit_motor import DFServo
from lib.radar import Radar

SCREEN_WIDTH: int = 240
SCREEN_HEIGHT: int = 320

ARC_MAX_RADIUS: int = 150
ARC_DISTANCE: int = 50
ARC_START: int = 45
ARC_EXTENT: int = 90

SERVO_PIN: int = 8
DELAY_SECONDS: float = .25

def generate_numbers(minimum: int, maximum: int, step: int):
    Generates numbers between minimum and maximum by step
    :param minimum: minimum value
    :param maximum: maximum value
    :param step: step value
    g_minimum = int(minimum)
    g_maximum = int(maximum)
    g_step = int(step)

    number = g_minimum
    direction = 1

    while True:
        yield number
        number += g_step * direction

        if number > g_maximum:
            direction = -1
            number = g_maximum
        elif number < g_minimum:
            direction = 1
            number = g_minimum

if __name__ == '__main__':

    print('Init servo motor')
    servo = DFServo(SERVO_PIN)

    print('Init ultrasonic sensor')
    sensor = URM09()
    sensor.set_mode_range(sensor._MEASURE_MODE_AUTOMATIC, sensor._MEASURE_RANG_150)

    print('Init angle generator')
    generator = generate_numbers(minimum=45, maximum=135, step=1)

    print('Init radar UI')
    display = Radar(screen_width=SCREEN_WIDTH, screen_height=SCREEN_HEIGHT)

    while True:
        servo_angle = next(generator)

        sensor_distance = sensor.distance_cm()

        display.update(distance=sensor_distance, angle=servo_angle)

Upload and testing

Now load all the necessary folders and files onto the UNIHIKER. To do this, the UNIHIKER must be started and accessible via USB or WLAN. I used "SCP" for this and recursively copied all files from my local computer to the UNIHIKER: “$ scp -r ~/Projects/unihiker/Radar root@”. Important! The command is just an example. You have to adapt it for yourself. After a successful upload, you can test everything. Here is an example for the terminal: "$ cd Projects/Radar && python3 -B main.py". But you can also use the UNIHIKER UI to start everything!


test run for radar



- You can adapt/modify the UI (for example the colors, the arcs or line width)! Take a closer look at the “radar.py” and “main.py” files. There are constants in every file that will help you with this. Also, I tried to comment on everything important or write docstrings for it. - The respective pinpong packages/modules (for servo and sensor) are already preinstalled on the UNIHIKER. - You don't have to use the same servo motor or ultrasonic sensor. DFRobot also offers other devices (depending on your needs). But modify the code for that!
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