Detecting presence of Trash Can (visual? / distance? / other?)

The bigger question is why the blue lid is on the green can and the green lid is on the blue can...




I really like the magnetic strip or magnet attached to the trash can and contact sensor on the house. Simple and highly reliable, as long as the person(s) returning the trash can know where to put it.


And if not a simple reminder from HE if the trash can has been absent for X hours should help.

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This problem is solved!



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I made an ultrasonic parking assist/stop light with an Arduino for my wife's car in the garage. The ultrasonic sensor would have no problems detecting the hard plastic can within a certain range. Perfect placement wouldn't be necessary.

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Curious why the lids are reversed.

A simple thought (or two):

  1. Ultra sonic sensor. I have one (I made) in the garage to sense if my vehicle is in the garage. When I come home at night, open the garage door a tilt sensor sets off an ultrasonic measurement to turn all the outside and some inside lights if it is dark out.

  2. Bond a metal plate to the bottom of the can. Bury a coil under the spot where it resides. Use a metal detector circuit to sense the presence of the can.

Both the above require some more advanced electronics. But not undoable by the noob with a mission. The first one I made using boards from eBay. Only soldering was to connect the different boards together. i.e. you don' have to actually build circuits.


How about a simple light sensor ( I have an Xiaomi ). mounted at the beginning of a tube (PVC??) with the tube pointing at (nearly touching) the garbage can. It would sense any light difference (with and without Can) but only during the day.
Maybe not ideal but real simple to implement.



Cool, but ours would never make it back on the pallets. Our garbage is picked up by trucks with mechanical "arms". When putting the cans back down they are always offset from the original location.


That's a gentle way of referring to it...we're lucky if our trash/recycle/greens cans are within four feet of their original location! :slight_smile:


I fixed it for you.


Maybe -- I'd have to build a "platform" or something for the trash cans to sit on -- right now, it's just grass.

Looked briefly -- I think the distance is too great and/or the non-WAF of putting the cans "just so".

Ok, that has boggled my mind as well. ALL of the cans in the neighborhood are that way. It's the cans supplied by the waste management company. I've just adapted, although my OCD wants to "fix" it. Since it's done this way for a reason, alas that reason escapes me, I leave it be.

So far, ultrasonic, seems to be the best idea. I remember old polaroid cameras that had the ultrasonic sensor. And I also think some cars have an ultrasonic sensor for detecting things close to the bumper. I think we're in the distance needed for that to work.

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I think I'm going to try an ultrasonic range detector. To a PI or Arduino

Something like this says it's 0-196" -- which is more than enough to detect the can or cans.



This is exactly what I used. You may have to figure out a good way to get a "straight on" reading on the can. It might be iffy if it's taken from the perspective of the photo, but worth a try. You sounds like you're experienced enough to figure out the wiring, logic, and programming. As for me...


You might want to look at Dan’s library.

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I can give you the diagram, software, Hub driver and Zigbee interface if you want it.
All based on the HC-SR04


Absolutely would take you up on that. No rush.

Yea, was holding the camera in the air to get a picture of both cans. But the detection can be done straight on about mid-can level. Bonus with doing the ultrasonic, if I park the trash can to the left side -- then I can detect all three scenarios -- no cans (max distance detected), one can (a few feet away) and two cans (a few inches away) [if the trash can is down, it can be assumed the recycle is as well]

Am a network engineer by day, and can hack my way around some programming and basic electronics -- generally plagiarizing as much as I can due to laziness and/or honoring giants that came before me.

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For an IR sensor it would depend on the sensor and the cans would not have to be in any special place, just in front of the sensor and not too far away. The ultrasonic method mentioned is very similar and is probably a step up in flexibility.

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I used:


  1. HC-SR04
  2. Arduino Pro mini (8Mhz 3.3V)
  3. CC2530 based *** Zigbee radio and repeater

*** I made a carrier board with a 5V to 3.3V regulator (all the circuits run on 3.3V. If you get that far I think I have a extra blank board I can send your. This is a custom board I designed myself.


  1. Arduino Pro Mini custom program (I can provide)
  2. CC2530 firmware (MonaLisa) (I can provide)
  3. Hubitat Driver custom ( I can provide)

Everything is pretty straight forward except perhaps the CC2530 programming. Not really a difficult you just need a ESP32 board. I could program one for you if you wish. You would just have to send me the board.

Basic wiring

If you want to stay with the Hubduino instead of Zigbee I can send you my Arduino code which can be easily adapted to a ESP WiFi board.



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