Arduino Phototransistor Circuit & Code Example

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to do Arduino Phototransistor Interfacing and use the 3DU5C phototransistor with Arduino as a light intensity sensor. We’ll also create an Arduino Phototransistor Circuit Example Project which can be a very good starting point for your Arduino + Phototransistor project idea. Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

Table of Contents

  1. Arduino With Phototransistor
  2. Arduino Phototransistor Circuit Diagram
  3. Arduino Phototransistor Code Example
  4. Concluding Remarks

Arduino With Phototransistor

A Phototransistor is a semiconductor device that’s basically an NPN/PNP transistor but it doesn’t have a base terminal lead. Instead, the junction is exposed to ambient light that hits the base of the phototransistor which develops a small voltage across the BE junction causing the transistor to conduct (switch ON).

Below is the 3DU5C which is a phototransistor device that we’ll be using in this tutorial with Arduino to create a light-intensity sensor application. You can, however, use any phototransistor device available to you instead.

Note that the phototransistor’s emitter pin is the one in line with the “notch” of the body case.

Arduino-Phototransistor-Pinout-3DU5C

Phototransistor Applications

  • Solar Tracking
  • Light Intensity Meters
  • Position Sensing
  • Photo-interrupters
  • etc

Buy a Phototransistor: you can find it here on Amazon.com


Arduino Phototransistor Circuit Diagram

We need to design a simple electronic circuit to interface the phototransistor device with the Arduino microcontroller to read the output voltage developed across the phototransistor’s output load resistor when light hits it.

The easiest way to achieve this goal is to use a simple resistor between the phototransistor’s emitter & ground and read that voltage with any Arduino’s ADC analog input channel pins.

Here is the Arduino with Phototransistor circuit diagram. Note that we’re using a 1kΩ resistor here in this circuit.

Arduino Phototransistor Circuit Diagram Example

Here is the equivalent circuit diagram for the Arduino phototransistor wiring diagram shown above.

Arduino-Phototransistor-Circuit


Arduino Phototransistor Code Example

In this example project, we’ll use an Arduino + Phototransistor (3DU5C) as a light intensity sensor to measure the ambient light intensity. The analog voltage reading will be sent back to the PC over the serial port and we’ll display it on the serial monitor and the serial plotter.

Arduino Phototransistor Circuit Wiring

The wiring diagram for this example project is shown in the previous section, scroll up and check it out. Below is an image of how the whole setup looks like at the end, ready for the test.

Arduino Phototransistor Circuit Wiring Example 3DU5C

Code Example

Here is the full code listing for this example.

Code Explanation

setup()

in the setup() function, we’ll initialize the serial port to operate @ 9600bps.

loop()

in the loop() function, we’ll read the analog voltage on the A0 pin, convert the digital value to an analog voltage, and send it over the serial port to the PC where we’ll be monitoring it.

Arduino + Phototransistor TinkerCAD Simulation

Here is the simulation result for the phototransistor circuit on the TinkerCAD simulator. You can run it as is, or make a copy, add your own code, and start simulating to see how it’s going to behave.

You can check this simulation project on TinkerCAD using this link.

❕ Note

The simulation results are only for logic verification and you should not expect to get the exact same output voltage levels on the real hardware. The results may vary depending on: the resistor value you’re using, the phototransistor silicon device itself, or the light source used while testing.

In the hardware testing that I’ve done, the output voltage for the phototransistor circuit swings from 0.08v (darkness) up to 4.99v (intense light).


Required Parts List

Here is the full components list for all the parts that you’d need to perform the practical LABs mentioned here in this article and for the whole Arduino Programming series of tutorials found here on DeepBlueMbedded. Please, note that those are affiliate links and we’ll receive a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you, and it’d definitely support our work.

QTY.Component NameBuy Link
1PhototransistorAmazon
1Arduino UNO KitAmazon
1BreadBoardAmazon
1LEDs KitAmazon
1Capacitors KitAmazon Amazon
1Jumper Wires PackAmazon Amazon
19v Battery or DC Power SupplyAmazon
1Push ButtonsAmazon
1PotentiometerAmazon

Download Attachments

You can download all attachment files for this Article/Tutorial (project files, schematics, code, etc..) using the link below. Please consider supporting my work through the various support options listed in the link down below. Every small donation helps to keep this website up and running and ultimately supports our community.


Concluding Remarks

To conclude this tutorial, we can say that you can easily interface a phototransistor with Arduino and use it as a light sensor for measuring the ambient light intensity. Try the provided example circuit on your hardware setup or at least run it in the TinkerCAD simulation environment to maximize the information gained from this tutorial.

If you’re just getting started with Arduino, you need to check out the Arduino Getting Started [Ultimate Guide] here.

And follow this Arduino Series of Tutorials to learn more about Arduino Programming.

Arduino Photodiode Light Sensor (BPW34) Circuit & Code Example

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to interface Arduino with a photodiode and use it for light intensity measurement as a light sensor.

Arduino LDR Light Sensor Interfacing Tutorial

This article will give more in-depth information about LDR light sensors interfacing with Arduino and how to use the LDR for light intensity measurement with Arduino.

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Author
Khaled Magdy
Embedded systems engineer with several years of experience in embedded software and hardware design. I work as an embedded SW engineer in the Automotive & e-Mobility industry. However, I still do Hardware design and SW development for DSP, Control Systems, Robotics, AI/ML, and other fields I'm passionate about.
I love reading, writing, creating projects, and teaching. A reader by day and a writer by night, it's my lifestyle. I believe that the combination of brilliant minds, bold ideas, and a complete disregard for what is possible, can and will change the world! I will be there when it happens, will you?

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