Microwave Radar Motion Sensor

Thought I would write a review on the RCWL-0516 for anyone interested in a microwave motion sensor. Today marks the 4th week of my testing with this sensor and I have found that it is very reliable. The sensor only detects larger objects that contain water e.g. human body, large animal, milk jug filled up and thrown.:laughing: No false triggers from birds, trees blowing in the wind, etc… Range of detection is 15 to 30 feet (5 to 9 meters) that can be adjusted using a resistor. The RCWL can also detect motion through walls and glass although when doing so the range seems to be reduced, by roughly a third, depending on wall thickness (this may vary depending on supply power, I’m using 4.5v). Thin plastic, on the other hand, has no effect on distance which makes this sensor ideal for containment/protection. Unlike the PIR sensor, there is no built in light to indicate when motion is detected and personally this is something I prefer. The board, with addition components, offers several other features that I plan to test in the future, for now I’m using only the Vin, Gnd, and Out.

For my setup, I’m using an Esp2866 12E NodeMCU Development board, flashed with Esp Easy firmware. All power is supplied via spare Roku 5v 1mA wallwart and micro usb cable plugged into the dev boards usb connection. The Esp Dev board has a VU pin that tested, with a meter, read 4.5v. That being on the lower end of the RCWL operating voltage I was initially skeptical about the reliability but I’ve had no issues. Along with the RCWL, I also have 2 garage door sensors (reed switches) and a photocell for detecting if someone forgot to turn the garage lights out. Also the RCWL does have a convenient 3.3V 100mA output that could be used to drive the MCU but that’s another feature I haven’t tested.

Here’s some additional info and a link https://ita.ovh/files/rcwl-0516.pdf If you want to see them in action, search YouTube, there are several videos

Features of the RCWL:

Equipped with RCWL-9196 chip supporting 4-28V wide voltage input, high level signal output when detecting the motion with active repeat trigger
360 degree no blind angle detection with 5-7m deteciting distance, the detection not affected by the surroundings, better performance than the IR sensor
Support night detecting function turn on /off, adjustable repeat trigger time and detecting distance by add the SMD components to the corresponding pins
Working Voltage: DC 4-28V, Board Size: 35.9 X 17.3mm/1.41 X 0.68inch


Operating Voltage: 4-28V
Operating Current: 2.8mA (typical); 3mA (max)
Detection Distance: 5-9m
Transmitting Power: 20mW (typical); 30mW (max)
Output Voltage: 3.2-3.4V
Output Voltage Driving Capacity: 100mA
Trigger Way: repeat trigger
Output Control Low Level: 0V
Output Control High Level: 3.3V
Operating Temperature: -20~80 celsius
Storage Temperature: -40~100 celsius

If you decide to pick up a few of these sensors (they’re cheap, I bought 5 for $10 on Amazon) please share your experience and thoughts.

Amazon link https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0732VQ4Q2/ref=sspa_dk_detail_0?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B0732VQ4Q2&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=f52e26da-1287-4616-824b-efc564ff75a4&pf_rd_r=FJSRMDX6CFMTGCQN9PDM&pd_rd_wg=McmW7&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&pd_rd_w=OdTMI&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pd_rd_r=27f7e0fc-b82f-11e8-a24a-f51ac5fec97e



Already ordered a couple of those after your other post :grinning:

Great to know, my favorite firmware for ESP’s

Thanks for posting. Very nice review.

I wonder if there is a way to shield detection in certain areas. For example, if I put one on the back wall of my garage, I wouldn’t want it to trigger motion in the garage when I’m in the family room on the other side of the wall. Maybe a thin sheet of metal or mesh would do it. Something to experiment with.

I’ve bookmarked this so I can come back to it. Higher priorities right now is figuring out how to make my doorbell smarter and how to automate my large roman shade.

Just did a quick test, folding up a piece of aluminum foil and placing it near the rear of the sensor will shield rear movement. Moving the foil to the side, attempting to shield movement from a 90deg angle, did not work. I did see a video where the signal was blocked from all directions by metal but not sure how thick it was.

I also have an HB100 doppler radar sensor with a range of 70ft, but requires an op-amp and I haven’t taken the time to solder it all up. I’ll do a post on it once its assembled and tested.


Motion sensor update.

Two days ago my wife and I were sitting in the living room when Alexa blurted “Alert, movement in the garage”.:open_mouth: We both stared at one another for a few seconds before getting up to check the garage. I opened the door to find a bird flying out of the garage. Seems someone left a half eaten pack a crackers on the bench near the motion sensor.:disappointed_relieved:

At first I was disappointed, something as small as a bird would trigger the sensor but after further investigation I found it wasn’t the birds movement. Leaving the crackers in place, I grabbed a security camera. Time to catch this thief in action.:smiley:

Turns out the bird’s motion didn’t trigger the sensor. It was the movement of the sensor that caused the trigger. In the pic below you can see the test setup is not secured. The sensor is suspended above the Esp using only the two boards and nothing is glued or zip tied.

The lesson learned, when the sensor moves it triggers. I verified this using a piece of string, tied around one of the dupont connectors and pulling just enough to cause a slight movement to the sensor. Looking back through some of the doc’s it was noted, movement of the sensor would cause a trigger.:roll_eyes:

For anyone planning to use this as part of a security system, I hope you find this helpful. Another tip, while looking back over doc’s, I seen where someone used a plastic SD card case as a sensor housing. A small cutout for the wires was the only modification needed.

Also, this is week 5 and still working good!:sunglasses:


Started having some false triggers again, no bird to blame this time.:smirk: As mentioned above, I’m using the Esp8266 VU pin (4.5v) for powering the sensor. Or should I say, was using the VU pin.:expressionless: I tested the voltage, its now at 4.1v and not 100% sure of the cause, the Roku power supply, Esp dev board, or the RCWL? Currently for me, time is a bit limited but I’ll get to the root cause and report.

The quick fix, that’s working like before, was moving off the Roku power supply and USB cable. I’m still using 5v but now the RCWL is connected directly to 5v, opposed to using the VU pin and the Esp is powered via Vin and Ground.

Overall, I’m still very pleased with the sensor. Its been over 6 weeks, placed in the garage (high heat,humidity and salt air environment) , unprotected and using Dupont cables. As these components are all the cheaper types, I’m temped to see just how long they can survive.:thinking:

Tip for protecting your devices:
Normally, I try to protect my devices, placing them inside a housing of some sort. Sometimes that’s not an option and I’ve found that using MG Chemicals Super Contact Cleaner with PPE is good for these times. After drying it leaves a thin protective coating that has work very well. There’s similar products, and I’ve used a few, but most are twice the price and the results are the same(from my experience). If you use something different, please share, there’s always something better.:wink:

Finally got around to why the sensor started giving me problems. Looks like the voltage dropped to 4.1 on the Esp VU pin causing the false triggers. The doc’s for the sensor min voltage is 4 but I doubt the Esp 4.1v is steady and continuous.

For a sensor update:
Since supplying the RCWL with 5v it’s been rock solid. I’ve wired up another using a 25ft 22 gauge, two pair shielded, cable and plan to connect to either a RPI or Esp I/O pin. If this works well I may extend the cable length to find the max reliable distance.:wink:

For others interested in the HB100 doppler radar sensor, my op-amp parts have arrived, I should have everything assembled and ready for testing this weekend.:crossed_fingers:

i have this snesor i was never able to get them to work with ESPEASY or any other frameware
can you please post EPSEASY config for this?

and maybe how you wired it up? i spent all day trying and then just left it :frowning:

@Gad_Ofir not a problem, I’ll post my settings for the sensor soon as I return home. Should be sometime tomorrow morning.

no rush i been sitting on this for almost one year :slight_smile: whats another day

just please noob this down for me ! i dont shine on the sensors part

@Gad_Ofir here’s a few pic’c to the Esp Easy firmware settings.

The controller:
Change the IP, User and Password to match your OH server.

The device top section:

Device bottom section:

For the wiring, connect GND to ground, VIN to VU on the esp8266 Dev board, and OUT to GPIO 13 (D-7). You may need to check the voltage on VU pin to verify output is greater than 4v. I had issues (false triggers) using the VU pin after 6 weeks and fixed by connecting the RCWL VIN to a 5v power supply. If you do the same just make sure to connect the ground wires together for both esp and the power supply.

Once it’s all connected click on tools tab and log to verify its working. After that create an item in OH to communicate via mqtt.


If needed, here’s my OH items file config:

Switch Esp_Easy_Motion "Garage Motion" <contact>
	{ mqtt="<[pibroker:/Esp1/Motion/Switch:state:MAP(ONOFF.map)]" }

and the MAP transformation config I use:

My sitemap looks like this:
You can erase the others and keep the Esp_Easy_Motion or adjust to your needs.

Frame label="Garage Door and Motion Detection"
		Switch item=Proxy_Motion label="Turn OFF to Disable Motion Dection for 1 hour"
		Text item=ESP_Easy_Door label="Garage Door [MAP(esp.map):%s]"
		Text item=Esp_Easy_Motion label="Garage Movement [%s]" labelcolor=[OFF="green", ON="red"]   valuecolor=[OFF="green", ON="red"]
		Text item=Garage_update label="Garage door changed [%1$tm/%1$td %1$tH:%1$tM]"
		Text item=Esp_Garage_Lightlevel label="Garage Light Level [%d %%]"
		Text item=Proxy_Lightlevel label="Garage Light Status [%s]"

Once you get everything setup and working post back your thoughts and use of the RCWL sensor.


1 Like

Thanks allot ! i will sure reply back

@Gad_Ofir for the wiring part I was assuming the use of an Esp8266 development board. If your using something different or the VU voltage is not an option let me know what your using I’ll try and help best I can.


i have them all :slight_smile:

using NodeMCU 12
ver 0.1 what are you using?

and what is VU pin on nodemcu?

I’m using the Esp8266 12E as well.
The VU pin should be located near the top left, holding the board with USB connection toward the bottom, it supplies the same voltage as the USB connection. For my board this is the 3rd from the top, it may look like VV if the print is not clear.
If your using a 5v 1A usb power supply then VU pin should be near 5v. Originally for me this was 4.6v if I remember correctly.

no luck

  1. i dont have VU pin i have VIN
  2. connected ground
  3. D7

Switch state in ESP is 0…

also did

  1. connceted my PSU to VIN with 5.2v output of RCL
  2. ground from PSU to ESP and to RCL
  3. node is connected by USB to PC

Switch state is 1 and will not change

tried allot of stuff maye i even burned it hhh if you have any tips to a noob like me please shareIMG_0050

Set the sensor so it’s vertical and adjacent the the esp. See the picture I posted above, post #5. The device is very sensitive so best to have max distance from other devices/power supplies.

Try powering the esp with something other than PC. I have used a cell phone charger and Roku power supply in the past.

i will do more testing during weekend thanks for all the help cant find time now :frowning: