Continue to Site

Welcome to our site!

Electro Tech is an online community (with over 170,000 members) who enjoy talking about and building electronic circuits, projects and gadgets. To participate you need to register. Registration is free. Click here to register now.

  • Welcome to our site! Electro Tech is an online community (with over 170,000 members) who enjoy talking about and building electronic circuits, projects and gadgets. To participate you need to register. Registration is free. Click here to register now.

Simple Electronic Tilt Sensor triggering LED light

Not open for further replies.


New Member
From reading some of these threads I am absolutely positive that you guys can help.
I am a RC plane nut. I practice mostly aerobatic sequences. One of the most important things about performing aerobatic maneuvers is that the plane be in a perfectly level attitude before the maneuver is performed. Its probably the most difficult aspect of aerobatics. The maneuvers themselves are basically easy to do. But to do them with good lines the wings must absolutely be level first. And from the ground flying determining if the wings are level is very difficult.

Here's what I would like to do. To help me with orientation I would like to install a tilt sensor of some sort accurate to 2-5 degrees at least that would light an LED light that is visible from the ground indicating when the wings are level. So, as I ready the plane for a maneuver I could glance at the area of the plane where the LED is to determine if it is level and if not correct for it. Even 3 LEDs would be great. One to indicate level and colored LEDs to indicate the need for left or right roll correction.

Soo...let's see what you guys got. I would need a walk through on what to purchase and how it should be wired as I have little to no electronics back round. Hope you guys are up to the challenge. The one who comes up with the most accurate, lightest weight , and least expensive solution to perform this task....gets.... Well nothing. A sincere thank you from yours truly.
You could always make a very basic circuit with a DIY tilt sensor, basically a weight hanging from a string. When the plane is tilted it breaks (one of many possibilities) an IR beam, which turns on it's respective LED to tell you the plane is tilted. Does this idea seem feasible?
You can buy Tilt Switches. When they are tilted, an electrical contact is made/broken. Traditionally they had a ball of mercury inside that made a connection.

Of course being activated by G, anything that creates that G is going to activate it. I understand there's a lot of G involved with RC planes!
Just to detect "roll" or "side to side". I would say it would have to detect or have resolution to 2 degrees or so. I have seen the mercury switches on youtube and it appears that they can be sticky. Must be due to the surface tension of a liquid. Most of the time I think I am getting to close to wings level flight by just sight. Probably with in 10 degrees of level. So it would have to probably be sensitive enough to detect correction from 10 to 0 degrees.
The sensor would also have to be resistant to vibration. The plane is a 25% scale gas plane and the engine creates a lot of vibration. Especially at idle.

Thank you very much guys for even responding!
Last edited:
an adjustable tilt perhaps?

visiulize a tube with a slight bend shape with a metal ball inside.
the tube. to adjust amount of tilt (and help prevent vibrations and G's from affecting) just add more bend to the tube.
the tube also has contacts at both ends and in the middle to detect level.
using headphones instead of LEDs, have a small transmitter in the plane.
say the left earpiece beeps to detect tilt too much to the left, right= too much tilt to the right. beep in both = level.
could add a second set of beeps (different tone) for nose and tail level.
seeing LEDs more than 50 ft away unless you have lots of on board battery power, but even then if your LEDs are on not visiable unless your flying at night??
the tilt detection may be the most challenging
another thought perhaps is using flexable resistive strips that change resistance due to bending. utilize a PIC to decipher using ADC.
just a few ideas
I thought about the beep transmitter. That is a good point about be able to see the leds. My on board receiver system is using a 6V 2700mAh battery. I think a couple of high lumine LEDs should work and they won't be drawing much from the receiver battery because they will only be lit intermitantly. Actually, the deadzone line where the aircraft cannot pass is actually 100 ft from where I stand. I may have to range test a few high lumin LED's to see if I can actually see them.
I must point out that any device similar to a spirit level works well on the ground and it works reliably in an aircraft only if the aircraft is in "stationary horizontal" flight, meaning not acellerated in any axis, neither increasing nor decreasing speed. They won't work at all during inverted flight, which is part or aerobatics.

Any g-load on the device will make it appear to be straight and level, since the bubble follows the center of gravity of the liquid being used. (also mercury)

There are three axis acellerometers which sense real acelleration, regardless of the flight maneuver, e.g. applying ailerons in one direction and rudder in the opposite direction will make the aircraft fly a straight line with the nose pointing some considerable amount of angle off track.

Consequently those sensors sense deviations around the vertical axis in that case only. During coordinated straight line flight it senses drift angle.

Since you control your model aircraft in a line of sight range I'd recommend to use a low power transmitter in the 433MHz band (check out Hope-RF) and transmit voice commands depending on the axis and the angle off situation, using a voice recording chip to be recorded according to your desires (either use commands like "raise right wing" instead of a situation report "right wing low".

A good voice recording chip for multi messaging is the ISD1700 series from Winbond with the ISD1730 offering a max recording length of 30 seconds and the ISD17240 with 240 seconds at 8KHz sampling frequency.

Last edited:
You cannot use a pendulum or water-level based tilt sensor to detect wings level. You must use a gyroscopic based sensor like this one. Come fly with me and I will prove it to you, or watch this
Last edited:
I am familiar with the GY401. I have one on my heli. The gyroscope is going to hold a certain attitude and correct for it. It is a heading hold gyroscope. So if the wings were level the gyro would hold them their. I will have 2-3 seconds between manuevers to determine wings level and correct for it. Example: I will pull out of one check for wings level and then right into the next. I am glad I am getting some responses in this thread. Some great ideas to think about.
In other words, the GY401 won't suit your needs, since it works under the assumption that the wings are leveled and holds them there.

What you need is an acellerometer chip. either single, dual or triple axis, and of course, a fast MCU to figure out quickly what's going on in the air. :)

Since you certainly don't want to listen to the "lovely voice" during an Immelmann maneuver telling you about the wings and where to steer to get them level you should imply a logic function to cut off messages during aerobatic maneuvers. :D
Not open for further replies.

Latest threads

New Articles From Microcontroller Tips