Sensor types/ranges? How to detect a pea-sized sample of some material, hidden behind a thin piece of wood, up to 2 feet away, hidden behind a thin piece of wood?

Hi all! :slight_smile:

Electronics amateur but anxious to learn using Fritzing and lots of coffee.
For my first post, this question immediately came to mind:

How could I detect a pea-sized sample of some material, up to two feet away, which is hidden behind a thin piece of wood?

Obviously, line-of-sight sensors are out of the question. Can any sensors out there do this?
Which material should be used for best detection?

Can this be done? (Remember, I’m an absolute electronics newb, but I am a scientist in his forties.)

Thanks for Fritzing!
Have a great day,

I’d say this is far to difficult a task to start with. The usual distance sensor technologies would be infrared, ultrasonic, and laser. None of them will go through a piece of wood. If your sample is magnetic, a hall effect sensor or other mag field sensor might work but the distance is I think long for most of those technologies. The place to start is in the science, what can you irradiate the sample with that will cause a detectable change through wood at that distance (I don’t know of anything, but there might be). However once you figure that out you are likely going to discover that the solution has noise issues (i.e the signal is buried in noise) and requires a lot of very complex signal processing to recover it not a beginners project in short. I’d suggest you perhaps start out with one of the wheeled robot kits that either follows lines with infrared sensor or avoids walls with ultrasonic sensors to gain experience in both electronics and sensors, in other words start smaller :slight_smile:

Supposedly… a Doppler Radar module can detect objects through other objects like a piece of wood. I have no idea how thin the wood would need to be or how big or what material the object would need to be. I have never tried it so I don’t know if it will even work for your project… The object would need to be moving, preferably to or from the radar in order to detect it. They can be purchased from eBay or Amazon and not very expensive. There are different models, some claim to have better range than others.