piezo pickup

Protecting circuit from piezoelectric disc voltage spike

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I have a piezoelectric disc, and I’m trying to use to build a primitive sonar. I connected the disc to an oscilloscope and if I press very hard on the disc, I see that the voltage can spike pretty high. I’m not sure how much current there is.

In an application with a piezoelectric device, should I use a voltage regulator on the output of the piezo, and would that protect my circuit on the other side? I want to connect it to an ATTiny85 without frying the chip.voltage-regulatorattinypiezoattiny85shareedit  follow  flag asked 11 hours agomj_30922 silver badges77 bronze badges

  • 5No, you wouldn’t use a voltage regulator you’d use a series current limiting resistor. – Andy aka 11 hours ago
  • 1If you want to transmit a SONAR pulse to get the piezo to ring strong, you want to have a HV transistor to drive it high then open and ring then clamp shut to 0V to discharge the energy fast (blanking) pulse then the Rx echos can be measured except for the tbd xxx ns or us delay time to stop transmitting the ringing pulse. So adding a series resistor makes that less sensitive for the transmission pulse. otherwise a step up pulse transformer can be attempted for Tx with a high side PNP current source then an NPN clamp clamp to gnd with a small deadtime using a half bridge BJT driver. – Tony Stewart Sunnyskyguy EE75 10 hours ago 
  • 1If you define your design specs in good detail and any component spec links, then a good answer is possible – Tony Stewart Sunnyskyguy EE75 10 hours ago 
  • @mj_, the usual quick and dirty trick is to use a zener diode. But I found that zener is not very effective. – tlfong01 8 hours ago   
  • You might like to read my measurement of piezo spike with and without the protective zener: “Piezo sensor to pick up acoustic instrument signal using Rpi and ADC Asked 1 year ago Active 1 year ago Viewed 569 times”: raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/questions/103868/…. Cheers. – tlfong01 8 hours ago   

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2 Answers



How to protecting circuit from piezoelectric disc voltage spike


The voltage spike might be as high as 30V. You can use a zener to clamp the spike, and NTC inrush current supressor to limit current. See appendices below for more details.

piezo schematic


(1) tlfong01’s piezo experiment, Rpi SE 2019

(2) Piezo Pickup Transducer 27mm Contact Microphone Trigger – Discs Elements for Acoustic Instrument: Guitar, Drum, CBG etc. with Leads $6.99/12Pcs

(3) MCP3008 SPI 8 Channel 10 Bit ADC Datasheet – MicroChip

(4) How to Build a Piezo Knock Sensor Circuit – Learning About Electronics 2013

(5) Piezo knock sensor circuit- Demo – Youtube 2013

(6) AliEXpress NTC-5D7 Thermister (In rush current suppressor)

(7) NTC (Negative Temperature Coefficient) Thermisters temperature sensor/transducer/in rush current limiter – Electronics Tutorials

(8) Comparing MOSFETs with BJT Transistors – Pros and Cons (Update – nowadays cheap, can trigger at 3V/5V TTL logic level) – 2019jun17

(9) MPF102 JFET VHF Amplifier N−Channel Depletion (VGS(off) -8V Datasheet) – On Semi 2006

(10) 2N7002 N-Channel MOSFET Datasheet – On Semi https://www.onsemi.com/pub/Collateral/NDS7002A-D.PDF


Appendix A – Characteristics of piezo used in this experiment

Piezo Pickup Transducer 27mm Contact Microphone Trigger – Discs Elements for Acoustic Instrument: Guitar, Drum, CBG etc. with Leads $6.99/12Pcs

Resonant frequency: ***4.6 +/- 0.5 KHz***

Resonant impedance (ohms): ***300Ω max***

Plate material: Brass

For: Acoustic Instrument Pickups, Stomp Boxes, Contact Mics, etc...

Appendix B – Piezo toy schematic

Errata and apology

My previous schematic has a typo error. The parallel resistor should read 1MΩ. Many thanks to @tomnexus for point out my silly mistake.

piezo cct

Appendix C – Voltage spike without Zener protection

zener protection

Appendix D – Detecting (Electromagnetic Buzzer) flyback voltage and current spike experiment

Detecting (Buzzer) flyback voltage and current spike experiment 1/2

Detecting (Buzzer) flyback voltage and current spike experiment 2/2

buzzer voltage spike

Appendix E – Buzzer Back EMF 30Vpp 100 ns Spike Wavelet Selfie

The voltage spike can be as scary high as 30Vpp, But the duration is small 100nS. If the human finger lightly taps/knocks the piezo disc, the mechanical energy transferred to the piezo disk should be of the same order of the 5V electromagnetic buzzer’s little hammer hitting the bouncing steel spring bar. It is tedious to use my scope’s one shot trigger to display my tapping of the disc. So I used the buzzer to display the repeatedly back EMF voltage spike. I did use my scope to zoom in the spike and found her a pretty little wavlet, so I took a selfie picture for her.

Warning to the OP:

(1) But if you are using a big hammer to hit a big disc which is part of a percussion musical instrument, then the spike might be as ridiculous high as 1000+ volts! and for pretty sure fry your ATTiny85.

(2) Me only a friendly electronics hobbyist. No guarantee no nothing won’t melt down or blow up, or electrocute a cat.

back emf selfie

Appendix F – NTC Thermistor as In Rush Current Supressor

NTC (Negative Temperature Coefficient) Thermistors temperature sensor/transducer/in rush current limiter – Electronics Tutorials


Inrush current suppressors and surge limiters are types of series connected thermistor whose resistance drops to a very low value as it is heated by the load current passing through it. At the initial turn-on, the thermistors cold resistance value (its base resistance) is fairly high controlling the initial inrush current to the load.

As a result of the load current, the thermistor heats up and reduces its resistance relatively slowly to the point were the power dissipated across it is sufficient to maintain its low resistance value with most of the applied voltage developed across the load.

Due to the thermal inertia of its mass, this heating effect takes a few seconds during which the load current increases gradually rather than instantaneously, so any high inrush current is restricted and the power it draws reduces accordingly. Because of this thermal action, inrush current suppression thermistors can therefore operate very hot in their low-resistive state. As such require a cool-down or recovery period once power is removed thus allowing the resistance of the NTC thermistor to recover sufficiently ready for the next time it is needed.

The speed of response of a current limiting thermistor is given by its time constant. That is, the time taken for its resistance to change by by 63% (i.e. 1 to 1/ε) of the total change. For example, suppose the ambient temperature changes from 0 to 100oC, then the 63% time constant would be the time taken for the thermistor to have a resistive value at 63oC.

NTC thermistors provide protection from undesirably high inrush currents, while their resistance remains negligibly low during continuous operation supplying power to the load. The advantage here is that they able to effectively handle much higher inrush currents than standard fixed current limiting resistors with the same power consumption.

shareeditdeleteflagedited 4 mins agoanswered 8 hours agotlfong011,19911 gold badge44 silver badges77 bronze badges

  • 1Could you please, please try to post straightforward answers that simply make your point without all this division into less relevant appendicies and links? – Chris Stratton 7 hours ago 
  • 2Uh, mΩ≠MΩmΩ≠MΩ – tomnexus 7 hours ago 
  • 1@tomnexus, Many thank for pointing out my silly mistake. My apologies for any confusion caused. Cheers. – tlfong01 7 hours ago   

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Please post a circuit when asking questions. A parallel resistor with a proper value is what you need. The current isn’t high. The first circuit is with Arduino. The second circuit is recommended.

enter image description here

The circuit shows a 1MR resistor.

More complex option:

enter image description here

And the best way, but you have to reduce the voltage to 5V or 3.3V, depending on your MCU. 

You can always use a standard sonar sensor, but they are expensive.

Sources: http://www.learningaboutelectronics.com/Articles/Piezo-knock-sensor-circuit.php http://www.robotoid.com/appnotes/sensors-piezo-disc-touch-bar.html https://www.homemade-circuits.com/simplest-piezo-driver-circuit-explained/ https://www.homemade-circuits.com/diy-contact-mic-circuit/shareedit  follow  flagedited 6 hours agoanswered 10 hours agoCFCBazar com44811 silver badge88 bronze badges

  • 1Parallel? No. Questions on Stack Exchange sites must have stand-alone value, they cannot rely on links for the entirety of any accurate content. – Chris Stratton 9 hours ago

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