The Adafruit VL53L4CD Time of Flight Sensor is another great Time of Flight distance sensor from ST in the VL5 series of chips, this one is great for shorter distances. The sensor contains a very tiny invisible laser source and a matching sensor. The VL53L4CD can detect the "time of flight", or how long the light has taken to bounce back to the sensor. Since it uses a very narrow light source, it is good for determining distance of only the surface directly in front of it.

Unlike sonars that bounce ultrasonic waves, the 'cone' of sensing is very narrow. Unlike IR distance sensors which try to measure the amount of light bounced, the VL53 is much more precise and doesn't have linearity problems or 'double imaging' where you can't tell if an object is very far or very close.

This breakout ships with a protector over the sensor. It must be removed before use! See details below.
angle

This is another 'big sister' of the VL6180X ToF sensor and can handle about ~1 to 1300mm of range distance: basically it combines the short range of the VL6180X in that it can sense up to the body of the sensor, with the increased range of the VL53L0X, which can handle about 50mm to 1200mm of range distance.

VL53L4CD

The sensor is small and easy to use in any robotics or interactive project. Since it needs 2.8V power and logic, we put the little fellow on a breakout board with a regulator and level shifting. You can use it with any 3-5V power or logic microcontroller with no worries. Works great with the 3.3V logic level of a Feather or Raspberry Pi, or the 5v level of a Metro 328 or Arduino Uno. This breakout is ready to work with most common microcontrollers or SBCs. And since it speaks I2C, you can easily connect it up with two data wires plus power and ground. 

side

As if that weren't enough, we've also added SparkFun qwiic compatible STEMMA QT connectors for the I2C bus so you don't even need to solder. Just wire up to your favorite micro with a plug-and-play cable to get ToF data ASAP.

For a no-solder experience, just wire up to your favorite micro, like the STM32F405 Feather using a STEMMA QT adapter cable. The Stemma QT connectors also mean the VL53L4CD can be used with our various associated accessories. QT Cable is not included, but we have a variety in the shop

Communicating to the sensor is done over I2C with an API written by ST, they have an Arduino library with an example for communication here.

Removing the Protective Tape

Be careful when removing the tape! You don't want to damage the sensor.

Using tweezers (or some other appropriate tool), CAREFULLY remove the protective tape over the sensor, as seen in the image below. There is a small tab on the side of the tape that you can use to remove it.

This breakout ships with a protector over the sensor. It must be removed before use! See details at the bottom of the Overview page.

Power Pins

  • VIN - This is the power pin. To power the board, give it the same power as the logic level of your microcontroller - e.g. for a 3V microcontroller like a Feather M4, use 3V, or for a 5V microcontroller like Arduino, use 5V.
  • GND - This is common ground for power and logic.

I2C Logic Pins

The default I2C address for the VL53L4CD is 0x29.

  • SCL - I2C clock pin, connect to your microcontroller I2C clock line. There's a 10K pullup on this pin.
  • SDA - I2C data pin, connect to your microcontroller I2C data line. There's a 10K pullup on this pin.
  • STEMMA QT - These connectors allow you to connect to development boards with STEMMA QT connectors or to other things with various associated accessories.

Other Pins

  • GPIO - This is the interrupt output pin, it is 2.8V logic level output - it can be read by 3.3V and most 5V logic microcontrollers.
  • XSHUT - This is the shutdown pin. It is active low, and is logic-level shifted so you can use 3V or 5V logic.

LED Jumper

  • LED jumper - This jumper is located on the back of the board. Cut the trace on this jumper to cut power to the "on" LED.

It's easy to use the VL53L4CD with Python or CircuitPython, and the Adafruit CircuitPython VL53L4CD module. This module allows you to easily write Python code that reads the distance from the VL53L4CD sensor.

You can use this sensor with any CircuitPython microcontroller board or with a computer that has GPIO and Python thanks to Adafruit_Blinka, our CircuitPython-for-Python compatibility library.

CircuitPython Microcontroller Wiring

First wire up a VL53L4CD to your board exactly as shown below. Here's an example of wiring a Feather M4 to the sensor with I2C using one of the handy STEMMA QT connectors:

  • Board 3V to sensor VIN (red wire)
  • Board GND to sensor GND (black wire)
  • Board SCL to sensor SCL (yellow wire)
  • Board SDA to sensor SDA (blue wire)

You can also use the standard 0.100" pitch headers to wire it up on a breadboard:

  • Board 3V to sensor VIN (red wire)
  • Board GND to sensor GND (black wire)
  • Board SCL to sensor SCL (yellow wire)
  • Board SDA to sensor SDA (blue wire)

Python Computer Wiring

Since there's dozens of Linux computers/boards you can use, we will show wiring for Raspberry Pi. For other platforms, please visit the guide for CircuitPython on Linux to see whether your platform is supported

Here's the Raspberry Pi wired to the sensor using I2C and a STEMMA QT connector:

  • Pi 3V to sensor VIN (red wire)
  • Pi GND to sensor GND (black wire)
  • Pi SCL to sensor SCL (yellow wire)
  • Pi SDA to sensor SDA (blue wire)

Finally here is an example of how to wire up a Raspberry Pi to the sensor using a solderless breadboard:

  • Pi 3V to sensor VIN (red wire)
  • Pi GND to sensor GND (black wire)
  • Pi SCL to sensor SCL (yellow wire)
  • Pi SDA to sensor SDA (blue wire)

Python Installation of VL53L4CD Library

You'll need to install the Adafruit_Blinka library that provides the CircuitPython support in Python. This may also require enabling I2C on your platform and verifying you are running Python 3. Since each platform is a little different, and Linux changes often, please visit the CircuitPython on Linux guide to get your computer ready!

Once that's done, from your command line run the following command:

  • pip3 install adafruit-circuitpython-vl53l4cd

If your default Python is version 3, you may need to run pip instead. Make sure you aren't trying to use CircuitPython on Python 2.x, it isn't supported!

CircuitPython Usage

To use with CircuitPython, you need to first install the VL53L4CD library, and its dependencies, into the lib folder on your CIRCUITPY drive. Then you need to update code.py with the example script.

Thankfully, we can do this in one go. In the example below, click the Download Project Bundle button below to download the necessary libraries and the code.py file in a zip file. Extract the contents of the zip file, and copy the entire lib folder and the code.py file to your CIRCUITPY drive.

Your CIRCUITPY/lib folder should contain the following folder and file:

  • adafruit_bus_device/
  • adafruit_vl53l4cd.mpy
CP

Python Usage

Once you have the library pip3 installed on your computer, copy or download the following example to your computer, and run the following, replacing code.py with whatever you named the file:

python3 code.py

Example Code

# SPDX-FileCopyrightText: 2017 Scott Shawcroft, written for Adafruit Industries
# SPDX-FileCopyrightText: Copyright (c) 2022 Carter Nelson for Adafruit Industries
#
# SPDX-License-Identifier: Unlicense
# SPDX-FileCopyrightText: 2017 Scott Shawcroft, written for Adafruit Industries
# SPDX-FileCopyrightText: Copyright (c) 2021 Carter Nelson for Adafruit Industries
#
# SPDX-License-Identifier: Unlicense

# Simple demo of the VL53L4CD distance sensor.
# Will print the sensed range/distance every second.

import board
import adafruit_vl53l4cd

i2c = board.I2C()

vl53 = adafruit_vl53l4cd.VL53L4CD(i2c)

# OPTIONAL: can set non-default values
vl53.inter_measurement = 0
vl53.timing_budget = 200

print("VL53L4CD Simple Test.")
print("--------------------")
model_id, module_type = vl53.model_info
print("Model ID: 0x{:0X}".format(model_id))
print("Module Type: 0x{:0X}".format(module_type))
print("Timing Budget: {}".format(vl53.timing_budget))
print("Inter-Measurement: {}".format(vl53.inter_measurement))
print("--------------------")

vl53.start_ranging()

while True:
    while not vl53.data_ready:
        pass
    vl53.clear_interrupt()
    print("Distance: {} cm".format(vl53.distance))

If running CircuitPython: Once everything is saved to the CIRCUITPY drive, connect to the serial console to see the data printed out!

If running Python: The console output will appear wherever you are running Python.

Now try holding your hand in front of the sensor, and moving it closer and further away to see the values change!

First you import the necessary modules and libraries. Then you instantiate the sensor on I2C.

Then you're ready to read data from the sensor, including the initial information printed to the serial console.

Finally, inside the loop, you check the distance every second.

That's all there is to using the VL53L4CD with CircuitPython!

Using the VL53L4CD with Arduino involves wiring up the sensor to your Arduino-compatible microcontroller, installing the STM32duino VL53L4CD library and running the provided example code.

Wiring

Wire as shown for a 5V board like an Uno. If you are using a 3V board, like an Adafruit Feather, wire the board's 3V pin to the VL53L4CD VIN.

Here is an Adafruit Metro wired up to the VL53L4CD using the STEMMA QT connector:

  • Board 5V to sensor VIN (red wire)
  • Board GND to sensor GND (black wire)
  • Board SCL to sensor SCL (yellow wire)
  • Board SDA to sensor SDA (blue wire)

Here is an Adafruit Metro wired up using a solderless breadboard:

  • Board 5V to sensor VIN (red wire)
  • Board GND to sensor GND (black wire)
  • Board SCL to sensor SCL (yellow wire)
  • Board SDA to sensor SDA (blue wire)

Library Installation

You can install the VL53L4CD library for Arduino using the Library Manager in the Arduino IDE.

Click the Manage Libraries ... menu item, search for VL53L4CD, and select the STM32duino VL53L4CD library:

Load Example

Open up File -> Examples -> STM32duino VL53L4CD -> VL53L4CD_Sat_HelloWorld and upload to your Arduino wired to the sensor.

Note: this is only the loop in the screenshot.

Upload the sketch to your board and open up the Serial Monitor (Tools -> Serial Monitor) at 115200 baud. You should see the values from the sensor being printed out.

This guide was first published on Mar 23, 2022. It was last updated on 2022-03-23 13:10:48 -0400.