FSRs are sensors that allow you to detect physical pressure, squeezing and weight. They are simple to use and low cost.  This is a photo of an FSR, specifically the Interlink 402 model. The 1/2" diameter round part is the sensitive bit.
The FSR is made of 2 layers separated by a spacer. The more one presses, the more of those Active Element dots touch the semiconductor and that makes the resistance go down.

FSRs are basically a resistor that changes its resistive value (in ohms Ω) depending on how much it is pressed. These sensors are fairly low cost, and easy to use but they're rarely accurate. They also vary some from sensor to sensor perhaps 10%. So basically when you use FSRs you should only expect to get ranges of response. While FSRs can detect weight, they're a bad choice for detecting exactly how many pounds of weight are on them.

However, for most touch-sensitive applications like "has this been squeezed or pushed and about how much" they're a good deal for the money!

Some Basic Stats

These stats are specifically for the Interlink 402, but nearly all FSRs will be similar. Checking the datasheet will always illuminate any differences

  • Size: 1/2" (12.5mm) diameter active area by 0.02" thick (Interlink does have some that are as large as 1.5"x1.5")
  • Price $7.00 from the Adafruit shop
  • Resistance range: Infinite/open circuit (no pressure), 100KΩ (light pressure) to 200Ω (max. pressure)
  • Force range: 0 to 20 lb. (0 to 100 Newtons) applied evenly over the 0.125 sq in surface area
  • Power supply: Any! Uses less than 1mA of current (depends on any pullup/down resistors used and supply voltage)
  • Datasheet (note there are some mathematical inconsistancies in here)

How to measure force/pressure with an FSR

As we've said, the FSR's resistance changes as more pressure is applied. When there is no pressure, the sensor looks like an infinite resistor (open circuit), as the pressure increases, the resistance goes down. This graph indicates approximately the resistance of the sensor at different force measurements. (Note that force is not measured in grams and what they really mean is Newtons * 100!)
It is important to notice that the graph isn't really linear (its a log/log graph) and that at especially low force measurements it quickly goes from infinite to 100KΩ.
This guide was first published on Jul 29, 2012. It was last updated on Sep 23, 2018. This page (Overview) was last updated on May 04, 2015.