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Considerations: I am trying to detect if the dustbin is full. The dustbin is a rectangular shoe-box like structure without any lid. The kind of material that will be collected will be mostly hair, paper, carpet etc. I am thinking to use optical sensors. But I do not want to go through the pain of cleaning sensors again and again.

  1. Are there sensors that can be put in a glass case and they can penetrate through the glass? This will protect the sensor from dust/collected material.enter image description here
  2. Is there a better alternative then optical sensors (IR, depth, laser,weight, acoustic, capacitive, touch, limit switches ).
  3. The system needs to be robust.​
  4. Weight sensors: seems to be unreliable because the weight is not consistent.
  5. Touch sensors: The material, say paper, if it touches the sensor then we can think the dustbin is full. But because dustbin is long (not cylindrical), the indication can be false. Also, in case of hair, the weight or touch, neither can help in detection.
  6. Multiple IR sensors: These can be mounted and based on blockage, we can detect if the system is full but again I want to eliminate the need of cleaning sensors again and again.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ How about a loose-hair sensor around the bin? When it's full it'll overflow. :-P. IR sensors, of course, are optical, just different optical. The only viable options I think are lateral or tangential echo location or opto-location (distance sensors, IR or US). Simple ultrasound distance sensors as often sold in Arduino kits and with LEGO Mindstorms seem like the most tutorially equiped type to use. Up to you whether you scan the top horizon of the bin or down into it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Asmyldof
    Jun 29, 2015 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I tend to agree about acoustical sensor. But it won't be easy to properly design and process it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eugene Sh.
    Jun 29, 2015 at 16:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ While I was researching more about it, I found garage-sensors which basically uses IR type sensors but seems like they are much more robust to dirt/environment. instructables.com/id/Garage-Door-Does-Not-Close/step3/…. Any comments whether or not they can be useful. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 29, 2015 at 18:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ What does "full" mean? My old-fashioned, non-instrumented, non-electronic, non-mechanical trash cans at home are "full" when I can not pack more into them, "Pack" being the operative word. When the dryer lint and the dust bunnies and the wads of crumpled up paper reach the brim, I pack it all down and usually find that there's room for quite a lot more. If I were designing a trash compactor, I would deem the bag full when the force required to move the ram to a certain position exceeded some threshold. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 1, 2015 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did think of that, where I can push the trash into the dustbin and depending on the force needed (current feedback) I can detect the level. But I do not want to add any mechanical system. Full is when the dirt reaches the top. The garbage is very light material (hair, paper, food bits). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 1, 2015 at 21:30

4 Answers 4

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You can always use IR sensor. But they need to be cleaned. Rather if you want you can use ultrasonic distance measurement sensors. This way you can calculate the height of the trash in the bin when placed under the sensor. And you don't need to clean the sensor. Another advantage will be that no matter what container you use, the system can be used. This saves your thought on mounting the sensor inside or along with the bin and the bin remains replaceable. Programming and getting results from the sensor however depend on the thoughtfulness of the programmer.

Basic principle of Ultrasonic distance sensors

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If the type of rubbish that the the dustbin is expected to hold is rather undiverse, you can find a statistically correct weight that will report full within a reasonable-enough degree of certainty. The dustbin can also cross-reference the time of day to add an additional angle of classification. This, of course, assumes that the dustbin is used in an ecosystem with low rubbish diversity, and periodic fill levels.

A machine-learning rubbish bin, this is interesting.

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We can use Ultrasonic Level Measurement sensor to measure the height of the Garbage. We can place the sensor at the top of the dustbin and we can measure the height.

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Multiple use of the ultrasonic sensors placed opposite each other in the angled manner at all the four sides of a bin can result in analyzing the distance and decisive to account for a bin full status.

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