Help With TCS3200 with Arduino (Understanding Output)
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Help With TCS3200 with Arduino (Understanding Output)

by aerouta on Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:49 am

Hello, I am using a version of the code posted below to read colors then ultimately match them. However, I am not sure what the output (white, red, green, blue) are. I would expect that the RGB values be between 0 and 255, or [0,1] but that is not the case. I have reviewed alot of information on the Parallax and TAOS site. My guess it has something to do with the Spectral Response charts included in the sensor documentation however the y-axis (Relative Response) is never clearly defined, this renders their meaning elusive. I am sure I’m missing something quite elementary but I can’t seem to put it all together. What is the correct way to interpet the output from this sensor? Any help would be great

Code: Select all | TOGGLE FULL SIZE

Eecher's TCS3200 program
adapted from code found at reibot.org


int S0 = 8;//pinB
int S1 = 9;//pinA
int S2 = 12;//pinE
int S3 = 11;//pinF
int taosOutPin = 10;//pinC
int LED = 13;//pinD

void setup() {

// primary loop takes color readings from all four channels and displays the raw values once per second.  What you might wish to do with those values is up to you...
void loop() {



int detectColor(int taosOutPin){

float white = colorRead(taosOutPin,0,1);
float red = colorRead(taosOutPin,1,1);
float blue = colorRead(taosOutPin,2,1);
float green = colorRead(taosOutPin,3,1);

Serial.print("white ");

Serial.print("red ");

Serial.print("blue ");

Serial.print("green ");


This section will return the pulseIn reading of the selected color. 
It will turn on the sensor at the start taosMode(1), and it will power off the sensor at the end taosMode(0)
color codes: 0=white, 1=red, 2=blue, 3=green
if LEDstate is 0, LED will be off. 1 and the LED will be on.
taosOutPin is the ouput pin of the TCS3200.

float colorRead(int taosOutPin, int color, boolean LEDstate){
//turn on sensor and use highest frequency/sensitivity setting

//setting for a delay to let the sensor sit for a moment before taking a reading.
int sensorDelay = 100;

//set the S2 and S3 pins to select the color to be sensed
if(color == 0){//white
digitalWrite(S3, LOW); //S3
digitalWrite(S2, HIGH); //S2
// Serial.print(" w");

else if(color == 1){//red
digitalWrite(S3, LOW); //S3
digitalWrite(S2, LOW); //S2
// Serial.print(" r");

else if(color == 2){//blue
digitalWrite(S3, HIGH); //S3
digitalWrite(S2, LOW); //S2
// Serial.print(" b");

else if(color == 3){//green
digitalWrite(S3, HIGH); //S3
digitalWrite(S2, HIGH); //S2
// Serial.print(" g");

// create a var where the pulse reading from sensor will go
float readPulse;

//  turn LEDs on or off, as directed by the LEDstate var
if(LEDstate == 0){
    digitalWrite(LED, LOW);
if(LEDstate == 1){
    digitalWrite(LED, HIGH);

// wait a bit for LEDs to actually turn on, as directed by sensorDelay var

// now take a measurement from the sensor, timing a low pulse on the sensor's "out" pin
readPulse = pulseIn(taosOutPin, LOW, 80000);

//if the pulseIn times out, it returns 0 and that throws off numbers. just cap it at 80k if it happens
if(readPulse < .1){
readPulse = 80000;

//turn off color sensor and LEDs to save power

// return the pulse value back to whatever called for it...
return readPulse;


// Operation modes area, controlled by hi/lo settings on S0 and S1 pins.
//setting mode to zero will put taos into low power mode. taosMode(0);

void taosMode(int mode){
    if(mode == 0){
    //power OFF mode-  LED off and both channels "low"
    digitalWrite(LED, LOW);
    digitalWrite(S0, LOW); //S0
    digitalWrite(S1, LOW); //S1
    //  Serial.println("mOFFm");
    }else if(mode == 1){
    //this will put in 1:1, highest sensitivity
    digitalWrite(S0, HIGH); //S0
    digitalWrite(S1, HIGH); //S1
    // Serial.println("m1:1m");
    }else if(mode == 2){
    //this will put in 1:5
    digitalWrite(S0, HIGH); //S0
    digitalWrite(S1, LOW); //S1
    }else if(mode == 3){
    //this will put in 1:50
    digitalWrite(S0, LOW); //S0
    digitalWrite(S1, HIGH); //S1


void TCS3200setup(){

    //initialize pins
    pinMode(LED,OUTPUT); //LED pinD
    //color mode selection
    pinMode(S2,OUTPUT); //S2 pinE
    pinMode(S3,OUTPUT); //s3 pinF
    //color response pin (only actual input from taos)
    pinMode(taosOutPin, INPUT); //taosOutPin pinC
    //communication freq (sensitivity) selection
    pinMode(S0,OUTPUT); //S0 pinB
    pinMode(S1,OUTPUT); //S1 pinA


Posts: 25
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:39 pm

Re: Help With TCS3200 with Arduino (Understanding Output)

by adafruit_support_mike on Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:29 pm

Based on what I see in the TCS3200 datasheet, the device has four sets of built-in diodes: 16 with red filters, 16 with green filters, 16 with blue filters, and 16 with clear filters. The device reads current from each set of diodes and converts that to a frequency between 2 Hz (in the dark) and about 16 kHz at full brightness. You can also scale the output frequency to about 3 kHz or 300 Hz.

The core of the measurement routine is the pulseIn() function which waits for a pin to go low then counts the number of clock cycles until the pin goes high again. In the code shown, that gets an upper limit of 80,000 clock cycles.

The width of the pulse is inversely proportional to the frequency, so a large value from taosPinOut() means a low light level.

The 'white' channel will tell you the overall brightness of the target. The R, G, and B channels will tell you the relative amount of those three fequencies.
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Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:51 pm

Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.