How to enable Motion Detection Interrupt on MPU6050.

The MPU6050 data sheet has a nice “marketing” section, claiming it has a DMP unit, and a couple of useful interrupts, among them a accelerometer event interrupt.

However, how to actually use these features is not documented there. And I want to use the Motion Detection Interrupt (so I can put the host MCU to sleep and wake it up when the MPU6050 senses motion – quite probably there’s a cheaper and better documented chip that can do this too, but I already bought a few MPU6050’s… “gy521” breakout board). is a in progress development to reverse engineer how to use the DMP. It also has a very useful register map (Thanks!), that fills the gaps in the “RM-MPU-6000A-00” document. With that register map, and a slightly older data sheet that actually has the section 8.3 that’s referred to elsewhere (found at , but that URL seems like it might not stay.), I could figure out how to enable the Motion Detection Interrupt.

After power on (0x00 to register (decimal) 107), the Motion Detection Interrupt can be enabled as follows:

  • (optionally?) Reset all internal signal paths in the MPU-6050 by writing 0x07 to register 0x68;
  • write register 0x37 to select how to use the interrupt pin. For an active high, push-pull signal that stays until register (decimal) 58 is read, write 0x20.
  • Write register 28 (==0x1C) to set the Digital High Pass Filter, bits 3:0. For example set it to 0x01 for 5Hz. (These 3 bits are grey in the data sheet, but they are used! Leaving them 0 means the filter always outputs 0.)
  • Write the desired Motion threshold to register 0x1F (For example, write decimal 20).
  • To register 0x20 (hex), write the desired motion duration, for example 40ms.
  • to register 0x69, write the motion detection decrement and a few other settings (for example write 0x15 to set both free-fall and motion decrements to 1 and accelerometer start-up delay to 5ms total by adding 1ms. )
  • write register 0x38, bit 6 (0x40), to enable motion detection interrupt.

Translate the above into code for your favourite micro controller. (Or, maybe, the existing Arduino library for MPU6050 already supports this. I don’t know, I’m using STM32 this time. But it could be translated to AVR/PIC/MSP430 etc… as long as it has I2C/TWI)

Now, INT pin should go high when MPU6050 is moved/shaken/dropped. Play with threshold, duration and filter to set sensitivity.

Relevant excerpt from the linked older data sheet (PS-MPU-6000A-00 Revision: 3.1) above:

8.3 Motion Interrupt
The MPU-60X0 provides Motion detection capability with similar functionality to Free Fall detection. Accelerometer measurements are passed through a configurable digital high pass filter (DHPF) in order to eliminate bias due to gravity. A qualifying motion sample is one where the high passed sample from any axis has an absolute value exceeding a user-programmable threshold. A counter increments for each qualifying sample, and decrements for each non-qualifying sample. Once the counter reaches a user-programmable counter threshold, a motion interrupt is triggered. The axis and polarity which caused the interrupt to be triggered is flagged in the MOT_DETECT_STATUS register.

Like Free Fall detection, Motion detection has a configurable acceleration threshold MOT_THR specified in 1mg increments. The counter threshold MOT_DUR is specified in 1 ms increments. The decrement rate has the same options as Free Fall detection, and is specified in the MOT_DETECT_CTRL register.

HH! Comment section below is open (no login required) for questions & remarks!


Een gedachte over “How to enable Motion Detection Interrupt on MPU6050.

  1. Hi! I love u men, this save me from leave the project of the pedometer with the mpu6050 because I was unable to take Interrupts on the INT pin in the correct mode when I detected movement.
    Thank u so much

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