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Like radar... but better for some things, not least because cheaper!

LIDAR- a remote sensing technology

Imagine bouncing a burst of laser light off of something, and measuring the time it takes for the "echo" to come back. And from that tiny time interval working out the distance to the object.

You've imagined lidar! (Here's a link to the Wikipedia lidar article, which will open in a new tab.) With a little ingenuity, it can be used to create detailed maps of your immediate vicinity.


What's one cost? Entry level sensors are available at $90.

Mount one on top of a stepper motor or servo motor, as seen in Robotshop.com's image to the left, and, by sweeping an arc, taking multiple readings along the way, you can build up a map of what is in the plane that you swept with the lidar beam.

(There's more, scroll down, if you don't yet see it....)

Here's a nice grove of trees at a friend's house, viewed from where he set up his lidar- on- a- servo....


And here's the map he made with a bunch of readings of angle and distance- to- first- object, made while sweeping the sensor across 90 degrees of a horizontal plane, looking at the view above. The lidar sensor was at the lower left corner of the "map"...

Image of plot of lidar data

Admittedly, he used a $400 module, but it operated on exactly the same principles. The $89 module (below) will create the same sort of maps, although it only has a range of 20m instead of the 60m range in the demonstrator above. And it might miss some of the thinner trees.

Sources of LIDAR sensors...

From Robotshop, $89 + p&p 9/15...

    Range: 0-20m LED emitter
    Range: 0-60m Laser emitter
    Accuracy: +/- 0.025m
    Power: 5VDC, less than 100ma
    Rep rate: 1-100Hz
    Interface: I2C or PWM

From Sparkfun, $115 + p&p 9/15...

    Range: 0-40m Laser Emitter
    Accuracy: +/- 0.025m
    Power: 5V DC
    Current Consumption: less than 100mA continuous operation
    Acquisition Time: less than 0.02 sec
    Rep Rate: 1-500Hz
    Interface: I2C or PWM

Seems like too much fun!

I think it would be cool to "play" with one of these. Of course, that would mean not spending the day writing stuff like this for you. Facebook "Likes", etc, appreciated.

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In addition to the tutorials for which this page serves as Table of Contents, I have other sites with material you might find useful.....

Sequenced set of tutorials on Arduino programming and electronics interfacing.
Tutorials about the free database supplied with Open Office version 2.
      (If you experienced Adabas with Star Office, ooBase is nothing like it!)
Some pages for programmers.
Using the parallel port of a Windows computer.

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Ad from page's editor: Yes.. I do enjoy compiling these things for you... hope they are helpful. However.. this doesn't pay my bills!!! If you find this stuff useful, (and you run an MS-DOS or Windows PC) please visit my freeware and shareware page, download something, and circulate it for me? Links on your page to this page would also be appreciated!

Click here to visit editor's Sheepdog Software (tm) freeware, shareware pages.. Material on this page © TK Boyd 9/15

And if you liked that, or want different things, here are some more pages from the editor of these tutorials....

Click here to visit the homepage of my biggest site.

Click here to visit the homepage of Sheepdogsoftware.co.uk. Apologies if the "?FrmAht" I added to that link causes your browser problems. Please let me know, if so?

Click here to visit editor's pages about using computers in Sensing and Control, e.g. weather logging.

To email this page's editor, Tom Boyd.... Editor's email address. Suggestions welcomed!

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