laser rangefinders/scanners for hobbyists?

Hi - can anybody tell me what laser rangefinders and scanners are available to hobbyists? I've seen some very nice scanners that cost $5K and up, which
is a tad too much for me. Any suggestions? I've thought about hacking apart some of those used for construction, as those are reasonable in cost. But of course those are only rangefinders - and I'd really like a true scanner.
Any comments?
Thanks,
-Mike Noone
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"Mike Noone"

I've heard of people (sorry, couldn't find the links) trying to use servo actuated mirrors to transform those rangefinders into scanners. I don't think it's so easy to do, otherwise SICKs (the coffe makers) would be much cheaper.
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That's what I've thought about doing - but the timing for it would be hard without having very detailed specs on the rangefinder being used, and I doubt those specs would be easy to come by.
SICKs are awesome, too bad they're so big. Any idea how much they cost? On my current project they would be out of the question as they probabaly weight about as much as my entire robot, if not more.
-Mike
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"Mike Noone"

If I'm not mistaken, last time I checked the simplest one was about $500. I went to the DARPA Grand Challenge, and most (if not all) participants were using several of them. I believe they had some kind of sponsorship offered to the teams, I don't know.
Cheers
Padu
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"Padu"

I might be terribly wrong. Just found one on ebay for $650-$800
http://cgi.ebay.com/Sick-Optics-Proximity-Laser-Scanner-PLS101-312_W0QQitemZ7606433989QQcategoryZ42899QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
or
http://tinyurl.com/glv53
cheers
Padu
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I wish I could afford that right now!
Tim
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Padu wrote: > If I'm not mistaken, last time I checked the simplest one was about $500. I

More like $5000. And we paid list price.
There's no fundamental reason they have to cost that much, but the market is tiny. They're very well built mechanically; people have wrecked vehicles and found the SICK LMS units undamaged. Ours never failed us.
SICK LMS units have rather outdated electronics, though. There's only an 8-bit microprocessor inside, trying frantically to keep up with 180 points per scan with 75 scans per second, plus a 500Kb serial RS-422 link. It's not quite fast enough, and when you send to it, you have to space out the bytes with delay time between them. SICK talked vaguely of an Ethernet interface, but never delivered one.
                John Nagle                 Team Overbot
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Even low powered lasers can have a safety issue and it is the responsibility of the operator to not point a laser into someone's eye. If you use a laser rangefinder or scanner in a robot how do you ensure that it won't scan an eye? Even low power invisible infra-red can be a problem because the eye might focus the beam onto the retina and cause damage.
I have always just assumed that this was the reason that laser rangefinders are not a cheap popular consumer item. They could probably be made for a few bucks in reasonable quantity but then there is the liability issue.
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snipped-for-privacy@ultratechnology.com wrote in

Laser rangefinders were widely used in the darpa grand challenge, and I haven't seen anybody in any of the videos or pictures on with any sort of special equipment to protect themselves. Thus they must be at least relatively safe.
-Mike
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Blink reflex protects you from class II visible laser IIRC.
Tim
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snipped-for-privacy@ultratechnology.com wrote in

And yet $3 laser pointers which are nowhere near as useful are universally available...
Mitch
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Mike Noone wrote:

What kind of scanners are you talking about here ??
Do you have any links ??
thanks

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These are some very nice ones: http://www.sick.de/de/products/categories/safety/espe/laserscanner/en.html
-Mike
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Mike Noone wrote:

You can use a regular laser pointer at an offset to a camera. By triangulation of the position of the laser dot in the camera picture, you can find the distance of the point you lit. If you generate a laser line instead of a dot, you get a line scanner. Move that around with a servo, and you can scan depth.
Search google for depth, structured light, triangulation, etc.
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