Contributing to giving sight to AV's

Hello everyone,

I'm trying to design and build an "open source" radar system. The premise is that while we have the hacked Neato and the RoboPeak system, I've not found anything for outdoor use. So I've built this scanner pictured below.


The parts list so far is

1) Hobbypower BGM5208-200T-12 HS Brushless Gimbal Motor

2) AlexMos 8 bit controller

3) Arduino Uno

4) Sparkfun Line follower (as a simple rotary encoder)

5) 12vdc power supply

The design criteria is that no special tools (lathe, mill, tap & die) are required. All parts shall be easily available from reputable sources. From this I hope more people will build one and begin to give real sight to their AV.

My question is how to best promote this project and share files like these two versions for the Lightware SF02 and Lidar Light units I made with Solidworks.


I'm a real NOOB with Github and blogs, so any suggestions would be helpful.




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    • Oops already found an omission. I left out the LL  I2C connecions3702684844?profile=original

  • Here is another design ... from Jason Wood!topic/pulsedlight3d/FD3bxR2huuo

  • Developer

    I have a very fundamental suggestion : Why don't you simply add a mirror to the system and rotate the optics only, instead of rotating the whole rangefinder. That would mitigate all the slip-ring issues, etc. and simplify the system.

    You can use precision magnetic encoder on the motor shaft for estimation of the azimuth, instead of a IMU.

    That's how all the commercial systems do it, and they've put in a lot of research into those $5000+ designs.

    Also, it makes no sense to use a gimbal motor, instead you can go with a well-balanced HDD motor or even a conventional brushless 'pancake' motor.


    • Hi Kabir,

      Regarding the rotating mirror... I had heard about that idea but it was after I built the drive system. Hopefully someone who understand laser optics will build one.... please!

      I also looked around for a magnetic pot, but couldn't find one the right size that was off the shelf. If you have a link to one that is approximately 2" diameter, please share it. 

      As for the gimbal motor, I went with the cheapest hollow shaft motor that I felt I could control precisely at very slow RPM's. I am not a motor expert so I went with simple convenience i.e. I found most of this stuff on Amazon.

      Others are using sync/stepper motors with hollow shaft gears drives.... also a good design. 


  • Hello again everyone,

    It appears that both the SF02 and LIDAR Lite have excellent potential, each with its pluses and minuses. So I'm building a dual platform for "side by side" learning and testing. The round aluminum plate will be mounted on top of the gimbal motor with the slip rings supplying power to both. The LIDAR Lite will have the XBee shield to transmit data to an XBee explorer for Processing. The SF02 (and v2 when available) will be connected thru the slip ring to the a base Arduino for Processing.

    Any suggestions/thoughts/comments.... please


    Thanks to all


    Comments Suggestions

    • Looking good Bill.

      Only thing that jumps to mind is to check that you have set these up so that the sensor detection faces are the same distance away from the centre of the plate so that you don't have an offset problem in your measurements?

      I would probably set both up as wireless - this is cleaner in my mind and also removes the difference in comms as a source of difference in the system readings.  Get both set up the same way and then you can use the wireless as a baseline against the slip rings or my direct wiring.

  • My LIDAR Lite arrived today.  I haven't ordered the CNC machine yet so I'm going to concentrate on trying to run some tests with the LL this weekend.

  • Hi Bill,

    I am trying to control same gimbal motor that you are using. I could not find any specifications for the motor (voltage).

    Can you share some the sketch and the schematic of driving this motor?

    Thank you in advance,


    Ovidiu Carstea 

    • Hi Ovidiu,

      I too tried to drive the gimbal motor directly with an Arduino. There are several Instructables that detail other folk's successes. But I couldn't make it work. I did get the motor to turn but it was very out of control and shaky. So I decided not to reinvent the wheel. I bit the bullet and got an 8-bit 2 axis AlexMos controller with IMU. Its works great! I can control the speed thru my Arduino sketch... and the speed is very very smooth. 

      If you decide to go that route, I'm happy to share how I hooked it all up. 


    • Hi Bill,

      I will go with your solutions, hardware and software.

      Can you share your solution or send it to me at email:

      I would like to try to port the Arduino solution to PIC micro controllers.

      Thank you,


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