Found cheapest-ever LIDAR! Seems great for UAV use!



Electro-Optical devices sells kits and spare parts to build a real, far-ranged LIDAR ranger, such as: nanosecond timer, transmitter module (high voltage laser power supply included on-board), receiver module (APD photodiode, PIN photodiode), controller, laser diodes (power 10W - 75W).

The price of the cheapest kit ERC2-KIT is $ 429 , but you can get even cheaper if you buy just the modules and assemble it yourself.

The boards are really small and are thus ideally suited to fit an UAV plane which includes a rotating mirror system and a capable memory onboard.  

Maybe there are some restricting laws about the power of the laser? Anyone knows?

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • I know it's an old thread...just want to see if there is anyone working with this system or something updated/upgraded.
  • 3689579034?profile=original

    CHEAP LIDAR: We were looking for a inexpensive LIDAR (laser ranging) solution for a robotics project we were working on. We could not find one so, using the lidar unit for the XV-11, we developed one: PROTOX2D LIDAR ( Its simple to use - via the provided usb cable, simply read Serial output (115200bps, 8N1) the angle and distance values. Angles 0-360 degrees, and distance value are in millimeters(mm). Can be used with many sbc such as raspberry pi, pcduino, pc, mac, etc....any device that can read serial output via usb.

    data output: Unit ID, Y Degree (always 0 for ProtoX2D), X Degree, Distance in mm, Quality of Signal, RPM of Laser Assembly, CRNL

    EXAMPLE USE from a Linux terminal:

    >> screen /dev/ttyUSB0 115200

    sample output:
    ['A1', '0', '276', '239', '1094', '203']
    ['A1', '0', '277', '239', '1100', '203']
    ['A1', '0', '278', '240', '1123', '203']
    ['A1', '0', '279', '240', '1118', '203']
    ['A1', '0', '308', '302', '734', '203']
    ['A1', '0', '309', '298', '881', '203']
  • The expense and weight of an Aerial Laser Scanning system (ALS) is not just a rangefinder.  It is the mount, the rotating mirror, the optical encoders that track this mirror, the memory and data processing chips, the equipment pod for the unit itself.  It is the INS, a combination of high-precision electromechanical IMU that starts at 10kg, and a redundant dual-band GPS, and at least one antenna.  It is a plane big enough to carry all this, and insurance on it, its pilot, and liability.

    Any system you get, you're going to want an eye-safe laser, of a particular frequency where it is not absorbed by the surface or the retina of the eyeball, but in the vitreous humor.  There is a significant amount of math involved even then in calculating whether you're going over exposure limits, and a 10W laser has the capability to go *way over*, causing instant blindness if used improperly.

    There are two *very* different types of laser rangefinder: parallax devices that take a picture of the dot from a fixed pointer-camera pair with known baseline and use trigonometry to deduce the range (only works at close range, not very precise, blockable), and those that measure time of travel (what we commonly call "LIDAR").  This is the latter, but most robotics systems operate using the former.

  • I wouldn't exactly call it cheap.  Read the fine print, the laser diode is not included.

    Aren't they expensive?

    I found this one on Ebay for the low, low price of  $355, free shipping!

  • Tim,

    I would be interested in a copy of the paper, perhaps email it at cliff at airbornescientific dot com if possible.

    One major issue with decent lidar is the requirement of precise GPS. Most if not all commercial airborne lidar uses dual frequency post-processed survey grade GPS. For a UAV, maybe single frequency carrier wave post processed GPS would be aequate with a local base station, I haven't heard much about integrating that recently? But maybe I should read the paper first.

  • BTW I have a copy of that paper if anyone wants it

  •  I was just reading up on this as there are a lot of cool applications for ecological research.

    These guys ( used a laser system built for cars by Ibeo which was <300 euro according to the only pricing I could find (here:

    Anyone know anything about car laser systems?

  • Yes it should be easy as the module has selectable parallel/serial data interfaces, and the result (time interval) is given in a two-byte format, easily decoded by arduino
  • Hi,

    @iangl  i readed the datasheet of ECH-1B but i can't see any TTL I/O for computing signal delay.

    May be, we can use arduino to make a controller (ETX-10A+RX-5XF.)



  • Developer
    I have a Neato robotics Lidar laying around. That is less than a tenth of the price in theory. It uses a cmos camera mounted at an angle. The horizontal pixels indicated depth. The angle and power of the laser limit it to about ten feet. To be honest it's not too different than the Wii sensor and LED bar, except the Neato emits it's own IR laser light source. I'm sure you could get better range out of it by angling the laser yourself but you would run into issue of power and focus.
This reply was deleted.