Small, cheap ($13) laser ranger finder with 2m range and less noise than sonar. Sign me up!
The VL53L0X from ST Microelectronics is a time-of-flight ranging system integrated into a compact module. This board is a carrier for the VL53L0X, so we recommend careful reading of theVL53L0X datasheet (1MB pdf) before using this product.
The VL53L0 uses ST’s FlightSense technology to precisely measure how long it takes for emitted pulses of infrared laser light to reach the nearest object and be reflected back to a detector, so it can be considered a tiny, self-contained lidar system. This time-of-flight (TOF) measurement enables it to accurately determine the absolute distance to a target without the object’s reflectance greatly influencing the measurement. The sensor can report distances of up to 2 m (6.6 ft) with 1 mm resolution, but its effective range and accuracy (noise) depend heavily on ambient conditions and target characteristics like reflectance and size, as well as the sensor configuration. (The sensor’s accuracy is specified to range from ±3% at best to over ±10% in less optimal conditions.)
Ranging measurements are available through the sensor’s I²C (TWI) interface, which is also used to configure sensor settings, and the sensor provides two additional pins: a shutdown input and an interrupt output.
The VL53L0X is a great IC, but its small, leadless, LGA package makes it difficult for the typical student or hobbyist to use. It also operates at a recommended voltage of 2.8 V, which can make interfacing difficult for microcontrollers operating at 3.3 V or 5 V. Our breakout board addresses these issues, making it easier to get started using the sensor, while keeping the overall size as small as possible.
The carrier board includes a low-dropout linear voltage regulator that provides the 2.8 V required by the VL53L0X, which allows the sensor to be powered from a 2.6 V to 5.5 V supply. The regulator output is available on the VDD pin and can supply almost 150 mA to external devices. The breakout board also includes a circuit that shifts the I²C clock and data lines to the same logic voltage level as the supplied VIN, making it simple to interface the board with 3.3 V or 5 V systems, and the board’s 0.1″ pin spacing makes it easy to use with standard solderless breadboards and 0.1″ perfboards. The board ships fully populated with its SMD components, including the VL53L0X, as shown in the product picture.
For a similar but shorter-range sensor (up to 20 cm, or 60 cm with reduced resolution) that includes ambient light sensing functionality, see our VL6180X carrier.
VL53L0X datasheet graph of typical ranging performance (in default mode).
- Dimensions: 0.5″ × 0.7″ × 0.085″ (13 mm × 18 mm × 2 mm)
- Weight without header pins: 0.5 g (0.02 oz)
- Operating voltage: 2.6 V to 5.5 V
- Supply current: 10 mA (typical average during active ranging)
- Varies with configuration, target, and environment. Peak current can reach 40 mA.
- Output format (I²C): 16-bit distance reading (in millimeters)
- Distance measuring range: up to 2 m (6.6 ft); see the graph at the right for typical ranging performance.
- Effective range depends on configuration, target, and environment.
- The datasheet does not specify a minimum range, but in our experience, the effective limit is about 3 cm.
A 1×7 strip of 0.1″ header pins and a 1×7 strip of 0.1″ right-angle header pins are included, as shown in the picture below. You can solder the header strip of your choice to the board for use with custom cables or solderless breadboards, or you can solder wires directly to the board itself for more compact installations.