It's teardown day at DIY Drones ;-) Sparkfun has a great one on the Neato Robotics robotics vacuum cleaner, which has a cool Lidar unit. From the post:

"Inside you can see the laser and the CMOS imager that the Lidar uses to detect distance to objects. The white paper on this device insists that it can be built for less than $30, but right now the laser can only be bought if it's inside the robot. Still $400 dollars is a low price for a device that does 1-degree accuracy planar scanning at 10Hz. There are four wires running to the laser assembly. Upon closer inspection, we see that these wires are soldered to pads on the board labeled "TX", "RX", "GND", and "VCC". So it's not exactly tough to figure out what communication protocol the device uses."

So far the Sparkfun team have gotten some basic info (see below) out of the device, but it's not fully hacked yet. But given that Robotox has offered a $800 prize for doing that, it's just a matter of time!

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Comment by T.D. Gonzales on November 22, 2010 at 12:33pm
Oh dang $800 now you can actually pay for it with the bounty. Maybe it is time to overnight a neato.
Comment by Travis on November 22, 2010 at 2:20pm
Incidentally, the "white paper" claiming a $30 cost is actually an academic publication from ICRA 2008 (robotics conference). You can read more about it at --
Comment by Michael Zaffuto on November 22, 2010 at 2:21pm
This might help, from the chip ID register (00CD),
it looks like the processor is a TMS320F28023PT
Texas Instruments Piccolino DSP

PARTID Register Field Descriptions

7:0 PARTNO These 8 bits specify the feature set of the device as follows:
0x00CF TMS320F28027PT
0x00CE TMS320F28027DA
0x00C7 TMS320F28026PT
0x00C6 TMS320F28026DA
0x00CD TMS320F28023PT
0x00CC TMS320F28023DA
0x00C5 TMS320F28022PT
0x00C4 TMS320F28022DA
0x00CB TMS320F28021PT
0x00CA TMS320F28021DA
0x00C3 TMS320F28020PT
0x00C2 TMS320F28020DA
0x00C1 TMS320F280200PT
0x00C0 TMS320F280200DA
Comment by Rich Weaver on November 22, 2010 at 5:29pm
From reading the white paper, I'm guessing the imager is an Aptina MT902X in 1/3" CMOS (originally a Micron imager). At least the 752 resolution and 6.0 um pixel size lines up with those imagers.
Comment by Ron Jacobs on November 22, 2010 at 10:08pm
What would the range be on this? A couple feet, ten feet?
Comment by William Cox on November 30, 2010 at 6:27pm
Ron Jacobs, the report distance from "chengleung" on the Trossen Robotics forums is 6 meters (~18 feet). In other news, the sensor has been fully hacked:


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