With a range in excess of 100m and able to measure over water, the SF11/C is the most cost effective laser altimeter for drones on the market today. Compatibility with Pixhawk and derivative flight controllers and its multiple interfaces including serial, I2C, analog and USB make the SF11/C the easiest plug-and-play solution for altitude holding, terrain following and safe landing.

The SF11/C was developed to handle the unpredictable real-world conditions that sensors face when attached to a drone. Environmental factors including vibration, wind, noise, temperature fluctuations and extreme contrasts in lighting from brilliant sunshine to pitch dark are all managed by the SF11/C, and whilst all this is going on, the SF11/C measures to rapidly changing terrain, giving stable results over wet and dry surfaces without producing false readings.

Tests conducted by the Center for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modeling at the University of St Andrews in Scotland demonstrated the abilities of the SF11/C over wetlands and open water. Their requirement for consistent results under these difficult conditions were easily met by the SF11/C, contributing to important conservation work.


An important characteristic of the SF11/C is its long measuring range. This is especially useful during changes of roll or pitch angle. Data from the IMU is used to correct for geometric effects during such maneuvers, but this only works correctly when there is valid measurement data from the laser. The long measuring range of the SF11/C makes this possible as you can see from the graph below.

The green line is the roll angle, the purple line is the barometric height referenced to sea level and the red line is the uncorrected, AGL altitude from the SF11/C. During tight turns the measured distance increases significantly but the long range capability of the SF11/C keeps the ground clearly in view. 



More details about the SF11/C can be downloaded from the website. The SF11/C is manufactured by LightWare Optoelectronics (Pty) Ltd based in South Africa. LightWare has been designing and manufacturing laser altimeters for the drone market for 5 years and is committed to providing high quality products to the industry. The official distributors in the USA are Parallax and Acroname.

Special thanks go to the dev team for their contributions to the driver software and Tridge for his tireless and occasionally incendiary flight testing ;). 

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  • Thanks for the input Cala. I'd love to hear how your flight goes.

  • DG, I just installed mine and it's really very easy, I use serial 4 port as Lightware recommends and only four wires you need to connect, you only need the plug that connect in pixhawk I checked on ground yesterday and looks very stable and precise, I'm anxious to fly now.

    I don't have grimped tools so I connect like this


  • Hi DG,

    To integrate the SF11 with the Pixhawk you only need to wire it up and set some parameters. You can visit http://ardupilot.org/copter/docs/common-lightware-sf10-lidar.html for more info on configuration.

    AC 3.4 does have lidar terrain following and you can read more about that here: http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/terrain-following-missions-usin...

    I understand that AC does support RTL and under certain conditions will use the rangefinder, but also relies on barometer and GPS.

    LightWare SF10 and SF11 Lidar — Copter documentation
  • I'm interested in installing this on on of my copters, but haven't followed it for quite some time. What is required to make it work with PIxhawk, and I wonder if AC 3.4 supports Lidar for terrain following and RTL.


  • Thank's to Laser developer I recived mine yesterday to test in agriculture tasks :D

    I want to fly low over the crops, monitoring them avoiding crash risk specially over slope lands, I don't have experience how this tool works with different crops or different develop stages were surface is not continuous as grass; this model have the advantage long distance too, so it can be used to precise mapping too; my first test was to plug to pc and works nice to mesure distances with it's easy interface.

  • Hi Jason,

    I've been through the MinimOSD config tool and I don't see Sonar Range either, it looks like you will need an alternative OSD or speak to developers who work with MinimOSD.

    I see you've already asked in http://diydrones.com/forum/topics/adding-extra-functions-to-minimosd , and that is definitely a better thread to get input from the MinimOSD developers.

  • So I got my breakout board but cant seem to find the sonar range?

    what is everybody using to get live data from there UAV/drones?

    please help

  • Hey Robert thanks for the reply.  I got the miniosd of e-bay so dont i know if it has the parameter.

    I still waiting for my FTDI Basic Breakout USB 6 PIN 5V Module to program the miniosd. I really hope it has it!

    When I plugged it in i couldnt see it but im praying i can program it in.

    Can someone recommend a miniosd with the sonar range?

  • Hi Jason,

    The SF11 (and any other rangefinder) will output to Sonar Range. Is MinimOSD able to display that parameter?

  • hey peeps I am new here trying to set-up my SF11/C through the pixhawk serial 4/5.  I have it running through the miniosd but cant see the data on my fpvscreen yet?  what I am missing?

    I have tested it using the usb cable to the mission planner and i can see it working, i just wanna see the data "live" through my fpv screen is it possible?

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