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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  • Hi, I'll try install one unit, but I need some gimbal to hold horizontally every time? or do some calculations with imu and it's not necessary a gimbal? thanks

  • @Jason Smoker: Thanks Jason, but aren't those instructions for Ardupilot? I've been successful implementing the SF11/C witht the Arducopter build, but the PX4 stack has different parameters and those instructions don't apply. 

  • Too bad, that's not only pure underwater use. I was thinking of shallow land - water interface (1-2m). For mapping purpose this is a very difficult area to reach, unless you send a surveyor with swimming suit !

    The one who make a portable product on this segment will get all the nearshore / harbour survey market.

  • @Pascal P. - yes, we have looked into this but unfortunately there isn't a good business case for us to produce a green underwater laser range finder. The underwater market is small compared to the aerial market making the cost of manufacture much higher and we are not geared up to make one-off products :(.

  • @ Laser Developper : Did you investigate into portable green - blue laser ? The one who could cross a bit of water ?

  • hi neal you can run the SF11/C from the serial port 4/5  have you seen this?


    Well good news I have finally figured it out how to get the laser info through the osd to my FPV SCREEN.

    I got in contact with Luis from www.satxo.com.  He was very helpfull and put a widget on the ALCEOSD so i could configure it.  I figured it out that the most people where using telem 2 but I needed telem 1. With a simple switch of the wire configure the info popped into my screen! YES!!  I can now read the info live usb free!!  My gimbal is wire jungle right now once i tidy it up i will post some pics.  Thanks

    LightWare SF10 and SF11 Lidar — Copter documentation
  • Hi Neal,

    I can't confirm if the SF11 will run on the PX4 stack, but from what I can see it might be possible. On this page: http://dev.px4.io/flow_lidar_setup.html they say: "SENS_EN_SF0X Set to 1 to enable lightware distance measurements (e.g. sf02 and sf10a)". This might work for the SF11 too. (Note that this is a different parameter than in the page you linked to). I also found this page that may be of interest: https://pixhawk.org/peripherals/rangefinder?s[]=lidar

    It looks like the PX4 is expecting a 9600 baud rate, so you'd need to configure the SF11 serial output to be the same.

  • Does anyone know if you can run the SF11/C from the serial port using the PX4 stack? All I've seen is this instruction for I2C.

    I'm trying to run this with the PX4Flow. Thanks!

  • thanks Cala I have been in contact with him  night_ghost on rcgroupps now and trying to arrange something but it seems way harder than first thought.  

    Will keep trying though

    night_ghost's blog - RC Groups
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  • Jason and Robert, I hope minim extra function don't have sonarrange output and is little stopped that project; now is continued here http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2591835 , I'm not investigate it yet, but, perhaps it's the best place for ask for sonarrange on minim.

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