Hardware

Best LIDAR Lasers for Hobbyists

LIDAR, also known as Light Image Detection and Ranging, was first utilized in the 1960s to calculate the distance between Earth and Moon.

Later it helped unearth entire civilizations, like uncovering interconnecting cities beneath the Guatemalan Jungles in Tikal, Guatemala, or the ring fortresses in Borgring, Denmark. This technology uses light sources and calculates the distance of different wavelengths under both land and water.

If you are a hobbyist in need of a LIDAR sensor, then this article will certainly help.

Take a look at the top 5 LIDAR Lasers for hobbyists below. These lasers are easily accessible, lightweight, easy to operate, and certainly won’t cause you an arm or leg.

A Buyer’s Guide To Get a Trusted LIDAR Laser

What’s the use?

Before looking for options, figure out what you need it for. Different kinds of sensors can be optimized for different uses. For instance, a 3-D mapping LIDAR sensor will certainly not be a good option for construction work, night vision applications, or collision avoidance. In this scenario, consider purchasing separate units – one for night vision and another for collision avoidance – though the cost may become an issue.

Range

The most crucial factor for a LIDAR Laser is its range of coverage. How far can it calculate and assess obstacles? Usually, that depends on its user interface, directionality, motor system, and frequency range.

A longer-range should go hand in hand with the system’s ability to resist light interference. Otherwise, you will be unable to map out the detection.

Accuracy of signal pickup is also crucial. For instance, in obstacle avoidance, if interference and lower accuracy persist, it will misread the distance. It might end up destroying your worthwhile robot.

As for directionality, the 360 rotation aids the user and helps you cut down the margin of error. The lesser you move the laser sensor, the more likely it is for you to have an accurate image.

Size and Portability

Knowing a hobbyist will mainly use the device on a small scale, such as vacuum cleaners or other types of robotics. A compact and lightweight size go a long way in how portable it can be.

A non-bulky structure will make it easier to attach to items without added contraptions.

Risk Factors Related to Exposure

Make sure the LIDAR Laser you choose states their safety standards. Elon Musk may already have warned you of the wrath of LIDARs, but if your laser has a minimum class I Standard and a warning indicator for reporting things happening out of the blue, you are good to go.

That said, let’s get to the Top 5 LIDAR Lasers.

1. EAI YDLIDARX4 360 Degree LIDAR Sensor by SmartFly INFO

It’s the perfect example of robotic object avoidance a device could display. The LIDAR Sensor by SmartFLy is the most sought-after laser by hobbyists because of its impeccable accuracy and quick functions. Coming to the most important detail, its frequency and range. The device offers a 6-12 Hz accurate scanning frequency along with a whopping 5000Hz range frequency.

That’s not all! The reflectivity ranging distance measures as small as 0,12m to as long as 10 meters! SmartFLy doesn’t stop there, though. It has an additional 360-degree 2D rangefinder, which rotates and maps out continuous angle information and point cloud data as it scans your surroundings during the ranging process.

Knowing the risk factors associated with LIDAR radiation, you don’t have to sweat it with this laser as it comes with a pre-set safety standard. The human eyes stay miles away from harm as it is compatible with FDA Class 1 Laser Safety Standard. Even small children and animals are safe form any sort of radiation emissions.

You can apply the LIDAR Laser Technology to navigational robotics or obstacle avoidance, securing areas, scanning the environment, or even 3D reconstructions robotics. Its compact and portable size allows it to be manipulated easily. This is one device not to be missed by hardcore hobbyists.

Buy Here: Amazon

2. SLAMTEC RPLIDAR A1M8 LIDAR Sensor Scanner

Another top-notch piece of technology is the Laser sensor scanner from Slamtec. This ranks second on our list due to its longer range, that too available at a very affordable price.

For a hobbyist, such an easy-to-use plug and play LIDAR Laser can come handy, especially when you need quick results. The device offers a 12-meter range radius and works on a power supply of 5V. Another bonus point is its 360-degree omnidirectional scanning range, which can configure 2 to 10 Hz frequencies.

What’s more, this bad boy banks the current highest Times Sample rate, which is 8000! Its structure aids in its laser triangulation-ranging principle. It utilizes high-speed vision acquisition along with sturdy processing hardware to back it up. The 360 ranging maps the surroundings accurately, that too in less amount of time. The Times sample rate finishes the internal optical design for detailed sample production.

All this is possible through integrated wireless power and optical communication technology, which leaves the traditional LIDAR life limitation way behind. No wires or slip rings, mean no physical wear and tear to the system, resulting in a longer lifespan for you to explore and enjoy.

Buy Here: Amazon

3. LIDAR-Lite V3 by Garmin

Next, we have a Garmin. The LIDAR-Lite V3 has a light emitter that ranges from 0 to 40m, with a given accuracy of +/-2.5cm when the distance exceeds 1m.

This device is powered by a 4.75 -5V DC and has a 6V Maximum current consumption value. It consumes 105ma idle and 130ma continuous. As for the frequency range, this LIDAR ranges from 1-500Hz.

This laser further exhibits light wavelength/peak power as a 905nm/1.3watts beam. This aids in calculating greater distances with more accuracy. It is a single-stripe laser transmitter with 4m Radian x 2m Radian beam divergence and an optical aperture if 12.5mm. As for the safety protocols, the Lite-V3 is a designated Class 1 (like the one mentioned before). However, if you tweak its housing or make certain modifications, chances of damage to eye increase. Keep in mind to never stare directly into the emitter as it can result in permanent eye damage.

As for the body of the laser, it is quite compact and portable. Be it any robot or other devices you pair it with; the sensor will never come in the way. A compact, light, easy to use option with a low power consumption technology to cover great distances. However, it is a bit pricey.

Buy Here: Amazon

4. YDLIDAR G4 – LIDAR Laser Rangefinder ROS Slam Robot Indoors

Up next, we have another tough contender to excite our LIDAR hobbyists. This time, YDLIDAR is here with a unique yet luxury 2D laser scanner with a 360-degree omnidirectional scanning direction.

This laser scanner can configure frequencies from 5 to 12 Hz and have a ranging frequency of 9000Hz, which covers a wide-ranging distance of up to 16m. In this distance, the laser exhibits high resistance to light interference, which may hinder the device’s mapping.

The YDLIDAR may seem simple to look at, but the stable motor backed by its industrial Japanese bearing brushless motor drive allows it to maintain an ultra-long working life up to 50000 hours. This LIDAR has a 9000 Times/Sec ranging sampling rate that allows quick, detailed, and accurate mapping.

As for safety precautions, the transmitter has a standard Class 1, and it also has an early warning system. If you are faced with out of the blue circumstances, the sensor would actively turn off its light source to promise safety. Lastly, it promises a quick and easy setup, and its lightweight palm-sized structure comes of great help.

Buy Here: Amazon

5. EAI YDLIDAR TX20 TOF LIDAR Range Finder Sensor Module

Lastly, we have another 360-degree omnidirectional 2-Dimensional TOF LIDAR Laser Range Finder. This system is built for both outdoor and indoor usage.

The EAI YDLIDAR carries a wide-ranging limit up to 20 meters with a very low ranging error. The SmartFLy INFO Laser offers range stability, augmented precision, and compatibility to work with a Linux Drive. As for safety measures, the system has a Class I laser grade safety. So, you shouldn’t worry about any harmful radiation damaging your eyes.

This laser also promises stable performance against the strong ambient interference with a configurable scanning frequency 5-12Hz. An additional highly repeatable and consistent ranging frequency of 4000Hz is supported with a standard supply voltage of 5 V. The device is quite easy to operate with the complete drivers provided by the Quick Start – TX20, with additional SDK, API, and documentation to get it up and to run.

The adjustable motor speed, 3.3V level serial port Data communication, and countless user scenarios make it a perfect option for any LIDAR hobbyist.

Buy Here: Amazon

Closing thoughts

Knowing these aren’t the high tech LIDAR sensors used by professional archaeologists and will certainly not help you unearth a thousand-year-old fortress. But if you are a hardcore hobbyist who’s into constructing obstacle detectors or sensors for various projects. In that case, these are the devices worth looking into. They are lightweight, portable and don’t cost in hundreds of bucks either – thus making image processing faster. You can even mount them easily on a UAV, couple with advanced photogrammetry software, and get the desired images. That’s all for today. Till next time!

About the author

Syed Asad

Syed Asad

Asad is passionate about all things tech. He brings you reviews of the latest gadgets, devices, and computers