DIY: Laser Scanner

Written by palmer owyoung
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DIY: Laser Scanner
Build your own laser scanner with household items. (laser keyholder image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com)

A laser scanner is a device that analyses an object to collect data about its shape, size and appearance. The collected data can be used to create a three-dimensional model (3D). This is useful for creating lifelike models, like the ones used in the movies. Building your own laser scanner can save you a couple of bucks and isn't all that hard to do.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Laser pointer
  • Scanning software
  • Webcam
  • Cardboard
  • Tape or glue

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Download and install the free David Laser Scanner (see Resources links). Double-click on the file to initiate the installation of the software.

  2. 2

    Print the calibration corner that comes with the scanning software when you download it. It is in a PDF file. This will help you to gauge the size and colour of the object that you are scanning.

  3. 3

    Cut the printout that you downloaded and printed at the thin line marked with the scissor symbol. Do this carefully and accurately.

  4. 4

    Paste or stick the calibration corner onto a piece of cardboard. Set the cardboard up so that they are standing at a 90-degree angle. The cut edges of the printout should touch each other. Use adhesive tape to stick the printout on the board.

  5. 5

    Set the card board to create a 90-degree angle. The grey coordinates in the lower portion of the calibration corner should fit in each other. This should be satisfied before the camera calibration.

  6. 6

    Glue the board together. Maintain the 90-degree angle between them. Use adhesive tape or angle brackets and screws.

  1. 1

    Run the David software on your computer or laptop. Your computer must be operating on Windows.

  2. 2

    Connect the camera to your computer. It should support Video Capture Driver for Windows.

  3. 3

    Select the camera name on the first box on the David window. Allow the David software to read and write your camera parameters. A new window with a live view appears.

  4. 4

    Place your camera in front of the calibration corner. The camera must be able to capture the whole calibration corner.

  5. 5

    Input the calibration scale in the "Scale (mm)" box. This should match the scale that you have used for your printout. Click on the "Calibrate Camera" button. You should see red crosses on the dots. Click "Next" to continue.

  1. 1

    Find an object to scan. Place it in the calibration corner so that the camera can capture the whole thing.

  2. 2

    Turn on the laser pointer and beam it on the object. Turn off the laser and start the scanning on your computer by pressing the "Start" button.

  3. 3

    Switch on the laser and move the beam over the object slowly and methodically over and over again. The laser scanning software will begin rendering the scan int the software. Depending on the size of the object it generally takes about 10 to 20 minutes to create a full scan of an object.

  4. 4

    Save your scanned data by pressing the "Save" button once the object has been completely rendered in the software.

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