Build a Raspberry Pi laser scanner

You really don’t need anything too fancy to build this Raspberry Pi laser scanner, and that’s why we think it’s pretty wonderful.

Rasperry Pi 3D Laser Scanner

Cornell University: ECE 5725 Michael Xiao and Thomas Scavella

Building a Raspberry Pi laser scanner

The ingredients you’ll need to build the laser scanner are:

  • Raspberry Pi
  • Raspberry Pi Camera Module v2
  • Stepper motor and driver
  • Line laser
  • Various LEDs, resistors, and wires
  • Button

To complete the build, access to a 3D printer and laser cutter would come in handy. If you don’t have access to such tools, we trust you to think of an alternative housing for the scanner. You’re a maker, you’re imaginative — it’s what you do.

How does the laser scanner work?

The line laser projects a line an object, highlighting a slice of it. The Raspberry Pi Camera Module captures this slice, recording the shape of the laser line on the object’s surface. Then the stepper motor rotates the object. When the object has completed a full rotation and the camera has taken an image of every slice, the Raspberry Pi processes all the images to create one virtual 3D object.

Instructables user mfx2 has written a wonderful tutorial for the project, which also includes all files needed to build and program your own version.

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The resolution isn’t so good, is it?

Reply to Ruler of cats


With so few passes, don’t expect high resolution. Also the width of the laser line correlate with precision. Translucent objects “shine” when lit by a laser, so it also adds some uncertainty, limiting resolution. But given many iterations, the final resolution could be good. To speed it up, some continuous image capture would be needed, eliminating the long phase of camera’s brightness adjustment.

Reply to CooliPi


Hahaha,yeah you could also pay 40k+ for an rtc. Looks brilliant for an introduction and a marvellous way to get surveyors of the future interested.

Reply to Hal9001


Looks like all that is lacking is higher resolution. Wonder how it would do if you hooked up a good quality camera to be controlled by the RPi?

Reply to Fred Waters


You haven’t read the tutorial have you?

The resolution can be increased but at the cost of time.

Reply to David Hothersall


Good job guys. Good execution. Simple, cost effective and very elegant. Dont worry about the details that can be adjusted by simply swapping out the laser, and increasing the numbers of pictures taken. Haters gonna hate.

Reply to Cryptonoid


OK, just gotta do it. Just because of the green angel-eye power button–I happen to have an extra one just like it!

Reply to Kevin Bowers


Well done, what a great idea! It is always inspiring to see people doing these pi projects. Very inventive, you make the difficult look easy.

Reply to Luke Wilson

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