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How to Build a 3D Environment Scanner from Scratch

by • March 15, 2016 • No Comments

Whilst a few 3D scanner companies are working to scale down the cost and dimensions of 3D laser scanners, mechanical engineer Callan Mackay has decided to take matters into his own hands. Mackay, a graduate of Scotland’s Heriot Watt University, has taken onto Instrutables.com to show how to create an low-priced and functional 3D Laser Scanner. Mackay’s DIY scanner is capable of scanning both indoor and outdoor environments, and appears to contribute a few big capabilities for a fraction of the usual cost.


This is not the initially laser scanner on Instructables; there have been really a few various iterations ranging in price and high end. But, according to Mackay, there are two significant facts which set his scanner apart of the rest. First, his does not use any 3D scanning software whatsoever and, instead, uses Arduino and Processing. Secondly, as opposed to other scanners which generally use a turntable mechanism to scan relatively tiny objects, Mackay’s 3D scanner turns both the camera and the laser, enabling for a 360 degree capture. Mackay claims which this showcase makes his the perfect advice for video game setting create or actually full-body and facial scanning.


Depending on what source you go through to buy the necessary parts, Mackay estimates which, in order to fully create the 3D Laser Scanner, it can cost you only around £20 to £30 for the parts which Makers may not may already own. Here is the full list of materials, electronics, tools, and programs needed to conclude the project by yourself.

Materials needd:

  • External webcam
  • Line laser module
  • NEMA 16 Stepper motor and pulley
  • Timing belt (~10cm)
  • L-shaped bracket
  • Terry tool clip (9mm)
  • 3 x AA battery pack
  • Tripod
  • Some strips of wood
  • Nuts and Bolts
  • Screws
  • Zip ties

Electronics Required:

  • Arduino Uno
  • 16×2 LCD screen (optional)
  • 2 x Potentiometers (optional)
  • Stepper motor Driver (A4988)
  • 12v Power supply
  • 100uF Capacitor
  • Jumper wires
  • Breadboard
  • 4 x Screw terminal block connector

Tools Required:

  • Drill
  • Wood saw
  • Screw driver
  • Wire clippers

Software Required:

  • Arduino
  • Processing 3.05b

Aside of the lengthy, yet moderately low-priced component checklist, there is a lot of drilling, fastening, and cutting involved with the create, so the project unquestionably appears to need a sure level of handy experience. But for those feeling capable or ambitious adequate, Mackay is satisfying both the visual and textbook learners by providing full step-by-step instructions in both on YouTube and in text via Instructables. Mackay’s 3D Laser Scanner project has been submitted into the 2016 Full Spectrum Laser contest, so if you ponder his project is worthy of recognition, you can throw his entry a vote here!


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