First of all let’s define what LiDAR is

“LiDAR is a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflected light with a sensor.”

taken from Wikipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lidar )

Pimoroni Pirates’ ToF VL53L1X breakout – image stolen from the Pirates 😉

The VL53L1X infrared ToF sensor is a simple form of a LiDAR sensor. and commonly used by Pi Wars robots for detection of walls and objects. One of the disadvantages of using them is that they only have a single point of measurement, to overcome this you need to use more than one sensor to get a better overall picture of the environment around your robot.

To get over the issue of having to use more than one sensor to get a better overview of the physical environment around a robot, sensors like WW2 radar were developed using lasers instead of radio waves. But there has to be a ‘but’ the available sensors are expensive, costing over several hundreds of pounds. There has been a movement towards lower cost sensors costing around £100. probably because the rise of robotic hoovers.

robot hoover

My team mate Rob sent me a link to a LiDAR sensor on Ebay. The HLS-LFCD2 for about £30. At that price I could get one to play with! As the seller was in the UK, it turned up in a couple of days. Comparing the item I received from ebay, with other examples on the internet and the single data sheet I found. It looked like there was a mount attached to the sensor. I removed the mount, then drilled out the mounting holes to 3mm using a jewellers drill and fitted 2.5mm PCB spacers.

link to datasheet: http://emanual.robotis.com/assets/docs/LDS_Basic_Specification.pdf

Bottom with bracket fitted – Banana for scale
Top with 2.5mm PCB spacers installed after drilling out mounting holes to 3mm
Bottom view with bracket removed and posts fitted

Next steps are replacing the plugs with 2.54 headers, mounting on a plate with a stipbroad interface for power and conectting a usb serial lead for reading data from the sensor. I also need to test that I can actually get some sensor data then convert it to usable data.

See Part 2 for more details.