The rangefinder is a tool that allows you to determine the distance to obstacles and walls in order to avoid them. It is perfect in robotic applications where the robot needs to move and go to a determined position in unknown territory.
2. Current condition
So far we built 3 versions . We are working on the final version (v 4.0) which is very similar with the present version (v 3.0).
Version 3 (present version) is smaller and lighter than version 2.
The final version will have exactly the same enclosure as version 3 .
It has 2 sensors placed at 90 degrees that read the distances simultaneously.
Here are some of the unit details:
detectable range: 20 cm to 150 cm (6 to 60 inches )
7.5 degrees angular resolution
2 scans per second
180 degrees view
easy readable output data in text format
easy interface with other boards
it comes pre calibrated
USB interface power and data , also SPI and RS232
We are a small team of engineers from Cleveland and we like to tinker with stuff and work on all kinds of interesting projects. In the past we participated twice at Centennial Regolith Challenge, a competition organized by NASA and California Space Authority. This is where we came with the idea of creating a cheap obstacle detection unit. Since we payed all the costs for the robot, transportation, and the competition fee, we did not have a lot of money to spend and we lacked proper sensors. The obstacle detection units that are on the market today start at more than a thousand dollars, which we could not afford. Also Kinect would be great if it would work reliably in daylight.
Our goal is to create a cheap 2d obstacle sensor that could be used in robotics
So far we have a C and a C# API and graphical interface. We plan to develop a Python interface.
In the picture there is the graphical interface that is written in C# and allows showing and capturing range data .
We also plan to create an interface for ROS (Robotic Operating System)
The PCB was designed in Eagle Cad and sent out to a PCB manufacturer.
Here are different versions of the PCB.
We used mainly a CNC machine to build the enclosure. The CNC is driven by an computer with LinuxCNC installed. This proved to be enough for very good results.
Pick and Place machine
13. Market comparison
Here is a comparison between some obstacle detectors that are on the market.
Risks and challenges
In case of a reasonable demand, all units will be built by us. If the demand is higher the parts of the unit will be outsourced locally which means a longer lead time. We have experience with building and shipping products, and also we have most of the equipment in house. With all this, we try very hard to minimize the risk.
Also if there is a higher demand there might be some parts shortages which might delay the production. Fortunately the parts could be procured from multiple places.