I and my g/f bought a 1650m2 piece of land in 2010. The plan is to someday in the future build ourselves a house to live in. We wanted a 3D model of the building site to start experimenting with different houses but when I contacted a company specialized in these kinds of scans I was horrified by the price. Darn, I’ll just make my own 3D scan of the plot.
Said and done…
After some days of thinking and testing I came up with this _low-tech_ approach. The solution will not meet building standards I would imagine but hey, I got my site in 3D! When I compared it with Google Earth the measures were off by half a meter so I’m pretty happy with the results.

How it works:
Starting from downhill I just measure the height difference between the two wheels (scale on the vertical bar). Then I roll the downhill wheel to the spot of the uphill and repeat the measurement. After getting all the height differences I end up with a curve. I then repeat the measuring procedure parallel to the first measure a couple of meters to the side.
The horizontal bar is movable up and down on the vertical bar.

See this as inspiration… I bet someone could make an even better machine.
<p>take a skateboard, add in a 3d accelerometer and arduino and you might be able to create something that generated a 3d map for you, the skateboard has wheels, but their short so shouldn't be too big of an offset and a shorter wheelbase so the measurements should be more accurate</p>
Nice. Theoretically it'd be a little more accurate without the wheels - small ground plates/spikes instead would ensure that you're not measuring offset from the correct positions.. 'Course, then you'd have to carry it. Maybe an angled bar at the back with a single wheel so you can tip it back onto the wheel and then push.
Yes, you're theory is probably right.. I thought about that too after building it but as you point out: the wheels made the moving around a bit more easy. :)

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