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Long Range Lidar Using Arduino Answered

Wondering what the best solution for a long-range lidar setup would be using Arduino. I see that there was a similar question about 10 years ago, but seeing as the sensors/meters available have greatly improved since then, i was hoping to get some insight from people with a good deal more understanding of the issue.

(NOTE: Apologies for how long this is, but figure i would try to save anyone who is kind enough to answer this, the time of having to ask what the specs are...)


  • Can assume clear day, so i would assume something using higher frequency light would be more ideal, but again open to whatever suggestions make sense.
  • Range is more like that of a boat radar, so upwards of 1km would be great, but anything above 100m would probably work. And would need it to have enough detail to say separate out leaves from tree trunk for anything under say 40m, and past that it can get less accurate if that helps make it easier to setup.
  • 180-360 degrees measurement. If i have to build my own servo to rotate a range finder that has the distance/accuracy that isn't likely a problem.
  • Ideal would mountable on a moving car, similar in many ways to existing lidar for vehicles. (I am not sure if those are sold on the market, and could be used and hooked up to a pc, etc to record the data already? If so that might be the answer i want, depending on price.)
  • Student budget, so cheaper is preferred. Willing to do some programming, etc to get it work with lower cost.
  • I need to send the output back to a pc/tablet/phone to record the data which will be used for a vfx project I am working on. And i will likely need a reading every second or less, ideally, 24 or 30 frames per second would be awesome. I can do the coding if all i am getting is a bunch of distances/angles/etc to store it, just as long as the sensor can scan fast enough for instance if i have to attach it to a servo, can i spin it fast enough to get that kind of data coming down the pipe to the Arduino or pc, etc.

That's pretty much the requirements. Curious what the large brains out there will say as they smack me down for being naive, which i have no doubt this project is....

My general feeling is that going with camera distance seems both not accurate enough at that distance without using a super expensive set of cameras, and also would require a good deal of software to get working, say if you are comparing to camera feeds, in realtime etc. I don't imagine I could get whatever Elon has in his Tesla's for instance, wonder how good their distance calculations are.

So it seems to me this is likely a case for some electromagnetic emitter/sensor and possible using amplitude modulation, but I am not even sure there are sensors out there that can detect such accuracy. I am curious if radar is not able to get the detail I was hoping for, and that is why lidar systems are used for grabbing details for movie sets etc, though doesn't radar go down to 1mm length waves?

Not sure what freq say a boat radar uses? I guess, also, I want to avoid sending any waves out that I am not suppose to, not even sure what the requirements/restrictions are around that? I imagine lidar is fine because it is just light, so that is all ok, but radar might be I guess an issue anyway if you are sending it out past 100m for instance? I know boats do it, but not sure what freq, and whether it is ok to drive around with it on a car for instance? I don't want to break any laws that way either, so yea, guess i will have to look that up.

I might be way over my head, but figure worst I can do it be told that. I am new to this subject, but I do have a degree in math so coding/math doesn't scare me, but the rest, Arduino, etc I have only really had a bit of experience helping code ardruino's for my friends projects, but never setup one from scratch.

Thanks for any help!


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1 year ago

Had a long and detailed reply that fell victim to the login bug on this website :(
So I make it short this time.

Check sensors like the Primesene.
Not for your dream distance but they can get you the insight you need to develop your own code.
And don't bother with Arduino as you need more CPU's and computing power.
A laser scans line by line and creates a point cloud through the computer based on the detected reflections.
To get anywhere near 24fps you would need high resolution radar in sync with the cameras to create a 3D model in realtime or later from the collected data.
Again impossible on a tiny computing platform.
The Google cars are packed to the roof with computers....