3-D Laser Scanner




Create your own super hi-tech 3-D laser scanner. Using just a laser pointer, wine glass, rotating platform, and a digital video camera, you can make accurate 3-D models of an object or person.

Now on Know How! Click on the steps above for more details.

Do you like this Instructable? Then check out episodes one, two, four, five, six, and

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Step 1: Position Camera, Laser, and Cylindrical Lens

Align the laser so that its beam passes through the cylindrical lens, creating a vertical line rather than a point, and projects onto your target. Initially, the lens was the stem of a wine glass, but in this picture I use a cylindrical piece of acrylic. Position the video camera at a small angle (~15 degrees) from the laser.

Step 2: Position Target on Rotating Platform

Create a platform which rotates at a constant angular velocity. Record players, for example, are perfect for small objects. Position your target at the center of rotation. And make sure your target closes her eyes!

Step 3: Lights, Camera, Action!

Turn off the lights. To make the image processing easier, it's very helpful to get the room as dark as possible so that only the reflected laser light is visible. Rotate your target at a constant angular velocity. Record the video. Notice how protruding features displace the laser line.

Step 4: Process the Video

Convert the video to an avi. Use an edge detection algorithm to find the location of the laser line. Reconstruct your 3-D model. I've included an early, uncommented MATLAB script, which was used to generate this image.

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187 Discussions


3 years ago

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4 years ago on Introduction

hello how do use the program ?, I refer to the arguments of the program. It is that I get errors . Could give an example. Thank you.


4 years ago on Introduction

We are a bunch of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community.

Your website offered us with helpful info to work on. You’ve done an impressive job
and our entire community will probably be grateful to you.


thans for shear

God bless you


5 years ago on Introduction

Is the distance between Laser and Camera important? Which one is used here? Because I tried it and the resulting 3-D scan is wrong and I am looking for the reason.

I scanned a ball and it is looking like this. And I don't know what I did wrong.

das Ist ein Ball.bmpball2.bmp
1 reply

9 years ago on Introduction

Hi everyone, this is really cool, I have used David-laserscan and it pretty sweet.
Does anyone know how to scan big Objects, does it need Calibration patterns?
Does anyone know how to scan by moving camera and laser, for example scanning big objects.


write back!

1 reply

This is truly the post that inspired me to play around with laser scanning. I've been working implementing a DAVID laser scanner setup and I'm going to motorize the stage and laser with Arduino.

Is there a sample AVI file you could upload to run through with the MATLAB code to get a better feel for how the code works with the proper setup? I'm looking to gain a better command of MATLAB but in the mean time, it would be helpful to have the ability to poke around with the code without having to setup the laser/video cam.

Thanks for your contributions and sharing your great work.

1 reply

6 years ago on Introduction

Sorry if this was asked before, but what diameter rod are you using for the linear laser trick?

le Cauchemar

9 years ago on Introduction

Nice idea, just had to make my own :) The focus for me was on writing the software by myself, which took some hours ^^ Here you can see my first try with a paper ship :D

2 replies
Jeong-Taele Cauchemar

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

It`s awesome! Now I`m doing to make own 3d scanner using laser. But It`s very hard to me. Can you give me Matlab source? I want to learn How to programming for my 3d scanner system. please.

Thank you

Hey hi, you paper boat model is really cool. Can you please give me your MATLAB code. I want to try this real nice 3D modeling experiment but do not have enough knowledge to write a code in MATLAB.

Please help :)

Thanking you in advance,