Automatic 3D Scanning On The Cheap

After hearing about a few 3D object scanners, [Will] thought one of these tools could find a place in his workshop. The price of these scanners made him reconsider simply buying one, so he just made one out of parts that were sitting around. This was the first version of his 3D scanner. It worked, but there were a few shortcomings. [Will] had to rotate the object manually. That’s a cheap way of doing it, but the method is tedious.

Now [Will] is back for round two. He’s made some improvements, and this time a few bits of electronics automate the process, allowing [Will] to hit a button, walk away, and come back to a scanned object.

Even though [Will] has improved his setup immensely, the theory of how to scan an object remains the same. He’s projecting a straight vertical line on an object, taking a few snapshots with a webcam, and reconstructing the object with computer vision algorithms and Meshlab. The new additions include a BeagleBone Black, a stepper motor and an EasyDriver from Sparkfun, and a turntable.

[Will] wrote two scripts for this project. The first does the mechanical heavy lifting – turning the stepper motor and taking a picture, while the second converts the output from the webcam to a point cloud. From there, the point cloud is sent over to Meshlab, and an object appears on [Will]’s hard drive.

There’s about $80 in hardware invested in this setup, and considering the inspiration for this project was the $800 Makerbot Digitizer, we’re going to call [Will]’s experiments in 3D scanning a success.

Make a 3D Scanner for 60€ Using Old Hardware

3d laser scanner

[Till Handel] just put the finishing touches on a paper he wrote about how to build a cheap 3D scanner — mostly out of spare parts.

Using parts from old printers and notebooks, he’s cobbled together this rather rough-looking laser scanner. But don’t be fooled by its looks! It’s capable of scanning 360° around itself at distances from 0.3 – 5m, making it an excellent candidate for scanning rooms.

It uses a line laser and a webcam mounted on an arm driven by a stepper motor, which looks like it’s out of an old optical drive. An Arduino Uno and an A4988POW stepper driver control the system. The paper (Caution: PDF) is very detailed and published under GPLv3 (a general public license).

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