Rubicon Gives The Makerbot Digitizer A Run For Its Money


Look out MakerBot, there’s a new 3D scanner on the block and it’s about 10% of the cost of the Digitizer. Enter the Rubicon 3D Scanner which just hit Indiegogo, a device much closer to being worth its price $199.

Just like the pricey Makerbot Digitizer it’s a very simple design made up of a webcam, two laser lines, and a stepper motor controlled turn table. Still very easy to make yourself, but at $199, it’s not a bad price for an all-in-one kit, especially compared to the Digitizer. The newcomer claims a much faster scan time (3 minutes versus 12), and the same stepper rotation (800 steps or 0.45 degrees per step). There are no details about making the design open source, but after some digging in the RepRap forums we found some discussion on that topic from designer [Robert].

It scans objects up to 160mm in diameter and 250mm tall, however it has the ability to scan marginally larger objects if the camera is moved farther back. The funding for the Indiegogo campaign will go towards a custom arduino-esq PCB with a motor driver built in – personally we would be interested in just getting the PCB and 3D printing the rest of the scanner ourselves!

More information is found in the video after the break.

As interesting as it is, this technology is nothing new! Here’s a post back from 2006 reporting on the first sighting of the David Laser Scanner software – one of the other options for making your own homebrew 3D scanner.

What do you think? Is $199 a reasonable price point?

35 thoughts on “Rubicon Gives The Makerbot Digitizer A Run For Its Money

  1. what are you talking about making the design open source?
    its two lasers a camera and a turntable – you said it yourself, very easy to make.
    Its amazing the variety on here, there have been more than a few low level bus sniffing ‘work it out for yourself’ reverse engineering projects, countered by these weirdly simple things that you want to be spoonfed.

    I’m not ragging on scanner or the builder, if it does it job then thats super.

  2. James Hobson, you have some of the worst grammar ever. That article was much harder to read than it should have been. Some of your sentences aren’t even complete.

    Webcam, two laser lines, and a stepper motor controlled turn table.

    Seriously HAD? Seriously?

        1. I think the key to a post like that is to follow up and actually crack down. Maybe there’s a lot of banning and behind-the-scenes work that I haven’t seen, but it always seemed like the big focus on enforcing rules and building a community just never happened. That is my one gripe about HaD and I will bring it up whenever I have the chance.

          That comment Jeri Ellsworth made about us… that she can always tell when HaD links to her because she sees an upsurge of a certain kind of comment… That’s embarrassing, but I can’t say it’s not surprising, and I really wish I could.

          1. @Caleb

            I am of an age where criticism without insight feels passe, just not worth the effort. I also post here often under random names for no other reason that it amuses me.

            In the event of a required registration I would likely stop posting all together. I come here for entertainment, even minor arbitrary hurdles put me off. To wit: I have been posting as an AC on slashdot for over a decade. Sure I am ignored most of the time, but it makes me try harder to post something worth reading.

            As a final note, in psychology research it has been known for some time that people tend to behave the way they are treated. Stanford prison experiment and all that. So when there is a mod stating ‘Maybe its time for anther one of those post telling the trolls “If you don’t like it then shut the hell up”.’ it encourages the behavior you are attempting to avoid and reinforces an environment of hostility.

          2. The comments reflect the demographics of HaD’s target market. Make HaD
            gears towards group A, its readers would be more group A-ish and expect
            the comments to be from that direction.

            Similarly the tone of the writers set the tone the readers’ comments. If
            the writers are trolling, you would expect low quality comments.

            Take a look at some of the recently posted “popular” topics and you
            would notice the correlation. It is a case of garbage in garbage out.

        2. Before you can reliably fix a problem, you have to understand it: just because they complain about stuff doesn’t mean they’re trolls. For some people, bad presentation genuinely distracts them from the content so badly that it hinders enjoyment. This make make them terrible people or intolerable pedants, but if you openly assume bad faith–which is exactly what calling them trolls does–they will drop all pretense of having a dialog and just attack you. This is the fastest way to turn negativity into outright hostility.

          A problem a lot of web communities have is that they manage/moderate in a way that, when working properly, leaves no trace. Analogy: some medicines are perceived as more effective when they have negative side effects because the side effects let people know the drug is doing something, rather than them just feeling better with no reference point for how bad they’d feel without the meds. By the same token, if you ban someone for being an asshat people feel like the comments are better moderated if you leave the offensive post, but add a big “USER HAS BEEN BANNED” message. People still get offended, but they can SEE that obnoxious shit is being dealt with.

          A side bonus of this approach is that it makes clear the line in the sand that will get you punished, and people have a much easier time following rules when the standards are clear.

  3. i just use my cheapo camera, take a ton of pics and run it through a structure from motion program. visualsfm and insight3d are good ones, no hardware except the camera. granted it take a powerful computer and it’s not quite as acurate, but good enough for my purposes.

    1. Have you seen some of the handheld 3d capture systems? They use two perpendicular lasers and 1 if not 2 cameras to capture everything. I believe the software is much like that of Reconstruct me and this software combined. Not sure about patent status though

  4. Nice simple hardware, the complexity is all in the software.

    Me personally I’ll give this revision of the tech a miss and wait for Jeri Ellsworth CastAR technology. Which because it can track the human head in the sub milimeter range, could be used as a handheld 3D scanning technology. With the amount of CPU these days, near realtime feedback could be given of which parts need a bit more scanning. Then you could scan larger things like a car *ponder*.

    1. I’m more excited about CastAR than anything on the horizon in tech. Ellsworth isn’t the type to give up, and has been burning it at both ends on this for a couple of years now. I think people are going to be stunned when they realise the Ironman interface tech just became a reality out of nowhere!

    1. I imagine precise gearing would drive up the costs.

      Of course, there is already gearing involved, but it’s enclosed inside the motor – perhaps motors with even greater transmission ratio are not available as affordably..

  5. I agree that the Makerbot entry is very pricey, but don’t forget that their “secret sauce” is really the software. Like you said, 2 line lasers, some cameras, and a stepper motor do not constitute anything groundbreaking, especially in the hobbyist/home-built scanner space. But (if Makerbot’s claims are true) software that will automatically and intelligently remove background noise, repair holes, close the top, and close and flatten the bottom of the object is really something special, and something that is not yet attainable at non-industry budget levels.

    If someone can take the Makerware software (available for free on their website) and make it work with a home-built scanner, *that* is a hack I would love to see!

    1. I think a lot of those features you mention can be implemented with meshlab. Perhaps they actually are. I think the steps from going a pixel cloud into a 3d model would be right at its alley.

    1. The laser is the main difference – it is basically creating 800 laser edged cross section views which captures more detail, and if I’m not mistaken it also can tell the proper scale, where as 123D catch there is no scale reference.

    1. I just put down $199 to support the guy, and suggested he go open source as a comment.

      Most of the haters here probably never paid for anything, donate anything to FOSS (cash, bug reports, fixes, and expansions), and rip-off products… remember the bogus HaD Bus Pirate units that came out of China…
      I’ll scan a tiny violin for these lamers… who likely don’t even own a 3d printer… LOL…

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