3D Scanner Build: Part 1

3D Scanning.

I decided I wanted a 3D Scanner, however I have been less than happy with the offerings out there commercially. They seem no better than a toy for the most part. They are mostly in the $500-$10K range. Anything under $1000.00 USD seems to be no more than a toy. This brought up the question of building one or adapting something existing, if its a toy, I may as well have the fun of building it myself.

The options:

  • Kinnect scanner
  • DIY Turntable laser scanner.

Kinnect scanner

I went ahead and purchased a Microsoft Kinnect for the low price of about $27USD with taxes refurbished from the local gaming shop. I needed the one with the AC adapter. Initially thinking, this unit is plainly used and not refurbished. But there were no blemishes on the lenses. The connectors were tight and the cord is not mistreated. Works for me.

The software.
  • For me to be able to scan with the kinnect I need some software. This software retails between 150USD - 300USD. However there are some evaluation options out there. Not bad. The two pieces of software I tried were ReconstructME and Skannect 3D
The hardware.
  • All of this software requires some beefy hardware. Can't run this on an atom PC. Both of the software packages mentioned need a fast cpu or some sort of fast Nvidia based graphics card that leverages cuda cores. I had neither. My PC is based on AMD components as I am generaly a cheapskate, it is quite old. Both the CPU and graphics are based on AMD, the technology in the PC is roughly 4 years old at this point. Running an old Llano A8 and a AMD 5700 series graphics.
Overall impressions.
  • I tried Skannect on both the PC and my quad core Atom tablet. Both proved poor performers, the PC has and AMD A8 Llano quad core CPU which is quite old and an AMD 5700 series graphics card with 2G of VRAM and 8G of system memory. This gave me about 10-15FPS.... The tablet on the other hand has a quad core atom CPU integrated intel graphics and 2G of ram. That gave me a whopping 3-7FPS... Overall probably due to my hardware or possibly the software it was not a pleasing experience.

  • Next up I tried ReconstructME. This time I only tried it on my PC as it became apparent my tablet did not have the power necessary. I have to say I like this software much more. It gave me some usable busts of my family members for 3D printing. After cleaning up the water marks on netfab it was quite usable. Not a bad piece of software. I may just purchase the full license at some point. I would love to scan larger objects like a car or a room.

Turntable Scanner

Being that at this point I was a bit disappointed at trying to scan anything smaller than a human head I wanted to look for a turntable scanner. These devices look interesting, however most users of these report low resolution and most of these devices tie up your computer to do this. I do not like this situation at all, not to mention that for the price these sell for the markup has to be 10x the cost of retail parts which basically is a micro controller/psu/webcam/laser modules.

  • With all of this said there were two solutions that recently cropped to market. CICLOP and Altlas 3D which had a very successful kickastarter.

My views on both of these.

  • Altlas 3D has a very interesting and wonderful concept. The scanner is standalone and runs from a raspberry pi with open source software and hardware. However the table itself is not something I like. It does not seem very well thought out. 3D printed parts are awesome, but when you have to invest in 40+ hours of print time to ge the scanner, you might as well design it to use some threaded rods like reprap machines do.

  • CICLOP on the other had has a very nice table design. It seems very well thought out but it requires a PC to scan objects. USB web cameras are not exactly very high resolution right now. However the PI has a 5Megapixel camera that works wonderfully.

The concept.

Atlass and CICLOP have made both of their scanners open source. Why not merge both projects together? I ended up buying a Raspberry PI 2 and the official camera. After futzing a bit with raspbian and some updates, installing FREELSS works on the raspberry pi 2. FreeLSS is the software that is designed for the Atlas 3D scanner. At this point I ordered some small components and will be prototyping the motor/laser controller. In the mean time I am going to 3D print the table for the CICLOP scanner as I already purchased the bearing for this device. If the table is not satisfactory, as it seems like a design that is not easy to print, I may redesign it.

The control circuitry.

I am going to be using the below diagram to control the lasers as well as the motor for the turn table. I got this from FREELSS. It is not a difficult diagram to follow. I will be using a prototyping board to mock up and test the stepper and lasers, once done I will then turn create a soldered breadboard with a stepper socket so the stepper driver is easily replaced if necessary. The whole thing will run on an external drive PSU providing 12V/5V @2A on both rails. For the moment the PSU will be an old ATX PSU until my other PSU is shipped out to me. Some slight modifications will be made to the schematic to accommodate this.

Watch my blog for further developments.
Check out my youtube channel for videos and please subscribe.
Also check out my ebay listing for a modicum extruder.

Bruno M.

Engineer, Tinkerer, Technologist, Maker.

New York

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