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Laser-Based Range Finding and Distance Measurement Systems

Laser range finding and distance measurement systems allow construction professionals to rapidly and accurately assess distances quickly in the field. More lightweight than TS systems, they may include an inclinometer or digital compass as additional features.

Rangefinders use five main ways to interpret measurements:

Beam Divergence

Laser range finders can reach very high accuracy levels; to do this they must have minimal beam divergence, making the M2 value essential in keeping accuracy levels at maximum.

M2 value of a laser refers to the radius (in meters) of its spot at one meter from lens center. To calculate it, divide radius by wavelength – for a 0.5m blue laser this would be 1/1.55M/3m or 3.0 M. A larger M2 value can not only impede range and accuracy but may also damage optics and sensitive components of laser systems.

Gentec-EO offers a fully automated M2 measurement system called Beamage-M2 which uses a moving stage and set of lenses to directly measure M2. Gentec-EO also offers Beamage-M2, which offers several measurements along the z-axis to measure beam diameter values for M2.

Optical flowmetry offers an accurate and consistent alternative to taking multiple measurements across an area, however it must be understood that its limitations – particularly its linear movement of moving-lens group can cause subtle shifts in measured M2 values – must also be acknowledged and calibrated properly before use.

Your laser’s M2 value can also depend on its environment and lens quality. For instance, lasers operating in free space will have lower M2 values compared to lasers in glass due to shorter wavelengths in air; additionally, beam expansion and widening is more pronounced due to larger diameter in glass than air; hence its importance when controlling and adjusting M2 values according to operating environment.

Rangefinder Software

Laser-based range finding and distance measurement systems have become an increasingly popular choice for drone operators working in agriculture and forestry, particularly by those operating UAVs. While these devices provide numerous benefits, they are susceptible to certain issues that may degrade performance due to how these systems function – it’s essential that users fully comprehend how these devices function to get maximum benefit out of them.

One of the key aspects of how well a laser-based range finder performs is how it interprets readings it receives. Some models are much smarter than others when assessing accuracy of any given reading; using basic approaches like first reading returned, such as first reading back as distance indicator; while more intelligent models use multi-pulse technology allowing them to emit hundreds or even thousands of small laser pulses at once and analyze their data afterwards by comparing to known patterns like fog, rain, or brush to provide the most accurate reading possible.

Smart processing can be an enormous asset to rangefinder performance, helping to compensate for any flaws in its hardware. But other considerations must also be kept in mind; beam divergence measures how tightly focused the laser beam is on its target, with lower divergence representing better ranging performance overall.

Laser rangefinders measure maximum distances that they are capable of measuring; though this should generally not be a source of great concern. You’ll want to ensure that they can measure what distances are necessary for your project – usually displayed on their display device – but keep in mind that the actual measured distance might differ slightly due to delays between laser travel time from target location to device and back again.


Lasers are devices that focus a great deal of energy into a very narrow beam, often used in precision cutting tools and surgical instruments, DVD players, bar code scanners and printers. Lasers can be powered in various ways; chemical lasers using hydrogen/deuterium gas and chemicals as fuel source or pulsed semiconductor lasers which use electric pulses to create light are common options for range finding/distance measurement applications.

Rangefinders use laser devices to emit pulses of infrared light at your target. Once it strikes its mark, that light bounces instantly back towards the device; by measuring how long it takes for that light to return, rangefinders can pinpoint how far away their targets are.

As laser light from this device has a very specific wavelength that distinguishes it from ambient lighting, it won’t become confused by other lights in its vicinity – helping ensure precise results. Furthermore, any light reflected off your target will also differ in frequency from what was emitted originally and can therefore be isolated using an electronic filter.

Your environment and target can have an effect on the accuracy of your rangefinder, such as humidity, dust, sand or snow interfering with how quickly laser beam reflects from surface of target and air pressure/temperature will reduce light speed in atmosphere.

Radio Detection And Ranging (RADAR) provides another means of measuring target distance. Instead of sending out a focused beam of light, RADAR uses radio signal pulses that spread out. By measuring how long it takes for these waves to bounce off of targets and return back to receivers, you can calculate distance. RADAR works poorly underwater due to soundwave travel limitations, yet can provide excellent measurements of large aircraft or ships out in open spaces.


Laser rangefinders measure distance by sending out pulses of light at targets and measuring how long it takes for any scattered or reflected light to return to a photodetector inside their rangefinder. Once this time has elapsed, multiplied with light speed it can calculate distance. As with all measurement techniques, accuracy may vary based on several factors including noise (detection and laser speckle effects) as well as target characteristics like low or high reflection or scattering.

Accuracy measures how close a measurement comes to its true value; in contrast with precision which enumerates how well successive measurements agree among themselves.

Calibration can help enhance both accuracy and precision by producing results that are consistently accurate and precise. In practice, however, it’s often important to distinguish random from systematic errors: Random errors refer to unanticipated influences such as equipment performance or environmental conditions that skew measurements; while systematic errors refer to differences between measured values and actual ones due to influence from specific components or processes in the measurement chain.

In most instances, differences between measured values and their true values result from both random and systematic errors. Random errors can often be reduced through repeated measurements with a known calibration reference to detect and exclude them from final values; systematic errors can often be adjusted through least squares to bring measured values closer to their true counterparts.

Laser distance measurement accuracy can be determined by a system’s performance with regards to an algorithm for measuring echo signal shapes and selecting its optimal set of samples. Tests conducted on these algorithms demonstrated that it was possible to achieve one centimeter accuracy at distances up to 43.5 meters when considering both signal-to-noise ratio and duration measurements were adequate.
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