View Full Version : DIY 3D Scanning

09-18-2004, 01:00 AM
Hi all, I've been investigating different methods for scanning 3D objects into the computer, and I've found most options to be extremely expensive.

I decided to take a bit of initiative, and I've built my own home-made 3D scanner. It comprises of a digital camera, and a few tools which I picked up from the local hardware for under $100. These things, in conjunction with some software I wrote make doing a scan incredibly fast and easy.

I've attached some images so you can see the results of my first scan. This took about 2 minutes scan (photograph) and the software took about 3 minutes to process the data into this model.

I'm investigating this to see whether there is any commercial viability in releasing this software along with instructions on how to build the scanner.

If anyone out there is interested in the details of this process, and perhaps building their own scanner and beta testing my software, I would like to hear from you. At the moment the software is only available on the Mac, but I will be building PC too. It exports the objects as obj files, so can be read into most 3D apps.

I'm extremely excited and pleased with the results, and hopefully someone out there is interested too!


09-18-2004, 02:57 AM
Hello, man this is awsome work here.... I am very interested in that project !

Is there a possibility to know more....? excellent start.... ! ;)

I was interested (with my partner in LA) to buy the system Eeyetronics is using...... unfortunatly... NOt for sale... and no wonder why... basically you seam on the good tracks.. they also use a digit cam... and proprietary apps...


09-18-2004, 03:10 AM
sorry I forgot the link...



09-19-2004, 01:03 AM
Hervé, thanks for your interest. I'm happy to share more. My system is far simpler than the Eyetronics system. I have made a page on my website explaining the whole process if you would like to check it out.


It's still early days from a development point of view, but looking very promising.

I look forward to hearing everyone's input and opinions.


09-20-2004, 12:39 PM
that's very cool that you wrote that yourself. Not sure if I would ever have a use for it myself, but it's still very cool

09-20-2004, 01:33 PM
Dude, you are awesome. It's great to have talent like this in the Mac community... first the RenderfarmCommander, now this. The company I work for has been looking for a simple way to scan packages and products into LW. Most options are expensive or don't interface well with LW.

Could you show a wireframe of the object you scanned? What limitations are there as far as shape and size of object, etc?

Great work! I'll be watching this one for sure.

09-21-2004, 06:38 AM
Hey that's impressive.

To automate the process you could rig the turntable up with a DC motor, then somehow connect it and the camera to a laptop and create some software to control them both. So it could fire off the shots and rotate the turntable without touching either.

I saw a guy do something similar to this on insidetheblackbox.com with his own portable kit for taking hdr photos. He had a tiny laptop connected to a digital camera and his own software which would take multiple shots at different exposures, the idea being less chance of camera shake and streamlining the process.

Great work

09-21-2004, 08:36 AM
Wow, thanks for all the feedback!

Marble_sheep, I have attached an image of part of the object as a wireframe shade. I scanned this object at quite a high resolution, so to show the wireframe of the whole object would show as a huge blob, this is why I've only shown the face.

In terms of size limitations, the maximum object size depends on the scanner set up. With the set up I have right now, I would think you could scan an object from about 5cm (2 inches) in diameter up to about a metre (3 feet) in diameter. The limitations would be based on whether you can get the object onto the rotating platform, and whether the laser beam is still visible on the surface.

Riki, that's something I'm looking into right now. It would be virtually impossible to control most digital cameras from the computer, but I'm looking at possible options with controlling the turntable. I am also going to look into using a DV video camera, and capturing frames straight onto the computer. I do not know yet whether this would provide an adequate image resolution.

I'm sorry I haven't posted more 3D scans, but I've been too busy improving the software, so I just keep scanning the same model to use as comparison.

For the people who have expressed interest in the beta software, I am just making one final revision which I am hoping will improve the distribution of the vertex points. Once this is done, I'll send you a copy. It's working title is "Scan Z", but this will probably change.

I have also attached a couple of images of the interface, just in case anyone is curious.


09-22-2004, 11:28 AM
At the moment the software is only available on the Mac, but I will be building PC too.

That's the part that made me smile. You have to make it like 8 weeks later.

Anyway, your idea is very clever. I guess you can't scan red objects?

09-22-2004, 05:03 PM
The PC version will be right behind the Mac. I hope the PC LightWave community is as friendly as the Mac!

I guess you can't scan red objects?

If you photograph in the dark, or very low light, you can scan just about any colour. So far the only colour that has proved more difficult to scan than others is black.


09-23-2004, 06:58 AM

I like the hand-rotation idea, it sure beats writing reliable drivers for my lego contraption...};^)

Congratulations on getting actual scans out of your gizmo...haven't quite gotten that far yet.


09-24-2004, 08:06 AM
ChromeCow, I knew I couldn't have been the first to come up with this idea!

Whether you've scanned a model or not, you sure sound like you've had some fun!


09-26-2004, 04:32 AM
Hi, I have updated my website to show more information about 'Scan Z', along with a detailed set of instructions. I have the beta version ready, so if you would like to give it a try, send me an email with your name and why you want to try the software, and I'll send it to you.