Turn your Ladybug into a 2 m Time-of-Flight Ranging Sensor!Designed by Tlera Corp in United States of America
What is it? This is a small (15 x 8 mm) breakout board for ST Microelectronics' latest VL53L0X proximity sensor. The sensor is the successor to the VL6180X ambient light and proximity sensor. The V...Read More…
This is a small (15 x 8 mm) breakout board for ST Microelectronics' latest VL53L0X proximity sensor. The sensor is the successor to the VL6180X ambient light and proximity sensor. The VL53L0X offers ranging only, but extends the range of accurate distance detection out to 2 meters. And because the patented ranging technology uses time-of-flight from a 940 nm laser, the range estimation is independent of surface reflectivity. This means higher accuracy in any weather or environmental conditions compared to ranging technologies that depend on changing reflectance to estimate range.
From the data sheet: "The VL53L0X is a new generation Time-of-Flight (ToF) laser-ranging module housed in the smallest package on the market today, providing accurate distance measurement whatever the target reflectances unlike conventional technologies. It can measure absolute distances up to 2m, setting a new benchmark in ranging performance levels, opening the door to various new applications.
The VL53L0X integrates a leading-edge SPAD array (Single Photon Avalanche Diodes) and embeds ST’s second generation FlightSenseTM patented technology. The VL53L0X’s 940nm VCSEL emitter (Vertical Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser), is totally invisible to the human eye, coupled with internal physical infrared filters, it enables longer ranging distance, higher immunity to ambient light and better robustness to cover-glass optical cross-talk."
Here the VL53L0X is broken out onto a super small board designed to be mounted directly onto the Ladybug STM32L432 Development Board. If you just want to use the VL53L0X on a breadboard with Ladybug, Butterfly or some other MCU, then order the larger version of the VL53L0X breakout designed for breadboard use.
Unlike the VL6180X, the VL53L0X input voltage ranges from 2.6 to 3.5 v, so standard 3.3 V sources can be used to power the sensor without the on-board 2.8 V LDO voltage regulator that is required for the VL6180X sensor. Hence, the price of the VL53L0X breakout board is a little less than that of the VL6180X. Of course, there is no ambient light sensor embedded in the VL53L0X either.
Lastly, the VL53L0X comes with a protective Kapton film that should be gently removed with non-metallic tweezers before being put into your application.
I like sensors, new and small and I can't resist trying out the latest and greatest.
But there is a practical reason as well. For flying or rolling robots there is a real need for small, accurate proximity sensing for collision avoidance, near-field object range detection, gesture recognition, and altitude hold. At 2 meters, the VL53L0X opens a wide range (pun intended) of applications in a super small, low-power package that can easily be incorporated into very small robots.
Mounting the VL53L0X onto the Ladybug makes a small compact, low-power, high-speed device for time-of-flight ranging for many portable and wearable projects.
This breakout board is small and simple to use. It breaks out SDA/SCL, 3V3 and GND, an active LOW shutdown pin (pulled HIGH) and an interrupt for the host. It has everything you need to incorporate this sensor in your Ladybug-based project for testing and application code development, and for deployment in the field.
Pololu has a nice Arduino version of the ST API here. Typical sample data rate using the interrupt for data ready is 30 Hz and the data seem accurate to 1 or 2 mm out to 2 meters. Pretty nice sensor!
You can order the pcb directly from OSH Park if you want to save a little money and assemble your own. Or order the fully assembled and tested board from me and see what 2 meter ranging can do for your next robot project!
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