QB Ciclop 3D Scanner Kit Review: The First Open Source Scanner

We look into the exciting world of scanning and the first ever made DIY 3D scanner kit. The Ciclop 3D scanner is completely open sourced, which means the hardware and software are available for everyone to modify and improve. The creators inspiration in making this scanner was to inspire and teach everyone about 3D scanning. Being a DIY kit makes it one of the cheapest scanner in the market today.

This is an amazing ready to go 3D scanner for those who like to tinker and play around with their projects. The Ciclop is a full kit that comes with everything you need to start scanning right after you have built it. It takes less than an hour to put together and it’s easy to do so. Although they recommend this for advanced users, if you are willing to learn the software and keep tinkering with the scanner for best results then this is the perfect scanner for you. If you are looking for a very simple platform where you can just scan and print with no tinkering this isn’t the scanner for you.

 

Max Scan SizeScan TimeScanning precisionView product
Diameter: 20 cm
Height: 20 cm
6-7 minutes 0.5 mmBuy on Amazon

 

 

How does the Ciclop triangulation scanner work?

The ciclop is a triangulation type 3D scanner. It has a camera in the middle and two laser one to the left and right of the camera. Both lasers and the camera then focus on one point making an imaginary triangle. By knowing the angles of the triangle, the distance between lasers and the camera. The software can calculate the distance between the camera and red dot giving it field of depth.

It can then form the shape of the object on the software by comparing different distances in different points of the objects as its rotated by the base of the scanner. To make it quicker instead of just focusing on a single point it uses a vertical line, scanning many points vertically at the same time.

 

What is the whole process of scanning?

1.Building the scanner:Unbox and build the scanner. This generally takes less than an hour. The scanner comes with clear and easy to read instructions. Here is the site with all the instructions.

2.Download Horus: Horus is their free software. With Horus you calibrate your scanner and get your scans in a point cloud format. Here is the link to see the Horus manual.

3.Calibrate: This step is very important for accurate scans. You would first put the pattern board(a paper chess board) on the rotating platform and make sure there are no errors. Then you would select your scanning preferences. In the Horus manual you see this process explained step by step.

4.Configure settings: Configuring the settings such as brightness and contrast is important for best results. There are many settings you can play with before your scan.  Optimum settings will differ from scan to scan. Here is their guide for optimum scanning.

5.Scan: You now place the object in the rotating platform and wait until it’s fully scanned. The scanning process generally takes around 6-7 minutes.

6.Convert to a STL file: After you have scanned your object you will have a point cloud file (.ply). You then open your point cloud file with a free program like meshlab and convert it to a STL file. The reason you want the file in a STL format is so that your 3d printer can read the file for printing.

7.Print: Now that your scan is in STL format you are ready to print!

Below is a video of the whole process dubbed in english. Click here if you want the original Spanish version.

 

Can I make the Ciclop scanner and save money?

You may be surprised to hear that yes you can for a fraction of the cost. The original scanner parts were made with a 3D printer. At QB the makers decided to put all the printing files of the scanner on Thingiverse for free, encouraging people to print the scanner themselves and improve upon it. This is part of the company’s philosophy of trying to educate and get everyone involved as a community in the improvement of 3d printing technology.

You need a 3D printer so you can print out the pieces. They have also released blueprints of the electrical components such as the motherboard, so you can make it your self. All software and hardware has been made available by them for free for anyone to use and modify. You can find all the links for the electrical components, software and firmware in the summary part of the Ciclop thingiverse page.

 

What are some factors that affect scan quality?

There are a couple of factors to take into account before scanning that affect quality. First is the ambient light where you are printing at. It is recommended to have an indirect source of light with medium intensity. Also to make sure there are no shadows on the scanning platform. Another factor can be the surface shininess of the object. If the object is shiny or reflective , it will be difficult for the camera to properly scan because the laser will be reflecting off the object.

The third and final important factor is the color of the object. Red color objects can cause a problem because the laser is also red which would interfere with the scan. Very light objects in a very bright environment can also be an issue, in this instance you can lower the brightness in the settings. Lastly, dark colors reflect the red laser poorly causing lower quality, in this case you can adjust the contrast to improve the quality of the scan.

 

What software does the scanner use?

The Ciclop scanner uses Horus which is made by the same makers. Anyone can download it for free and even modify it if they want. You use Horus to mainly calibrate the scanner and then scan your object. Note: you cannot modify your scan on Horus as it is in point cloud (.ply) format.

It is then recommended that you download the free software meshlab. You can then make a STL format file from your original ply file. STL is the format that 3d printers and other softwares can read. If you want to modify your scan you can use blender.

 

Warranty

QB’s warranty covers anything that comes already broken or is missing. They do warn that if you break it in the process of building it the warranty won’t cover it. Be careful when you are putting it together as there is some delicate electronics.

 

Verdict

This is a very nice scanner and one of the cheapest in the market being a DIY kit. Since it is an open source scanner, the hardware and software are always being improved both by the company and hobbyists. I would recommend it for people who like to tinker and mess around with this the scanner, it does have a learning curve.

If you are tech savvy this is perfect for you, having fun playing around with it and seeing if you can improve it. A community of hobbyists have formed around the scanner to try and improve to make a better scanner, this was always the vision of the makers.

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