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A Simple Automated Laser Profile Meter

V. Polyakov, M. Nearing
Soil Science Society of America journal 2019 v.83 no.2 pp. 327-331
automation, lidar, lighting, portable equipment, roughness, soil
Core Ideas The proposed laser profile meter is simple yet offers good accuracy and precision. Data obtained by the profile meter compared well with those obtained by lidar. Profile meter provides a practical alternative to more expensive or operationally complex systems. An automated profile meter with vertical precision of ±0.2 mm was built to measure soil surface elevations. It consists of a laser distance meter mounted on an automated linear motion system. Operation and data logging is conducted wirelessly using a Bluetooth enabled mobile device. The profile meter performed well under various lighting conditions and on a variety of natural materials, with the exception of specular surfaces. It is inexpensive (<$1500), consists of readily available components, portable, and easy to setup in the field (<10 min). When measuring soil random roughness the profile meter was compared with a ground based terrestrial Light detection and ranging (lidar). The lidar systematically overestimated random roughness by approximately 15% compared with the profile meter.