BQ 3D Ciclop Rotational Laser Scanner Review
Is the BQ 3D Scanner worth buying? This review explores its features, design and more.
This BQ Ciclop 3D scanner review will give you the facts and figures about this popular product. The general feedback has been good, but there are no in-depth reviews about the product so far. If you’re interested in buying this 3D scanner but being held back due to lack of information, this review explains what you need to know.
See a Demo of the Scanner on our Video Page.
This is a desktop 3D scanner, and is not just affordable but versatile as well. Unlike other 3D scanners, both the software and electronics design for the Ciclop are under the GPL and CC-BY-SA licenses.
This scanner utilizes the latest in laser triangulation technology to do a 3D scanning of the object that is set on its table, which rotates automatically. A closer look at the scanner shows the frame is constructed out of 3D printed PLA plants.
This scanner is available in an even more affordable version with just the electronic components. As 3D scanner reviews have pointed out, this is the first open source scanner for 3D printing available. The scanner also uses Horus software which you can download online.
The scanner uses a ZUM BT-328 board based off the Arduino, and it comes with several features and modifications that make it superior to the other boards available today. In addition, it is the ZUM BT-328 that runs the laser and motor control firmware. A close inspection of the design also shows the ZUM SCAN is hooked up to the top of the scanner.
Power supply is provided with an adaptor for use in the US. The adaptor is a bit large but otherwise it is standard. The electronics chamber is well-designed and the pins that mount the circuit board are durable.
The product is delivered a kit and requires assembly. Instructions are provided so it should not take long. In the past these products had difficulty taking off because of setup difficulties, but now that’s no longer going to be an issue since the Ciclop was built with ease of use in mind. Apart from including all the components, the instructions are laid out step by step for easy reference. The threaded rods, washers and bolts are well-made, with the rods on the heavy side.
The calibration target on the BQ is right on the mark and should not cause any trouble during assembly. The openings are in place and the base friction keeps the unit in position while you’re using it.
Usability and Design
If this is your first time to use a 3D scanner, please take the time to learn how the software and hardware works. Most of the complaints are the result of not studying how the software functions. If the materials or scans don’t come out right, you need to make adjustments to the calibration, light intensity and sources.
The overall design is good and the components are well made. Probably the only thing you can really complain about here is the need to download the software, but if you’ve got a steady Internet connection it shouldn’t be a problem. As long as you know how to use a program like Meshlab you’ll be able to interpret the point cloud.
While it is open source, the power is on par with more expensive scanners thanks to its use of the aforementioned 3D rotational laser triangulation tech. Essentially what this product does is activate two lasers on an object to obtain its texture and geometry. As the table turns, the unit is able to scan the object thoroughly.
One of the reasons this scanner is so promising is its open source nature: there is now a whole community working together to improve its performance and improve the technology.
The Horus software runs smoothly, and since it is open source, there is strong support. With its interface you can calibrate the Ciclop, look at the point clouds that it generates and tweak camera exposure.
The hardware and software interact via multiple workbenches. The first is for controlling the parts like the LDR, motor, lasers and camera. The second is for calibrating the scanner and the third is for scanning. What makes this one of the best 3D scanner for the money is that it’s a DIY unit but doesn’t have the shortcomings that other manual 3D scanners have.
The problem with most DIY scanners is once the manual setup is complete, the positions of the elements of the output differ, and this is what makes calibration difficult. With the Ciclop all of these are calculated by the system. When you set this unit up, the internal scanner settings are calculated using the structure set you defined. What all this means is the calibration process is correct whenever you scan.
• Scan speed: 2-8 minutes
• Resolution: 0.5 mm
• Scan area: 205 x 205 mm
• Turntable maximum weight: 3 Kg
• Steps per rotation: 1600, 160
Q: Where is the software?
A: The BQ uses Horus software which you can download online.
Q: What can the software do?
A: The Horus software was designed as a 3D laser scanning solution. The software has a GUI so you can scan, calibrate, control, configure, and connect the BQ scanner. The Horus program was developed specifically for use with 3D laser scanning, so it’s all right to modify, experiment and use it with BQ.
Q: Is the software free to download?
A: Yes it is free to download and use.
Q: What is the biggest object you can scan on the BQ?
A: 7.8 x 7.8 inches (D x H).
Q: Can I edit the scanned object?
A: The software scan produces a point cloud, and you can use another program to generate a mesh for editing in 3D modeling programs.
As this BQ Ciclop 3D scanner review shows, the Ciclop is an outstanding product. It works as advertised, and while it’s not perfect, gets the job done. It’s difficult enough to find a reliable 3D scanner today that’s affordable, but this one is and easy to use at that. For those reasons we give it our highest recommendation.