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Laser rangefinder: what is this device and how to use it

Any work, be it construction of a large is always one of the most important components of the arsenal of every master. instrumentand or making a box for equipment, begins with measurements and markings. There are no trifles here. The quality and durability of the final result depend on the accuracy and precision when performing these operations. Therefore, a measuring.

Instead of a tape measure – a laser

For a long time, a ruler or cord divided into appropriate segments was used to measure basic distances. A modern tape measure is a cord-like device that uses metal or plastic tape with a scale printed on it. A fairly convenient and fairly accurate measuring instrument, if the measured values ​​are not very large. 

It’s a completely different matter when the master has at his disposal a laser rangefinder – an accurate device, which is often called a laser tape measure. Measurements are made in a matter of seconds and with very high accuracy. In addition, many of these devices are equipped with functions that allow you to perform additional calculations directly on-device.

A modern construction laser rangefinder is a fairly compact device that easily fits in a clothing pocket. It is easy to use for home repair or construction.  The device body is made of impact-resistant plastic and has convenient shapes for holding it in the palm of your hand. In addition, the rangefinder has serious dust protection, as well as special shock-absorbing pads that protect it from damage if accidentally dropped. Even though the laser rangefinder is slightly larger than a conventional tape measure, it just as easily fits into your pocket  Inside the case there is a light pulse generator, a signal transmission and reception system, a microprocessor programmed to measure distances and perform various calculation functions.

Device structure

At the end, there is the main working window of the emitter and the photodetector. In some models, a mini-camera of the optical viewfinder is also located there. On the front side, there is a display that displays the current settings and measurement results.

Next to the display, there are control buttons. The biggest one, naturally, is the start button, that is, the actual measurement button. In addition to this, the device can be equipped with several useful functions, which you can learn about by carefully reading the operating instructions. For the most accurate targeting of the device, additional capabilities may be provided.

Some models have an optical sight, similar to what we are used to seeing on cameras and video cameras. It can be either removable or built-in. The degree of approximation of the measurement object may also differ. For example, in professional-class devices designed for long-range measurements, the degree of zoom reaches up to 12 times, and in simpler models, sighting devices with 6–8 times zoom.

Some models are capable of displaying an image with a defined distance on the display, and there is an aiming crosshair that allows you to direct the beam exactly to the right place. A folding bracket or pin can be located on the back side, which allows you to take measurements from hard-to-reach points.

For example, to measure the diagonal of a room, you can rest the device in the corner between two walls. Many models have a threaded bushing, which makes it possible to fix the rangefinder on a tripod. Manufacturers often place a bubble level on the body, allowing the tool to be positioned strictly horizontally or vertically.

Devices are also produced equipped with a slot for a memory card and a port for connecting to a computer. At the bottom of the device, as a rule, there is a battery compartment or a built-in battery, as well as a connector for connecting a charger. The kit may also include a case, straps, and special targets that allow you to measure the length where, for some reason, it has not yet been specified.

Application area

Laser rangefinders are very widely available in stores. In order not to purchase a model with a very small set of functions, and, at the same time, not to overpay, you first need to understand how the device will be used.

Of course, when carrying out large-scale construction work, when marking sites and linking various objects, it makes sense to pay attention to professional devices that have a maximum measurement range. If there is work to be done on the interior renovation of an apartment, then the maximum range is not required at all.

But the accuracy of measurements always matters. Especially when it comes to precise fitting furniture or plumbing, where an error of a millimeter can be very expensive. The lower the measurement error, the better. High-precision rangefinders can be called those whose deviation does not exceed 1.5 mm. 

Features of devices

Most available laser tape measures have an error of up to 3 mm. If this indicator is higher, then it is better to refuse the purchase. Of course, the color of the emitter does not affect the accuracy of measurements, but in bright light the red dot becomes unnoticeable. In addition, if a red light stream enters the eye at close range, a burn to the cornea may occur. But the green ray is more noticeable in bright sun and does not pose any danger to vision. However, rangefinders with such a laser are more expensive and less common. 

Be sure to evaluate the strength of the case. The security class must be at least IP44, and the higher this value, the better. The presence of elastic shockproof pads will help protect the device from damage if you accidentally drop it from your hands.

The device in a shock-resistant case, as a rule, does not lose its functionality even when dropped onto a hard surface from a height of up to two meters. Of course, this does not mean that the device can be dropped. That is why many of them are equipped with straps, clips, and various types of cases.

An important parameter is the operating temperature range. In other words, a laser rangefinder should work equally well both in the July heat and in the January frost. This parameter must be indicated in the product passport and the operating manual. It would be nice if the device could be operated in cold weather without taking off gloves. That is, the control buttons must be large enough. Another subtlety: rubber can harden in the cold, so it’s better to pay attention to a model with silicone buttons. An important point is the presence of optics with anti-fog protection. In addition, the rangefinder should be convenient. Don’t be shy to take it and evaluate how it fits in your hand and how convenient it is to press the start button in different positions. Light weight and compactness can, oddly enough, play a bad joke during measurements: such a device reacts very sensitively to the slightest trembling of the hands. But an overly large one will also not be very convenient. Such a rangefinder can be purchased on aliexpress. Measurement range – up to 60 m, operating temperature range – from -20 to +60 C°. Photo from the site: If a large number of measurements are expected from one base point, it would be useful to install the rangefinder on a stationary tripod. Pay attention to power supplies, their size, and quantity. If the device has a built-in battery, a corresponding charger must be included.

Many meters provide automatic shutdown of the instrument when idle. The duration of such a pause may vary; on some rangefinders, this parameter can be set independently using the preliminary settings. It is very convenient if the display has a battery charge indicator.

We measure and calculate

In the simplest devices, measurement is carried out from only one point. As a rule, this is the rear or front-end surface of the device. When measuring, you must apply it to the point from which you want to measure, and then press the start button. Professional laser rangefinders provide the ability to measure from several points of your choice. For example, from the back or front surface of the case, the place where the device is attached to a tripod, or from a folding bracket or pin. In some models, when the additional stop is opened, this switching is performed automatically. Modern laser tape measures allow not only to take measurements but also to make several necessary calculations based on the obtained values. Such a device can quickly and accurately calculate the volume of a room or its area. The built-in Pythagoras function allows you to determine the length of the side of a triangle, which is difficult or impossible to measure in the usual way. For example, you can determine the height of a structure by measuring from one point the distance to its base and to the top point.

The function of dividing the distance into segments of equal length is convenient – this allows you to accurately position, for example, fence posts.

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