In CES year 2015 bq presented in society his 3D scanner bq CICLOP. It was an open source project with which the company shared with the entire maker community the work necessary for the development of the scanner. That way users could collaborate on their own ideas and improvements.
In this article we are going to analyze how this product has aged and if it is still useful to acquire a model of these characteristics.
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Technology used for 3D scanning
Ciclop is a scanner based on 3D triangulation Which incorporates a pair of lasers projecting two lines on a rotating object on a rotating platform. A camera captures both the textures and the shapes of the scanned object.
The black object receives the laser light beam linear that deflects by reflection and is captured by the sensor which passes the position of each point of the detected beam to the reconstruction software and it records it in its database along with the rest to be able to form the complete 3D image. As soon as the object changes its shape or position, the incident light is no longer reflected in the same way, thus it is not directed to the same area of the camera and therefore a different point is registered on the model to be scanned. .
In order to process all the information obtained through the camera and manage the options and parameters of the scanner, bq has developed Horus, a multiplatform and free application.
The BQ Ciclop 3D scanner allows scan objects up to 205mm diameter by 205mm wide to resolution up to 500 microns in an approximate time of 5 minutes.
La electronics of the scanner is composed of a Arduino based board, a Logitech camera, 2 linear lasers and a stepper motor.
Features of the BQ Ciclop 3D scanner
Maximum scan size: 205mm (diameter) x 205mm (height).
Optics / Sensor: Logitech C270 HD 1280 x 960 Camera
Resolution: 500 microns
Scanner dimensions: (x) 450 x (y) 330 x (z) 230 mm
Scan area dim: (r) 205 x (h) 205 mm
Scanner weight: 2 kg approx
Scan accuracy: 500 microns
Scanning speed: 3-4 min approx.
Steps per rotation: Among 1600 and 160
It seems that although it has been a couple of years since the launch of this product, the options to acquire a device at a reasonable price have not increased and the Current home scanners have practically the same features as the bq model.
Unpacking, assembling and installing the BQ Ciclop 3D scanner
El mounting very simple and the manufacturer has documented it very well. Depending on how skilled you are following the manual it can take between 30 minutes and an hour to have the equipment fully assembled. We have finished it very quickly, without hesitating in any step or undoing any part due to having misinterpreted the manual.
The manufacturer has even posted a video on youtube in which just 3 minutes shows in detail how we should place all the pieces.
Although manuals in different languages are supplied with the product, we recommend that you go through the web portal What do you have for your products?. In the they have published everything you need to use your scanner. From manuals to the latest version of Horus software.
We always find it funny when we buy products that have parts printed by FDM printers. In the case of the scanner, all plastic components have been printed in PLA. It is complex that a small company has to resort to this practice but it is difficult for us to imagine that this process can be more profitable for a company like bq than making an injection mold. However we can verify that the print quality of these components is excellent.
For the correct operation of the scanner you need to install the Horus software and the Logitech webcam drivers that incorporates the system, all this can be found on the manufacturer's web portal
Once the first boot is made, we check that the software is responsible for updating the firmware of the arduino board Which incorporates. If we have made our own scanner we can use any arduino board that meets the specifications detailed by the manufacturer. A very significant detail of the good work of bq.
We have everything assembled and connected to the PC, it is time to install the software and perform our first scan.
The first problem we have encountered is that by having different webcams connected to the PC horus has not been able to automatically identify which one to use and the software is not able to clearly show the webcams it finds. In a couple of attempts we have found the correct webcam, nothing serious.
We can scan only surfaces or capture color as well, using both lasers or just one. And there is a endless options that we can adjust to optimize the scan to the characteristics of the environment in which we do the scan.
Our first scan is a disaster, which on the other hand is totally logical, we have launched to scan without taking any consideration. A visit to the manufacturer's forums teaches us that the laser triangulation system is very sensitive that the position where the 2 lasers intersect is perfectly aligned in the center of the turntable. However, BQ has overlooked something as simple as marking the center of said platform. Square, compass, paper, pen and problem solved. Once the lasers have been calibrated, the quality of the scanned objects has improved significantly.
When scanning an object we obtain a mesh of points that we can save in .ply format but this file cannot be used in any printer because the usual format is .stl. Another visit to the manufacturer's website clarifies that the horus software does not generate .stl files to achieve this format we must use another open source program.
Having to use a second software to achieve the desired result makes the experience of using the scanner somewhat less round. However bq has documented all the steps required to complete the task.
In the image we can see the scanned model and the 3D image obtained
In view of the tests carried out, we can affirm that the results will be very different depending on a large number of variables. From the lighting of the area in which we have the scanner, the accuracy of the calibration that we have carried out or even the colors that the scanned object includes.
One of the improvements recommended by the manufacturer is scan the object several times at different angles so that the mesh of points has the least number of areas that the light of the laser beams could not reach.
Price and distribution
Although this equipment has been on the market for 2 years and It is not available on the manufacturer's own website, we can still find it in other establishments for a approximate price of 250 €.
3D shape scanning is a complex process for which countless techniques and equipment costing thousands of euros have been developed. We have to assume the limitations what are we going to have with any household equipment.
This team has a excellent quality / price ratio and 2 years after its presentation on the market it is not out of date. The means provided by the manufacturer facilitate the user experience as much as possible.
We have obtained very different results between the different objects that we have scanned, but with patience we can obtain forms that are quite faithful to the originals.
It is a suitable product for those makers who are fond of 3D printing who enjoy the entire creation process and do not expect perfect results from the first moment.