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Spotlight on the SF23/B microLiDAR™

Know your microLiDAR™

LightWare microLiDAR™ sensors use beams of laser light to measure distance, height, volume and relative positioning. This provides essential sense and perception capability for applications in the world of Autonomy of Things (AoT) and the Internet of Things (IoT). LightWare’s range of unique microLiDAR™ sensors is the answer for applications where small size, low power and lightweight (SWaP) is essential for success. 

In this week’s LiDAR Matters we focus our attention on the power efficient SF23/B microLiDAR™ sensor. This sensor is the ideal choice for IoT, UAV and UGV applications where batteries or solar cells are used. Weighing only 10 grams, the SF23/B microLiDAR™ sensor has a measuring speed up to 20 readings per second and uses a Serial port to connect to a host controller. 

The SF23/B is a very low power sensor ideal for energy critical applications. This microLiDAR™ is a small form factor, general purpose LiDAR that measures the distance to objects by timing a laser flash. The SF23/B generates its own light source, making it accurate in all weather conditions like snow, rain, fog and direct sunlight. 

Suitable for multiple platforms: IoT, UAV, UGV 

The SF23/B microLiDAR™ sensor operates from a Lithium-ion battery (3.7V). This sensor weighs only 10 grams and measures 32 x 30 x 22 mm. It has a measuring range up to 50 meters, and a configurable measuring speed up to 20 readings per second. With its low power capabilities, the SF23/B is the ideal choice for energy efficient IoT, UAV and UGV applications.

Key applications of the SF23/B

The SF23/B is the ideal choice for energy critical IoT, UAV and UGV applications:

  • Smart Parking for IoT

Instantly and accurately able to detect the presence or absence of a vehicle in a parking bay without the need for machine learning, the SF23/B is the ideal sensor for energy-efficient smart parking applications. 

  • Height above ground

The SF23/B microLiDAR™ sensor is ideal for use-cases like photogrammetry, observation, monitoring and surveillance. Mounted in a downward-facing orientation, the SF23/B precisely keeps track of the UAVs altitude above ground. It is also essential for safe and secure automated landings in drone delivery services.

  • Terrain following

Important for when a UAV flies over hilly, unpredictable or GPS compromised terrain, the SF23/B is mounted in a downward-facing orientation to keep track of changes in topography on the ground below.

  • Altitude

LiDAR sensors can be used as altimeters on UAVs and drones. These measure the exact height above ground level (AGL) or activate alarms when the ground gets too close.

SF23/B standard capabilities 

  • Adjustable measuring update rate (up to 20 readings per second)
  • Internal status monitoring
  • Measurement to the nearest detected surface (first return)

SF23/B communication interfaces 

  • A serial port (3.0V logic level) to connect to a host controller
  • A shutdown control line
  • A general-purpose control line

Getting started with the SF23/B

  • Click here to download the LightWare Studio application to your PC or laptop
  • Install and start the application by following the prompts
  • Connect the SF23/B to the PC using a serial to USB adaptor 
  • The SF23/B will automatically be detected by the application 
  • Settings options will be displayed in the main window along with a visualization of the data coming from the SF23/B
  • Change the settings to suit your application
  • Unplug the serial to USB adaptor. 

Once the settings have been entered, your host controller can communicate with the SF23/B through the serial port. API support is available from the LightWare API repository. To test the serial port the LightWare Communication Adaptor is available.  

Firmware updates and additional features will regularly become available. These can be installed into the SF23/B using a serial to USB adapter and the LightWare Studio application. The default operational communication mode is the low power mode. The low power mode does not accept any commands and will only transmit the distance information every second over the serial interface at 9600 baud rate. The low power mode communication packet is as follows: 

Byte Number Value Description
0 0xAA


0.10m … 100.00m
(LSB = 0.01m)
Distance in cm (Low Byte)

Distance in cm (High Byte)

3 0 … 100% Signal Strength
4 0 … 100% Signal Strength


Checksum (Low Byte)

Key features of the SF23/B

  • Essential LiDAR for battery, solar or energy-critical applications
  • Operates from a Lithium-Ion battery (3.7V)
  • Measuring range of 0.2 to 50 meters (80% reflective, large target)
  • Size: 32 mm x 30 mm x 22mm 
  • Weight: 10 grams
  • Measuring speed of 0.1 to 20 readings per second (configurable)
  • Serial interface
  • Integrates with user API’s and LightWare Studio
  • Eye safe laser emission Class 1
  • Open frame, no IP rating

Key specifications of the SF23/B

Range 0.2 to 50 meters (white wall in daylight conditions)
Resolution 1 cm
Update rate 0.1 to 20 readings per second
Accuracy ±0.10cm
Power supply voltage 3.2V ± 5.5V
Power supply current >5mA (average at 1 reading per second), 300 mA (maximum for less than 5ms) 
Outputs & interfaces Serial (3.0V logic), shutdown, control
Dimensions 32 x 30 x 22 mm
Weight 10 grams (excluding cables)
Laser safety Class 1 eye safe
Optical aperture 28 x 15 mm
Beam divergence > 0.5°
Operating temperature -10 to +50°C
Approvals FDA: 1910981-000 (08/2019)
Main cable Main cable – 6 way, DigiKey 455-3003-ND; Mating socket, DigiKey 455-1806-ND
Serial port settings 9600 baud, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, no parity, no handshaking (Low Power Mode)

115200 baud, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, no parity, no handshaking (Comm. Mode) 

Main cable connections 1 +3.7V – power supply positive (3.2V to 5.5V at 100mA peak)
2 GND – power supply negative
3 Control signal (3.0V logic level)
4 Shutdown (active low with 470k pull up resistor to power supply)
5 RX – serial data receive line (3.0V logic level)
TX – serial data transmit line (3.0V logic level)

Tips to get the best from your SF23/B microLiDAR™ sensor:

  • Ensure that nothing is in the path of the laser beam
  • Ensure that no shiny or highly reflective surfaces are near the path of the beam
  • Secure the cable with zip ties to protect it from pulling on the connectors.

Essential links: 

LiDAR Matters read: IoT systems & adoption 

Let’s partner – we’re with you all the way!

LightWare is ready to partner with your business and help achieve your IoT, UAV and UGV LiDAR objectives. We strive for great service and offer a comprehensive range of sensors that seamlessly integrate with standard UAV systems. No case is alike, and we offer tailored LiDAR solutions where quality, accuracy and data-compliance are paramount to achieving your business objectives.

Contact us on [email protected]

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