Laser Rangefinders: How Do They Work?

(Last Updated On: February 10, 2021)

We use several instruments and take for granted that they work without worrying about how they work. While this is good for most devices if you understand how they function, specific equipment, such as a laser rangefinder, would work better.

On the surface, it seems simple; point the rangefinder at the target and get a measurement. But how does your computer end up with that reading? If you understand how rangefinders generate their sizes, then you can begin to figure out why different models in some conditions can give you additional lessons.

But you don’t want any differences with your measurements while you’re taking a vital golf swing or getting ready to draw back and let an arrow fly at a big buck. Knowing how your rangefinder works will ensure that you select the best rangefinder for your use and that it is designed to give you the data you need.

The Basics Of How A Laser Rangefinder Works

The fundamentals of a rangefinder laser are clear. The rangefinder sends out a laser beam first. The laser beam strikes the surface at which you aim the rangefinder and reflects at the rangefinder. A receiver sensor senses the shaft inside the system and a super-high-speed clock checks how long the laser beam has taken to reflect.

At the speed of light, the laser beam flies. To measure the distance to the target surface, the program in the rangefinder would multiply the laser beam’s rate by the time it took to bounce off the surface.

It’s all pretty straightforward, in principle. But the more you look, the things get more complicated.

Rangefinder Lasers

The laser is the measuring tape of a rangefinder in nature. It reaches out to the surface and returns to the sensor so that the software can assess how far the laser has gone. But several variations can significantly affect how each system operates between the lasers installed in different rangefinders.

It’s not, in truth, a single laser your rangefinder sends out. It’s a sequence of laser beams, allowing the program in rapid succession to make several measurements. But these beams don’t just focus on anything that’s around you. They are all found within the shaft of the laser. Imagine you measure a deer’s distance in a field, but there’s a tree with a broad branch obscuring your vision halfway down the hill you’re on. Even though it is also partially blocked by the department, the laser may partly reach the deer. Since the rangefinder sends out several pulses, measurements are taken from both the branch and the deer.



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