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October 10, 2013
about a year ago
OK very annoying SparkFun, I just wrote a long reply and was told I had to verify my email account before posting, I did that and LOST me entire post, a warning would have been nice!
Anyway, this is not a laser, I have the device in front of me, no laser warning labels. The description above also explains that it is an IR range finder, not "really" lidar. The limit for "eye safe" laser's is 5 mW. FWIW, a 120 mW laser, irrespective of whether it was UV, visible or IR, would be very dangerous to your eyes. Doubly so being IR, as you wouldn't see the beam. This probably uses an IR LED similar to what you would find in a TV remote. The designation for eye safe lasers used to be IIIr, but the whole laser class designation has changed and eye safe is class 1 now. A more detailed description is here: http://www.lasersafetyfacts.com/laserclasses.html
about 4 years ago
I am using this as a jog wheel for a stepper motor control. It is quadrature, not absolute, so you get CW and CCW but not angular. I have my hooked up to an Uno with a screw shield.:
Wiring: Brown-> 5V , Blue->GND, Black->D2, White->D3 that's it! Smeld and orange are taped back out of the way (I think Smeld is shield, the hi looking possibly like an "m" if your eyes aren't the sharpest and your familiarity with the English alphabet being minimal).
I used the examples from pjrc.com (thanks edgar_allan_pwn) the basic example will get you going, I switched my pin locations from 5 and 6 to 2 and 3.
These work pretty smoothly, 1024 P/R is a good many pulses for $40 encoder. It looks like a Omron encoder that runs $200-300. There is a tiny bit of notchiness as I rotate the shaft, but it is barely noticeable and is possibly only in my example and may be due to a fleck of dust.
If you want to try something with a decent encoder, this is good start. The under $10 encoders have too much contact bounce and not nearly the resolution if you are trying something like a nice jog wheel setup controlling, say a stepper motor.
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