How do Laser Rangefinders Work?

How do Laser Rangefinders Work

Laser rangefinders are portable electronic and optical devices that allow users to measure the range of a given object. They are widely used by hunters, golfers, architects, builders, and military men, amongst others.

A laser can be defined as a mechanism that produces electromagnetic radiation by stimulating the emission of photons. A laser rangefinder works by shooting a laser beam at an object, which subsequently bounces off and back to the sender. The rangefinder then calculates the distance based on the time taken for the laser to bounce back. Since light travels at an exceedingly fast speed, the entire process takes very little time.

Using this method, the rangefinder can accurately calculate distance within a yard. The technique is less appropriate for high precision sub-millimeter measurements. This is attributed to the high speed of the laser. Another issue is measuring the speed of an object accurately. Both these issues are overcome by using triangulation. Triangulation is used by laser rangefinders in order to achieve greater precision and to measure speed accurately. Triangulation works by measuring the angles of an object by having two known points of measure. Calculating the angles of the measurement can triangulate the third point.

Shooting from an incline or a decline can pose a challenge for a hunter because the distance calculation does not give the same results relative to his/her weapon. For instance, if a bow hunter is shooting from a tree to the ground, the calculation for shooting accurately will be different than if the hunter is shooting straight from level ground. A regular rangefinder would not recognize these ballistic issues for the hunter.

Rangefinders designed for hunting, therefore, often have additional features to help the hunter. Using an inclinometer and ballistic calculator, rangefinders today can provide accurate information for the hunter providing angle and bullet drop information. This is typically based on the weapon type used and the nature of the bullet or arrow. This feature has become a must-have for bow hunters and increasingly useful for rifle hunters who shoot from longer distances and/or uneven terrain.

Laser rangefinders typically display the range and other information using a through-the-lens LCD. Another method used is an OLED, but this is relatively rare, at least in the consumer electronics market. Generally speaking, laser rangefinders with OLED displays tend to give brighter displays than LCD variants.

Laser rangefinders found in the market require approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are classified as Class-1 laser beam the FDA. This class of laser beams is regarded as eye-safe. That is, accidentally pointing an active laser at a person’s eyes will not harm them. They are also invisible to the naked eye.

Laser rangefinders also include optics that allows the user to target effectively. These optics are of varying quality and effectiveness. They typically come with a magnification of 4x-8x. This allows hunters to effectively aim at their prey.

Golfers often opt for laser rangefinders with pin-seeking technology. This technology works by automatically returning the closest object from the scan, thus avoiding the background. This is a useful feature for golfers who may otherwise find attempting to aim at a tiny flag at a distance hard and cumbersome.

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