DIY Handheld Kinect Scanner

While everyone is waiting for the official release of ReconstructMe 2.0 we thought it might be a good idea to give people all around the world a chance to write about their personal ReconstructMe project. Today we start this series with an article written Corey Kinard, who is currently beta testing ReconstructMe 2.0.

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DIY Handheld Kinect Scanner

By Corey Kinard

A few months back I was doing some research with using the Kinect as an inexpensive handheld scanning solution utilizing the wonderful ReconstructMe software. While I was blown away with what an off-the-shelf entertainment accessory could accomplish, I was a little disappointed with the ease of use and accuracy when scanning. The issue is you are tethered to your computer by the Kinect and you are constantly keeping an eye on your monitor which is 8 to 10 feet away. I found that it was hard to know if I’d fully covered an area. I’ve seen where people lug around a laptop while scanning, and while that works, you’d get fatigued quickly. There had to be a better way. There was.


I remembered that I had a little USB monitor laying around that I used to use as a secondary video editing preview screen on my laptop. Now I just needed a way to attach and comfortably hold the contraption. I started looking around on Amazon for solutions and came across a camera pistol grip and a wall mounted Kinect stand that featured a camera mount screw in its base. We were in business! With a little modification to the base (the camera mount hole wasn’t the industry standard) I was able to mount the Kinect to the base and the base to the pistol grip. I then attached the the USB monitor to the back of the Kinect with some strong velcro, I wanted to be able to remove the screen and hold it in one hand if I needed to get the Kinect higher/lower and I still wanted visual feedback.

I also wanted to address a few additional issues I had with Kinect scanning-cable length, cable management, remote triggering and the number of USB ports needed. I purchased a few USB extension cables as well as a 4-port USB hub for the Kinect and USB monitor to attach to. With this I was able to have approximately 12 feet of cable and all of the devices used a single USB port. As for remote triggering I thought it would be nice to have a small keyboard/mouse that I could control the captures with. Once everything was attached and tested I then used a bunch of zip ties to hold all of the cables and extensions in place.


If you are serious about Kinect handheld scanning I highly recommend creating a rig similar to this, it doesn’t cost a lot and increases your scanning productivity. If you are interested in building one for yourself, here’s my breakdown to help you get started:

15 thoughts on “DIY Handheld Kinect Scanner

  1. Erik

    Corey, thanks for sharing your ideas! One question: is it possible to stream the data via WiFi or similar instead of having an USB cable attached?


  2. Corey

    Hey Erick,

    Glad you dig the project! That would be great if there was a way to be wireless, the only problem is in my setup the USB’s power the monitor itself. Also, I am really not sure how much bandwidth is going across the USB with the Kinect data plus the video feed. An idea I was tossing around was to store a laptop and battery in a backpack, that way you could be completely mobile.


    1. Christoph Heindl

      Corey, as far as the bandwidth of the Kinect is concerned this should work in standard WiFi networks. Without color information we need to transmit 640 (width) x 480 (height) x 30 (frames per second) x 2 (bytes) ~ 18MB / sec. With some online compression that can be easily compressed down to 9-10 Mbyte.

      We’ve already started an open source project to project a network based sensor on this concept. See here

      It’s planned that this library will be the fundament for network based sensors in ReconstructMe.

  3. Peter

    What’s the maximum cable length extension you can use? I remember problems with extending Kinects once. After a certain length I didn’t receive data anymore.


      1. Peter


        did you ever try USB 3.0? One more question that pops up: did you ever encounter ‘backouts’ in USB block transmission when the monitor is additionally connected?


        1. Corey

          Hey Peter,

          Unfortunately my workstation is a bit behind the times and I don’t have a USB 3.0 port. The only issue I have is that I need to plug directly into a USB port on my motherboard and not into a hub, otherwise some of the devices aren’t recognized. Other than that it has been working great!

          As for the USB repeater, I haven’t personally tried one but it looks to be USB powered. So to go this route you may need your hub to be powered (unlike my USB Squid).


      2. Nick

        This is fantastic – do you have a guide on putting together the rig or any videos of you using it so others can get a sense of how smooth it is? This feels like it’d be perfect for scanning in museum collections.

  4. Pingback: 3D Scanning with Kinect and ReconstructMe | BIGREDBAY

  5. trackvw

    Has anyone used this idea with a tablet computer ?
    and if needed add a 12v battery to power the Kinect to make it Portable ?

    also will an older Atom Netbook have enough power to collect the scanning data and show it on the screen so you know if you missed an area ?

    Thanks for your thoughts

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