I have designed an IC that takes signals that are at the speed of light and slows them down to the speed of sound. This makes the building of a time-of-flight laser range finder much easier.
Inside the chip there are control subsystems that manage the power supply and firing of a high power, pulsed laser. Also, there is a gain and noise controller for an APD detector. Interfacing is done through a SPI bus and any small micro will easily be able to talk to the chip.
At the heart of the IC is a dual channel, time-expansion circuit. It takes the outgoing laser signal and the return signal and converts them into signals that are slow enough to measure using a timer on a microprocessor.
I am looking to work with someone who wants to make a serious (or not so serious) attempt at building a low cost rangefinder for robotics or other applications, as an educational project or as a commercial venture just so long as the end use is non-military.
A big thank you to all who helped on this project. Without the support and enthusiasm of members of the Parallax forum it would never have been completed. For further information or if you want to get your hands on one of these please contact Prof_Braino.