Phoenix Lidar Systems- How to Decide Between the Ranger-XL, Ranger-Ultra, and Ranger LR LITE

August 18, 2023
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Have you seen our recent LinkedIn post announcing that we are now offering new (with warranty) Phoenix Lidar Systems through We’re excited to bring this high-quality line of lightweight lidar systems to our survey community around the world.

One thing we love about Phoenix Lidar Systems is that they deliver as complete and turn-key solutions. Every lidar system is integrated with a navigation system, positioning system, and can be customized with a range of camera options and platform mounting options. We can also offer both desktop and cloud-based software options for acquisition and post-processing.

The Phoenix Lidar Systems Ranger series covers the spectrum from the small form factor miniRANGER3-LITE (Riegl miniVux3-UAV) up to the HydroRANGER(Riegl VQ-840-G) for bathymetric and topographic surveying. So how do you decide which is the right scanner system for your business? This article focuses on three of the most popular and versatile options in the Phoenix Lidar Ranger series: The Ranger XL, Ranger Ultra, and Ranger LR LITE.

Let’s consider what questions you should be asking yourself when you are considering each lidar system.

  1. Scanning Frequency: What scanning frequency do I need for the majority of my projects? This is a measure of how many rotations the lidar is able to do in 1 second. The higher the frequency (1 MHz, 1.5 MHz, 2 MHz) the more accurate the scanner will be at higher speeds. This is an important factor to consider as you think about what airborne platform you will fly your lidar system on.
  2. Airborne Platform: Will you be flying the sensor on an unmanned drone, a rotorcraft, or a fixed wing aircraft? How high can you fly? How fast can you fly? Will you need your lidar system to be able to fly on multiple platforms, or even be able to work as a mobile scanner? Smaller companies may appreciate a sensor that has the most versatility and flexible mounting options while still delivering high-accuracy results. Larger companies with a range of platform options may prefer purchasing a sensor that can be dedicated to a particular platform.
  3. Point Density Requirements: In photogrammetry, we care about the resolution of a photograph measured as ground sample distance (GSD). The counterpart to this for lidar systems is point density, which defines the amount of measurements per area the lidar is sampling, generally measured by square meter. The point density requirement of a project is a key consideration when determining the level of detail that needs to be visible in the data set acquired. A higher point density will have lower point spacing and consequently reveal more features in the point cloud. When comparing lidar systems, the number of returns per pulse is an indication of a laser’s precision and accuracy.
  4. Budget: In an ideal world, this would not be the deciding factor in which lidar system is best for your business, but we live in the real world - of course budget is an important factor in your decision. With every project, you are considering how to acquire data in the most profitable way. And trade-offs are inevitable. Will you purchase a lidar system that enables you to acquire data quickly with the least amount of flying time, or will you need to purchase a less expensive system that flies slower and requires more passes? Will you purchase a more powerful system in order to bid on more complex projects, or will you focus on booking large numbers of small jobs? Which is the right answer for your business today, and where your business is headed in the future?

Now let’s take a look at three powerful Phoenix Lidar Systems and consider how they compare to each other as you consider scanning frequency, platform, point density, and budget.

Phoenix Ranger XL (Riegl VUX-240 inside)

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Are you flying a rotorcraft/helicopter or a small fixed-wing aircraft such as a Cessna 172? Then you should consider the Phoenix Ranger XL system. This lidar system enables high altitude flying with up to 1.8 MHz acquisition rate with a payload of around 11 lbs./4.4 kgs.  It offers a 75-degree field of view and a longer range, capable of 1200 meters on 20 reflectivity targets. If your focus is on corridor mapping, railway track or pipeline inspections, and you want a system that can fly on both unmanned UAV or manned gyro or helicopters, this system is a good fit.

Phoenix Ranger-Ultra (Riegl VUX-120 inside)

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Another versatile and powerful lidar system, the Phoenix Ranger-Ultra is ideally suited for high point density corridor applications. It features a unique forward and rear looking field of view that minimizes laser shadowing and provides geometry on complex the vertical structures in utility corridors or for canyon mapping. The measuring beam is consecutively emitted in three different directions using a three faceted mirror. This enables it to alternate from strictly nadir to +10 degrees forward and -10 degrees backward.

Why is this important? It allows for more complete data acquisition challenging environments with vertical surfaces. With up to 1.8 MHz pulse repetition rate, it is great for high point density results. Because it’s lighter weight that then the Phoenix Ranger XL, it can achieve longer flight times when mounted on a UAV, while still offering the flexibility of being used with helicopters or small manned fixed wing platforms. If your company is flying both manned and unmanned platforms with complex corridor work, you can achieve high point density precision and accuracy with the Phoenix Ranger-Ultra.

Phoenix Ranger LR LITE (Riegl VUX1-LR inside)

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Did we save the best for last? If you are looking for the most versatile and flexible of the Phoenix lidar systems, the answer is yes. The Phoenix Ranger LR LITE checks all the boxes when considering a lidar system that is powerful, accurate, flexible, and budget friendly. This lidar system can by mounted on manned or unmanned aircraft, vehicles for mobile scanning, UAV, and even used as a backpack lidar. It is the ideal combination of light-weight payload for high-density long-range mapping, wide area mapping, corridor mapping, pipeline or rail inspections, measuring topography changes, open cast mining surveying, canyon mapping, urban environment surveys, archeological discovery projects, agriculture and forestry management, and risk assessment and prevention projects.

With a 360-degree FOV, it’s powerful 1550 nanometer laser can penetrate dense vegetation at high speeds and altitudes with a max range of 1000 meters and 20% reflectivity. This is one of the most precise sensors you can fly at a variety of altitudes. For example, you can fly at 400 feet AGL at 8 meters per second and collect over 190 points per square meter in a single pass. At 550 feet AGL and at 55 knots, this system can achieve 30 points per square meter on a single pass (depending on your measurement rate setting). The Ranger LR LITE is capable of up to 15 target returns per laser pulse, making a superb choice for enhanced mapping of dense vegetation.


Each Phoenix Ranger Lidar System (with Riegl sensor inside) offers a powerful, survey-grade solution to help you succeed in your data acquisition projects. We can help you find the right system for your needs and budget. So you can decide whether it makes sense to invest in a new system with warranty, software, and training, or pick up a pre-owned system at reduced cost. Reach out to us to discuss your needs - we’re always happy to help our customers to find the best fit for your business. Check out our new Phoenix Lidar Systems or consider our pre-owned Phoenix Lidar systems on

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