I have looked lots of laser range finders but they are all either expensive or not suited to my application. There are plenty of cheap "laser tape measures" but all display the distance on a built-in screen and attempts by others to modify them have been limited to hacking the segment display. Parallax make a reasonable priced sensor but it uses triangulation (with a camera) instead of time of flight and I think that the cloudy exhaust might interfere and also only works at 1Hz. There are heaps of industrial ones but none under 1K$.
Today I came across this:
Its a board by Porcupine Electronics that connects to a fluke 411D (laser range finder) and outputs the distance data over USB and serial.:
The display and keyboard is removed and replaced
Apparently it can output at 10Hz with +- 3mm accuracy from 10cm to 30m. Also it will be quite light as the housing can be removed and the electronics themselves wont weigh much.