I ordered the LIDAR from Adafruit along with some other goodies. It's going to take about a week to get to me. No worries, there's plenty of planning and initialization I can do before I actually get the parts. Lots of reading to be done.
I have a STM32F767ZI development board I was gifted. That's a pretty powerful ARM M7 processor in there and it's just collecting dust. I am going to use it as the main MCU for the project. That's a big choice actually. I could just hook the LIDAR up to an Arduino, use a bunch of people's code libraries and say I built something...but what fun would that be?
I set up a repository that will hold my code, it's available on github here: https://github.com/actualsize/makenstuff
I did end up deciding to use some abstraction to start. ST has a code generation app called STM32CubeMX that helps with board initialization. There's board support files and examples so I don't have to do everything raw. While I am waiting for parts, I've gone ahead and made some tasks. There's a heartbeat timer (blinky light) and other timers, a couple UARTs and I2C. I set up and tested stdio's printf function to use UART3 as stdin. I'm not a big fan of printf for debugging (just set a break-point), but I don't have a problem with it for making console interaction. Just plug in the USB cable and open TeraTerm.