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The header is generated on the computer side, not the lidar, so it's quite possible that your data is corrupt even though the header looks correct. TTL and RS-232 use different voltages and different polarities, so that's probably causing problems.

I would start by finding a proper USB to TTL serial converter. It doesn't have to be the specific Sparkfun model, but it should definitely be a 5V level and non-inverted (RS-232 is inverted).