Archive for the ‘General Info’ Category

lepton-thermal-camera-breakout-board

The FLIR Lepton thermal imaging sensor is a smaller resolution (80×60 pixels) and affordable priced sensor designed for use in mobile devices providing an affordable thermal imaging capabilities. This is the thermal imaging sensor that is used by FLIR in their FLIR ONE thermal imaging accessory for the Apple iPhone 5 and 5S. The DIY and hardware hacking community has already worked up on a solution to use the FLIR Leptopn sensor along with a custom developed breakout board for various projects. But since FLIR does not sell single units separately, but takes only large orders for the sensors it is hard to get a Lepton sensor to experiment with. One way to do so is to buy a FLIR ONE disassemble the device and take out sensor, the alternative is to go for a group buy. There is a GroupGet campaign for the FLIR Lepton Thermal Camera Core currently running that can help you get a single or a few units for $207.60 USD each and you can also get a breakout board for $45 USD each. This will allow you to interface the Lepton thermal imaging sensor to a custom controller and add thermal imaging capabilities to a project you are working on such as a robot or a drone for example.

For more information on the GroupGet campaign for the FLIR Lepton sensors…

thermal-visual-msx-image

If you are taking thermal images of various things you should be well aware of the fact that while thermal images do show the temperature of objects they do little to provide easy visual cues to what part of the object is hotter or colder. The reason is that thermal images just record the temperature information of objects and while this can create somewhat of an outline of the object you are examining, if you do not take a visual image to store with the thermal image later on you might have trouble identifying things on the thermal image. Not all thermal cameras ca do that – record both thermal and visual images, but even if your camera does not support that (like our FLIR i7 for example) you can still do pretty well if you use a digital camera or your smartphone to also take a visual image as a reference.

Thermal MSX (Multi Spectral Dynamic Imaging) images is what FLIR calls their mode of overlaying both thermal and visual images together and processing the data in order to provide a more detailed thermal image and this mode does work very well as you can see on the sample image above. Even with lower resolution thermal image when you overlay on top of it a visual image and combine the two to have the outlines of the objects you are shooting the end result can be really good. On this thermal photo we have recorded the temperature of an Mitsubishi Air-conditioning system in operation shot with the FLIR ONE thermal camera accessory for iPhone. Even though the FLIR ONE is with a low resolution thermal imaging sensor when we combine the thermal with visual information the resulting thermal MSX image does look really good as it can give both useful thermal and visual information, especially if the goal of the image is to be more understandable to people that are new to thermal imaging.

Taking MSX thermal images (overlaid visual and thermal data) however is not possible all the time as taking a good image in the visual light spectrum does require you to have good light conditions, unlike thermal images that can be taken even during total darkness. So make sure that you have enough light available when you need to take MSX thermal images if you have a thermal camera capable of this as not all models can do this, but as we’ve explained you can help yourself by taking manually a visible spectrum photo with the help of your smartphone or digital camera.

thermal-camera-sensor-resolution-comparison

Thermal cameras do come with various sensor resolutions with the more expensive the camera is, the higher resolution it usually provides for the thermal images you can record. The affordable thermal cameras usually do come with low resolution sensors that also have a more limited thermal detection range, so they cannot detect very low or too high temperatures. Usually when your thermal imaging sensor is with a certain resolution you can double it with software image interpolation to get a higher resolution image to make things more visible without issues. But the better and higher the resolution is, the easier it is to see what you are looking for as normally thermal images do not provide very good reference for the actual objects being shot. On the image above you can see a sample of how a thermal image will look like if you are using a 16×16 pixel thermal imaging sensor all the way up to 640×480 resolution sensor. Do note that each step up from 80×60 is double the resolution, but comes with essentially 4 times the pixels and 640×480 thermal imaging sensors are something you can normally find in very high-end products only, so most of the time you need to use lower resolution thermal images and there interpolation may help.


top