Hacklet 47 – Thermal Imaging Projects

Thermal imaging is the science of converting the heat signature of objects to an image visible to humans. Everything above absolute 0 gives off some heat, and thermal imagers allow us to see that – even if there is no visible light in the room. Historically, thermal imaging systems have been large and expensive. Early systems required liquid nitrogen cooling for their bolometer sensors. Recent electronic advances have brought the price of a thermal image system from the stratosphere into the sub $300 range – right about where makers and hackers can jump in. That’s exactly what’s happened with the Flir Lepton module and the Seek Thermal camera. This week’s Hacklet is all about thermal imaging projects on Hackaday.io!

We start with [Pure Engineering] and Flir Lepton Thermal Camera Breakout. Flir’s Lepton thermal camera created quite a stir last year when it debuted in the Flir One thermal iPhone camera. The Lepton module used in the Flir One is a great standalone unit. Interfacing only requires an I2C interface for setup and an SPI interface for image data transfer. Actually using the Lepton is a bit more of a challenge, mainly because of its packaging. [Pure Engineering] made a simple breakout board which makes using the Lepton easy. It’s also breadboard compatible – which is a huge plus in the early phases of any project.


grideyeNext up is [AKA] with GRID-EYE BLE-capable thermal camera. This project is a Bluetooth low energy (BLE) thermal camera using Panasonic’s Grid-EYE 64 pixel thermal sensor. 64 pixels may not sound like much, but an 8×8 grid is enough data to see quite a bit of temperature variation. If you don’t believe it, check the project page for a video of [AKA] using Grid-EYE’s on-board OLED display. Grid-EYE was a Hackaday Prize 2014 semifinalist, and we featured a bio on [AKA] last year. The only hard part with building your own Grid-EYE is getting the sensor itself. Panasonic doesn’t sell them to just anyone, so you might have to jump through a few hoops to get your own.


pylepton[Kurt Kiefer] brought the FLIR Lepton to the Raspberry Pi with pylepton video overlay. This project uses the Lepton to overlay thermal data with images captured by the Raspbery Pi camera module. The Lepton interfaces through the I2C and SPI ports on the Pi’s GPIO pins. The results are some ghostly images of black and white thermal views over color camera images – perfect for your next ghost hunting expedition!  The entire project is implemented in Python, so it’s easy to import and use pylepton in your own projects. [Kurt] even gives an example of capturing an image with just 5 lines of code. Nice work, [Kurt]!



wificamFinally we have [Erik Beall] with WiFi Thermal Camera. [Eric] is using an 82×62 diode array to create thermal images. Unlike microbolometer sensors, diode/thermopile sensors don’t need constant calibration. They also are sturdier than Microelectricomechanical System (MEMS) based devices. This particular project users an array from Heimann Sensor. As the name implies, the sensor is paired with a WiFi radio, which makes using it to capture and display data easy. [Erik] must be doing something right, as WiFi Thermal Camera just finished a very successful Kickstarter, raising $143,126 on a $40,000 initial goal.

Are you inspired? A thermal imager can be used to detect heat loss in buildings, or heat generated by electrical faults – which means it would be a great project for the 2015 Hackaday Prize! If you want to see more thermal imaging projects, check out the thermal imaging projects list!

That’s it for this week’s Hacklet, As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io!

Remote Controlled Wildlife Camera with Raspberry Pi

If you are interested in local wildlife, you may want to consider this wildlife camera project (Google cache). [Arnis] has been using his to film foxes and mice. The core components of this build are a Raspberry Pi and an infrared camera module specifically made for the Pi. The system runs on a 20,000 mAh battery, which [Arnis] claims results in around 18 hours of battery life.

[Arnis] appears to be using a passive infrared (PIR) sensor to detect motion. These sensors work by detecting sudden changes in the amount of ambient infrared radiation. Mammals are good sources of infrared radiation, so the sensor would work well to detect animals in the vicinity. The Pi is also hooked up to a secondary circuit consisting of a relay, a battery, and an infrared light. When it’s dark outside, [Arnis] can enable “night mode” which will turn on the infrared light. This provides some level of night vision for recording the furry critters in low light conditions.

[Arnis] is also using a Bluetooth dongle with the Pi in order to communicate with an Android phone. Using a custom Android app, he is able to connect back to the Pi and start the camera recording script. He can also use the app to sync the time on the Pi or download an updated image from the camera to ensure it is pointed in the right direction. Be sure to check out the demo video below.

If you like these wildlife cameras, you might want to check out some older projects that serve a similar purpose. Continue reading “Remote Controlled Wildlife Camera with Raspberry Pi”

The Beginning of a DIY Vehicle Night Vision System

night vision car

[Stephen] has just shared with us the current progress of his night vision vehicle system, and it’s looking quite promising!

The idea of the project is to provide the driver with a high contrast image of the road, pedestrians and any other obstacles that may not be immediately visible with headlights. It’s actually becoming a feature on many luxury cars including BMW, Audi, GM and Honda. This is what inspired [Stephen] to try making his own.

The current system consists of an infrared camera, two powerful IR light spot lights, and a dashboard LCD screen to view it. It may be considered “not a hack” by some of our more exuberant readers, but [Stephen] does such a great job explaining his future plans for it, which include object recognition using OpenCV, so we felt it was more than worth a share, even at this point.

You see, the idea of vehicle night vision is not to constantly watch a little screen instead of the road — it’s designed to be there when you need it — and to let you know when you need it, [Stephen’s] planning on adding a Raspberry Pi to the mix running OpenCV to detect any anomalies on the road that could be of concern. We shudder at the amount of  training a system like that might need — well, depending on the complexity of this image recognition.

Anyway, stick around after the break to hear [Stephen] explain it himself — it is a long video, but if you want to skip to the action there are clips of it on the road at 1:53 and 26:52.

Continue reading “The Beginning of a DIY Vehicle Night Vision System”

Coilgun with laser sights built in an Airsoft rifle housing

This coilgun started as a stock Airsoft rifle. The stock weapon cost about 40€ (just over $50), but we think it was well worth it since it provides plenty of room for all the coilgun components and solves most of the mechanical issues of the build like a body that is comfortable to hold, a trigger, etc.

The clear tube which serves as the barrel (the same setup as we saw in this coilgun guide) is protected by three stainless steel barrels which surround it. They each host a laser diode which results in a Predator-style aiming mechanism that is shown off in the video after the break. There’s even a night vision system that uses IR leds and a viewfinder attached to the stock.

A camera flash is scrapped for the transformer inside. This acts as the voltage generator, charging up a few capacitors. It seems to have no problem generating enough juice to work well, despite the fact that it’s only being powered from two AA batteries mounted in the magazine.

Continue reading “Coilgun with laser sights built in an Airsoft rifle housing”

Hackaday Links: April 29, 2012

More old computers on FPGAs!

[Andy] loves his Memotech MTX computer. It’s an oldie with a Z80 running at 4MHz; the perfect target for an FPGA port. The ReMemotech has everything the old one has – cassette interface and all – and can run up to six times faster than the original.

Also found in 10-forward

If you’re going to build a jukebox, why not go all out? Here’s a touch screen jukeboxwith an LCARS skin. Yep, the same interface found on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

New desktop wallpaper for you

[McMonster] found a great pair of blog posts (1, 2) showing what ancient ICs look like without their casing. Since these were CERDIP packages (two ceramic plates glued together) they were exceptionally easy to take apart leaving the entire chip intact. Pages are in Polish, but there’s a Google Translate button on the sidebar

Cheap and easy Arduino wi-fi

Quick quiz: what’s the easiest way to get data onto an Arduino wirelessly? XBees? GSM modules? Nope, just get a wireless router and an Ethernet shield. The Ethernet module only cost [Doss] $20, and we’re sure Hackaday readers have a spare wireless router around somewhere.

Chiptunes! Chiptunes I say!

[mdmoose29] has been working on making a custom SNES cartridge for a dubstep artist (tell us more, [moose]…). In his search for programming tools, he found theSNES Game Maker. We tried it out for a bit and it’s still a very unrefined beta. Still, making SNES programming easier is awesome.

You people are awesome. Here’s six things for a links post.

[Valentin] made a night vision monocular from an old VHS camcorder, a small spy camera, and a handful of infrared LEDs. Here’s a video of [Valentin]‘s build in action.

Hunting down farmyard pests with technology


[Snypercat] makes no bones about the fact that she despises rats, and does everything in her power to keep them off her farm. We can’t blame her though – they spread disease, eat other animals’ food, and can get your farm shut down if there are too many running about. While most of us might hire an exterminator or set out a ton of traps, she chooses to take a far more hands-on approach, hunting down each and every one of those little buggers with an air rifle.

If you’ve ever gone rat hunting in the dark (and who hasn’t?), you know that it can be difficult to aim in the dead of night. Night vision scopes can be expensive, but [Snypercat] shows how you can make your own scope that gives you the added benefit of recording your kills along the way. She happened to have a Sony camcorder with built-in night vision capabilities, and with a bit of tweaking she was able to mount it on her rifle’s scope. An IR flashlight was mounted on the rifle as well, giving her enhanced visibility without spooking her prey.

Be sure to check out the pair of videos below to see how [Snypercat] attached the camcorder to the scope, along with how well it works in the field.

[via HackedGadgets]

Continue reading “Hunting down farmyard pests with technology”

Long-range laser night-vision

[Oneironaut] is back at it again, churning out yet another great hack in this long-distance night vision build. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen him build a night vision device, you may remember the monocle he put together using the view finder from an old camcorder. This time around he’ll give you look at distant object by using a laser instead of LEDs. He pulled an IR laser diode out of an old CD burner, then used a lens to spread out the dot in order to illuminate a larger area. A standard rifle scope is used as the optics, along with a security camera which can detect the infrared light. As always, he’s done a fantastic job with the images and the write-up. You’ll find his overview video embedded after the break.

Continue reading “Long-range laser night-vision”