DIY Thermal Imaging Smartphone

We wish we had [Karri Palovuori] for a professor! As an exciting project to get incoming freshmen stoked on electrical engineering, he designed a DIY thermal-imaging smartphone that they can build themselves. It’s all built to fit into a sleek wooden case that gives the project its name: KAPULA is Finnish for “a block of wood”.

It’s just incredible how far one can push easily-available modules these days. [Karri] mounts a FLIR Lepton thermal camera, an LPC1768 Cortex M3 ARM micro, a GSM phone module, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff on a DIY-friendly two-sided board. The design uses 10 mil (0.25mm) trace and space, which is totally achievable with home etching methods. Copper wire bits fill up the vias. Did we mention he’s making the students do all this themselves? How awesome is that?

[Karri] expects that the students will tweak the software side of things. With additional onboard goodies like an accelerometer, microphone, speaker, SIM card, and USB, it’s not likely that they’ll get bored with the platform. He has a stretch hope that someone will take the hardware and modify it. That’s ambitious for sure, but it’s so cool that someone could.

We’ve seen some sophisticated DIY cellphones before, but this one rises above by being easily DIYable and including awesome extra features. Order parts now, and start etching. You could be sending thermal-photo tweets inside of just a few days.

22 thoughts on “DIY Thermal Imaging Smartphone

  1. It’s a cool project, but there’s just one small thing; Not specific to this, but seems to happen a lot on things: Why don’t people put a bezel on screens? The edge of the screen is noticable ugly, and tends to detract from the look of projects. All it’d take would be an extra layer of thin ply or something, but it’d improve the look of things a lot.

    1. Bezel-less cases can be easily made with a hacksaw and a file. At least that’s why I imagine a lot of them aren’t done. The only time I’ve put bezels on a case is when I’ve 3D printed the case or spent more time manufacturing it than building the damn electronics.

      1. Cause there was nothing else than the Flir module and arduino used in this one?
        Maybe you should read about it as see that the Flir module is just one piece of this whole thing.

        1. ARM with FLIR module (used as FLIR module), GSM module (used as GSM module) etc etc = hack?
          I dunno.
          All I know is that an ARM utilizing the MBED platform really ties the room …err… Arduino shields together.

    1. They kind of do, since it’s all apparently modules plugged together. Just get the modules.

      Bit of a shame it’s using GSM. The networks are going to switch it off eventually. China is still making loads of cheap phones that are GSM only, I suppose until Mediatek drops the all-in-one phone chip with GSM, they’ll continue to. Which Mediatek probably won’t do, while people are buying them.

      Because they’re cheap I suppose. And I would guess the software libraries they use in all the cheap gongkai phones are more available, and more stable, for GSM than 3G or 4G. That is just a guess though. Would be nice if all the various novelty / wristwatch phones from China would start supporting 21st Century mobile technology. Would also be nice if they were more hackable, if somebody in the West could open up the software so we could write our own stuff for them, at the prices they sell them at, your own hackphone, just to piss about with, would be something anyone could afford just for fun. I’d like to be able to program my own watch, but there don’t seem to be any that are cheap enough and also capable, with decent displays and the like. A few hackers are doing some nice stuff, but so far nothing really easily available, if you don’t fancy SMD soldering parts too small to see!

  2. Sorry it looks cheap and nasty. I bet it lacks lots of features and how Precise is it?.
    You get what you pay for. I use a real flir gun for my electronic work and yes they do cost more, but you get a better service with it and the company that makes it keep in contact and offer you good trade in for there new models when they come out. Also you get a 10 year Guarantee on it. Just made to last. That one looks like it will last 10 minutes. Just buy a cheap flir one for you phone if you can’t afford the higher models. Believe me your be better of than that thing here.

  3. It is so cool to see that there a college professor and his students were able to build a thermal imaging smartphone! What makes this so amazing is that it is also DIY friendly, thus making it possible for a lot of people to do. These kinds of cameras are amazing and can come in handy.

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