[Damien] wanted to build a thermal camera. He was dismayed about how much a microbolometer costs so he salvaged one from a dead FLIR he picked up on eBay for 75 pounds. That’s about $100, and less than half what a new sensor costs. He selected one that didn’t turn on, which he hoped meant the Lepton 3 160×120 pixel microbolometer would not be the reason the camera failed.
Once it arrived, he pulled the pricey module, connected it to a breakout board and a Raspberry Pi. His gamble paid off; it worked fine. That wasn’t the end of the project, though. He went on to make a portable, self-contained camera with a rechargeable battery and an LCD screen.
The ESP32 software is sophisticated, using code ported from Linux and FreeRTOS. Topped off with a 3D printed case, [Damien] wound up with a great looking camera that is highly personal.
We saw another good-looking thermal camera that used an older sensor in one of our 2017 competitions. Once you’ve tired of looking at your soldering iron, you can always examine yourself for injuries.