Heat Seeking Robot and Camera Tear Down

[Marco Reps] found an HT02 thermal imaging camera in his mailbox. He found the resolution was fine for looking at big objects but worthless for examining circuit boards. So he decided to just tear it into pieces — an urge we totally understand.

Inside was a thermopile sensor that was easy to reverse engineer. So [Marco] decided to rework a Raspberry Pi robot to use the camera and turn it into a heat seeker.

The camera is relatively inexpensive compared to other similar devices and apparently uses a cheaper sensor type. However, the sensor itself was easy to use. [Marco] found a pin that is pulsed every half second to trigger acquisition. Another pin produces a few thousand pulses which is your cue to read an analog output from the device. It is really that simple.

For the right application, the HT02 might be worth the low price, although we’ve heard stories that they are not always constructed well. One feature we thought was interesting was the ability to merge a visible light image with the infrared image merged so you can get a better idea of what you are looking at.

The low cost and low resolution reminded us of an entry in the Hackaday prize a few years ago. Then again, you can take a more minimal approach and build up a scanner that works point by point.

16 thoughts on “Heat Seeking Robot and Camera Tear Down

      1. I believe that Tegwyn meant that he’s used to germans with a GERMAN sense of humor, which does not always translate well. I mean, consider the diffenece in senses of humor between someone from England, someone from Australia, and someone fro the U.S. south.

    1. If you want crappy IRLED-illuminated “night vision” then you can go a heck of a lot cheaper than that thing.

      The only true heat vision sensor I’ve found in that range is the Panasonic Grid-Eye. While very cool, it only has a 64-pixel resolution, so it’s not going to be useful for this application I’m afraid. I’d love to hear about an alternative, or hear that this sensor is going to be iterated and improved for higher resolutions. Even going to 16×16 would be incredibly handy.

  1. It looks like the thermopile sensors are winning the day over microbolometers (FLIR) though I’m not sure whether it’s IP issues, cost, shutter/calibration complexity or some combination that’s doing it but there are some good 2400 px + sensors out of Europe. Now to find good, high frame rate ones at modest cost since a standalone FLIR C2 can work as a webcam out of the box for not a lot more.

      1. They’re still not cheap, but Boston has some of the high pixel count ones:
        https://www.boselec.com/product-category/imaging-ir-sensors-thermopile-arrays/

        Adafruit has a AMG8833 GridEye breakout (8 x 8 px) for about $40 which would be my choice to start – I’ve used the AMG8831 (slightly less range and resolution) on the original dev board and it wasn’t suited for what we were doing, but was okay. Looks like they’ve got some fun interpolation software etc. to go with it.

        https://www.adafruit.com/product/3538

  2. I have been trying to track down that thermopile array for AGES and come up with NOTHING. I want a low cost easier method of acquiring low res thermal images than the FLIR leptons I have but don’t want to buy a whole freakin thermal camera to gut for a single component if at all possible.

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