A Visual Infrared Thermometer That Runs Off Your Laptop

A common measurement for circuits is heat dissipation inspection. While single point thermometers do the trick, they can be quite annoying to use. Meanwhile, a thermal imaging camera is often out of the budget for hobbyists. How about building your own visual thermometer for cheap? That’s what [Thomas Fischl] decided to do, using an infrared thermal sensor array (MLX90640) connected through a PIC16LF1455 to a host computer. The computer handles the temperature calculation and visualization of hot spots, gathered from data collected by the IR pixel.

The interface board, USB2FIR, has full access to MLX90640 memory and can handle bulk transfer for faster data transmission of the raw sensor data collected by the pixel. A USB driver is needed to access the board – once the data is fetched, the visualizations can be created from a Matplotlib and TKinter GUI showing frame data and a real time heat map with minimum, maximum, and central temperature.

The hardware isn’t complicated, since the board relies on several ICs for processing the sensor data and immediately sends over the data to be processed externally. With some modifications – a 3D-printed enclosure, for instance – this can easily be made into a discreet tool for heat detection.

4 thoughts on “A Visual Infrared Thermometer That Runs Off Your Laptop

  1. Although thermopile sensors like this suffer in resolution compared to the (heavily patent-protected) microbolometer sensors that FLIR et al use, we’ve found that you can actually get a bit more utility out of them by using laser-cutter ZnS lenses gotten from the usual online sources. This actually came from a HAD post from some years back, and we’ve put it to good use in the lab with things like the similar AMG883 GridEye.

    Assembly/focus can be an exercise in patience since you need the sensor to be working well first, but simple magnifier/telescope arrangements can be put together without breaking the budget.

  2. Ok I will have to look at the datasheet, but the naive (and amater) me often find the AMG8833 as the “cheap” IR sensor (like 30$ for only for 8×8).

    For once either I got into a trap or there is something I missed (like decoding the sensor data maybe?)

    SO am I only a retard to not look into the MLX90640 in the first place?

    NOTE: WIll have to fully look at the linked website, I have limited internet access.

  3. Gooz fraba guys. Let’s keep this place a constructive community, and not make it a reddit thread :) I think this is pretty interesting discussion, but I agree that we may need a better control to be sure in the case of hardware
    .. it is very very difficult to trust off thed shelf sensors, let alone the ICs these days.

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