With Christmas and other end-of-year celebrations, there are gifts. The problem is that your loved ones don’t really know what to get you. Who can blame them? Do you want an Arduino, a Raspberry Pi, or a Blue Pill? Is that 3D printer on sale better than the one you have? Do you even want a second printer? They don’t know. In the best case, they’ll give you gift cards. But sometimes you just have to buy yourself something nice. [Wired] has a suggestion: a phone-based thermal camera. Which one? They have four suggestions ranging from about $150 to $200.
Different people have different reasons for wanting a thermal camera. You can see hot spots in electronics, for example. Or pick out hot water pipes behind walls. The resolution is limited. The highest in the [Wired] review is only 206×136. For the digital camera buffs, that’s 0.028 megapixels! Some cameras have even less resolution. For example, one of the cameras has an 80×60 resolution but uses an optical camera to give the illusion of a higher resolution.
Still, you can use a thermal camera for many things. You might want to find a missing dog or person (or even an unwelcome critter in your living space), for example. Testing heating and air conditioning or examining home insulation is another potential use case. Just be sure you understand the range of the camera. If you want to image your 3D printer hot end or your basement metal smelting operation, that might be a stretch with cheap cameras. The FLIR One Gen 3 they mention, for example, tops out at 120C.
If you don’t want to tie up your phone, other cameras have their own displays, like a Klein TI250, but they tend to be a bit more expensive, as you would expect. A better standalone camera can cost $600 or more.
If you aren’t buying yourself a thermal camera with your holiday gift card haul, what are you buying? Tell us in the comments. We doubt it will be a kitchen computer. The flame-throwing ugly sweater of death might be an option, though.