Low Res Arduino Thermal Camera

Do you know how you see those cheap telescopes at the department store? The box has beautiful pictures that probably came from the Hubble. What you will see is somewhat different. You have to carefully look at [upir’s] Arduino thermal camera project because it intersperses pictures of what you expect an 8×8 sensor will produce with images produced by a much better camera.

The actual project — watch the video below — is undoubtedly neat. An inexpensive 8×8 IR sensor and an 8X8 LED panel join to form a crude but usable thermal camera.

He leverages several ready-made libraries and walks through how and why he chose them and how he had to modify them. We enjoyed the demo of plotting HSV values to the LED array instead of the usual RGB values.

Given canned code to read the sensor and drive the LEDs, the rest is easy. Of course, like the dime-store telescope, you aren’t going to get amazing results. On the other hand, you probably have everything you need except the $20 sensor sitting around doing nothing anyway.

At around the ten-minute mark, he shows the same sensor in a commercial module that interpolates a higher resolution to an LCD. Still crude, so he also gives a quick review of a commercial camera that plugs into your phone. (You can ignore the video from here on if the stealth advertising bugs you.) We’ve actually looked at that camera before. We’ve also looked at some of the competition. While any of those will beat the 8×8 Arduino camera, they’ll cost more and won’t give you the satisfaction of building it, either.

10 thoughts on “Low Res Arduino Thermal Camera

  1. Wait, was half that video an ad? Thumbnail was also misleading as an added bonus.

    Project is OK, quite fun, nothing complicated. Uploader and to a lesser extent the HaD writer are in the sin bin.

    1. I think the misleading thumbnail image is what the HaD writer was referring to with the telescope analogy. Pro thermal camera image in thumbnail = Hubble images on telescope box. 8×8 grid of actual project = tiny shakey fuzzy oval shaped blob view of Saturn through actual telescope.

    1. I guess you could? But probably is less of a bad idea to use the led panel as a normal camera, iirc there is voltage induced when light hits a led.
      The optics and filters needed for it to be a thermal camera, and the mismatched wavelengths probably makes the costs of those components needed a multiple of a good thermal camera. Each.
      Less of a hack and more years long research project… But you probably can! 😁

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