Poll

Has the hackabiliy of the E4 made you buy one :  

Yes, I was already looking at the competition at a similar price, but the hack swung it to E4
245 (26.6%)
Yes, I'd not considered buying a TIC before, but 320x240 resolution at this price justifies it (as either tool or toy!)
429 (46.5%)
Yes, I was going to buy an E5/6/8 class of unit but will now get the E4
45 (4.9%)
No, but am looking out for a cheap i3 to hack
44 (4.8%)
Not yet, but probably will if now that a closed-box hack becomes is possible
159 (17.2%)

Total Members Voted: 762

Author Topic: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown  (Read 2745743 times)

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Offline daves

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3275 on: January 28, 2014, 10:19:10 pm »
I am really  impressed by your software, FLIR should be consider hiring you. This is, in my opinion, as useful as the hack itself, for me this E4+ is just a toy but for many people is the daily tool that potentially can be a real difference.

Thank you. For me its also just a toy. And I needed a tool to help me convert set of images. At the beginning Tomas123's flir.php was great help, because I did not know where to start.

I have plans for future development, some of them from people here - make custom layouts for report, overlay logos, enable import and colorize nonflir grayscale jpg, and so on.
I just need to balance time between this and my paid job, family and other things which need to be done too :) I expect new version by the end of this week, so keep tuned.

To be honest... Now BFIC can do much more than I expected when I started. But while I went so far, I would like to do it better than Flir tools can do. And I believe you will help me :)

Edit: About opensource - now the development from me is frequent, so I do not expect to do it opensource now, even though I am maintaining git for tracking the changes. But once I will decide to stop development (or slow it enough), I will comment it well and make it public source. Comments are important, since its based mostly on API calls and GDI+ libraries. Believe or not, but its written in obsolete VisualBasic6 from 1998. And despite of using VB6 its faster than original Flir software :-)
Batch Thermal Images Editor (JPG, BMT, SNP, IRI, ISI, IS2, PGM, TIF, IMG, BMP):  https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/flir-e4-thermal-imaging-camera-teardown/msg350556/#msg350556
 

Offline tomas123

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3276 on: January 28, 2014, 10:25:53 pm »
About opensource - now the development from me is frequent, so I do not expect to do it opensource now, even though I am maintaining git for tracking the changes.
But once I will decide to stop development (or slow it enough), I will comment it well and make it public source.
:-+ :-+ :-+ :-+ :-+

Offline Macnasien79

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3277 on: January 28, 2014, 11:11:57 pm »
About opensource - now the development from me is frequent, so I do not expect to do it opensource now, even though I am maintaining git for tracking the changes.
But once I will decide to stop development (or slow it enough), I will comment it well and make it public source.
:-+ :-+ :-+ :-+ :-+

:-+:-+:-+:-+:-+:-+:-+
I support this view too and it is really a great tool that daves is providing to everyone.
 

Offline Macnasien79

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3278 on: January 28, 2014, 11:15:36 pm »

ok, I tested all known variants

FlirTools+ can connect the E40 as video or signal (signal = RAW 16 bit)
see pull-down menu on screenshot

there is an corresponding E40 resources key
Code: [Select]
.caps.config.uvcstreaming: (2)
r---r--------- 0 root   root   <b> enabled                     true
r---r--------- 0 root   root   <b> radiometric16               true

FlirTools+ can connect the E4 only as video (a live view)
see screenshot


but you can write with a remote command a (short) E4 raw video stream


Thanks Thomes123 that really makes things really clear.
 

Offline Macnasien79

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3279 on: January 28, 2014, 11:19:03 pm »
Hi,
I might be wrong but since you've got the 320*240 resolution and it sticks thru power cycles I'm pretty sure you've done everything right related to the original hack by Mike. Where does it say that it should show E8?

The guy may want to sell his E4 as an E8...
In related news: all mammals are cows! If you read the rest of his posts, I think you'll find that the main reason he's concerned about the E4 vs E8 thing is functionality of Flir Tools based on how said Flir Tools detects the camera.

Thanks mrflibble for helping to clarify this. I am very happy with my E4 as is and do not concern about if it shows a E4 or E8 in the camera details, but rather want to understanding if i performed the E4+ modification correctly.
Really appreciate everyone's great support and great work in modifications.
 

Offline Taucher

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Re: Developing applications for the E4
« Reply #3280 on: January 29, 2014, 12:19:55 am »
@Taucher
EDIT: Also tested with PocketPC 2003 SDK - works fine too - example exe (hello world - no additional benefit) is attached.
<IMG of Hello World App>
You search a nice new menu feature?

Save a short video sequence on a E4 as I am discriped here
Code: [Select]
//set file name
rset .image.services.rtrecord.filename \FlashIFS\001.seq
//activate recording to memmory
rset .image.services.rtrecord.active true
//wait a moment while rcording
//now save video to flash
rset .image.services.rtrecord.store true

or write a fast sequence of images (while the trigger button is pressed) with this (repeated) command
Code: [Select]
store -j \FlashIFS\myfolder\0####.jpgthis needs no RAM as buffer memory and you can write about 10.000 frames until the Flash is full

Matter of fact: I've already put that one on my TODO list and my current menu has those commands even in the comments so I don't lose them... but believe it or not - I hadn't a spare hour to hack around for weeks...
... unfortunately also unknown yet: any method how to launch the exe from within the menu itself - of cause it could be added to the startup script... what's already possible is to show a menu with panorama, video etc... but those modes are still non-functioning as the multimedia engine (MediaServer.exe) from the Exx simply crashes when started on the E4 (yes, I've checked DLL deps and brought MP4.dll over, too).

Maybe let's add a brief explanation how the menu system works: It's a frontend to the registry - that's it  ^-^ .
See also (very close match): Model-View-Controller (MVC) programming concept... IMHO Flir did a really nice job in respect to a multitasking data backbone with this registry.  :-+

Well, you'll might ask how the functions switch then etc... that's done by subsystems which run in the background and which can either poll or subscribe to certain registry entries. It's going even so far, that even the image data is stored in a registry key (data-blob) :)

Now as everybody knows such things like video just scream "compress my data or I'll eat up all your free space" - that's what the MediaServer.exe with it's nice little MP4 dll comes into play... unless it's crashing on startup.

A "dirty" hack could be to write an app to watch for "video" mode, then display itself on the GUI and allow to capture output by setting up the image capture sequence (or simply replace the mediaserver by consuming the frames itself and piping them to some ffmpeg routines or similar code) ;)

Heh, while writing this I think about if there are menu-keys projected over the registry... like the main trigger switch...
... ah, but there's that other thing again - no C/C++ includes for the registry yet ... good news is - the DLLs export a sh***load of classes and similar goodies... but OTOH my time is quite constrained right now - so I'd be really glad for some co-op work here.



Offline scientist

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3281 on: January 29, 2014, 02:01:18 am »
Could you possibly write a script that takes something like 9 frames from the camera and automatically stacks them in the memory while the user is just looking at the GUI? Like Testo's SuperResolution.

see registax.org
 

Offline tomas123

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3282 on: January 29, 2014, 09:26:24 am »
Testos superresolution stitching is a PC software.
The Testo camera takes only 4 images

see my posts for technical details:
- https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/flir-e4-thermal-imaging-camera-teardown/msg363688/#msg363688
and
- https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/flir-e4-thermal-imaging-camera-teardown/msg363213/#msg363213

if Taucher make a menu point for taking multiple pictures, then you have superesolution on the E4

Offline scientist

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3283 on: January 29, 2014, 01:15:23 pm »
Oh, I was under the impression it was done on board the cam. My bad.
 

Offline OrBy

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3284 on: January 29, 2014, 02:22:51 pm »
I know this is a bit of a touchy subject but I was thinking of it as more of a mental exercise.

There has been talk of the lens is small the the E# series vs the E## and upping the frame rate to 30 or 60 may not be feasible due to that limitation.

But from Mike youtube tear down - is not the sensor just putting out 60fps 320x240 all the time anyway bigger lens or not? The real gatekeeper is the FPGA's processing ability and what it is actually doing with the frames. Is it doing some sort of super resolution magic already on the fly, stacking the 60Hz signal down to 9.5Hz and then applying all the corrections? Or could it just be powerful enough to grab and process 9.5Hz worth of frames and dropping the rest. It has to be powerful enough to at least deal with 60Hz worth of data coming at it at some level to do the decimation down to 9.5Hz.

It may be worth looking into what the FPGA's bin file is actually doing before diving to deep into the super resolution stuff?
 

Offline mrflibble

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3285 on: January 29, 2014, 02:32:13 pm »
It may be worth looking into what the FPGA's bin file is actually doing before diving to deep into the super resolution stuff?
Please include a link to the xilinx altera bitstream analysis tool you intend to use for this. ;) The proposed image stacking approach is relatively trivial, the bitstream reverse-engineering is  not.

There's several things you could do in the fpga area, but they are rather time-intensive compared to "just" software.


edit: brainfart, the E4 uses an altera cyclone IV.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 04:08:17 pm by mrflibble »
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3286 on: January 29, 2014, 02:48:56 pm »
I know this is a bit of a touchy subject but I was thinking of it as more of a mental exercise.

There has been talk of the lens is small the the E# series vs the E## and upping the frame rate to 30 or 60 may not be feasible due to that limitation.

But from Mike youtube tear down - is not the sensor just putting out 60fps 320x240 all the time anyway bigger lens or not? The real gatekeeper is the FPGA's processing ability and what it is actually doing with the frames. Is it doing some sort of super resolution magic already on the fly, stacking the 60Hz signal down to 9.5Hz and then applying all the corrections? Or could it just be powerful enough to grab and process 9.5Hz worth of frames and dropping the rest. It has to be powerful enough to at least deal with 60Hz worth of data coming at it at some level to do the decimation down to 9.5Hz.

It may be worth looking into what the FPGA's bin file is actually doing before diving to deep into the super resolution stuff?
Yes, the sensor outputs 60fps, at I think 14 bit resolution.
The lens is a major cost item, so if they can reduce signal/noise in the FPGA by avaraging frames, it would be crazy not  to do it.
You can clearly see that the 60fps Ex0 imagers have  a significantly bigger lens.
The FPGA is easily powerful enough to do the avaraging, along with all the other processing.
When I get time I will rig up something to view the raw datastream. I suspect it won't be pretty with the standard lens though.
 

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Offline OrBy

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3287 on: January 29, 2014, 03:03:26 pm »
Mike - that would be very interesting to see!

mrflibble - yeah I spent all my toy/tool $$$ on the E4 ;) . Another barrier that may side line any research into the bin is if FLIR used any sort of encryption or protection to prevent analysis or modification. Since it's really the heavy lifter it would make sense that they focus their time into protecting it.

My programming and dis-assembly skills never really progressed past basic scripting and batch files. I can get the idea when complex stuff is explained to me but once I start looking at real code my brain goes into idiot mode...

Still finding this forum and all these smart people has to rub off in a good way some how. :-+
 

Offline daves

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3288 on: January 29, 2014, 03:45:01 pm »
Since it's really the heavy lifter it would make sense that they focus their time into protecting it.

Well, Flir is company having some employees, usually people doing their job for money. You know, they are paid for get it work. They do not focus on things like security (see how easy was to turn E4 into E8) neither the speed (see - my "amateur" BFIC written in obsolete slow language is faster then their professional software). They do not have motivation like we do. Just get the damn thing working somehow.

Many times programmer can have nice thoughts to do it better way, but there are team leaders, project managers, service owners... They do not want to take responsibility for programmers thoughts, neither they want to care more. This is how almost everything around us works. Always there is someone focused deeply in the one thing, not the employee, who can point out what is done wrong way.

Its similar situation like when you call plumber to fix broken pipes. He will do it fastest and easiest way, which does not mean it is the best way.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 03:47:06 pm by daves »
Batch Thermal Images Editor (JPG, BMT, SNP, IRI, ISI, IS2, PGM, TIF, IMG, BMP):  https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/flir-e4-thermal-imaging-camera-teardown/msg350556/#msg350556
 

Offline mrflibble

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3289 on: January 29, 2014, 04:18:49 pm »
mrflibble - yeah I spent all my toy/tool $$$ on the E4 ;) . Another barrier that may side line any research into the bin is if FLIR used any sort of encryption or protection to prevent analysis or modification. Since it's really the heavy lifter it would make sense that they focus their time into protecting it.
On the bright side, none of the tools required for the reverse-engineering job are commercially available. So lack of toy $$$ should be no problem. ;) All that is required is a nice chunk of time. ;)

And it's not Flir you need to worry about. They probably got their verilog/vhdl verified and shipped it. There's probably no more encryption in there than any other altera fpga based product, with standard protected bitstream. Mainly it's 3 steps. 1) obtain unencrypted bitstream. 2) extract netlist. 3) flush time staring at netlist and/or use netlist decompiler.
 

Offline jasonc

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3290 on: January 29, 2014, 04:51:52 pm »
I just bought an E4 from Grainger yesterday and the firmware was still 1.19.8.

Also, I wanted to point out an off-the-shelf option for mounting to tripods and similar: a Bogen Superclamp.   These are big cast metal clamps used for photo lighting equipment.  They attach firmly to round stock like the E4 handle and have both a 1/4-20 thread as well as a socket for a "brass monkey" photo stud as used on lighting stands.  Cost is about $20 ($30 for name-brand), plus whatever you attach it to.  Only downside I see is that the 1/4-20 is at 90 degrees, but that can be fixed with a ballhead, and then you also get full pointing flexibility.     

For instance, I used a superclamp to grab the E4 handle, attached a small ballhead, and then attached that to a "Justin" clamp so I could mount my E4 on a shelf and point it in any direction.  In the attached photos you can see it on a chair.  (The orange cord is a safety line since sometimes Justin clamps aren't so .) 

I'll likely upgrade to a slightly bigger ballhead at some point to get less play/wobble, but it already worked pretty well.  Note that I could also have attached the ball head directly to a tripod.  Now I just need a cable release and interval timer to timelapse. 

I like that these are all reusable, solid metal parts with standard fittings, so if I need to put the camera up 4m in the air I can just fit it on a lightstand and run it up.     

In the US, B&H Photo is my preferred place to get this kind of lighting gear.  But there are countless sources. 
 

Offline CesarEscudero

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3291 on: January 29, 2014, 05:01:08 pm »
Today there is a new version of Flir tools for mac

https://itunes.apple.com/mx/app/flir-tools/id579348845?l=en&mt=12

Maybe they fixed the issue with connectivity, I will report later.

EDIT: No, FLIR tools 2.1 for Mac still don't connect to the E4 after the hack.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 07:20:59 pm by ee.jcesar »
 

Offline tomas123

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3292 on: January 29, 2014, 05:01:54 pm »
The lens is a major cost item, so if they can reduce signal/noise in the FPGA by avaraging frames, it would be crazy not  to do it.

it's possible
see my post to compare the noise between E4 and E40
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/flir-e4-thermal-imaging-camera-teardown/msg342873/#msg342873

the noise of the E4 sensor is better, but not the visibility of low details
I don't mean the the missing image sharpness but the visibility of low temperature differences (in large areas)
this is a result of the larger lens of the E40 with better f-number (value is unknown)

calculated sensor size
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angle_of_view
Code: [Select]
E4    4,5mm x 3,0 mm  (with focal length 7mm  and FOV 45° x 34°)
E40   6,66mm x 4,44mm (with focal length 18mm and FOV 25° x 19°)

see
What is the relationship between lens f-number and camera performance or NEdT?
http://www.flir.com/cvs/cores/knowledgebase/index.cfm?CFTREEITEMKEY=341&view=37198

... I'm not sure whether I have errors in reasoning (shown NEdT = function(F-number) )
but the visibility of areas with low temperature differences is definite better on E40
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 05:35:17 pm by tomas123 »
 

Offline OrBy

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3293 on: January 29, 2014, 07:33:46 pm »
daves - not that I disagree with your points but as the 9Hz vs 30/60Hz also messes with ITAR status so some extra thought may have been put into it to cover said managers rears... If some one does fine out that it's something simple like changing a hex value and a check sum and these things start ending up in missiles taking out planes - FLIR is going to have a very bad day.
 

Offline daves

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3294 on: January 29, 2014, 07:40:26 pm »
daves - not that I disagree with your points but as the 9Hz vs 30/60Hz also messes with ITAR status so some extra thought may have been put into it to cover said managers rears... If some one does fine out that it's something simple like changing a hex value and a check sum and these things start ending up in missiles taking out planes - FLIR is going to have a very bad day.
Ok, and where is the root cause of the problem ? Isnt it a fact that you bought 60Hz capable sensor ? Every big change in history is based on someones bad day :)
Batch Thermal Images Editor (JPG, BMT, SNP, IRI, ISI, IS2, PGM, TIF, IMG, BMP):  https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/flir-e4-thermal-imaging-camera-teardown/msg350556/#msg350556
 

Offline OrBy

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3295 on: January 29, 2014, 08:09:12 pm »
Sure the sensor is outputting 60Hz of some sort of data from what Mike has observed but what that signal actually looks like RAW is anyone's guess at this point.
We know the FPGA is doing deal pixel and lens correction but if the output is poor it could be doing averaging or some other type of corrections that may only give 9 or 15 Hz worth of usable data.
Until we see that signal or have a more clear picture as to what the FPGA is doing to it that data stream it's all just what if's.
I would love for there to be a hack that enables 60Hz output if it looks good! But that's just me in my little bubble. I don't have any nefarious plans currently and hope to keep it that way. ;)
 

Offline Fraser

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3296 on: January 29, 2014, 08:11:54 pm »
@daves,

You are not wrong.......ITAR covers the thermal SENSOR 1st and foremost. It has not been lost on the industry that FLIR appear to be shipping a 320x240 60fps ITAR liable microbolometer in the Ex camera  ;)  I deliberately state "appear to be" as, AFAIK, no one has yet shown a true 60fps image from the microbolometer data stream. It does look possible though. FLIR will not be best pleased that this has been revealed as it may cause some difficult questions to be asked of them.
 

Offline Fraser

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3297 on: January 29, 2014, 08:20:12 pm »
@Orby,

If you really want to play with 320x240 pixels at 60fps, keep  an eye out for the BST or Microbolometer based fire fighting thermal cameras that regularly pop up on e*ay. I bought some lovely ISG Talisman Wasps very cheaply ($75 to $120 each) as 'spares or repair in the UK. Worth looking at and you can buy working units for reasonable sums if you hunt around a bit. The down side is that they have few, if any measurement facilities and are often monochrome. The Talisman Wasps have a 2X E-Zoom and can have optical image Fusion though ! The E4 is far more capable but, as you are finding, it has a slow update rate, and is not suited to observing fast moving objects. Few private sellers or scrap dealers selling firefighter cameras realise that they are ITAR regulated. Sellers of scientific and Industrial TIC's are often very aware of ITAR.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 08:33:40 pm by Aurora »
 

Offline scientist

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3298 on: January 29, 2014, 09:31:16 pm »
daves - not that I disagree with your points but as the 9Hz vs 30/60Hz also messes with ITAR status so some extra thought may have been put into it to cover said managers rears... If some one does fine out that it's something simple like changing a hex value and a check sum and these things start ending up in missiles taking out planes - FLIR is going to have a very bad day.

Thus, it is logical to assume that if the 30hz/60hz hack is ever discovered, or has been already, that information will not be shared publicly. 
 

Offline Fraser

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Re: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera teardown
« Reply #3299 on: January 29, 2014, 09:34:34 pm »
Indeed  ;)
 


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