Author Topic: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)  (Read 5425 times)

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Online Fraser

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This is a bit of a teaser post just for fun, but it may also benefit anyone wishing to buy a very nice compact thermal camera (cased core really) at a relatively low cost. The camera is commonly available in 160 x 120 pixel resolution but 320 x 240 is also available in the same disguise :)

So where did I find a 160 x 120 pixel FLIR Micron A10 for only $100 ?

Well that is the tease...... I will reveal all as and when I get time today to post pictures and more detail.
The good news is that these disguised cameras are in plentiful supply but you have to be lucky to get one for only $100 others have sold for $140 but some go for higher prices around $400?

I bought a disguised Micron A10 knowing full well what I was getting. I am fortunate to have inside knowledge on this matter but have decided to share it here to help others.

Watch this space.........  :)

https://www.photonics.com/Products/Tiny_ThermoVision_A10/pr19556
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 04:55:15 pm by Fraser »
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2019, 06:18:22 pm »
OK, the tease continues   ;D .... next installment.....

So what is the FLIR Micron A10 and is it special in any way ?

Well the U.S. Military certainly seem to have liked it  ;D

The FLIR Micron A10 is actually the Indigo OMEGA that FLIR renamed after their acquisition of Indigo.
It is a very capable compact thermal imaging camera that uses a VOx microbolometer and offers the user impressive imaging even in its 160 x 120 pixel form. A 320 x 240 pixel version was produced as well.

What is the history of this diminutive little thermal camera from the early Millenium years ?
The Indigo Omega was a development progression from the Indigo ALPHA that directly preceded it. The improvement upon the ALPHA design is significant in all areas. The OMEGA is smaller, lighter, lower power consumption and produces superior imagery. What is not to like ? The military were quick to test the Indigo OMEGA with a view to mounting it on aerial platforms and infantry weapon sights. The small size and low weight made the OMEGA a prime candidate for such applications. This statement might also be of interest to modern drone pilots as the OMEGA remains a possible payload for such applications despite its age.

The military tested the OMEGA to destruction and it performed well. They even strapped the poor camera to a rifle launched projectile ! The acceleration and impact tests revealed a weakness in the lens element construction.

The OMEGA was such a successful camera core that it lead to the development of its successor, the Indigo PHOTON.  In some respects the PHOTON appears a retrograde step as it is actually a larger camera than the OMEGA ! There were improvements in image quality on the PHOTON however. The PHOTON lead to the development of the smaller and lighter FLIR TAU series and that remains a current and very capable camera core to this day in its TAU 2 revision. These well designed and high performing compact thermal imaging cores are the darlings of thermal imaging system designers around the world. They are compact and easily integrated into a manufacturers product, be it a thermal camera or part of a surveillance/weapons system. Most of the hard work is already done for the designer, they just need to provide power and a display in the cores simplest mode of operation (power in, video out). Control of the cores extended functionality may be via pre-programmed pin inputs or a serial communications link from a small controller that sends instruction strings to the core. The options on the cores, including the OMEGA provide most functions that a designer might desire, including radiometric temperature measurement. Remember, these cores were designed with the military in mind as a customer, so they were deliberately made to be versatile in their application and deployment  ;)

I have previously come across the OMEGA core in another 'disguise'. It was a specialist law enforcement 'Bullet' Camera used to carry out surveillance and evidence capture on buildings that were growing certain illegal 'weeds' ! The OMEGA was small enough to be used in a relatively covert manner. That cameras story is to be found here:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/thermal-imaging/todays-mystery-camera-by-fraser/

I will add some relevant pictures to this Post and the OMEGA User manual in a separate post.

Fraser
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 10:06:59 pm by Fraser »
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2019, 06:20:38 pm »
Omega/Micron A10 related documents.......
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2019, 06:35:15 pm »
I have decided to do a reverse teardown on the source of the diminutive OMEGA/Micron A10 core just to add some fun to the thread  ;D

Are we having fun yet ? ;D

First a picture of the OMEGA core after it was extracted from its disguise........

More pictures and commentary later  ;)

Fraser
 
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Offline CJay

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2019, 06:54:26 pm »
Curse you Fraser, all these interesting threads, I could probably have resisted but  I had opportunity to play with a FLIR equipped CAT mobile phone today and I *WANT* one now.
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2019, 07:02:03 pm »
Ok some more commentary from me .......


I am often asked if I have any bargain priced small thermal cameras for drone use or 'other' applications, or how they can be found.

Historically I did not tend to share my little tips and tricks to finding cheap thermal cameras as I was actively hunting for such myself  and did not need the competition  ;D  I did give some pretty hefty hints to how a reasonably priced camera could be obtained. Such cameras were often older, but still good, thermal imaging technology such as BST or the larger cored cameras that are not suitable for use on a relatively small aerial platform like a drone. I still receive requests for "drone thermal cameras" so I have decided to create this fun little thread to detail how I personally purchased a piece of equipment for only $100 that I knew contained a thermal camera core that is eminently suitable for drone use.... namely the OMEGA/Micron A10  :)

More later

Fraser
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2019, 07:22:08 pm »
Next tip for you dear readers .........

If you see a piece of equipment that has a decal on it like that attached here ...... be interested, very interested  ;)

Indigo was the 'baby' of the William J Parish, the man behind AMBER. After leaving Indigo he created SEEK Thermal. He and his team were very experienced in creating excellent thermal camera designs that impressed 'difficult' customers like the Military. Indigo designed and built high performance miniaturised thermal camera cores. FLIR recognised the expertise present within Indigo and this was a driving force behind purchasing the company and gain that invaluable expertise and loyal customer base for future FLIR product lines. A very smart move on the part of FLIR.

William J Parish's BIO:

William Parrish is perhaps one of the most well-known luminaries in thermal imaging having pioneered the technology for multiple industries, including military, industrial, consumer and more, since the early 1980s. Bill’s first company, Amber Engineering, was acquired by Raytheon in 1992, and focused on commercializing advanced military infrared technology by applying novel engineering and business practices to dramatically reduce the cost.
In the mid-90s, Bill then launched and became the first CEO of Indigo Systems, another industry leader in thermal image technologies and products, and took the company through extraordinary growth (> $75 m Revenue in just six years) to an acquisition by FLIR in 2004. Seek Thermal is Bill’s third company in the thermal – infrared space and perhaps the most unique. With a vision to bring the smallest infrared sensor and thermal imaging technology to all, Seek is creating some of the most affordable products ever for smartphones, in addition to commercial, the outdoors, and heat sensing IoT data applications. Bill’s numerous papers, patents and awards (including MSS Fellow, The Levenstein Award for Infrared Technology Leadership and Management, South Coast Business and Technology Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002, and UCSB’s Narayanamurti Entrepreneurial Leadership Co-Award in 2004) attest to his enduring impact on infrared technology and business.

Bill received his engineering education at UCSB graduating BSEE ’73, MSEE ’74, and PhD EE ’76 emphasizing integrated circuit design and fabrication. 


More later.......
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 10:15:07 pm by Fraser »
 

Offline Vipitis

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2019, 07:28:03 pm »
It's interesting to see how this older generation is in size. I would love to see a side by side image quality comparison from all the generations of Indigo/FLIR cores: Micron, Photon, Tau, Boson;

I started to browse eBay daily now and look for good offers that are no scams. The bargains are mostly older cores, but I have very limited comparison. BST for example produces an image I dislike, and all the Taus I see right now are 336 and scraping my imaginary budget. I will continue to look and If there is a QVGA micron core to be found at a great price I might start there with a platform that allows a core upgrade.
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2019, 07:33:39 pm »
Next picture set showing the OMEGA camera with its associated control PCB that is not essential to the cores operation but an optional piece of electronics to provide more than just "power applied - thermal image output" mode of operation with the core in fully automatic everything.

Note another advantage when you remove a neat core from its disguise..... you often get all the unusual core connectors and cable looms etc, plus a control board that may, or may not prove useful  :-+

More shortly  :)

Fraser
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 07:39:19 pm by Fraser »
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2019, 07:48:22 pm »
An interesting tear-down video of an OMEGA core that was being used in a CCTV camera housing. Such CCTV cameras do come along now and again but unless you are very lucky, they tend to attract higher prices due to their specialist use. I got very lucky and won such an external CCTV thermal camera in 'as new' condition for £75 .... it contained a TAU2 324 core  8)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=D0OlWmr5R10

Fraser

More pictures shortly  :)
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2019, 07:57:36 pm »
OK, Time for a bit more of a 'reveal'  :) 

Can you guess what it is yet ?  ;D

Fraser
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2019, 08:11:14 pm »
The Omega Core is held in a custom formed foam 'shell' for its protection and to hold it in the required position. The foam shell has been cleverly formed to also hold the control PCB in place. No screws used.

Fraser
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 08:13:59 pm by Fraser »
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2019, 08:28:33 pm »
Next clue.....

The equipment that contains the Indigo Omega contains its own LCD display. The quality of the LCD does effect the image presented to the user by the core. In this particular equipment I find the LCD panel monitor wanting on the quality front. It may be just older LCD technology showing its age or age related degradation. It is also hard to take a good photo of an LCD display and the result is of lower quality than what the user sees on the screen.

Note the temperature scale on the right of the display and the green dot in the middle of the screen. This is spot temperature measurement can be a feature of the core or of the controller PCB depending upon the system design.

More pictures to come but it is getting easy to identify now  ;D

Fraser
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2019, 08:50:23 pm »
An important matter has not been discussed yet ..... how to configure and control a thermal imaging core like the Omega/Micron 10.

Most thermal cores do not contain an on board web server for configuration. they tend to be configured using a serial data link, be it RS232, RS422, RS485 or modern USB. The core will obey and respond to a custom command set and, unlike Industrial Camera Link controlled VL cameras, there is no common industry standard for the control of thermal cores. Each manufacturer uses their own protocol but if you are fortunate, a manufacturer will use the same protocol on several generations of cores so a common command utility may be used. Indigo tended to use a common configuration utility for their cores so the Photon GUI contained support for the OMEGA.

Control and configuration of a core is an important consideration when considering a purchase. buying an unknown core or one for which no support exists means that you will likely have to use it 'as-is' with little chance of enabling additional features or changing settings such as what is displayed on the video output or image orientation etc.

With Indigo products you have a good chance of obtaining the configuration GUI for any core that they produced ;)

Fraser
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2019, 08:54:52 pm »
It is approaching 10pm now so time I released the rest of the reverse tear-down pictures and revealed the identity of the equipment that was the disguise surrounding the Indigo OMEGA  :)

Let the reveal begin  ;D
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2019, 08:56:23 pm »
Continued.....
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2019, 09:10:27 pm »
So there you have it, I purchased a battered and bruised MSA Evolution 5600 fire fighting thermal camera that was sold on a "buy it now" in a US auction. It looked tatty and that likely put people off of buying it. I knew that sat dry, clean and cosy inside that battered casing was a lovely little Indigo Omega. Fire fighting cameras tend to be very well sealed and the cores are well protected from bumps and drops. It is true that a core can fail in service, but they are generally pretty reliable. This is why spending only $100 is the sensible move when a unit is not stated as working.

If the seller had extracted that OMEGA core from the camera after testing it and auctioned it on its own with the connector, I suspect it would have sold for a lot more than $100 ! Sellers often have neither the skills nor the interest to do such however.

I bought this camera a couple of months ago and there were a few others sold around the same time for $150. I consider a working Indigo/FLIR OMEGA/Micron A10 for around $100 is a very good deal indeed  :-+

Fraser

« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 10:22:48 pm by Fraser »
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2019, 09:12:36 pm »
MSA Evolution 5600 User Manual.

 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2019, 09:19:25 pm »
Well that is all from me for now.

I hope that this little bit of fun has been of interest and you enjoyed the 'journey' to the 'reveal'.

So drone owners, if you want a compact thermal core for your aerial platform that will not break the bank, start looking for MSA Evolution 5000 series cameras. The series includes both 160 x 120 pixel and 320 x 240 pixel versions. Both contain a dinky little Indigo core that is well protected in the waterproof outer case and interior foam shell.

Happy hunting  :-+

Fraser
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 09:21:19 pm by Fraser »
 

Online Gyro

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2019, 09:20:28 pm »
Interesting thread Fraser.  :)

I see there's a battery for sale on ebay in Germany if you need it.

« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 09:23:15 pm by Gyro »
Chris

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Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2019, 09:25:50 pm »
Hiya Gyro,

Thanks but the battery is nothing special, just a common twin cell Li-Ion pack  :)

I suspect the Omega core will be used without the old battered Evolution 5600 case and less than great LCD display. I can control the core easily from a PC and that allows me to release its full capabilities. In the 5600 the core is windowed down to 120 x 120 pixels but I can change that using the Indigo GUI  :)  The Evolution body, control board and LCD panel are basically scrap as it was always the core that I was interested in.

Fraser
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 09:27:30 pm by Fraser »
 
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Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2019, 10:35:19 pm »
An interesting side note.....

I just looked at the display shown in the 5600 user manual and that produced by my 5600. My unit is displaying the full 160 x 120 pixels rather than the 120 x 120 pixels detailed in the 5600 spec and images in the manual. MSA basically blanked the area around the temperature scale on the right side of the image.

The full 160 x 120 pixel display was provided on the more expensive Evolution 5200. Interesting  but not really of much consequence as I intend configuring the OMEGA core from a PC anyway. It does mean that the control board in my 5600 would be useable if I decided to keep it with the core for some reason. Had the controller board been setup to window the display to 120 x 120 pixels I could not have reprogrammed the MSA microcontroller as I have no access to their control board configuration software.

Some manufacturers decide to ‘upgrade’ some models specs as the product line ages in order to maintain a competitive specification at a certain price point. The 5600 was originally a ‘budget’ entry level camera for fire brigade use with the 5200 being the next model up in specification. 5200 better than 5600 .... I know.... illogical, but that is the ident they used for the budget model all the same. Maybe it was supposed to make buyers of the 5600 feel better about there decision to ‘go budget’  ;D

Fraser
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 10:38:36 pm by Fraser »
 

Offline oddbondboris

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2019, 07:31:23 pm »
nice, i always saw these come up (never that cheap but cheap enough) and wondered what core was in them and how impossible to extract the core was.
nice to see the core is literally a standard core in a standard form factor relatively divorced from the rest of the camera physically instead of the crazy level of integration found on isg cameras
 

Online Fraser

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Re: FLIR Micron A10 160 x 120 hiding in ‘disguise’ bought for $100 :)
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2019, 07:38:21 pm »
The only ‘modification’ to the omega core is the addition of two machined aluminium plates to the bottom and side of the camera casing. There is no thermal paste between the case and the metal additions so they do not appear to be heat sinks.

The two metal plates are secured with small screws and are simple to remove. You then have a standard Omega core.

Fraser
 

Offline Vipitis

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