Author Topic: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !  (Read 2487 times)

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Online Fraser

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The bad old days of professional thermal imaging.......

You bought a Industrial grade thermal camera that promises superb performance.
You need to get the captured images into a PC for a report.... no problem... you need to fit your PC with a CF card reader and buy the very expensive image analysis software. Think £4K for the software and you will not be far off its price. Then you want to stream raw thermographic data to the PC..... no problem.... you need to buy the digital data interface option for the camera and one of the two PC interface options. The digital interface option had to be fitted into the camera by FLIR so was expensive.

Options 1. PCI frame grabber card plus Parallel data translator plus analysis software.

Option 2. PCMCIA Card interface plus analysis software. The PCMCIA option does not need the expensive Parallel data translator.

Option 1 and 2 may be used with suitably equipped desktop PC's but laptops tend to need Option 2  and so need to have a PCMCIA Cardbus socket. Once common, now pretty much extinct on modern laptop models except industrial or military models that tend to still support legacy connectivity. PCMCIA cards used to offer the fastest connectivity to a laptop computer as USB 2.0 and 3.0 had yet to arrive.

Both option 1 and option 2 were Eye-wateringly expensive.

It would be fair to say that professional thermal imaging cameras of the late 1990's and early 2000's were not only expensive in themselves, but the accessories and software also cost serious money.

How far we have come in a decade. Most thermal cameras are now equipped with USB connectivity and they come with at least a basic analysis software to work with the images on a PC. No more expensive bespoke interfaces and the professional image analysis software packages have reduced in price.

Now to the subject of this post..... the AGEMA PCMCIA digital data streaming PC interface for use with the venerable PM series industrial thermal cameras.

From first appearances, it is a beast of a PCMCIA card. It is all metal and heavy. Nothing like the usual flimsy PCMCIA cards with their thin tin cases and plastic outer shells. The AGEMA unit looks built to last. Not surprising considering its cost and intended use in industry.

The mechanical construction is excellent with only the stainless steel covers letting the side down somewhat. The unit comprises a strong cast metal chassis that is screwed to a two piece cast metal external cable housing. The electronics package sits within the chassis and cable housing. Stainless steel sheet covers are fitted on top and below the electronics package to protect it. The whole assembled PCMCIA card is very rigid with no flexing evident. The screws that retain the stainless steel covers are flush fitting but the covers are slightly distorted at the screw locations and there is no dust seal between the chassis and the covers. The card looks Industrial and bespoke but I wondered whether a common digital data streaming chipset resided within its case or whether it was a re-cased commercial PCMCIA data collection card.

Upon opening the unit it soon became apparent that this PCMCIA card is a ground up bespoke design by AGEMA. It has all the hallmarks of an AGEMA design and build. The PCB is surprisingly complex and heavily populated with IC's. I have to remind myself that the unit was designed using parts available in the mid 1990's. A modern equivalent design would likely contain one large ASIC or FPGA. Any thoughts I had of copying the interface or adapting a modern product for the same function soon evaporated. The unit is too complex and it would be easier to just design a new interface using modern components from the ground up. So sorry to other PM series camera owners, there will be no cheap and easy alternatives to the official AGEMA PCMCIA card coming from me. These interface cards are very rare so I count myself lucky to have found a new old stock unit in the USA. It was well worth the reasonable price being asked. I already own the AGEMA/FLIR PCI card + Parallel translation unit + Researcher Software. I can use the same software with the PCMCIA card. I use military type laptops with my cameras so the need for a PCMCIA card slot is covered.

Fraser
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 05:57:22 pm by Fraser »
 

Online Fraser

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Under the bottom cover.... not much to see but nice quality.

There is a FR4 insulating sheet between the cover and the PCB.

Fraser
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2018, 05:45:04 pm »
Under the top covers. More to see here.... much more.

Sadly copying such a design would be expensive. Better to start from scratch and build a more modern low chip count interface.

It is a nice built though. It ought to be for what it originally cost !

Fraser
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2018, 05:49:01 pm »
Last few pictures....

The Agema/FLIR Parallel interface is similarly complex. I may upload pictures of that unit later.

Fraser
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2018, 06:01:07 pm »
From the date codes on the IC's, this particular unit appears to have been built Circa 1999. The design is closer to 1995 though as that is when the AGEMA Thermovision THV500 (PM550) was needing such an interface.

Fraser
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 06:26:11 pm by Fraser »
 

Offline Vipitis

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2018, 04:25:59 pm »
How old are we talking? I recently saw a listing of a ThermaCAM from 2004 with no idea of exact model or specs for 500€ and probed the seller for some more information.

If you are telling me old stuff won't plug&play I will look towards seek again.
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2018, 09:43:16 pm »
Hiya,

No I am talking about the hard core Industrial cameras such as the AGEMA/FLIR PM550, 570, 575, 675 and 695. They could be controlled via RS232 but streaming thermal image data was done over the 14 bit digital interface. If a camera has a USB port, it likely has none of the hassles and costs of a bespoke interface. Not all cameras can stream Radiometric data though so do check the specifications before buying.

The title Thermacam was used a lot so you need to know a model number to establish a particular cameras capabilities.

Fraser
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 09:46:04 pm by Fraser »
 

Offline Ben321

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2018, 08:46:32 pm »
What's a parallel data translator?
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2018, 10:09:26 pm »
In the case of the AGEMA 500 series unit it is a microprocessor controlled interface that translates the 14 bit proprietary data output from the Lemo port of the camera to an industry standard 14 bit video format that is passed in Parallel format suitable for a commercial video grabber card.

Fraser
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2018, 10:29:45 pm »
Some pictures of the AGEMA/FLIR Parallel interface unit.

It is built like a tank, full of electronics and cost a small fortune new. Now a very rare accessory.

Something I should explain about the parallel output of the unit as it is marked RS422, it uses multiple RS422 physical standard data links in parallel. Hence it passes data in parallel using a Serial data link physical standard !

I also include pictures of the commercial video grabber card. Even though commercial, the FLIR software changes the cards firmware and only this model of card may be used with the FLIR software. These are also very hard to find, and when you do, very expensive. They were an Industrial grade Parallel data video grabber card so were expensive when new.

Fraser
« Last Edit: July 13, 2018, 10:36:58 pm by Fraser »
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2018, 11:53:50 pm »
I just checked, the data link between the FLIR Parallel interface and the PCI video/frame grabber card conforms to the AIA RS422 standard (44 pin connector). This is common in industrial imaging systems.
Remember though, the AGEMA/FLIR software re-flashes the grabber cards firmware so the card is no longer a standard product.

https://edt.com/aia-lvds-rs-422-digital-video-camera-support/

https://edt.com/downloads/ug_pci_aia_clink/

Fraser
« Last Edit: July 13, 2018, 11:58:36 pm by Fraser »
 

Offline Ben321

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2018, 02:13:42 am »
I just checked, the data link between the FLIR Parallel interface and the PCI video/frame grabber card conforms to the AIA RS422 standard (44 pin connector). This is common in industrial imaging systems.
Remember though, the AGEMA/FLIR software re-flashes the grabber cards firmware so the card is no longer a standard product.

https://edt.com/aia-lvds-rs-422-digital-video-camera-support/

https://edt.com/downloads/ug_pci_aia_clink/

Fraser

You would think they could make a product that did the whole thing. A cable that terminates on one end at the camera. On the other end it terminates at a dedicated PCMCIA card. Just plug in the card and you are ready to go. That would be better than making a bunch of modules that need to be connected together.
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2018, 02:31:02 pm »
I do not disagree.

There were three modules for interfacing......

1. Breakout box - This breaks out the power and communications connections from the cameras Lemo 2B-310 socket. It has a Lemo 2B-310 terminated cable for the camera, two LEMO 2B-310 sockets, an RS232 socket and S-Video output. This breakout adapter is needed if the camera is to be externally powered whilst also connected to a remote control handset or one of the PCMCIA video grabber option. Control of the camera from the PC is via the RS232 port on the breakout box. This accessory is nice to have as it mAkes life easy for external power whikst using the RS232 or video that is provided on the 2B-310 socket.

2. The Parallel translator interface and Video Frame grabber PCI card. As already described. This contains a breakout box function as well. The camera connected to it via a double ended Lemo 2B-310 cable. Power is provided via the second 2B-310 port on the interface and RS232 is broken out for use with a PC. I think the Parallel interface is more complex in some ways because it also supports the AGEMA 900 series cameras. This was AGEMA trying to reduce the number of bespoke interface boxes that they needed to manufacture for their different cameras of the period.

3. The PCMCIA complete video grabber interface for laptops and suitably equipped desktop computers. This is my favourite interface solution as it is a custom design rather than a modified Video Frame grabber as used with the Parallel interface. It also enables laptop use whivh is important to me. The PCMCIA interface does not require any other hardware to work with the 500 series cameras and a suitable PC running Analysis software. However, it uses the single 2B-310 Lemo port on the camera that also acts as the external power port. As such the breakout box is also needed if the camera is to be used with a PC whikst being powered externally, rather than from internal battery pack. AGEMA's thinking may have been that the PCMCIA interface option was for mobile operation using a laptop and battery power only. It would have been nice to have a simple 12V external power socket as part of the PCMCIA card design though !

There is also the Remote control handset that suffers from the same issue. It uses the 2B-310 Lemo port yet has no facility for external power to the camera whikst it is in use. The breakout box is required for that capability.

Some of the Scientific versions of the 500 series cameras are equipped with two Lemo 2B-310 ports to enable remote control/PC connectivity on one port whilst power is provided on the second port.

I hope that explains the interfacing options OK.

Why did AGEMA design their camera interfacing in this way ? I have no idea. They might claim that it provided greater flexibility for the end user. All I know is that these options were all very expensive and they still are, even on the secondary market ! A Lemo 2B-310 connector is eye wateringly expensive, but then this high quality connector type is common on high end kit so I cannot complain about its use on an expensive industrial camera.

Fraser
« Last Edit: July 14, 2018, 02:53:32 pm by Fraser »
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2018, 02:51:07 pm »
Pictures of the break-out box and remote control handsets.

Fraser
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2018, 11:47:27 pm »
My thanks to Ben321 resurrecting this dormant thread ....... I was looking for info on the PCI capture card used with the Parallel interface unit and found another of these rare capture cards for sale on eBay. The asking price was high, but an offer of a more reasonable sum elicited a positive response and I got a great deal on it  :) I now have two Parallel interface units and two capture cards  :)

I had stopped searching eBay for such items and would not have done so had this thread not become active again  :-+

Fraser
« Last Edit: July 16, 2018, 12:18:17 am by Fraser »
 

Offline duffejo88

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2020, 12:54:40 am »
Just a question, I have a FLIR SC3000 and I don’t have the PC interface, power cord, or software.. can you help me???
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2020, 11:53:32 am »
The SC3000 is a ‘box camera’. That is to say, it is intended to be used with an external display and control system.

The camera outputs composite video so any composite video monitor will work with that.
The power input is 12V on a Lemo 2B-310 connector that is sadly an expensive part.
The breakout box to expand the Lemo connector’s I/O ports for ease of access is just a wiring box with no electronics inside. You can make your own. It provides access to the RS232 port for PC control of the camera using simple command strings.
The Lemo connector ports also provide the TAXI communications interface for the FLIR PC connectivity solution and the interface permits video and radiometric data transfer
A remote controller is a very useful addition to the kit and was normally included. It is a rare and very expensive accessory though. I recently sold a used one for £400.
The parallel interface is needed to adapt the TAXI data link to the multi-RS422 link that connects to the frame grabber card. It is also a rare and expensive accessory. I sold one for £300.
The PC interface PCI card has to be a specific model as the FLIR software modifies its firmware as part of the installation. The PC Cards are rare and expensive. I sold one for £200.
There is the option to use the legacy PCMCIA laptop data link kit that FLIR provided. You need a laptop or PC with a PCMCIA port though. Forget Expesscard ports or PCMCIA adapters, they are no good to you. The PCMCIA kit is rare and expensive. I have found only one and will be keeping it.

Finally, to the software.... the SC3000 operates with FLIR Researcher and not the later ResearchIR. Researcher is obsolete and unlikely to play nicely with modern operating systems even if you can find a licensed copy. I do have most FLIR software, including a Researcher but it is of little use without the hardware detailed above.

There is then the matter of whether the Stirling cooler in the SC3000 has any life left in it. It is a rotary type Stirling cooler and these can leak their Helium gas fill or suffer mechanical wear related failure. Until you can power and command the camera to switch on, you cannot assess the state of the cooler. If it is dead, you gave an interesting paperweight :(

Everything you need to make power and data cables to control the camera is contained in the SC3000 user manual that may be downloaded for free from the FLIR support site. The command set is included in the manual.

Sorry it is not better news. I do have spare remote controls, parallel adapters and PCI cards but as stated above, they sell for serious money.

Fraser

 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2020, 12:16:10 pm »
A fellow forum member, Miek, was working on extracting image data from a PM series thermal camera via the TAXI port on that camera. He succeeded. The FLIR PM series and SC3000 use the same video stream and most RS232 commands are common to both series. The SC3000 has some extra commands to cover the Stirling cooler side of things.
The SC3000 is always shipped with the TAXI interface board fitted so no need to source that ;)

I will find his post and enter it here........

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/thermal-imaging/getting-digital-data-out-of-my-pm695/

Fraser
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 12:39:41 pm by Fraser »
 

Offline FelixLer

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2020, 05:07:45 pm »
Hello,
i owm a SC3000 with the accessories, but not the software. Does anyone have it? and May you Share it with me (the Flir support wasnt much help)?
I have also read about that the SC3000 is capable of capturing at up to 900Hz does anybody know about that?

Greetings from Bavaria
Felix
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2020, 06:18:11 pm »
You need FLIR Researcher software. This predates the FLIR ResearchIR.

FLIR Researcher is now obsolete, hence the lack of help from FLIR. It may work in a 30 day trial mode but you need a licence to use it after the trial period unless you use a technique to fool the softwares date check. I am not supporting or recommending such dubious action of course.

If I recall correctly FLIR have Researcher for download on their legacy software support site. If you cannot find it I will upload a copy of Researcher to Filedropper for you, but cannot provide a free licence. Researcher was a very expensive software.... we are talking several thousand US Dollars !

Fraser
 

Offline FelixLer

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #20 on: July 22, 2020, 02:50:31 pm »
Oh i forgot to say that i actally have a License Key (Written in the manual of the Software), but the Disk wasnt included.
I looked on the Website for the Software but found nothing that after installing it can connect to it.
Does anybody know about the Higher speed capturing rate?
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2020, 03:05:54 pm »
What software and version is your licence intended for as I have most software and many versions that I can upload for you.

Fraser
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2020, 07:34:47 pm »
FelixLer

Out of interest, when you connect your camera to its power supply and operate the power rocker switch, does the rocker switch light illuminate and the cooler start running ?

Which PC interface are you using.... PCI Card or PCMCIA Card ?

Have got the remote controller hand piece and does the camera operate normally except fir linking to the PC ?

Fraser
 

Offline FelixLer

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #23 on: July 23, 2020, 01:29:53 pm »
For the License: it says Researcher 2001. Do you know if there is any software that is compatible and a bit newer?
I am would like to use the PCMCIA interface but i also own the Remote and the Breakout box in Reply #13.

For the Startup:
I connect Power and Video Out and the Remote (Remote seems to be Hot plug compatible). Yes when i switch it on the LED illuminates and the Cooler runs immediately and after about 6 minutes the cooler ramps a bit down and the Sutter opens automatically. After few seconds after power on the screen shows a Testpicture and a "Cooling down" message, i think. Then i can already navigate the menu when i press return on the remote.
All in all it funtions like it should, i have tested it a lot. But i couldnt get the Save image feature to work (built in PC Card slot), i always got a error. But the card i used was most likely corrupted.

As i said i most of the accessories were included but the Software wasnt. (Camera, PSU, Breakout Box, Agema PCMCIA Adapter Remote, 34/100 Lens and Manual for the Camera and the Software all inside of the Original Flir Peli Case)

Felix
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2020, 02:52:31 pm »
FelixLer,

The good news is that I do have Researcher 2001. From memory it requires Windows XP to run properly. There are other versions of Researcher but you would need the associated licence key as it is version specific. I think Researcher 2.10 was the last of the line bit I  am working from memory and would need to check my archive.

ResearchIR does not include the older Thermovision cameras in its compatibility list or drivers.

I am pleased that your camera is fully working and that the cooler is still performing well  :-+

As for the PCMCIA memory card. The old ATA PCMCIA cards are a nightmare and I use a common PCMCIA to CF flash card adapter with 256MB CF cards. Use older CF cards and nothing too modern or larger than 512MB. These PM/SC series FLIR cameras work fine with CF cards provided they recognise them, hence the recommendation for older cards and the capacity limitation. I buy used cards as they are normally old and so smaller capacity. Industrial CF cards tend not to work as they identify themselves as a bootable disk to the Camera and it confuses the OS !

I will upload Researcher 2001 for you.

Fraser
« Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 03:29:39 pm by Fraser »
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2020, 03:17:35 pm »
I have uploaded the full Researcher 2001 CD ISO with PCCARD drivers etc, Researcher 2.10 30 Day Demo version and a FLIR file note on the SC3000 fast frame rate option. It will be a function of the firmware setup and required at least Researcher 2002 to be used. It looks like your 2001 version does not support it.

Researcher 2.x is the later version of Researcher and I have versions 2.8 and 2.9 in my archive.

http://www.filedropper.com/researcher2-10

http://www.filedropper.com/researcher2001

http://www.filedropper.com/sc3000high-speed

Fraser
 
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Offline FelixLer

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2020, 08:51:29 pm »
This explains a lot. The camera aparently doesnt like 8GB :-BROKE
Have you tested the limit of the capacity? Otherwhise i will sort a few sizes...

I have already tested the 2.10 and it doesnt work (i got the 2.10 from the support and website)
As for the OS i have recently bought a old Laptop with the Slot and a Serial interface for a diffrent task that will run XP.

I think the cooler one time got swapped or serviced cause the camera origins from a large Company which calibrated and presumably serviced it regularly.

Thanks a lot for the files :) . do you have the 2002? so i will try if it works (judging by the firmware i think it got updated sometime)

Felix
« Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 08:58:02 pm by FelixLer »
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Interfacing to AGEMA/FLIR cameras - how it used to be - EXPENSIVE !
« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2020, 09:32:34 pm »
The maximum size of CF card that my cameras has recognised is 512MB. None of the 1GB cards worked. Bearing in mind the size of the files that the camera produces, even 256MB is a huge memory capacity  ;) The challenge is in finding small capacity CF cards. Buying used ones on eBay worked for me. Just avoid Industrial or “SSD” CF cards.

PCMCIA to SD card adapters do not work in my experience.

I do not have Researcher 2002 but it may be worth trying 2.8 as that might still support the legacy cameras ?

I have many different legacy laptops that I bought cheaply as solutions to the legacy software challenges that some of my kit presents. I find XP compatible laptops from good brands to be cheap, reliable and invaluable. Such laptops also have the important legacy PCMCIA and serial ports that are also very useful when dealing with legacy test kit and thermal cameras. My Dell Inspiron i3200’s and Latitude X300’s are great bits of kit :)

Fraser



« Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 09:52:46 pm by Fraser »
 


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