Author Topic: ISG E380 rugged modern QVGA+ Law/Fire/Security camera - a look inside by Fraser  (Read 2406 times)

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Offline Fraser

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A recent addition to my collection is the ISG Infrasys E380 compact fire fighting/surveillance camera. This is currently in service with fire brigades around the world but sometimes does come up on ebay as surplus from industry. There are two on eBay at the moment and they range in price from $1500 to $5000 on that platform. Mine cost considerably less than that  :phew:

So what does the E380 offer the user ? Well I will precis the specifications here but attach the specs from a data sheet.

Sensor Technology: A-Si Microbolometer
Sensor Resolution:  384 x 288 pixels (110,592 pixels)
Sensor Manufacturer: ULIS (France)
Chipset: SPARTAN-6 plus ADUC847 MCU equipped ADC
NeDT : 50mK (nominal)
Effective Temperature Range : >1000 Degrees C (2000 C optional)
Field of view: 54 Degrees HFOV
Frame rate: 50fps
Start up time : <10 seconds
Zoom : 2X and 4X
Specialist modes : Temperature measurement (centre spot) and Highest temperature tracking
LUT : Monochrome with colour overlay available to indicate high temperatures in the scene
Display : 3.5" LCD panel
External Video output : PAL Composite Video
Waterproofing : Guaranteed to 1m depth
Weight : 1.3Kg
Casing material: Radel High Heat Thermoplastic


As can be seen from the brief specification above, this is a rugged thermal camera that can produce a better than QVGA image of 384 x 288 pixels using a respected ULIS microbolometer operating at 50fps  :-+ Added to that it has temperature measurement and tracking capabilities that can be very useful to the user. These E380 cameras are designed for more than just fire fighting. They are also marketed for use in the security, law enforcement and surveillance markets. This may help explain the 'covert' black case colour as opposed to the usual bright colours used for Fire fighting cameras.

I was attracted to this camera a while ago due to its organic case design. Much like the Bullard Eclipse thermal camera, it has a shape that is intended to be held easily in the hand. I love such interesting case designs  :-+

But is the camera that resides inside the pretty case any good ? In a word...... Yes.

The E380 provides excellent thermal imaging performance with crisp images on its good quality LCD panel and excellent automatic ranging that switches the camera between sensitivity ranges according to what the user points it at. That is to say it has a sort of centre biased 'metering' that enables a user to aim the camera at a low thermal contrast, or cooler, area of the scene whilst a high temperature object is within the field of view. The camera will set its range according to what is centered on the screen so surrounding temperatures are effectively ignored by the automatic ranging system. In this way the user can survey a scene that contains greatly varying temperatures and the camera will provide correct 'exposure' for whatever it is pointed at. This may all sound obvious, but not all thermal cameras behave in this manner. A more complex thermal scene can confuse their automatic ranging and reduce imaging performance in some scenarios. It should be stated that the E380 is not limited to just fire brigade use. it has been deliberately designed to be multi role in its behavior and performance. In its most sensitive temperature range it produces an excellent high contrast image even when observing low contrast scenes. Thsi is thanks to its excellent ULIS NANO384 microbolometer and decent optics combined with well written code for its image processing. In short, a very nice camera that I am very pleased to have purchased.

Now to my camera. It is in very good condition as it was not used in the Fire Fighting role. The unit has all of the available options enabled so I do not need to think about any 'hacking' of the control firmware ! The camera came with two Lithium Ion battery packs and the dedicated desk charger for them. Even though the E380 camera arrived in perfect working order, I wanted to know more about its imaging core. I expected it to contain either a L3 Thermal Eye 4500AS core or possibly a ULIS based core from a European Core supplier. I was partially correct. It does not use the 4500AS, but rather the ULIS NANO384 mounted in a custom 'core' assembly. It is nicely designed and constructed. The lens is a decent size and good quality. One area that was a disappointment to me was the cabling loom. It works and does the job, but I find it somewhat untidy. Whilst re-assembling the camera I tidied up the wiring loom and it now sits nicely within the cameras foam protection.

Time for the pictures. It will be seen that the camera splits into two halves and is lined with a special thermal and impact protection black foam. There is also plenty of EMI shielding evident in the design. The main board uses a SPARTAN-6 chip.

Well that is enough writing.... to the pictures.......

Fraser
« Last Edit: January 19, 2022, 12:16:29 pm by Fraser »
 
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Offline Fraser

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Disassembly begins......
 

Offline Fraser

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Pictures continued.......


Of note was the very well designed FPC ribbon cable clamps on the PCB's that ensure that the ribbon does not detach from the PCB ZIF connector  :-+

Fraser
« Last Edit: October 06, 2019, 03:51:04 pm by Fraser »
 

Offline Fraser

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Re-assembly begins......
 

Offline Fraser

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The U.S. seller in this eBay auction offered me his E380 camera for $1000 today !

I do not need it but if anyone is looking for a rugged thermal camera, you could do a lot worse than an E380  ;) I have no connection with the seller. Worth a message to the seller if you are interested ?

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ISG-INFRASYS-ELITE-E380-THERMAL-IMAGING-CAMERA-FLIR-TIC-384X286-50hz-X380/223651130937?hash=item3412a56e39:g:ny0AAOSw0d9dcGEh

Fraser
 

Offline Fraser

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I have just 'stolen' the images from the above auction as they show the camera output quality etc.

the last pictures in the series (with a 1970 date stamp!) were captured using an optional DVR handle fitted to the E380. I have no specs on the DVR compression but it seems to heavily 'soften' the images. you can still see the cameras low Delta T scene capabilities though.

Fraser
« Last Edit: October 06, 2019, 04:10:54 pm by Fraser »
 

Offline Fraser

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In case it is of interest, from memory, the price if the E380 was £12 to £15K in singles. Not cheap but then the market segment in which it resides never is !

Fraser
 

Offline Fraser

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The ISG advertising video showing the different functions of the E380.

The music is cringe worthy but you can mute the sound  ;D

https://youtu.be/4ul2VPyQR4g

Fraser
 

Offline KnuckleheadFlow

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After sort of thinking about getting a thermal camera maybe for months (just for fun and messing around), I happened upon one of these on ebay for a price that was too good to pass on.

Actually, looking at the pictures from that ebay auction at the start of October, I'm 99% sure that's the one I bought less than a month later. Different seller, different state, but I got it for way less than than that listing. Unless they seriously talked that guy down from the $1000 you mentioned, they'd have lost money if they were flipping it. Strange. There certainly doesn't seem to be anything wrong with it. Yet...

Though you didn't need to, you didn't happen to dump that firmware anyway, did you? Celsius would be nice and I'm not sure mine has all the options enabled. Looking inside an oven, the temperature read out for the hotspot tracker seemed to top out and stay at exactly 600° F. Hmm.

Looking at the manual, it seems the pistol grip with the DVR and transmitter only used the 6 pads on the left here. Could the other 4 be UART? I found the video output pad and what I think is the video ground. I'll poke around some more when I have the time. Maybe crack it open.
[attach=1]

Overall I'm really happy with this thing. The resolution and framerate are so much better than the only other thermal camera I've interacted with. My only issues being that it's factory set to use Fahrenheit, which is practically alien to me and the 1m minimum focus. But that's not a big deal really though. It's pretty wild seeing heat!
 

Offline Fraser

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There were two on eBay. One was in Australia and, I think, the other was in Canada or the USA (I forget).

The camera configuration menu is protected by a password as additional optional functions were chargeable.

Fraser
« Last Edit: November 20, 2019, 09:49:12 pm by Fraser »
 

Offline Bill W

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Looking at the manual, it seems the pistol grip with the DVR and transmitter only used the 6 pads on the left here. Could the other 4 be UART? I found the video output pad and what I think is the video ground. I'll poke around some more when I have the time. Maybe crack it open.


It is more likely that the 4 are for charging in a truck mount.  Even then USB rather than RS232, but believe it was accessed internally on this model.

Bill

Offline 1974TIC

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Hello. Just have a question. Does anyone know what voltage the E380 cameras run off of? I can't find anything online nor in the manuals that indicate the battery voltage. Just asking because I have one but am missing the battery.

Al I can find is the PSU voltage for the chargers.

Thanks I really appreciate any help in this.
 

Offline Fraser

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Hi 1974TIC,

I just dug out my notebook that contains my E380 notes. I make no apology for their crude nature as they were “working notes” rather than archival  ;D You will see that it is a 7.2V Li-Ion battery pack and there is a small PCB in the battery. The battery contains two 2550mAh 18650 cells (CGR18650E)and a management IC, also detailed in the notes.

CGR18650E datasheet....

https://www.custompower.com/documents/CGR18650E.pdf

There is a relay PCB in the battery but for your purposes it may be ignored.

This information should help you make your own battery  :-+

I have included the pages that detail the battery contents, contact use and camera casing connections to the battery bay.

Fraser
« Last Edit: January 07, 2021, 07:41:43 pm by Fraser »
 
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