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Products => Thermal Imaging => Topic started by: Miek on February 05, 2019, 11:42:16 am

Title: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Miek on February 05, 2019, 11:42:16 am
After scouring this forum for a while and absorbing as much info as I could, I've been eyeing the FLIR PM series as a first camera. It looked like a nice combo of great specs, reasonable price, and has some scope for future projects & improvements. So, when one came up on eBay recently, I snapped it up.

It seems to be in reasonable condition: some blemishes on the anodising (looks like it got sprayed with something on the top/side at some point during its life), a few marks on the corners, and someone's been into the visual camera housing at some point and not put it back very well. All to be expected with something of this age. Functionally everything seems to be working: no bad pixels/columns, nothing rattling inside, images look good, saving to PC card works, etc.

It came with 3 batteries, the charger, a 12V supply with a barrel jack (seems unrelated?) & shoulder strap. One battery seems usable, the other two are shot so I'll be cracking those open to install new cells at some point.

It is missing the lens cap so I'd quite like to find/make one. Does anyone know if there's something compatible off the shelf?

I also started looking at connectors as I want to make a remote control & breakout for serial/power/composite. Once I'd recovered from the shock of looking at legit LEMO prices I went off to Aliexpress and have ordered some "compatible" ones, we'll see how they turn out and I'll post a thread if I make some progress on the homebrew remote.
I did see a thread or two from some years back talking about doing this sort of thing, I wonder if anyone's made any progress since?

Also, if/when I get brave enough to open this thing up, I'll be looking at some dumping the firmware and doing some reversing. Again, I wonder if anyone's looked at that since the thread a while back?
Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Fraser on February 05, 2019, 04:28:26 pm
Hi Mike,

I own a few AGEMA/FLIR PM series cameras......!/50/ (!/50/)

A nice new lens cap can be found on eBay by searching for Binocular lens cap. I purchased some very nice caps for my cameras that are made of a rubber material and fit perfectly. I will see if I can find the seller.

More from me later as bit busy at the moment


Update..... the lens cap seller I purchased from is not appearing in eBay at the moment. I suspect he suspended selling over the chinese holiday period.
Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Miek on February 05, 2019, 05:15:54 pm
Hi Fraser,

"binocular lens caps" yields some good results indeed, thanks.

I was aware of your impressive collection :), your previous posts sharing information on this series of cameras have been invaluable so thanks very much for that too!
Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Fraser on February 05, 2019, 06:38:33 pm
No worries Mike  :)

I am very familiar with the PM series internals. I reverse engineered a PM570 to component level in order to better understand the design and repair it. The PM570 design is the basis of all the PM series designs that followed :) Do not be afraid to open the casing. It is a very well designed camera that is built like a tank. Basic care is all that is needed to work on it. On the PM695 there is a case screw obscured by that carbuncle of a visible light camera module. You have to dismantle that carbuncle and remove it to access the case screw. It was a pretty awful ‘bolt-on’ to address the PM series lack of visible light imaging.

The case opens like a clam shell and delicate ribbon cables do cross the join so care is needed to disconnect them to avoid tearing. Inside the camera you will find the main processor board, video processing board, power board, battery board and Microbolometers module. All very well laid out. To work on these cameras, FLIR placed the boards in a jig that effectively ‘exploded’ the camera for easy access to the test points etc. Working on a camera without ribbon extensions can be ‘fun’. There are two processors running in the camera, one is responsible for camera functionality and the other deals with the video processing in harmony with some huge FPGA chips. These cameras are things of beauty to me. Beautifully engineered.

The viewfinder in the PM695 is a development from the earlier PM570 that used a JVC camcorder viewfinder electronics package. The PM695 viewfinder is bespoke and uses a well known Sony chipset and LCD panel. The ribbon that connects the EVF to the main processor board fails due to flexing and may be the reason that your camera was worked on.

You will likely lose the EVF picture in the not too distant future. It will lose line lock. It is not a fault in the EVF, but on the main board hardware. I have repaired many PM series cameras with this issue.

The PM series batteries are easy to rebuild :)

I have good stock of the correct LEMO 2B-310 plugs if the Chinese clones give you any problems. Mine are cheaper than other sources :)

On the communications front, the PM series use true RS232 Serial communications and the camera contains a MAX232 or equivalent level converter. Digital video data streaming is only available on the socket as an option that involves a digital I/O TAXI PCB. S-Video is the standard output from the socket, along with composite video from the other video output socket.

I own four of the official remote controllers for the PM series cameras. They are rare so often sell for more than you paid for your camera ! They contain a basic dedicated serial terminal with stored command strings. Such is easy to replicate with an Arduino as I have the full Serial instruction set document for the PM series cameras :) It is on my to-do list but sadly other priorities have prevented progress on this front. Programmable serial commanders used in AV environs can also be used to control the cameras. You just program the required Serial settings and command string for each button. Happy to provide you with the command set if needed.

I will help you where able but I am trying to reduce my activity on this forum, and the internet, in order to focus on other matters. I cannot dedicate much time to helping others at the moment as a result.

Well that is enough from me for now. Much to do at the moment.

Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Fraser on February 06, 2019, 12:16:34 am

In case you are unaware, the PM series cameras will accept a CF card mounted in a CF to PCMCIA adapter.
The only requirement is that the CF card is quite low capacity as that is what the firmware expects. I have used 256MB cards in my cameras and that is plenty big enough. I think 512MB might work, but 1GB does not. CF cards are so much easier to work with than the old PCMCIA ATA memory cards.

I have most of the PM series accessories including the breakout box and PC interfaces so can provide pictures if needed. The breakout box is passive so you can easily reproduce it and make a custom version to suit your needs. I was going to make one with a USB to RS232 converter built into it but then I found the official breakout box so no need to make one.

The supplementary lenses are gorgeous, but expensive ! Big lumps of Germanium in nicely machined aluminium lens casings. I have the X0.5, X2 and close up lenses. These lovely lenses fit all PM series cameras, some P series and the A40 that I have :) I have been intending to make a lens mount adapter to enable the lenses to be used on other cameras but that is still a ways down my priority list.

The built in visible light camera is nothing special. The composite video A to D converter sits behind the camera PCB in the camera carbuncle. The PCB camera is a standard “power in, Video out” type. I bought some better Sony CCD based colour PCB cameras that I will fit at some point in the future.

In very narrow temperature span modes the PM695 can sometimes show a slight temperature gradient (elevation) down the far right of the image. This can develop over time until the next FFC event occurs. Some cameras exhibit this, whilst others do not. It is not a fault but I intend to investigate its cause. There could be a thermal energy contamination issue on the Microbolometer PCB. This effect is minor and not visible when ‘everyday’ temperature spans are used.

The audio commentary headset is nothing specific to FLIR except its use of a LEMO connector. Any common handheld radio, computer of telephone headset that uses an electret microphone should work fine after fitting a LEMO plug.

Be very careful if cleaning the objective lens. I have written guidance on lens cleaning and it is worth reading that or FLIR’s comments on such. It is a lovely large chunk of AR coated Germanium that you do not want to scratch or scuff.

The keypad and power buttons are all carbon pad types and can become non responsive. I have previously provided comment on their repair. A specific Sky remote control has the right size buttons to transplant into the camera. There are also replacement carbon impregnated rubber pads available for button repairs. I have yet to use these but have purchased several different pad kits to experiment with.

The EVF eye piece can be removed if the EVF casing screws are loosened. It is just a standard camcorder type eyepiece from JVC. I always strip and clean these when working on a PM series camera as dust does get into them over time and they respond well to a clean and lube service.

The EVF backlights are CCFL and do fail with age. The common symptom is a failure to strike reliably. I know of no source for the compact CCFL flat panel so I bought several 1990’s era JVC camcorders that use a very similar backlight board in their colour EVF. Such camcorders are very cheap these days and I need the EVF module as spares for my PM570’s anyway.

Finally, firmware in the camera resides in two locations...Main processor and Video processor. The main processor board contains the system firmware and camera configuration etc. The video processor board contains the microbolometer image correction firmware with Dead Pixel and NUC tables etc. The main board firmware IC is a bit of a beast in that it has very fine pitch pins... lots of them. IIRC it is an Intel 28F400 or something like that. It has memory area compartmentalisation or some such system. My universal programmer does not have the correct SMD adapter but does support the chip. The adapter is silly money though.

Have fun with your camera  :-+

Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: oddbondboris on February 06, 2019, 09:16:16 pm
fraser: if you ever want a cheap programmer for those flash chips (
combined with (
gets you support for all those terrible chips for less than $50 for the programmer and an adapter and $20/adapter after that for other weird pinouts.
it's not perfect but it works and it's damn cheap
Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Fraser on February 06, 2019, 10:28:05 pm

Many thanks. A very interesting little programmer.

My current USB based programmer is a very nice Wellon unit but the adapters for that can be very expensive.

I have just checked my drawings and the FLASH memory chip used in the PM570 is an Intel E28F016. IIRC, the later camera models use the same FLASH IC.

Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Miek on March 12, 2019, 02:22:39 pm
Thanks again for all the extra info Fraser, it's much appreciated!

I got my connectors in finally and they actually look really good. They weren't dirt cheap from China, but certainly a nice saving from the real ones :) I'll leave links to the ones I got down below, if anyone's interested. I got the right-angle variant to keep everything a bit slimmer, but unfortunately the composite & 10pin connectors conflict with each other, so watch out for that.
I've made up a composite-out cable and tried that out a few nights ago - the image looks great on a bigger screen ;D

I've also started looking into the file format for image storage. I did try running the FLIR software but I'm a linux guy and it does not run right under wine, so I need another solution. I found some discussion on another forum that said it was a waste of time to reverse engineer it and one should just buy the FLIR SDK, so of course I ignored that and I started reverse engineering it.

It all seems simple enough: a header with all the metadata and then a big list of 16bit integers for the data. I've written a basic python script to parse it (using Kaitai Struct), extract the data, do some very basic min/max scaling, and output an image. Code so far is here: ( and there's a sample image attached below. I'll probably post a new thread about it when it becomes more usable.
I wonder whether there is already some open software around for processing thermal images? It would be nice to add PM support to something else rather than start from scratch.

I'm very interested in the 14bit output option. Just to check I'm understanding correctly: it requires a different/extra PCB option inside the camera? Do you know any more detail about this interface and have you encountered it in any cameras?
I'm planning a breakout box that'll take bring out serial control & video out to USB, but it would be great to get the digital out rather than sampling s-video.

Mike ( (
Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Fraser on March 12, 2019, 03:06:05 pm

Good news on the connectors. The originals use a right angle for the power input and a straight for the video. We now know why.

The digital output from a PM series camera is an option fitted at the factory. It is a small Additional PCB that mounts onto a spare header on the main PCB. I do not know whether the firmware needs to be told of the digital output PCB option, but think it likely. The digital output uses a TAXI link chipset.

I will see if I have the optional PCB easily to hand. If I do, I will upload pictures of it here.

Good work on the image output reverse engineering  :-+ Joe-C has written an excellent program for reading various camera file types. It may be worth talking to him ?

Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Fraser on March 12, 2019, 03:27:53 pm
As luck would have it, I have my SC3000 disassembled and that is fitted with the optional digital output PCB. This is the same PCB used in your camera.

The PCB contains an Altera FPGA and a TAXI interface chip. Sadly I have no information of the data format that enters this PCB.

I attach pictures for your reference.

Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Miek on March 12, 2019, 05:24:24 pm
Thank you very much! I finally cracked open my camera to have a look and compare and sadly no TAXI board - worth a try  ;) I'll have to get set up to probe that connector when I have a bit more time, and see what comes out.

I assume the S-Video pins coming from the 10pin LEMO connector get removed from the beige 12pin mainboard connector and attached to the 4pin P1 connector on the TAXI board instead?

Edit: Also, I noticed some residue on the connector next-door that looks like it's from the adhesive pad on the bottom of the TAXI board. I wonder whether this camera actually had one at some point in its life...
Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Fraser on March 12, 2019, 06:43:17 pm
The SC3000 is different when it comes to its connectors as there are two Lemo 10 pin connectors.

What you suggest is logical though as the TAXI Digital output replaces the S-Video output signals on the PM series 10 pin connector.

The small PCB is indeed attached to the adjacent header using double sided foam tape. When I removed the pcb there was residue left on that header. It would indeed look like your camera once contained the TAXI board. Why it was removed we will never know. It might have been moved to another camera after a fault developed on your unit ?

Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Miek on March 28, 2019, 12:44:44 pm
On the storage options, I've now got myself a CF card to PCMCIA adapter and a 256mb card and that's working great - thanks for the tip, Fraser. I also tried a 512mb CF card and a "Tera" SD card to PCMCIA adapter with various sizes of card and neither of those worked.
Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Miek on March 31, 2019, 11:15:15 pm
A bit of progress on the digital interface these evening. I opened the camera back up, and got it arranged so that I could probe the 30pin TAXI-board connector while the camera was running.

Fortunately, it looks like a pretty standard parallel camera interface with a pixel clock, hsync/vsync, and a bunch of data lines. I figured out the pinout & levels, so I should have enough info now to spin up a board to get that data out to an FPGA or microcontroller. Also, I was seeing 25fps & 16bit data which wasn't quite what I was expecting, so will need to investigate some more once I get some boards made. :)
Title: Re: New PM695 owner, some questions
Post by: Fraser on April 01, 2019, 12:13:04 am
Excellent work  :-+

I am watching with great interest  :)