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Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF Pro <25mK 640x480???

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Hi folks

I recently came across the not-cheap Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF Pro thermal monocular that claims a remarkable <25mK NETD from its 17µm 50Hz 640x480 uncooled LWIR sensor and 50mm f/1.2 germanium lens. Certainly, the few bits of video I've seen do suggest it's an excellent performer.

I can't afford the four to five thousand pounds it'd cost here but I wonder if anyone else has seen it, possibly even in the flesh? Any idea what sensor is in it?

And yes I do know that NETD figures can be massaged to the point of meaninglessness, even if there was a meaning there to begin with, but the pictures do look rather good, if heavily processed.

25mK, 50FPS, but not  at the same time...

I had an idle thought: I wonder if it's running the sensor at 100Hz and averaging frames to reduce the noise and up the effective sensitivity.

As they're apparently readily available in the UK and many other countries I guess they're not using American-made sensors. The Ulis /Lynred Pico640 (which, admittedly, has been around a while now) will run at up to 120Hz but the NETD is nowhere near 25mK - the primo-grade version of that sensor only guarantees <40mK at 30Hz with f/1 optics. But that's quite a long way from achieving 25mK with f/1.2 optics.

The NETD of microbolometers is improving as the technology is refined…..

The Lynred PICO640 low noise “S” version with NETD <30mK (note the requirement on frame rate though)

The standard version PIC640 Gen2 with NETD <40mk

In addition to the improving noise levels of newer microbolometers, the OEM’s are using more effective noise processing in their software so the images presented to the user can be very clean and impressive. It is far easier to clean an image that is not going to be used for Radiometric thermography and rifle scopes etc are such an application where significant software image enhancement is often applied. This can result in an ‘overly processed’ appearance but, if done well, a pretty picture is produced. There is also the option to employ image stacking as the microbolometer is operated at a high frame rate. Such real time image stacking impacts displayed image update rates and can introduce motion blur but the noise content of the image can be significantly reduced.

You will see that there are two versions of the Pulsar Accolade 2 ?… a Pro and non-Pro version. I would suggest that the Pro version uses an enhanced ‘specially selected’ microbolometer such as the PICO640S and the non PRO version uses the standard, but still excellent PICO640 Gen 2. I have no confirmation of this however.

As a side note, I was very surprised at the low noise levels seen in images coming from the Dianyang Technology PCBA thermal analysis camera. That uses a Chinese made microbolometer and , though not perfect, that core produces impressive imagery from 12um pixels. I suspect a fair amount of image processing is employed but for many non Radiometric applications, the future is looking bright where image noise levels are concerned and the production of ‘pretty pictures’ is concerned  :-+ The Chinese microbolometer manufacturers  have also released microbolometers with tiny 10um pixels and 8um pixels are just starting to appear.

I suspect we will soon see a similar situation to mobile phone camera technology where the data captured by the lens and sensor array is far from optimal, yet looks fine to the user thanks to some very clever image processing. The image processing will obviously be different for a thermal sensor, but digital image enhancement gets better with every passing year.



You mirrored my thoughts on the PICO640 but I think it will be the PICO640S version.

Regarding NETD…. Remember NETD of the SENSOR array is always specified with an F1.0 lens and not the lens fitted to the unit that is sold to the end user. That is the only way to ensure useful NETD comparisons. There is also the frame rate issue. The PICO640 specifications show 30fps associated with its NETD so the Pulsar product is likely providing a degraded performance due to slower optics and higher frame rate.



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