Products > Thermal Imaging

What do you want to see discussed here ?

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Fraser:
Over the past few years we have discussed many thermal imaging topics on this forum. There have been reviews and teardowns of many thermal cameras and discussion of modifications to improve them. This is the home of the FLIR E4 upgrade that came out of Mike’s teardown of that camera and commentary on its design. Those were fun times  :-+

I still do the odd teardown and offer advice where able and appropriate, as do many others. This is the only Thermal Imaging forum offering access to such a wealth of combined professional knowledge and it is a thing of beauty.

I have noted a change over the past two or three years though. The excitement of upgrading a FLIR E4 to a specification well beyond FLIR’s intentions has subsided and that Circa 2013 camera has slid quietly into history as more recent, cheaper, alternatives appear on the market to tempt buyers. The Corona Virus pandemic lead to a huge step forward in affordable thermal imaging equipment for the masses. China instructed its thermal imaging equipment manufacturers to quickly develop systems for the detection of Fever in humans. This they did, and the developments appeared in more affordable general use thermal imaging cameras as well as fever detection systems. A new era of Chinese produced microbolometers that provide decent performance began. As end users we are very fortunate to now have a choice of more affordable thermal imaging equipment. The higher resolution cameras remain quite expensive but sub VGA cameras have never been cheaper or the choice of models so great  :-+

Coming back to the matter of this wonderful forum, I come from a background where I was fortunate enough to use many different technologies and generations of thermal imaging equipment, from the early AGEMA Thermovision 880 cooled cameras right up to current state of the art thermal imaging used by the military. I consider myself most fortunate to have accumulated a good knowledge of the various technologies, their design and even how to repair them. That knowledge has been shared, where appropriate, but I now see much of it as being less applicable to modern budget thermal imaging systems. Basic physics remains the same but repairing a FLIR PM695 is very different to repairing a Budget Uni-T UTi-260b ! The latter is virtually a disposable piece of electronics due to its relatively low purchase cost. Teardowns ? Is anyone still truly interested in seeing what resides inside a thermal imaging camera ? I suspect the audience on this forum may have changed. People appear, understandably, more interested in how many pixels they can get at the lowest cost and are far less interested in how the manufacturer designed the electronics package within the casing. The question of modifications and upgrades are ever present but these are often firmware modifications so deep knowledge of the cameras electronic design may be less important to those wishing to apply upgrades. We appear to be in the age of ‘black boxes’ just as some Radio Amateurs noted with their equipment. Owners begin to care less about what is inside the casing, or how it works, and judge an equipment only by its performance. This is a fair attitude when you consider that many sophisticated equipments comprise mainly a “System on a Chip” rather than many subsystems communicating with a main operating system board, as used to be the case. A PCB with a smattering of high density IC’s is not very interesting and often considered beyond economic repair if something goes wrong with it. This is a foreign World to me as I was brought up and trained to be curious about how things work, how they fail and how to repair them. I was repairing Betamax and VHS VCR’s (remember those?) as a teenager when a sensible person of that age would have been at the Disco and dating girls! We all make mistakes in life  ;D

So we are in a very different World to that of only a few years ago where thermal imaging is concerned. You buy a small dongle thermal camera for a few hundred Dollars, slap it in your highly capable mobile phone host and start producing decent thermal images. So what next ? If few people care what is inside the devices or how they work, what is there left to discuss on a technical thermal imaging forum ? You tell me  :-//

I am thinking that I will no longer document the repair of older generations of thermal camera as they are of less/no interest to the current majority of this forums members and the latest budget camera technology is virtually disposable so there is little point in documenting the designs or their repair, if such is even viable these days. What is left to discuss then ? We have already covered close-up lenses, PCB analysis, supplemental telephoto lenses, interpretation of specifications and created a gallery for sharing thermal images. I fear this thermal imaging forum will begin to stagnate as a result of the changes in the market that we have recently seen. You no longer have to buy an older camera and service it, or adapt a camera that was built into a larger system, you just go on Banggood and buy an Infiray P2 or one of the other inexpensive cameras that China now produces. For me, that is not as much fun as we had in the old days of repairing and adapting equipment out of necessity as no cheap options existed.

The end scenes of the film Bladerunner still resonate with me. I am in my mid Fifties, have seen and learnt much, yet it is becoming less relevant by the day and when I leave, it will be lost forever.

https://youtu.be/HU7Ga7qTLDU

It is at times like this that I miss my chats with my good friend Giles (Ultrapurple). RIP mate.

I look forward to hearing others views on this matter  :-+

Fraser

Vipitis:
I browse the forum on the daily, but pretty much don't look into most threads that talk about the same handful of rebranded products. To me
consumer products seem the least interesting.

My favorite posts are any kind of DIY project, the more ambitious the better. I am in it for the art and fun of the medium, not interested in any of the measurement aspects. while I enjoy reading about cutting edge technology and all the smart sensor tech, I don't disregard the history. Same with visible photography in a way. I even have a collection of old cameras and old mediums.

Lenses and optical solutions are still some of the interesting bits that pop up every few months. And finally I am getting more and more into the software and processing side of things. This forum exposed me to some really interesting concepts and I am close to finishing my bachelor's and then moving onto a master programme that might get me closer to some of the long term goals I set.

I don't want to discourage any contribution. Some threads might not get a lot of replies and discussion, but there is readers.

tomasis:
i think diy stuff one makes based on broken bad-ass thermal cameras from Ebay would be interesting. The build should be on budget 250-300 because people would not be bothered otherwise.


I think we need a detailed list of available stuff/mods/articles (sticky?) so I dont need hunt and collect info. I have a 3d printer so custom cases are no problem.  :-+ At the beginning, I thought Lepton were cool but i realized it is way too low rez or neither high fps.

Fraser:
Good points already  :-+

Sadly (for me anyway) I can see this forum becoming just a stream of questions asking which is the best thermal camera below $X and which is the best cheap camera for X use. There will be the interesting posts on user software developments to improve performance, but the days of teardowns and articles on more expensive cameras may well be coming to an end. Even a faulty industrial/professional thermal camera still commands decent money and I can see why there would be little interest in buying such or seeing how to repair them.

This forum could well become more like the general photographic forums where people discuss new product releases, test real World performance and discussions on which cameras offer the best bang per Buck. There is no harm in that path but it will not be of great interest to me as a tech. A forum is what it’s membership wants of it.

Regarding optics …. I 100% agree. It would be great to see some articles on creating useable thermal camera lens systems that do not cost a small fortune. Sadly some of the required optical elements can be quite expensive though. I am not an expert in optics so any discussions on that topic are of great interest to me, and hopefully others.

Fraser

Lambda:
Hello. :)

First of all, thank you Fraser for pointing the current aspect of this forum.

I am a recent member and thermal newbie for sure, so will not comment nothing about the large historical background here (Pythagore asked his students to study in strict silence during at least 5 years before daring to express a question... i talked already too much and too early.... :D )

But for sure, what you mention, i witness it regularly on some astro forums which is more and more a kind of "hotline" for after or pre sale projects than anything else. :(

Forum IMHO should be a gigantic evolving true learning platform combining academic and experimental points of view...

What i would see is clearly more:

- (1) DIY projects, of any kind of levels, just each of us doing his best at his level.... Imaging any kind of thermal systems, parts, sub-parts, using craps, scavenging parts from improbable items having perhaps no link with the thermal world, 3D printing, epoxy, tape, soldering....... Using whatever his available on our individual scale.... Old military tech from E-Bay or physical fleamarket, stuffs from sites like in the Bill's one....  Digging for adapting optical materials, comparing, testing, reporting even roughly, but at least keeping written/image/video traces of what we do.....Developing softwares/apps (beyond my humble knowledge....). Probably nowday 99% useless for the community because of the existing ready to use/plug and play commercial solutions? yes, but it remains the 1 %......

- (2) DIY projects for budget reasons..... Thermal items/optics are expensive..... If not passionated by the science and tech by themselves, at least promoting alternative solutions for Budget reason... "We do not have money, but ideas..." GO TO (1)

- (3) DIY projects for potential discovery..... Some gems are hidden in mud, time to time..... GO TO (1) !!!! :D

Perhaps i am expressing here myself a bit drastically... Of course everything is a question of compromise, acceptance, tolerance.... It is just a personal think/feeling i am daring to share in this post, something coming from my guts....

Thank you to all the Seniors here having shared and still sharing your knowledge with us.

Multi-spectrally yours... :D

Stéphane



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