Adafruit's PyGamer Handheld Console Becomes a Thermal Camera

CedarGrove added an Adafruit AMG8833 IR Camera FeatherWing to the PyGamer in order to build a thermal camera.

Cameron Coward
8 months agoPhotos & Video / Sensors

The Adafruit PyGamer is a nifty portable, handheld video game console that can run games programmed with MakeCode Arcade, Arduino, and Adafruit’s own CircuitPython. It’s built on a Microchip SAM D51 microcontroller, which has a 32-bit Arm Cortex-M4 processor. The display is a 1.8” 160x128 TFT screen, and you get a joystick and a handful of buttons for control. It’s also expandable with Adafruit’s FeatherWing boards. CedarGrove took advantage of that to add an Adafruit AMG8833 IR Camera FeatherWing to the PyGamer in order to build a thermal camera.

If you’ve ever looked into purchasing a thermal camera, you know that FLIR (Forward-Looking InfraRed) cameras are very expensive. But there are far more affordable types that are usually sold as “thermal imaging cameras.” They’re most often marketed for applications like building inspection, and have a lower resolution and shorter range. Adafruit’s IR thermal Camera FeatherWing fits into that category, and utilizes that the Panasonic AMG8833 8x8 GridEYE sensor. It can measure temperatures between 32 and 176 degrees Fahrenheit (0 and 80 degrees Celsius), and can detect a human up to 23 feet (7 meters) away. This FeatherWing only contains the AMG8833 sensor, so you need a separate microcontroller and display to actually take advantage of it.

That’s why CedarGrove paired it with the Adafruit PyGamer console. It has a display, a microcontroller, and buttons — everything required to complete the thermal camera. CedarGrove programmed all of the functions in CircuitPython. Those include the standard thermal imager, a histogram display, a temperature alarm, focus, and an adjustable display range. While this was originally built for the Pygamer, it will also work with the similar Adafruit PyBadge and PyBadge LC. With the latter, the total build cost would only be about $60. That’s very affordable for a thermal imaging camera that can be customized and upgraded like this one, and it can be used for a variety of jobs around the house.

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