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Save Money by Building Your Own High-Resolution Thermal Camera

You can build your own high-resolution thermal camera for about $540 thanks to the DIY-Thermocam V3. Now available on GroupGets!

Cameron Coward
3 years agoPhotos & Video

Thermal cameras are useful for a wide range of applications, from troubleshooting to navigation. Need to figure out which parts of your 3D printer's heated bed are cold? A thermal camera can do the job. Is the insulation in your attic inadequate? A thermal camera can help you find out. Want to build a robot that can navigate in the dark? Thermal imaging is the way to go. But thermal cameras with a useful resolution and accuracy are very expensive — often several thousand dollars. Now you can build your own high-resolution thermal camera for about $540 thanks to this kit available on GroupGets.

As the name suggests, the DIY-Thermocam V3 is the third version of a thermal camera kit designed by Max Ritter. According to the product description, this new version of the DIY-Thermocam offers three times the performance of its predecessor. Ritter designed this kit around open hardware and software, which keeps the cost down while facilitating hacking. The core of this device is a FLIR Lepton 3.5 thermal imaging module with a FLIR Lepton Breakout Board V2. Those can't do anything on their own, which is where Ritter's designs come into play. With this kit, you can use the FLIR Lepton to build your very own thermal camera.

Once assembled, this camera will provide thermal imaging video at 9 frames per second — the US government regulates that frame rate, because they don't want you building missile tracking systems. The video displays on a 3.2 LCD touchscreen in 18 different color scheme options. Resolution for thermal images is 640x480 and you can save either still images or video onto a microSD card. A 2000mAh battery provides 4-6 hours of use. A Teensy 4.1 board controls the camera. It runs open-source firmware that you can tinker with as much as you would like. The kit even includes a small tripod and laser-cut enclosure.

The kit costs $279, but you will need to add $199 for the FLIR Lepton 3.5 module and $59.99 for the FLIR Lepton Breakout Board V2. There are regulations on where this kit can ship to, but you should be able to order it if you live in the US, Canada, UK, EU, or Australia.

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Proud husband and dog dad. Maker and serial hobbyist.
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