Public Lab Wiki documentation



Thermal Flashlight

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A "Thermal Flashlight" is a DIY device which lets you do a kind of "light painting" -- thermal photography. It produces a colored "heat map" overlaid directly onto a photo of a room. This is the simplest, cheapest, and to date, most effective way we have developed of measuring heat leaks or cool leaks indoors and outdoors. Simply put, the "flashlight" puts out redder light if it's pointed at something hot (default 75 deg F or more) and bluer light if it's pointed at something cold *(default 60 deg F or less).

Parts

The Melexis MLX90614 digital thermometer used in this kit can be found in a few places, at different price points:

Assembly

There are a few versions of the thermal flashlight:

Questions

Ask a question  or help answer future questions on this topic


Activities

Purpose Category Status Author Time Difficulty Replications
Common-anode LED thermal flashlight casing and circuit diagram - - @lmc6399group - - 0 replications: Try it »
Build a simple Thermal Flashlight - - @warren - - 26 replications: Try it »
Thermal Flashlight Using MLX90614 IR Evaluation Board From Sparkfun - - @ajawitz - - 0 replications: Try it »
Thermal flashlight: data collection in Holyrood, NL - - @ckenny - - 0 replications: Try it »
Visualight board for Thermal Flashlights - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »
Thermal Flashlight from hacked, off-the-shelf Pocket IR Thermometer - - @ajawitz - - 0 replications: Try it »
Thermal Imaging: Heat Insulation Comparison - - @brachium - - 0 replications: Try it »
Thermal Imaging of Northeastern University buildings - - @evanbjacobson - - 0 replications: Try it »
Thermal Flashlight with LCD keypad display and Neopixel LEDs - - @thosetechpeople - - 0 replications: Try it »
Common cathode variant of Thermal Flashlight code - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »

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Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.


Using a Thermal Flashlight

To capture the light painting over time, we have been using timelapse photography or this p5js.org sketch (source) (or its inspiration, GlowDoodle), as seen in the top image on this page.

  • Within view of the camera or laptop, sweep the flashlight beam over the scene at a distance of about 12 inches.
  • Try to stay out of the way of the beam, and don't point it directly at the camera or it will create a "starburst" and may mess up your image.
  • It's helpful to wear dark clothing so you don't show up in the image as you're moving around.

Thermal flashlight diagram

Building your own

Parts list For a Thermal Flashlight with 3.6 V Melexis Sensor and Common Anode LED.

Software

thermal-flashlight.zip

Gist: https://gist.github.com/sdosemagen/1739961/

_Note: The goal of this file is to be a place to download everything without pursuing other links. If there are changes or updates please feel free to add and re-upload. If the file is missing anything, please comment below. You might notice that this is for the 5v Melexis, but it will work for either without issues.

Alternative variations of the Flashlight can be made with a 5.5V Melexis Sensor and Common Cathode LED. For the 5.5 V sensor follow this diagram: http://publiclaboratory.org/notes/sara/2-7-2012/circuit-diagram-5v-melexis-sensor For the common cathode circuit board follow this diagram: http://publiclaboratory.org/notes/warren/2-11-2012/common-cathode-variant-thermal-flashlight-code

Links to purchasing equipment:

Consumable Parts

If you are starting an electronics kit from scratch:

  • a 40Watt soldering Iron (if you want it to be permanent otherwise duct tape or Velcro works temporarily)
  • hookup wire (solid not stranded- 22 or 24 gauge, you can get this at Radio Shack)
  • pliers called "wire strippers" to get the plastic wrap off the hookup wire (can get at Radio Shack)
  • solder for 40Watt iron, lead-free.
  • a breadboard (1 per flashlight). If you aren't soldering: http://www.adafruit.com/products/64. If you are soldering: https://www.adafruit.com/products/571.
  • a USB cable to connect the arduino to the computer via USB for power 5Volts (can get at Radio Shack)
  • household sponge for cleaning solder off tip
  • 9 volt battery with connector wires (can get at Radio Shack- 1 per flashlight)

Cost: ~$40-$60


Updates

All research on PublicLab.org about the thermal flashlight project:

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
Thermal flashlight tests at the p.irateship @warren about 1 year ago 3
Build a simple Thermal Flashlight @warren about 1 year ago 13
Can you share a link to project documentation? @vwls over 3 years ago 1
Thermal Fishing Bob Development Workshop on Northeastern's Campus @kgrevera about 5 years ago 2
Thermal Fishing Bob Development Workshop @kgrevera about 5 years ago 1
Thermal Flashlight with LCD keypad display and Neopixel LEDs @thosetechpeople over 5 years ago 0
Common-anode LED thermal flashlight casing and circuit diagram @lmc6399group over 5 years ago 4
dealing with patents: Black & Decker and the Thermal Flashlight @mathew over 5 years ago 6
Finding Hotspots With Our Thermal Flashlight @FireLogCollective over 5 years ago 0
Thermal Flashlight: Tech Failure Spectacle @acnud over 5 years ago 4
Site Visits and Results @KKMS over 5 years ago 1
Thermal flashlight: data collection in Holyrood, NL @ckenny over 5 years ago 1
KKMS Thermal Flashlight Project Sociology 4107 @KKMS over 5 years ago 2
Arduino Uno Thermo Flashlight Casing Specs @klrussell over 5 years ago 1
Comparison of Window Insulation in Old vs New buildings @weertsc over 5 years ago 0
Thermal Imaging of Northeastern University buildings @evanbjacobson over 5 years ago 0
Effective Cooling Methods In Refrigerators @tapetenttm over 5 years ago 2
Thermal Imaging of Fresh Air Intake for Nightingale Hall @jecnu over 5 years ago 0
Comparison of Heat Insulation in Two Different Aged Building using a Thermal Flashlight @AndrewConner over 5 years ago 0
Thermal Imaging: Heat Insulation Comparison @brachium over 5 years ago 0
Thermal imaging of Refrigerators and Milk @williammanning over 5 years ago 0
Thermal Imaging: A Comparison of Heat Insulation @fkamara over 5 years ago 0
Inexpensive Thermal Imaging of Decorative Lights in Household @NoorJandali over 5 years ago 0
Thermal Imaging: Heat Insulation in Older Building @SCG over 5 years ago 1
Thermal Flashlight Casing @SCG over 5 years ago 0
Thermal Imaging: Heat Insulation Comparison @SCG over 5 years ago 0
thermal flashlight env+tech_neu_2014 @iferrerb over 5 years ago 1
Thermal flashlight - ENV+TECH_NEU_2014 @JuliaR over 5 years ago 1
Test of the Thermal Light: Env+Tech_NEU2014 @jens over 5 years ago 0
Env+Tech_neu_2014 - Thermal Flashlight @hklebs over 5 years ago 0
Open-Lux:: REV-Q! (REV Q. Seriously?) Now with a UV sensor. That's useful for stuff, right? @donblair about 6 years ago 0
Open-Lux REV-N: Full Circle @donblair about 6 years ago 3
Open-Lux REV-F: "NeoPixel" Fiesta! @donblair about 6 years ago 3
Thermal Flashlight REVA reading changes over distance @sekjal about 6 years ago 8
Open-Lux @donblair about 6 years ago 2
Thermal Flashlight REVA -- first tests @donblair over 6 years ago 0
Thermal flashlight REVA -- mostly built! @donblair over 6 years ago 0
Thermal flashlight -- now with more LEDz! @donblair over 6 years ago 1
Thermal flashlight design (+ thermal fishing bob, too?) @donblair over 6 years ago 8
Thermal flashlight Visualight shield @warren over 6 years ago 25
Thermal Flashlight Using MLX90614 IR Evaluation Board From Sparkfun @ajawitz over 6 years ago 6
Thermal Flashlight from hacked, off-the-shelf Pocket IR Thermometer @ajawitz over 6 years ago 6
MQI Environmental Recorder @DJUltis over 6 years ago 12
Visualight board for Thermal Flashlights @warren over 6 years ago 6
Cheap Thermal Imaging Sensor @davidbanks over 6 years ago 1
Thermal Fishing Bob Research Note 3/31 @Kaya9804 about 7 years ago 1
Toxic Actions Conference @ Northeastern University, 03/10/2013 @Hudonnoodles about 7 years ago 0
Getting Ready to Start Building. @Kaya9804 over 7 years ago 4
Thermal Imaging with RH Workshop's Camera @mathew over 7 years ago 0
This is not a thermal photo but it could be... @warren almost 8 years ago 3
Mobile thermographer prototype @warren almost 8 years ago 0
Thermal Imaging Tests with Android Ap @sara almost 8 years ago 0
Thermal Images for Community Environmental College @sara almost 8 years ago 3
Thermal Flashlight Calibration Nomogram @mathew almost 8 years ago 2
Thermal Flashlight as Power Ring @mathew almost 8 years ago 0
Surface mount mini thermal flashlight @nadya about 8 years ago 6
RGB +D (red, green, blue, depth) FOSS for Kinect data + video @mathew about 8 years ago 0
More thermal photography at Parts & Crafts @warren over 8 years ago 0
Common cathode variant of Thermal Flashlight code @warren over 8 years ago 0
Thermal image experiments at London citizen cyberscience summit 2012 @seong over 8 years ago 3
Recap on a Thermal Flashlight Workshop from 12/18/2011 @rjstatic over 8 years ago 1
GO SCUM update @liz over 8 years ago 0
RGB color from a knob -- small steps towards thermal flashlight @warren over 8 years ago 1
Thermal Camera: Arduino UNO + MLX90614 IR Thermometer @ad over 8 years ago 9
Pyrex thermal infrared transmissivity @warren about 9 years ago 0
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Several meetups have been organized to build and test thermal flashlights, at RISD (Providence, RI) and in Brooklyn, NY. We are organizing one now in Somerville, MA:

Thermal flashlight heatmaps


Custom thermal flashlight circuit boards

Instead of building off of an #Arduino, it's possible to make a Thermal Flashlight using a custom circuit board. The circuit board files can be found here: https://github.com/Pioneer-Valley-Open-Science/thermal-flashlight

Photos

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