Public Lab Wiki documentation

Thermal photography

How to Get Excited About Climate Change Prep #climatechange #science #citizenscience

by Zengirl2 7 months ago | 1 | 248 | 1

People have a hard time wrapping their heads around climate change, but luckily there is a new op...

Read more

Host a Goal Setting Workshop

by stevie 11 months ago | 0 | 1,108 | 0

Setting Goals starts with listening to individual interests and priorities and helps groups to ...

Read more

Investigating Thermal Properties of Rooftops Using Aerial Mapping

by sdepolo over 1 year ago | 0 | 241 | 1

Our group set out to collect data on the thermal properties of rooftops at the Thacher campus u...

Read more

Analyzing Thacher Insulation: an Aerial Thermal Mapping Project

by NIKIBOPOLOUS New Contributor over 1 year ago | 0 | 200 | 1

Analyzing Thacher Insulation: an Aerial Thermal Mapping Project By Anthony, Reese, and Bob May ...

Read more

Public Lab Community Newsletter: December 2016

by klie almost 2 years ago | 0 | 431 | 3

We've relaunched the newsletter and will be sending it out monthly, in addition to sharing it on...

Read more

New possibilities for a low-cost gas camera

by loganw New Contributor about 2 years ago | 9 | 521 | 3

This is an extension of the [research started by Mathew Lippincot](

Read more

Kite Aerial Remote Sensing (KARS) - Thermal Infra-Red.

by John_Wells about 2 years ago | 8 | 659 | 4

In 2013 we formalised our donations of aerial photograph...

Read more

Riffle Beta project - Methane Gas Sensor

by Bob New Contributor over 2 years ago | 3 | 820 | 6

Leaking natural gas infrastructure is a known problem. ...

Read more

More research on "thermal-photography" »

Title Last edited Edits Page Views Likes
Thermal photography about 1 year ago by warren 68 4
Thermal Flashlight about 1 year ago by warren 7 0
Posters over 4 years ago by Sara 31 2
Scanning thermal camera over 4 years ago by warren 3 1

Thermal infrared cameras are designed to take photos or videos of heat (not to be confused with near infrared cameras). Some of these are tuned specifically for gases, and can be used to image #methane.


Thermal imaging can be used to document heat/AC leaks from insulation gaps on a building's facade, reveal warmer ground water inflows (either fresh or chemical-laden) or "thermal pollution" from industrial processes entering ocean-temperature waterbodies, as well as identify areas on the human body experiencing infection or stress (includes epidemiological applications).

Specific models of FLIR brand cameras, known as the FLIR GasFinder ( See GasFinder below for more.

Community applications so far include both a "heat-busters" program in East Harlem and a "forensic" water quality monitoring program in the Gowanus Canal.


Title Author Updated Likes
What gases can a FLIR GasFinder (OGI) infrared camera detect? @warren about 1 year ago
Does anyone have a FLIR Optical Gas Imaging camera to lend to help a community find gas leaks? @warren about 1 year ago
Seeking DC-area folks interested in building temperature sensors for urban heat island measurement @carohowe over 1 year ago
Investigating thermal properties of paved surfaces using grassroots mapping approaches. @Rmeyer New Contributor over 1 year ago
Question: Would the Thermal Fishing Bob concept work as a SeaGlider robot? @ajawitz over 3 years ago

Ask a question  or help answer future questions

DIY Approaches

There are three Do-It-Yourself prototypes in development to try to do this more cheaply than the off-the-shelf options. These projects were started a few years ago and may not be active:

  • A Thermal Flashlight: a RGB LED flashlight with a non-contact infrared sensor that "paints" the temperature of the surface directly on the wall for capture with a second timelapse camera.
  • A Thermal Fishing Bob: dragging a thermometer through the water, taking contact measurements mapped to a RGB light, also for capture with a second timelapse camera.
  • A scanning thermal camera on a LEGO turntable (software also in development) that sweeps back and forth across a scene, recording the temperature variation to build up an image.


Why make a DIY version? "FLIR" cameras can produce images such as the one below, and are typically used to identify heat leaks, but even low-resolution FLIR cameras can cost thousands of dollars. The goal of these DIY thermal camera projects is to make this kind of investigation (and the potential savings) cheap, easy, fun, and informative for those of us without $10k in our pockets.

FLIR house


Purpose Category Status Author Time Difficulty Replications
Kite Aerial Remote Sensing (KARS) - Thermal Infra-Red. - - @John_Wells - - 0 replications: Try it »
Analyzing Thacher Insulation: an Aerial Thermal Mapping Project - - @NIKIBOPOLOUS New Contributor - - 0 replications: Try it »
Rent FLIR thermal infrared cameras at some Home Depots - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »

Add an activity  or request an activity

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

Public Lab is open for anyone and will always be free. By signing up you'll joined a diverse group of community researchers and tapped into a lot of grassroots expertise.

Sign up