Public Lab Wiki documentation

Thermal photography

3,550 views | Last edited by warren over 1 year ago | #3

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Public Lab Community Newsletter: December 2016

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More research on "thermal-photography" »

Title URL Last edited Edits Page Views Likes
Thermal Flashlight /wiki/thermal-flashlight about 1 month ago by warren 11 584 0
Thermal photography /wiki/thermal-photography over 1 year ago by warren 68 3,550 4
Posters /wiki/posters almost 5 years ago by sara 31 146 16

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 over 1 year ago
Does anyone have a FLIR Optical Gas Imaging camera to lend to help a community find gas leaks? @warren over 1 year ago
Seeking DC-area folks interested in building temperature sensors for urban heat island measurement @carohowe almost 2 years ago
Investigating thermal properties of paved surfaces using grassroots mapping approaches. @Rmeyer about 2 years ago
Question: Would the Thermal Fishing Bob concept work as a SeaGlider robot? @ajawitz almost 4 years ago

Ask a question  or help answer future questions on this topic

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 - - 0 replications: Try it »
Rent FLIR thermal infrared cameras at some Home Depots - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »

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