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Possible to build a thermal imaging sensor or device?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Another Pull Tab, Apr 3, 2004.

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  1. Hello all,

    I am interested in possibly building a thermal imaging attachment for a
    video camera or digital camera for wildlife observation and would like to
    know how possible this would be. I have checked many places on the web for
    kits or plans and most of what I found won't really work very well for me.
    I'm really only concerned with the following requirements:

    Ability to detect body heat to a range of 100 yards.

    Does not need to be color.

    Does not have to be an accurate temperature...just indication of heat.

    Size is not really a factor.

    I do NOT need the latest and greatest technology for this.

    Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

    Steve Sprague
  2. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

  3. Hi John, answers inline...

    I meant the size of the equipment is not really a factor. I apologize for
    not being more clear.

    You're right. I dont have a clue. Thats why Im here asking questions. My
    statement about not needing the latest and greatest technology refers to the
    fact that I could use older equipment to save on my cost. I dont require
    the most recent advances in chips etc. as I know thermal imaging has been
    around for a while.

    I would like to detect animal body heat in total darkness to a distance of
    about a hundred yards or so. It would be for field research.


  4. Type of terrain?
    Air temperature?
    Ground temperature?
    Plant Growth?
    Plant/animal rot?
    Single point register or visual clue about the target?
    Animals as small as mice or an horse?
    Power supply type?
    Rain forest or desert?
    Polar or equatorial?

    Facts not just I want to detect animals. A simple PIR from Home Depot will
    do that and give you light when it does.

  5. Hi Charles, replies inline...
    Texas..specifically East and Northeast Texas. Heavy woods, swamp.
    Low 30's F to high 90's F
    Relative to the above air temp? couldnt even begin to guess...
    Not so much animal as plant Im sure.
    Visual clue would be nice.
    Deer and above.
    Vehicle power with inverter. I assumed I would have a stand alone power
    supply of some sort for the imaging, but if it can be run off of
    pre-existing setup, all the better.
    Closer to rain forrest than desert.
    Not sure about your meanings here, but Im pretty sure Im more equatorial
    than polar.
    Well, we are making progress I guess. I apologize for not knowing what
    "facts" are needed up front. Thats why Im here.

  6. John Fields

    John Fields Guest


    There's a possible solution for you at:

    Also, if you google for "infrared viewer" you'll get some pretty good

    You could also try to do it with a passive infrared (PIR) detector,
    but you'll need a pretty decent optical system to be able to detect a
    deer at 100 yards, especially with a high ambient temperature and a
    slowly-moving animal. If I recall correctly, a deer radiates about
    300 watts somewhere in the range of 1000 to 3000 nanometers, so
    knowing that and the spectral range and sensitivity of the detector,
    you should be able work out what you have to do optically to do the
    detection. There's a lot of data available on PIR detectors and
    Fresnel lenses on the web, so Googling around would probably get you
    the information you need to determine whether it's practical to try to
    do it that way.
  7. Bob Masta

    Bob Masta Guest


    Someone on this group has noted in the past that
    standard video cameras do a good job of sensing
    IR. They were using IR illumination instead of
    visible light, however, which is not the same as
    thermal IR wavelengths. I kinda suspect that
    any response tail of the sensor won't have much
    thermal response, but if you have one it might
    be worth a shot.

    Bob Masta

    D A Q A R T A
    Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
  8. Colubris

    Colubris Guest

    Hi Steve,
    You might want to try Infra Red photography instead - easier and
    cheaper by far.
    Many still/video cams can be modified - or are designed for taking IR
    pics - see Sony "Night-Shot".
    Just use a PIR type motion detector to detect the animal and trigger
    the cam.
    There are a few web-sites/forums discussing the topic of home-built
    automatic wildlife photography equipment - check for for some ideas.

  9. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    "Temperate." :)

  10. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Yeah, us crusty old newsgroup farts like to have you young whippersnappers
    do as much homework as we can talk you into, it makes giving answers
    so much more fun! (that is to say, the more information we have, the
    better the answers, and the more fun we have making them up. :) )

    I presume you've already gone to and entered
    "night vision" for a search term? That's what I'd do.

    Ah, heck, I couldn't help myself. With quotes, "about 1,2500,000"
    hits for "night vision". Without quotes, 4,530,000 hits.

    I've also heard that some ordinary hand-held LCD cameras are
    sensitive to IR, but don't know if that's true - if so, a
    simple IR filter on an ordinary unit might give you what you want.

    Have fun, and report back!

  11. It's true most CCD based camcorders have some amount of IR sensitivity but
    to actually use one for animal spotting you'd need to "light" the area with
    IR, probably using filtered incandescent lights.
    Personally I'd research FLIR and see if I could find a used cam.

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