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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



Activities

Purpose Category Status Author Time Difficulty Replications
Common-anode LED thermal flashlight casing and circuit diagram - - @lmc6399group - - 0 replications: Try it »
Thermal flashlight: data collection in Holyrood, NL - - @ckenny - - 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 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 »
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 »
Common cathode variant of Thermal Flashlight code - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »

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
Can you share a link to project documentation? @vwls almost 6 years ago 1
Thermal Fishing Bob Development Workshop on Northeastern's Campus @kgrevera about 7 years ago 2
Thermal Fishing Bob Development Workshop @kgrevera about 7 years ago 1
Thermal Flashlight with LCD keypad display and Neopixel LEDs @thosetechpeople over 7 years ago 0
Common-anode LED thermal flashlight casing and circuit diagram @lmc6399group over 7 years ago 3
dealing with patents: Black & Decker and the Thermal Flashlight @mathew over 7 years ago 6
Finding Hotspots With Our Thermal Flashlight @FireLogCollective over 7 years ago 0
Thermal Flashlight: Tech Failure Spectacle @acnud over 7 years ago 4
Site Visits and Results @KKMS over 7 years ago 1
Thermal flashlight: data collection in Holyrood, NL @ckenny over 7 years ago 1
KKMS Thermal Flashlight Project Sociology 4107 @KKMS over 7 years ago 0
Arduino Uno Thermo Flashlight Casing Specs @klrussell over 7 years ago 1
Comparison of Window Insulation in Old vs New buildings @weertsc over 7 years ago 0
Thermal Imaging of Northeastern University buildings @evanbjacobson over 7 years ago 0
Effective Cooling Methods In Refrigerators @tapetenttm over 7 years ago 2
Thermal Imaging of Fresh Air Intake for Nightingale Hall @jecnu over 7 years ago 0
Comparison of Heat Insulation in Two Different Aged Building using a Thermal Flashlight @AndrewConner over 7 years ago 0
Thermal Imaging: Heat Insulation Comparison @brachium over 7 years ago 0
Thermal imaging of Refrigerators and Milk @williammanning over 7 years ago 0
Thermal Imaging: A Comparison of Heat Insulation @fkamara over 7 years ago 0
Inexpensive Thermal Imaging of Decorative Lights in Household @NoorJandali over 7 years ago 0
Thermal Imaging: Heat Insulation in Older Building @SCG over 7 years ago 1
Thermal Flashlight Casing @SCG over 7 years ago 0
Thermal Imaging: Heat Insulation Comparison @SCG over 7 years ago 0


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

IMG_0779.JPG

IMG_0781.JPG