Thermography on the cheap


just finished a small project:

a Thermoscanner using 2 RC Servos and a TPA81:

Code and more Pics on my Website. :)

remark: the hardware is the one from my 3d scanner, just with a TPA81 mounted instead of the distance sensor ::)

enjoy, designer2k2

Truly cool! Very innovative. I like.



That looks really cool.

How did you mount the servos to do pan/tilt? I've seen brackets for $25 or so per set, but my cheapskate genes kick in and paralyze my mouse hand every time I think about ordering them ;D


zip ties and hotglue ;)

Curious, can this be used for detecting cold spots on walls? I know companies have nifty hand held devices to see where cold air leaks are in a room for home insulation and this would be a great alternative if you could also sense these cold spots.


i will try to detect wrong insulation on our house, but it will need some temp difference to show. So im quite shure i need to wait until i get the temps below 10°C or lower to show some evidence...

yeah, it is starting to get chilly here which is what made me think about it after stumbling across the website. A sweet addition would be to tripod mount it, if it could do a 360 and actually take in a whole room. Plunk it in a room, go get some coffee, come back and see where you need to insulate! If it has the range for a common room to see glaring problems I will so be building this...


180° in Pan / Tilt is possible with standart servos, but there are 360° servos out there, with them no problem :)

very cool stuff and made cheaply..great ;)

Great, I have wanted to make one of these for the last 30 years but never got round to it. Well done.

great very cool!! ;)

Hello, everyone. I just joined the forum this evening. I came across Designer2K2's webpage {linked in his post} while surfing online earlier this evening {before finding this forum}.

I don't know very much about electronics, but I wanted to ask this question to Designer2K2 {or anyone else}: Must this "Thermoscanner" be stationary when in use {other than the pan and tilt servos}, or will it still work if it has some movement to it?

Two of my hobbies are "Kite Aerial Photography" {KAP} & "Kite Aerial Video" {KAV}. KAP & KAV are aerial photography & video shot from a camera that is lifted by a kite. Usually the camera is suspended below the kite line, and not mounted on the kite itself. I've wanted to try using some kind of thermal infrared 'imager' for KAP - and especially KAV - but thermal imagers are currently way beyond my budget. I was hoping this Thermoscanner might work. {Being airborne is where the "...has some movement to it" comes into play.}

Thanks in advance!!!

-Allan, aka RocKiteman N.E. North Carolina, USA 8-)

Hello, I am new to electronics and I am quite confused about the "Arduino" piece used in this model. I know there are a range of products available but what one was used for this?? :o

take a look here: gives a nice overview of the official boards.

i used the Duemilanove :)

Just another question :P

I live in Australia and cannot find the TPA81 for purchase. Can I use another Thermopile Array???? :-/

I just wanted to "publicly" {and belatedly} Thank designer2k2 here on the forum. He PM'd me with info about this project.

It wouldn't work for KAP or KAV, but it still may be useful for ground-based wildlife observation {which is what I wanted it for originally}.

Thanks again, 2k2.

-Allan, aka RocKiteman N.E. North Carolina, USA 8-)

Hmm… interesting, to say the least!

Among the things I have not yet hooked to the Arduino is the IR camera module from a WII remote, which is supposedly a really nice blob-tracking unit, but needs an external I2C interface and a clock. Clocks are easy enough (need 25Mhz so software prolly won’t do), and the I2C I was going to offload onto my soon-to-arrive TI Launchpad. I figure that might just be an acceptable use for the little beast, at under five bucks, it’ll have earned it’s keep if it can support interfacing to that sensor… told ya I could find a better use for a Launchpad than a glue spreader!

Have you tried to attach a cutted foam-nerf-gun-dart to the sensor, this will probably narrow the "vision" a bit (long hollow isolated tube)

just my 50 cents

Kudos for kool project ;)


Timothy Mills worked on this and put also a nice drawing onto it:

Very nice. I've often thought of making a thermal camera myself using a similar technique. Well done.