Introducing tCam-Mini – An IR thermal camera board with ESP32 module

Introducing tCam-Mini – An IR thermal camera board with ESP32 module

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tCam-Mini is a small wireless streaming thermal imaging camera designed by Dan Julio to make it easy to get and use radiometric data from a Flir Lepton 3.5 sensor. Radiometric data includes the temperature of every pixel captured by the Lepton allowing all kinds of interesting thermographic analysis. Of course that data can also be turned into the beautiful false-color images everyone associates with thermal imaging.

tCam-Mini comes with a capable desktop application, running on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, making it easy-to-use, right out of the box. Custom applications running on any platform can easily communicate with tCam-Mini via a socket interface. Commands and data are transferred as easy-to-parse json strings.

Capabilities

  • The tCam-Mini camera exposes the full capabilities of the Lepton.
  • The camera can operate in either Radiometric/TLinear (each pixel contains temperature data) or AGC modes (no temperature data in each pixel but better images).
  • Simple json-based command set with communication of a TCP/IP Socket. Makes interfacing with the camera very simple from a custom application.
  • AP or STA (client) Wifi modes (static or DHCP-served IPV4 address).
  • Single image or streaming data modes.
  • Control over sensor emissivity, gain and spotmeter location.

The companion desktop application makes it easy to use the camera and analyze the data from it.

  • Display images or streams with multiple palettes.
  • Save and load images or streams in files preserving the radiometric data for use later or by other applications. Two file formats: image and video (described in the github repository).
  • Export images as jpg, png or tiff files.
  • Copy current image to computer’s clipboard.
  • Histogram display and analysis of pixel populations.
  • Spotmeter and up to four additional markers showing temperature at various points in an image.
  • Graphing function to plot spotmeter and marker data over time.
  • Graph baseline mode to allow comparing temperatures to a reference point in the scene (for example to compare a temperature to a blackbody constant).
  • Export graph data in a text file for analysis by other programs.
  • Print graph (or create a PDF on computers that can print to PDF).

Hardware Overview

  • Espressif ESP32-WROVER-E Module (ESP32-D0WD0V3, 8 MB PSRAM, 8 MB Flash) with built-in antenna
  • Flir Lepton 3.5 (160×120 pixel radiometric LWIR camera with shutter)
  • CP2102N-A02 USB to UART bridge with ESP32 boot loader control
  • Multi-voltage power supply (3.3V, 3.0V, 2.8V, 1.2V)
  • Dual color (Red/Green) status LED
  • Factory Wifi Reset button

Open Source

The hardware and firmware design files are available in Dan’s Github repository.  The firmware is designed to be compiled using Espressif IDF tools and new code can be loaded via the built-in USB Serial port.  Precompiled binary files are also provided for easy upgrades.

Development is ongoing with new features and additional software support planned including a python library and web server.

more information: https://groupgets.com/campaigns/919-tcam-mini

Mike is the founder and editor of Electronics-Lab.com, an electronics engineering community/news and project sharing platform. He studied Electronics and Physics and enjoys everything that has moving electrons and fun. His interests lying on solar cells, microcontrollers and switchmode power supplies. Feel free to reach him for feedback, random tips or just to say hello :-)

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