Homemade thermal imaging cameras

Written by shellie braeuner Google
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Homemade thermal imaging cameras
Thermal images contrast the heat absorbed by the trees with the cool of the air. (infra red image by Hubert from Fotolia.com)

High-end thermal cameras can cost thousands of dollars. Part of the additional cost is the internal computer that calculates the various degrees of heat and puts that information into a coloured code. But all they do is take pictures of everyday objects using the infrared portion of the spectrum. It isn't difficult or expensive to make your own thermal camera. While it won't represent the world in crazy colours, it will take pictures in very low light and show the heat emanating from objects in your environment.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Digital camera
  • Screwdriver
  • Black opaque plastic such as exposed film
  • Butter knife-optional

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  1. 1

    Unscrew the digital camera. Open the camera to expose the inner workings. Carefully lay both sides flat on the work surface.

  2. 2

    Find the lens assembly. It is located under the lens opening in the case. So when you open the case it will be opposite the lens opening.

  3. 3

    Gently pry the lens assembly from its spot. Use a screw driver or the rounded edge of a butter knife.

  4. 4

    Find the CCD chip. CCD, short for Charge Coupled Device, is responsible for moving a charge to a device that can use it. In the case of the camera, the CCD converts the light energy into a digital value. Sitting on top of the CCD, is a red piece of plastic. Gently remove this plastic piece without damaging the chip.

  5. 5

    Cut two pieces of the opaque plastic the same size as the red piece. Be careful to handle these by their edges so that your pictures won't have fingerprints.

  6. 6

    Glue these pieces to the top of the CCD chip.

  7. 7

    Replace the lens assembly and close the camera.

  8. 8

    Test your new thermal imaging camera.

Tips and warnings

  • Remove the battery before opening the camera. This will prevent any shocks from the power coupling.

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