Flir’s Vue is The Best Thermal Camera for Drone

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Add Thermal Imaging to Your Drone with the Flir Vue Thermal Camera

Mentionables:

            • Pro: Easily installs with DJI drones
            • Pro: Can see thermal images up to 9 miles away
            • Pro: Records video for future viewing

Flir’s Vue was already mentioned as one of the top search and rescue thermal imagers.  And even though that holds true, there are still other features and professions that can benefit from aerial thermal images.

flir vue drone

And professional contractors are the biggest beneficiaries.  Whether they’re electrical engineers, or roof inspectors, contractors can get great results from thermal images.  And not only can those thermal images tell them where a roof is exhausting heat, or which power lines are generating too much heat, they can also reduce the risk for those individuals.

Falling is one of the biggest culprits for on-site injuries.  And by reducing those falls, contractors are more likely to go home without injury.  And that’s a good thing for everyone.

But not only will the help keep jobs safer, they will also offer alternative perspectives.  Being able to see an object’s heat signature can tell a much more refined story than seeing an object without it.  Too much thermal energy can be a signal that an electric pole is about to burst.  Or it’s a sign that there’s not enough insulation in an attic, cause the heat to escape.  But regardless, Flir’s Vue can help maintain safety, and sustain a structure’s integrity.

Review of FLIR Vue Pro

Introducing FLIR Vue Pro Take drone thermal imaging and data recording to the new heights with Vue Pro With FLIR Vue you get all the thermal imager you need for sUAS operations without having to pay for functionality you’ll never use. Designed for professional use, FLIR Vue Pro is more than a thermal camera, it is a thermal measurement instrument and data recorder that adds tremendous value to your sUAS operations and services.

The Vue Pro features a 640×512 pixel uncooled VOx microbolometer sensor with six different lens and sensor combinations and a low weight of only 109 grams. There is also a 336×256 pixel sensor available. While the 640 edition offers a selection of 19mm, 13mm and 9mm lenses, the smaller sensor comes paired with either a 13mm, 9mm or 6.8mm lens. The shorter focal length of the 336 edition is used to accommodate for the smaller sensor size to grant roughly the same field-of-view. The lenses are not interchangeable, so you have carefully pick the ideal lens for your job. With some basic research that you can do, you will find that the Vue Pro is powered by a Texas Instruments IP Video Camera system-on-a-chip, the TMS320DM368, and runs on Linux 2.6.18. This enables FLIR to provide firmware updates and easy MAVLink compatibility.

There are basically two different types of camera modes to choose from. You can only switch between these with a camera reboot. The main mode you are going to be using is the video mode. It lets you record full-motion video via the integrated microSD card device onto the supplied 32GB memory card. The video is going to be recorded as a 640×512 pixel large, 29.97fps fast, h.264 compressed video. The quality is decent, but you do seem to lose a bit detail due to compression. The big bonus is a rather small file size in the end. We are talking about 3.98 – 4.00 MBit/s, which comes out to about 30.02 MB per minute (28.63 MiB per minute). Alternatively, you can record the video in MJPEG mode, which is an intra-frame codec compared to the h.264 inter-frame codec. A fast-paced video would benefit from this with less compression artifacts caused by the changing scenery in the frame. A static recoding would benefit from h.264 as it can build up a much higher quality than MJPEG can achieve with the same bitrate. Despite being in video mode, you can also record a single frame via a PWM channel.

The second mode to run your FLIR Vue Pro camera at is the still image mode. In this mode you can start and stop the interval-based recording of still images. You are presented with a selection of JPEG, 14-bit TIFF (RAW) and an FFF proprietary file type from FLIR. The latter merges both the 14-bit TIFF (unprocessed) and the processed JPEG representation of the scene. You can pick different interval times down to a minimum of 1 image per second. A single frame can also be triggered by the use of an additional input via PWM.

One of the best features of this camera is the ability to remotely control and adjust the settings of the camera. Bluetooth, which is enabled a few seconds after you turn on the camera – confirmed by a few beeps – lets you program the camera settings, trigger record start/stop and update the time (presumably automatically) of the camera via your smartphone app. But there is another way of remotely communicating with your Vue Pro. By the use of PWM signals from a typical radio control transmitter/receiver, you can change the color by flipping through three or two different, pre-defined via the app, color palettes. Furthermore, you can remotely start and stop the recording of the video or still image sequence as well as trigger a single still frame via a third channel.

The biggest advantage of the FLIR Vue Pro camera is its live video feature. As soon as you put power to the camera, a live video feed is immediately available through the analog video output. Initially there is a fullscreen FLIR logo, which however fades away after a second or so. The video output mode is selectable to either NTSC or PAL standard. While the 30Hz model offers an excellent, fluid video feed, the 7.5Hz/9Hz edition unfortunately doesn’t even provide one third of the information. The analog live video is always available independent of the capture mode or if you are actually recoding video, image sequences or single still images. It does not flicker when you turn recording on or off, so its video signal is coming directly from the sensor and is most likely hooked up by a Y signal splitter before the image is fed into the onboard data recorder.

Pros

  • Has a live video feature

  • The device comes with Bluetooth, MAVLink, and USB communication interfaces

  • It stores data to a micro SD card, so that you wont lose any of your data

  • The device is very easy to use

Cons

  • It is expensive

In Conclusion

Though the Thermal Imaging Camera – Flir Vue Pro looks like pricy, the professionals who are interested in the depth of aerial view imaging to their works can definitely make the most of it.

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