Looking a bit more closely at the thermal that has become an increasingly integral part of the installation. I haven’t used them before but they seem like a really interesting bit of kit with a lot of potential and I can easily imagine myself using it for all sorts of other projects down the track. Everything from finding the gaps in the insulation that are letting heat out off the house, through to checking out your circuits and wiring to check if anything overheating.
I did a fair bit of research into cameras before I finally committed to getting a Seek thermal camera, considering a range of factors I thought would be key to this project. There are a host of thermal cameras out there and it seems like you could pretty much pay as much as you lie with no upper limit if you were really keen to spend big.
Price was definitely one factor since it’s going to spend most of its time in the hands of eager youngsters. I decided it was probably better to get something at the more reasonable end of the price rather than hiring a really expensive as there is a distinct risk of it being damaged. Also, buying it outright hand having it for the whole development period rather than just hiring it in for a week at the end is already proving incredibly useful. I’m sure you get what you pay for and the more expensive models are a lot more accurate, but to be honest in this instance, where I’m just after a general impression so exact measurements aren’t really super critical.
Rather than having a screen of its own, plugs into your phone or other device which has the added bonus that you can just take a feed from that and project it up large on the wall so everyone can be a part of that experience. Many of the other (much more expensive) models didn’t seem to have a way to get a video feed out of them…let alone a wireless one.
There was one other model I seriously considered the Flir One, which works in a very similar way to the Seek in that you use your phone as the screen. This one does a really interesting thing where it combines the low-res thermal image together with a stylised version the phone’s video to give a much higher level of detail (even if the actual thermal info isn’t any more detailed). Visually it may well have been a better option for this project. The reason I decided against it however, was the fact that rather than running off the phone’s battery it has its own internal battery and I wasn’t confident that the battery life was going to cut it for what I need. Given the camera is such an intrinsic component of the work now, I really can’t afford to have it out of the equation half the time while its off being recharged. Given I need it to be working all day long I think I’m still going to be running into battery issues with the Seek but at least Ill be able to swap it onto another device while the first one recharges. I’ve also seen reports of the Flir One batteries not having a terribly good lifespan and not being replaceable when they go which I don’t like just in principal. If anyone has one of these I’d love to hear about your experiences with it, especially on the battery front.
There are quite a few comparisons kicking around on the internet if you're interested (here's one by cleantechnica) and they both seem to have their pros and cons. You can see in the image above how Flir One's blending of the thermal vision with the normal camera gives the image a lot more definition (even if there isnt actually any more thermal info in there) but for me at least for the time being the battery thing was what won out in the end. If I’m feeling rich, perhaps I will get one of these as well so I can do a direct comparison. If fact if anyone out there has one that I could borrow to test and would like to support a worthy cause, that would be completely amazing.