Dear Group

I am based in Northern Tanzania where I have been using a DJI S800 for work on aerial imagery and information gathering. One of our problems is that elephant poaching is happening in the early evening and trying to follow gun shots and find the elephant is extremely challenging in a large landscape.

I would like to try a thermal imaging camera that can link to a screen so we could fly at night and potentially find people.

DJI have launched an app for the data link, thats one option for flying more than 500m away.

Does anyone have ideas about how a thermal camera can be linked to provide imagery live at about 500m?

Much appreciated for any advice on this, I am willing to experiment.



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Yes its just like a normal video camera feed the output into an FPV TX they are expensive and require ITAR licences for export from the USA if you buy the useful ones.

I am working on making collars cheaper in South Africa and am currently tracking all sorts of animals, much easier if you know exactly where they are ;-)

I assume you are working in parks with no borders. Most folks are worried about Rhino and are unaware of the new elephant genocide that is happening to fund wars in Africa. What a pity we don't have stacks of oil that folks would defend and stop those wars for!


i think thermal camera must have some kind of live output, whether it is analog or digital, which can be converted then to "normal" analog and you could use powerful video TX with proper antennas to have live video stream to couple of kilometers..

depending on size/weight of those thermal cameras it might be more useful to use planes instead of multicopters - you could use them on much wider areas using long range (relatively cheap) equipment..

that said - i am perfectly aware of multicopter advantages and if you want to stick with them - s800 is mostly built with purpose of aerial filming as "making beautiful scenery", not long-range durable "spying drone". maybe different platform should be considered? guys on rcgroups have achieved 44 minutes (fourty four minutes) flight with 4kg (four kilograms) of useful payload (you can see all specs - motors, props, accus) - maybe that's what you should be looking at?


So 44 minutes with a payload of 4kgs ??

yes, that's right. actually, link to this project was posted right here on diydrones:

"His latest project is an X8 with 8x T-Motor U8 with 29" propellers.

To test the motors' performance and efficiency, he fixed up an X4 quad frame from aluminum. His first test was already impressive: 4kg frame, 4kg batteries (8S) and 4kg payload = 12kg TOW - overall flight time: 44 minutes."

Wow, thats cool

Most people overlook the modest old CCD which has IR capabilities which is usually filtered out.

We get our cameras from Mintron in TW that have the IR filter (fixed in place in most VVD's) switchable.

Combine this with putting a light filter over the lens and you have an IR camera.

Do a Google for it, simple and cheap to try out even if it's not what you are looking for, it might get you close.

If I'm not mistaken this is Near-Infrared which measures reflected light rather than Long-wavelength Infrared which measures emitted heat.  NIR works great for things like measuring crop health but poorly for surveillance unless there's an infrared light source nearby.  Long wave IR is what you need for spotting poachers in the brush at night.

Hi Gary,

May I email you wrt the collars? I am on a similar quest here in Namibia...


HI everyone, many thanks for all your help, this has helped to refine my thinking. If your in Arusha at any point let me know, the coffee is on me.



Marc, this video was fed back to the ground on a cheap 700mW 1.3GHz video system (BOB Fox 700), recorded on the ground with a DVR at 640x480 resolution, I get easily 2km of range with this Tx/Rx with slightly modified antennas


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