Flir FPV with Hexacopter


We were trying to find ways to secure (or at least patrol) a crime infested green belt in our area when one of the guys mentioned that it would be great to have a thermal camera on a helicopter to be able to spot these guys and perform some sort of aerial support for the guys on the ground.

Now, being involved in helis for the last 10 years, and also tinkering with APM (planes) for the last 2 years I thought it would be very easy to get something like this off the ground, right? Wrong, it has been a long road of trials and tribulation that started with my first Quad - barely able to lift a GoPro, it had about 5 mins flight time and not long enough to offer any meaningful level of aerial support. Finally I arrived (after 3 costly iterations) at the current Hexa that manages about 15 mins in the air (10000 MAH 3S Setup).

It was also challenging to find a thermal camera. I hit a bit of luck here, as someone in the community had a auto scrap shop - and just happened to have a totaled BMW 750 IL, and this BMW just happened to have a FLIR PathfindIR in it's front bumper. It was only the 8hz version, but I still taped it to my hexa with some duct tape, connected it to my FPV stuff lying around and the video below is the result! The last bit is the best, some guys jump out of a bush and start walking away just as the ground support vehicle moves in (just before the switch to RTL).

Next steps will include a bigger Hexa, I'm aiming for 30 min flight time on 15" props and a 370kv 6S setup. Oh, and did I mention a brushless gimbal, the video can do with some stabilization.

I would like to thank you all on this forum for helping me through this journey - the APM rocks, and I'll stick with this platform forever!!!

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  • You have no problems with weight restrictions if you fly the pathfindIR on a kite line.

    Here is a thermal image captured back in 2011 and subsequently mapped with a colour gradient.



  • 100KM

    @James this is Epic! Now, where's my pricing? :) I sent mail inquiries directly to DRS, but no pricing. This will go a long way in extending flight time... The PathfindIR weighs nearly 400gr

    The alternative is look at the Chinese "Flir Tau 640" (once I receive pricing).

  • Yes, I operator certification/training is a part of this "package".

  • 100KM

    Thanks for this, I think we have similar ideas with this exciting technology. I'm hoping (holding thumbs) that technology wise AC3 will provide a nice mature stable platform so that we can fly advanced sensors.

    The part I'm starting to struggle with (besides getting a decent flight time) is to provide a system like this to emergency response groups and have the operator safely and reliably fly the UAS with limited or no previous RC experience. Training will be key, but if you add after sales support and CAA / FAA certifications into the mix and you're set for a long challenging road.

    At least the expensive cameras are starting to come back safely! :)

  • Well, without revealing too much, it's a part of my company:  http://flyfoto-nord.no

    It's a highy customized build, with much 3D printed payload, yes, it ha daylight and thermal cores (unfortunatly no moonligt that night) - a powerful LED and 200mW green laser. (switchable/selectable) and, due to the same, very light  ,3D printed design - *actual* 15min safe flight time on a 4S 4400mAh pack. 

    I am currently trying to start to sell such machines to police/red cross.

  • 100KM

    Whoa!!! That's legendary Andke, could you share a little more on your setup - Gimbal, Thermal camera, Multirotor specs, etc. I can see you have video switching and it seems you have a flashlight connected as well? Is the flashlight always on, or can you turn it on and off via an RC channel?

    Nice video!


  • You are basically doing what Iæve been doing for a few years now - check out this moose :)


  • 100KM

    Thanks for the feedback guys, I have a TREX 600N sitting idle on my study table (my pride and joy), maybe I'll give it a go with larger tanks, etc.

    @Mike, I was looking into the SunnySky range of motors (X4108S) - just realized I had a typo, should be 380KV

    @Jim, the forum post here has some detail on how I wired it up - I'll try and post some pics of frame next week.

  • Thanks for sharing.  It's always good to see more work into the FLIR stuff.

    If you're looking for flight time and still need a platform that can hover, you might consider going APM - traditional helicopter. 

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