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!!!

Views: 3730

Comment by HeliStorm on June 2, 2013 at 11:18am

How fortuitous of you to come across the FLIR system! I am always looking for inexpensive ways to do IR thermal imaging, as I have an interest in disaster relief use of  UAS. 

Comment by james sowell on June 2, 2013 at 12:59pm

i keep hoping someone will diy us up a flir thanks for sharing

Comment by John on June 2, 2013 at 7:29pm
That's awesome!! Amazing possibilities for search and rescue operations as well.
Comment by Jim Brett on June 2, 2013 at 7:39pm

It's great that this tech is in some high end cars now. I think MB has a color thermal cam. Hurry up and trickle down already! That's a nice bit of recycling Wesley. I would love to see some pictures of this and how you integrated it on your hex. Really cool.

This kind of thing makes me hopeful.

Comment by Mike T on June 2, 2013 at 7:47pm

this is great. good work, which 370kv motors are you considering?

Comment by Josh Potter on June 3, 2013 at 6:20am

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. 

Comment by Wesley Versfeld on June 3, 2013 at 7:02am

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.

Comment by Andre K. on June 4, 2013 at 1:47pm

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


Comment by Wesley Versfeld on June 4, 2013 at 2:03pm

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!


Comment by Andre K. on June 4, 2013 at 2:09pm

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.


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