After arriving in Texas, I've talked to several land owners who complain about feral hogs damaging their property.  I had a solution that would incorporate thermal imaging with a sUAS platform to track hog movement and patterns during the day and at night.  While doing research I came across this little baby, the M1D Micro PTZ Gimbal


  I was very surprised at the size, weight, and resolution of this camera.  It uses a FLIR thermal imaging camera that are available in three resolutions, 120x140 being the lowest @ $3900 and 640x480 being the highest at $9500.  I was definitely expecting this to being in the upper teens or low 20's!


It has a very nice CCD camera, Hi-res thermal camera, and focusable laser incorporated in a weatherproof housing.  Being 6" tall, 4.5" in diameter and weighing in around .9 kg, it seems to be a very good solution for a UAS system such as the X8 or similar platform.


The only issue that I have seen along with most PTZ systems in the RS-485 communication.  I'm not a comms expert so I do not know if it is possible to do a P&P setup with the APM 2.5.  I did come across a couple of Xtend 900 RS-485 1W modems that would allow control from a joystick or PTZ control board from the ground.


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  • Hi Hunter, great thread by the way, I purchased my 640x480 flir m1d for my uav 6 months ago based on your postings and this thread. They are charging $9900 for the x26 Hfis camera integrated in the m1d ptz body, they have it as a sole camera in that gimbal. For me- I need high resolution for my work so I will probably use the x26 turret exclusively, the way I see it is this; I nave priced out HD 1024x768 resolution thermal cameras and they are around $15,000. The HFIS is just as good as thermal at the higher 1280 resolution and it works just as good as flir thermal at night, in the day it works like a standard b&w HD camera so a single x26 camera will do all I need in one sensor and actually save me money substantially over an HD flir. It is expensive but for what it offers, it's a great package. I have been looking at SWIR as well but they are not perfect and expensive, the x26 HFIS way outperforms SWIR in the dark. To sum it up, I have been looking for a digital low light camera that offers real night vision capabilities in an HD package for years, and this from what I see is finally what I've been seeking. I will post some vids when I get my unit. BTW they now have the M1-D Sbus to pelcoD converter. I have been thinking about getting the dji inspire for my other work, have you used this bird yet?
  • How much did SPi say this was?
  • After seeing this posting below on FB:

    SPI just introduced an incredible new low light low - lux night vision HD camera that work incredibly in day and night all in a single cmos FPA sensor. The x26 HFIS camera will change the way unmanned vehicles image. The full HD full frame rate 60 hz TV rate camera offers unbelievable low light sensitivity and performance at extremely low light conditions never seen before anywhere. The camera is a single solution to a wide variety of demanding imaging needs, the ultra high quantum efficiency in the x26 HFIS which stands for Hyper Fideliy Intensified Sensor pieces through the darkness and offers day like images in starlight conditions. Traditional night vision cameras fail, and get extremely grainy/noisy in low lux settings, the x26 works flawlessly and does not slow down the frame rate when encountering very dark environments. Below is a link to the website illustrating sample imagery and videos,


    I was compelled to call Spi and find out more about this camera. I have been looking for a single sensor day and night camera for my S1000 for a while, the closest I was able to find was a SWIR camera that was temperamental and out of my price range. Randall it Spi informed me that they will actually have this x26 camera integrated into the M1D gimbal in September. I can't wait to see it, if anyone is interested in a day night single HD camera, take a look at the Spi website for the x26 HFIS camera, the night mode on this thing is mentally insane.

    Cheers - DE
  • Hello all! My name is Randall Kolchins I am with SPI the company that makes the M1-D pan tilt thermal camera. This unit has generated tremendous interest in the UAV field and we are really looking for ways to make it better for this application. We started a blog post on DIY Drones to address the UAV community "wish list" for a low cost thermal pan tilt camera gimbal.

    UAV Pan Tilt Thermal Camera Wish List

    Check it out and please let us know what you want to see!

    To answer some of the questions in this blogs comments:

    1. The M1-D is restricted due to the thermal imaging, however that does not mean that it is not available. We do have models in 9hz that are easier to export. If you are an international customer just contact us and we can go over your options.

    2. The sensor in the $3900 model is in fact 160x120 not 120x140 as in the blog post. I am sure that was just a typo.

    3. The Pathfinder system that was discussed is a sealed system designed for vehicles that really has no control of the image, no lens options and no zoom. The pathfinder is just volts in video out. As mentioned our system is a completely different animal with thermal imager, cctv camera, laser pointer, digital zoom, color thermal and pan tilt positioning.

    4. The quark is an awesome little imager and we are working with it right now. They still dont have all the bugs out of it so we feel it is not ready to go just yet. It will be a great choice for UAV and we do have several projects based on the Quark right now but it is not in the M1-D. Once FLIR gets it right it will be the one to go to. The other problem now is that the Quark costs more than our entire system so it is not right for low cost imaging.

    5. Arduino integration is absolutely possible. We have not done this yet but here are some resources for you regarding Pelco-D, Arduino and RS-485.

    This company is the place to go for serial work. They have a lot of resources for RS232, 422 and 485. The sell an analyzer and converters so you can read and write commands on your PC. These tools are great for figuring out serial commands from existing devices. They also explain Pelco-D


    This is a codeproject page that has Pelco-D in C#. Good reference.


    Here is an RS-485 Shield for arduino


    Please join our discussion and let us know what you think.

  • That is true.  I'm no programming master so if one could write a serial library for a PTZ then please share!

  • Don't forget that you've got a robust arduino, you're not limited to PWM inputs, you could probably find(or write heh) a serial library that could talk too it.  

  • I would assume that since it incorporates thermal imaging technology that it IS export restricted.  @Jamie  I found that the easiest way (so far) would be to add another electrical system.  For instance, The gimbal connected to a high-powered radio modem on the aircraft, another modem connected to a PTZ joystick gimbal or ready-made J-pad by SPI.  But, after speaking with the sale manager of SPI, He ensured me that that they can be customized for virtually any P&P setup.  So, I would be very curious to see if they can use Analog video out with PWM inputs for PTZ.  Would be interesting.

  • Im interested to know how one would go about setting this thing up on a sUAS. Im not too familiar with incorperating the ptz into APM. I'd definately like more information on this.


  • Is this unit subject to the USA export restrictions? Seems SPI are based in USA.

    Be great to see an example of your wildlife work William.

    What sort of machine are you flying it from?


  • I purchased the spi M1D gimbal camera unit in the 320x240 detector varient earlier this year and can tell you that its awesome. We do wildlife scanning and counting and its great for that especially at night time, The thermal imagery is spectacular. We particularly like the unit because its easily dismounted and then placed on our truck for ground night time scanning, This solution has saved us tens of thousands of dollars and is making us greatly anticipated profit. We looked into the Quark, which is amazingly nice and small but its just a thermal camera engine with wires, for $5900 We got the M1D, the flir, the daytime camera, the laser and the ball with all of the ancillaries. Happy Holidays to All ! 

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