My first post here, and I'm going to hype my company and its products. I hope you will go easy on me - I'm assured that what we make is of interest to the DIY Drones community!


My company, DRS Technologies, manufactures a small Infrared Thermal camera called the Tamarisk 320.


The camera has a resolution of 320x240, is smaller than a golfball, weighs less than 35g and consumes <1W of power. 

For the past couple of years we have run the DRS Student Infrared Imaging Competition. The SIIC is an open-format, incentive prize competition for students who use thermal infrared imaging in a creative way.  The top project wins $10,000.  For this, the competition’s second year, there is an additional prize category for “Most Viral Video.”   This year DRS received 25 entries, of which 17 include a video for the viral competition. 

Videos range from art projects to drone projects, and all kinds of odd and novel topics in between... 

The viral video playlist is available at:


...and competition details are available at:


Let me know what you think.





Views: 46500

Comment by Gerard Toonstra on June 4, 2013 at 6:50am

+1 on more info regarding export restrictions. Note that the Tau camera ITAR restrictions applies only to the full framerate version @ 30Hz. The 9Hz version is not restricted. Would be good if Daniel could shed some light on how this applies to his camera.

Comment by Daniel Jardine on June 4, 2013 at 7:49am

You are all well informed on the ITAR restrictions, from the sounds of things. The Tamarisk 320 is exportable without license in its 9Hz version to most countries in the world (with a short list of exceptions). In addition, there is a list of 36 countries that we can export 60Hz Tamarisk 320 cameras to without license. Outside of those provisions, our other products (640x480, for example) are ITAR controlled, meaning that an export license is required. That complicates matters, but does not make it impossible in many cases.

Comment by Gerard Toonstra on June 4, 2013 at 7:59am

Ok, if you have a link to these countries, that'd be appreciated.

Hobbyists I don't think stand any chance for getting such a license. Besides the ability to "import", there are also specific requirements on how the equipment is safe-guarded and kept (theft, loss). If you move to another country with the equipment, the export license needs to be reacquired. All in all, for hobbyists it's definitely not worth the pain and trouble to acquire ITAR restricted stuff.

Can you confirm the 640 version is also license free at 9Hz?

Comment by b nevins on June 4, 2013 at 8:02am

Note last line...

Tau 640 Export Info


The  International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) details the regulations  governing the export of defense related materials and technologies. The U.S.  Munitions List (USML) categorizes goods and technologies governed by the ITAR.

FLIR’s  640x512 thermal imaging products and related technical data and information are  controlled for export purposes to the ITAR. Data provided at this web site has  been approved for public release, and is not export-controlled. It is a  violation of the ITAR to export or re-export technical data pertaining to  FLIR’s 640x512 thermal imaging products (other than data approved for public  release) without first receiving authorization to do so from the U.S.  Department of State. This restriction does not apply to the “slow video” versions  of FLIR’s 640x512 thermal imaging products that operate at frame rates of less  than 9Hz.

Due to the  export status of FLIR’s 640x512 thermal imaging products, any purchase,  receipt, and/or use of any related technical data (other than data approved for  public release) is contingent upon an agreement to abide by all export laws and  regulations of the United States, including, without limitation, the ITAR.  Further, it must be acknowledged that export or re-export of technical data  related to FLIR’s 640x512 thermal imaging products (other than data approved  for public release) is not allowed without the requisite authorization from the  Directorate of Defense Trade Controls of the Department of State.

In  addition, § 122.1 of the ITAR states that “Any person in the U.S. who engages  in the business of either manufacturing or exporting defense articles or  furnishing defense services is required to be registered with the Directorate  of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC).” It is the responsibility of any organization  that buys, receives, or sells for export purposes and/or  uses a FLIR 640x512 thermal imaging product in a manufacturing process to  register with DDTC in such cases.

Violations  of the ITAR are extremely serious and can result in fines, debarment, and  criminal sanctions. Please direct any questions or concerns regarding the  export status of FLIR’s 640x512 thermal imaging products to Krista Larsen,  FLIR’s Director, Export Compliance Traffic, at (503) 498-3316.

Again,  ITAR compliance for FLIR’s 640x512 thermal imaging products applies to the  full-rate (30Hz & 25Hz) versions of the camera, and does NOT apply to the  “slow video” versions that operate at frame rates of less than 9Hz.

Comment by Josh Potter on June 4, 2013 at 8:21am

Seeing the more information posted, a camera between $2k-$4k seems plausible to me.  Especially for a higher refresh rate than the cheaper models you can get right now. 

Comment by Austin Laws on June 4, 2013 at 9:03am
$5k u gotta be joking.
Comment by Joshua Ott on June 4, 2013 at 9:07am

I wanted to chime in here, and give a bit of clarification on the price point question.

We (3DR) asked Daniel (DRS) to be very general with regard to final retail pricing on this camera. As everyone knows: price and volume are intrinsically tied -- so, until we can figure out what kind of sales volume is realistic, there is no way to set a final retail price for our customers.

Products like the Tamarisk 320 are an exciting new tool in the nascent UAV prosumer market. Because this market is still being formed, it requires a bit of prognostic thought before making commitments to large order volumes.

Threads like this are a valuable tool in determining what the real world demand for a product like this will command.

Thank you all for the valuable feedback and thoughtful insights. The high level of expertise and experience in the DIY community is always impressive!

Comment by Dennis Lott on June 4, 2013 at 10:26am

Joshua, I am in the market for one and maybe two reasonably priced small IR cameras.

Comment by Stefan Gofferje on June 4, 2013 at 10:46am


The fact that there's only 2 or 3 manufacturers in the world that can (may!) produce microbolometer sensors, the fact that 2 of them, including the patent-holder sit in the USA and the fact that thanks to US export-restrictions and the non-interest of manufacturers in consumer-markets there is no mass market.

FLIR has been trying to do something about that by coming out with products for enthusiast consumer markets, like sport-boat owners, hunters and by making an aftermarket vehicle camera system for SOMEWHAT reasonable prices, but this also found it's limits in US export restrictions. FLIR cams might be affordable, but the consumer market models usually have 160x100 pixels resolution which makes them more of an expensive show-off toy than something really usable for a wide range of consumers.

Technically, a microbolometer sensor is not at all challenging or even complicated to produce. It's all political.

DRS is not going to change anything because they belong to Finnmeccanica - a huge defense industry trust. They don't have any interest in consumer markets - probably wouldn't even know how to approach them. That's clearly shown by their price estimate.

@Joshua Ott:

Price and volume are surely intrinsically tied but a $5k unit (which already is produced in quantities) is not going to suddenly be only $999 or even less just because 3DR stocks 100 instead of 50. Let's be realistical here :).

Comment by Joshua Ott on June 4, 2013 at 11:00am


As Daniel said, this is going to be LESS than $5k, and the volume will need to be higher than 100 to make this work.

We are looking at this with the idea that Moore's law is still in effect. Some early adopters with commercial interests will be ready to buy these this year, and a larger group will buy these next year... then at some point, these types of cameras will be on every smart phone just for fun ;-)


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