Precision Fail – The Tri-Corder

“It’ll just fit perfectly if I carefully drill a little hole right….about…..aaaand it’s got room to move and looks like it’s been chewed on by robo-hamster.”

Meet the Tri-Corder!
Meet the Tri-Corder!

Yup.  Super nerdy name, couldn’t help it.  It records 3 things.  I suppose you’d have me call it Trinity or something.  Well, tough.  I didn’t.  Let’s just get on with actually showing what it records.  This ugly red-headed step-child is the crossing of a Logitech QuickCam 9000 and a Lepton FLiR.   So we’re recording the following:

  • Audio
  • The visible spectrum of light
  • The “No, Billy! The stove is hot, don’t touch!” spectrum of light

visibile and thermal view

I’ve put the FLiR along side the Quickcam so I can see the same scene in both spectrums for a fuller picture of things and the audio channel is third wheeling on this as I didn’t see a need to save on bandwidth so I may as well keep it.  In the above picture you can see my lounge room and that orange hot spot on the thermal tells me I’ve got the heater cranked today.  You might be asking why the FLiR is in portrait orientation instead of landscape like the Quickcam.  Well, this is why.


I was getting a bit edgy about having this $400.00 static sensitive camera getting chucked around and manhandled, so I figured it needed a case of some sort.  By luck I found the perfect case and thought it would be cool to have the 2 cameras mounted in the same enclosure.  The problem is those damn connector pins.  Due to an American law regarding the allowable levels of lead in commercial solder (e.g. if it’s factory built it’s gotta be safe for the workers etc.) the solder you Americans use can only be melted by the fires of mount doom.  Not having a light-sabre to desolder the pins with and unwilling to risk damaging the board, I ended up shoe horning it in on it’s side like so.

Yeah that looks like it will fit nicely.
Yeah that looks like it will fit nicely.

In fact I managed to work out a way to squeeze it all in while only having to drill a 7mm hole for the FLiRs lens to poke out.  Unfortunately, something got stuck underneath it when I wasn’t looking and I just figured I’d misjudged it.  Next thing you know I’m hacking holes left right and centre (too lazy to get the right tool for the job), there’s bits of plastic going everywhere, and I can hear a voice cry “Won’t someone think of the children!?”  Finally a little cable-gami and I closed that coffin up hoping never to open it again.

On the software side of things, I’ve just modified the sample application from the manufacturer a little to interpret the thermal data and produce a video stream with the right kind of pretty colors.  Both the Quickcam and FLiR streams are fed into an application called “Motion” which is handy for tracking motion on webcams and displaying the whole thing on a web page.  It’s all running off a Raspberry Pi2 at the moment, so it’s very portable and ready for further features.

So that’s pretty much it.  No modification to the FLiR board and minimal modification to the Quickcam (as long as you don’t count war crime right on the front where everyone can see it).  What’s it for?  Dunno.  Probably gonna stick with the unmanned fire spotting idea.

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