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thermal photography review

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Questions for Thermal Imaging staff notes:

Open questions: Description challenges: how do we maintain “choose your own adventure” tool interaction?

  • how do people publish and share? archive? are we making maps or images? to we geo/spacially reference?
  • rooms described flattened?
  • Housing for flashlight
  • Calibration & Quantification--Test Days FLIR versus (Jeff has access), surface temperatures using surface temp sensors, make a test bed

Use cases

  • Insulation:
    • Harlem School Group
    • guides of improving insulation--Collaborators for this

Thermal Pollution Mapping:

  • Use Case: gowanus
  • Collaborators for this?

Hardware challenges: To arduino or not to arduino?

  • is this an intro arduino project or is it a stand alone product? (sparkfun tie-in) somewhere in between? RBBB arduino + sensor + battery

Proposed goals for next month: 1) MAP MORE STUFF 2) Quantify info Testing days 3) Organize workshops Proposed goal for three months: Proven Uses for next winter, archive of tool versions Proposed goal for six months: low cost kit being developed (get it off the breadboard) Proposed over all goal for year: added to retail?

Devote staff time here for next couple of months?

basic immediate to dos: video-- call to get involved, coupled with to-do list, etc. on plots site. guide? beginner arduino guide and beginner electronics guide

are we making maps or images? to we geo/spacially reference?

History/context of tool

  • what inspired it? expensive "FLIR" cameras. creating a low cost affordable diy solution
  • who (all) designed/developed/tested it? PLOTS Staff, Research Director, workshop attendees Where? RISD, Brooklyn, Somerville
  • where has it been used and how did it go? (RISD, Brooklyn, Somerville) Build, test and design collaborative meetups. In brooklyn the thermal fishing bob was conceived as a tool for application towards gowanus canal (scum workshop) and other waterways
    • lots of testing and posted data from the pirateship and Somerville
    • how specialized is demand for the tool? broadly applicable or very site/condition specific


  • documentation, transmission to new users new tool but instructions and parts list on the plots site. no suggestions as to where the equipment is purchasable, assumes working arduino knowledge
  • tools needed? soldering equipment
  • skills needed? - what knowledge does it assume? difficulty? easy for an electronics project, but moderately difficult in general at this point. electronics capabilities needed, not enough build and test video on the PLOTS site.
  • materials needed - supply chain limitations digital thermometer,led, capacitor, resistors, wire, breadboard, 9v battery and holder, Arduino (supply chain limitations?)
  • safety

Safe to operate. Required knowledge of basic electronics lab safety


  • what is it costing us in staff hours?
  • Very little thus far, Research, several meetups
    • what is it costing in materials? $60 per flashlight, less for the fishing bob (not stated)
    • COTS (consumer-off-the-shelf) effects

How will this tool evolve with sensor and arduino development? --Could be easily integrated into its own circuit for substantial cost savings. Is this an intro arduino project or a stand-alone electronics project?


  • what are the per-use costs?
  • very low, time, 9v battery (2-4hr life per battery)
    • what are wearing parts? (frequency of replacement) battery, non sure about the durability of the fishing bob may be too early to know


  • are there opportunities for people to participate/contribute announced meetups, mailing list, website. the tool is designed for broad ease of use.
  • formats: online/offline? it is a mostly offline tool, no settled format for publishing at this point
  • cost? (dollars, time)


  • access to materials, components - Web order, various retailers. potentially not available outside US/EU
    • language barrier? - english only instructions at this time, although with electronics being used in the build it should be not too difficult to share this design
    • language: domain-specific, insider/outsider - thermal fishing bob description is alienating, required electronics knowledge

Change effected

  • how has it measurably/materially affected:
    • local ecology
    • available/actionable information?
    • decision making
    • legal, policy, regulatory
    • enables participation in a formerly closed information loop
    • Since the tool is still in development, it has not yet achieved any outcomes


2012 tool goals:

  • further explanation of the software side-- glowdoodle, etc.
  • should work like mapknitter, create rectified, georeferenced maps, not just images
  • either move towards intro arduino project or stand alone electronics (good opportunity for sparkfun kit)
  • seek quantitative comparison with FLIR
  • seek integration with existing org doing weatherization

this tool more than others really fits with our grassroots mapping experience, and should be developed as a mapping tool, laying the groundwork for indoor mapping. If combined with DIY LIDAR/stereoscopy to spacially place thermal readings, this could be the beginning of a powerful indoor mapping project with broad applicability.