diy thermal cam

DIY Thermal Cam: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Are you interested in exploring the world of thermal imaging but don’t want to spend a fortune on expensive cameras? This is where DIY thermal cameras come into play. In this article, we will guide you through the process of creating a DIY thermal cam, step by step.

What is a Thermal Cam?

A thermal camera, also known as an infrared camera, is a device that captures images based on the temperature differences in objects. In simplified terms, the camera detects and captures thermal energy, and translates it into an image where each color represents a different temperature range. Thermal cameras are widely used in various industries like firefighting, surveillance, and building inspections.

Why Build a DIY Thermal Cam?

Buying a professional thermal camera can be a costly investment, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. However, building a DIY thermal camera can be cost-effective, and you’ll get the satisfaction of building something on your own.

Step-by-Step Guide to Building a DIY Thermal Cam

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a DIY thermal camera:

1. Gather the Necessary Components

Before starting the process, it’s important to gather all the necessary components. You’ll need a Raspberry Pi (a small and affordable computer), a thermal sensor (MLX90640), a camera (Raspberry Pi Camera Module), and a few other basic components, including a breadboard, wires, and resistors.

2. Soldering and Wiring

The next step is to solder and wire the components together. It’s essential to follow the wiring diagram carefully and ensure that all the connections are in place.

3. Configuring the Raspberry Pi

Once the connections are successfully made, it’s time to configure the Raspberry Pi. First, install the Raspbian operating system on the Raspberry Pi. Then install the required packages, including Python libraries for the thermal sensor and camera module.

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4. Programming

After the Raspberry Pi is set up, it’s time to get down to coding. Programming is the most crucial step in building a DIY thermal camera. It involves developing software to control the thermal sensor and the camera module, and merging the data captured by both to create a thermal image.

5. Testing

Now that the DIY thermal camera is ready, the final step is to test it. Check if the camera is capturing images correctly and whether the thermal sensor is detecting the temperature differences accurately.


Q1. How accurate are DIY thermal cameras?

DIY thermal cameras are not as accurate as professional ones, but they can provide accurate results if you follow the instructions carefully and use good quality components.

Q2. Can I use the DIY thermal camera for home inspections?

Yes, you can use the DIY thermal camera for home inspections to detect energy leaks or water damage.

Q3. Do I need programming skills to build a DIY thermal camera?

Yes, you need basic programming skills and knowledge of Python to build a DIY thermal camera.

Q4. Is building a DIY thermal cam worth it?

Building a DIY thermal camera can be a fun and educational experience, and it can save you money in the long run if you need a thermal camera for occasional use.

Q5. Can I use a different thermal sensor with the Raspberry Pi?

Yes, you can use other thermal sensors like the AMG8833 or the MLX90621 with the Raspberry Pi, but you might need to tweak the code accordingly.


Building a DIY thermal camera can be a challenging but rewarding project, offering a cheaper alternative to buying a professional thermal camera. While the accuracy of a DIY thermal camera cannot match that of a professional one, it can still provide satisfactory results if you use good quality components and follow the instructions carefully. We hope this comprehensive guide helped you understand the process of building a DIY thermal camera and encouraged you to give it a try.

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