Andy Baker, UK & Ireland Sales Manager at FLIR, discusses the advances and power of micro thermal imaging equipment.
There have been several technological milestones in the development of thermal imaging that have fueled its transition from a specialist detection tool to one that has been optimised for mainstream use. These advances have resulted in the technology becoming the primary method for electrical inspection and for checking systems under load when used in conjunction with an infrared window.
Recently, the technology took another significant step forward. Thanks to developments here at FLIR we no longer just have hand-held thermal imaging cameras but a pocket-portable version too. The new FLIR C2 is like no other camera on the market. It’s the size of a mobile phone, completely self-contained, ideal for those new to the technology and yet sufficiently affordable to be a back-up model for established users.
Key to the compactness of the C2 is the Lepton micro-thermal camera which is the size of a mobile phone SIM and less than 4mm thick. This is a major development for the company and is subject to multiple patents. It has a resolution of 80 x 60 active pixels, providing 4800 temperature measurement points in every image, enabling subtle thermal patterns and small temperature differences, as small as 0.01°C, to be seen.
With every new generation, infrared cameras are becoming increasingly smart and the C2 is no exception in this regard. In common with all latest generation models it comes, as standard, with the company’s patented multi-spectral imaging, MSX. This feature adds important detail captured by the on-board digital camera so numbers, letters, texture and other features are clearly recognisable without compromising the thermal image.
With a simple point-and-shoot operation, the C2 captures radiometric JPEGs with the push of a button. Wide field-of-view frames provide a good sized image of the scene which is displayed on the unit’s 3” intuitive touch screen with auto orientation for easy viewing. The camera also includes a built-in work light and flash that helps illuminate poorly lit areas and ensures a brighter, visible picture is captured.
Stored radiometric images can be downloaded to a PC or Mac for adjustment and analysis via FLIR Tools supplied with the package. This software allows the camera user to isolate temperature measurements from -10°C to +150°C on any pixel and create professional reports on their thermal findings. It also allows radiometric video footage to be streamed down, a feature not usually available on low-cost thermal imaging cameras.
The C2 can quickly locate hotspots and provide important information for the electrician to determine the severity of the problem and establish the time frame in which the fault should be rectified. It is therefore ideal for checking high resistance connections and for detecting internal fuse damage, internal circuit breaker faults, corroded and poor connections. Simple emissivity settings allow the readings to be correctly calibrated for the target material.