While most of my clients are most interested in EMI mitigation, a few wonder aloud about certain IC temperatures. For that reason, I carry a small IR thermometer in my troubleshooting kit. However, when FLIR announced the FLIRONE PRO module that attaches to iPhones, I was hooked and had to purchase one.
The FLIRONE PRO includes a dual camera – one for infrared capture and one normal camera that helps detect edges for better subject identification. The module simply plugs into the Lightning connector at the bottom of the phone and their app may be downloaded from the iOS App-Stores. A short USB charging cord is supplied with mini USB that plugs in next to the power button.
The plug is unique in that the length is adjustable to accommodate different sized protective cases on the phone. I had to adjust mine out a bit in order to fit properly. A handy cushioned storage case is included in the $399 price (Figure 1). I found the fit to be a little tight with my plug adjusted outward, so inserting the plug first and then rotating the module into the foam cushion seems to work best without undue strain on the plug.
Figure 1 – The FLIRONE PRO in its case.
Connection between the FLIRONE PRO and mating app went smoothly. The module is turned on by pressing a small button on the bottom for about 2-3 seconds until it lights orange, after which, it blinks. However, it takes several seconds for the connection to be completed – you need to be patient. The unit is turned off with a shorter press of the button. I also find the iPhone battery gets drained quite a bit faster than normal during use. Battery charge time is approximately 40 minutes and operating life is 1 hour.
The app includes controls for adjusting visible or IR cameras, palettes, distance to subject, temperature range, IR scale (lockable), and selfie mode. You can also set the camera to video (frame rate 8.7 Hz), photo (JPEG), or time-lapse modes. There is a decent built-in “help” mode that explains all the various controls and settings.
Specifications are impressive. The unit will measure from -4 to 752 degrees F (-20 to 400 degrees C), with up to three touch-adjustable spot meters or six user definable temperature regions (with 0.1 degree resolution). The IR camera thermal resolution is 160 x 120 and visual resolution (from the phone) is 1440 x 1080. The unit may be focused from 15 cm to infinity.
It’s easy to use, simply point and click. There is a touch-controlled temperature cursor (spot meter) that may be set to any point on the screen to read out temperature in degrees F or C. I find the automatic temperature scaling seems to work just fine for normal use. For example, mostly I’d use this to map out the temperature profile of a circuit board (Figure 2). As you can see, the visible camera attempts to apply “edges” to the IR image, which assists in locating various components on the board.
Figure 2 – A sample circuit board temperature map.
I noticed a few things that couple be improved. Examining Figure 2, you’ll see that at close distances, the visible and IR field of views doesn’t exactly match up. Also, the temperature cursor (spot meter) is rendered in such a light color that it’s difficult to read over the brighter heat map colors. Finally, if you are used to holding the phone in the normal horizontal position (with the volume controls facing up) the subject will be recorded upside down. This would be resolved by keeping the FLIR module on the right-hand side.
The FLIR module is also an excellent tool for determining thermal leakage points within your home. For example, Figure 3 shows an area in my office where there is a lack of insulation. It shows up quite well as a violet colored area in the image.
Figure 3 – Leakage indicating a lack of insulation in the wall-to-ceiling junction.
FLIR offers several third-party apps, among them one for using the camera as an IR viewer for outdoor use at night. There are a handful of others, as well.
It’s also a fun toy for taking IR images of your friends and pets (Figures 4 and 5).
Figure 4 – IR image of my cat, “Sparky”.
Figure 5 – Self-portrait of the author!
In summary, I’m impressed with the quality and usefulness of the FLIRONE PRO. Much can be learned by infrared imaging and the performance appears to match FLIR’s other handheld cameras. With the exception of the issues noted previously, I feel this is a useful addition to my troubleshooting kit. Recommended.