goal, it’s best to go with a lens that
offers a wide field of view. A narrower
field of view will let you see more
detail, but it’s like trying to fly while
looking through a soda straw—you
can’t see enough of the environment to
maintain good situational awareness.
Finally, the Vue cameras are available
with two different sensor resolutions:
336 x 256 pixels or 640 x 512 pixels.
Again, more seems better. In fact, it
is, and you won’t go to jail for taking
the high-resolution version out of the
country, but it does cost more.
Before investing in a thermal-imaging
camera, it’s important to understand
the real-life capabilities and limitations
of this technology. If you have ever
watched movies or television shows
about secret agents, then you probably
have a distorted understanding of how
thermal imaging works.
To begin with, it can’t see through
walls. Glass is opaque in the thermal
spectrum, so it can’t even see through
What you can see is the relative
amount of heat being reflected or
radiated by objects in the environment.
This can be useful for certain tasks,
such as finding a human being in the
wilderness, because a person’s constant
98. 6° body temperature is typically
warmer than the surrounding terrain.
Likewise, it could be handy for
identifying a leaking roof, because water
seeping beneath a roof’s surface will
create a patch that is noticeably cooler
than the surrounding areas.
The FLIR will even allow you to
detect the residual heat that has been
absorbed by an object. Fly over a
parking lot, for example, and you’ll be
able to tell which cars have recently
arrived because their engines and tires
Did your car keys slip through a hole
in your pocket into the underbrush? A
thermal imaging camera will be able to
find them, because your body heat is
re-radiated into the environment.
Thermal imaging is a powerful tool,
but it’s not magic. You can see through
smoke (one reason FLIR is so popular
with firefighters), but water vapor has
thermal properties, so fog will obscure
your vision. However, if you understand
its limitations and combine its potential
with the unique aerial perspective
provided by drones, you might catch a
glimpse of the future.
95 Model Aviation JANUARY 2016 www.ModelAviation.com