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Old Jan 17, 2015, 04:41 PM
Procrastinator1 is online now
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United States, SC, Hilton Head Island
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DJI Phantom 2 Flir Tau 2 Thermal Camera Build

I recently had an inspection that required the use of a thermal camera to inspect a solar panel field for failed units. I have numerous thermal imagers, but most too big or too bulky to be used on a multi. The tau series is impressive for its size, but it is not the most plug and play camera on the market. The other issue is there is no readily available brushless gimbal with a manual tilt option. First, we installed it on our workhorse S900, but it was hard mounted to the gimbal rails with the ability to manually tilt. That obviously became a huge pain because you could never get the camera the exact way you wanted it. We researched many different posts and setups, but none were going to work for the exact way we wanted it to. After lots of trial and error, we have finally got a solid unit on our hands. We have steady, jello free video installed on a light, nimble and quick to deploy phantom 2. The phantom 2 is a good platform to install it on, as the Flir Tau 2 weighs only 5 more grams than a Gopro, and is extremely reliable. The results are pretty stunning, and its a pretty simple install once you know the pitfalls of installing a tau 2 on the phantom, and what you can do to correct it. Here is the list of the parts needed to have a complete, RTF thermal imaging phantom.

  • Phantom 2 Flir Tau2 Thermal UAV
  • DJI Phantom 2
  • DJI 2.4ghz Datalink (Waypoints)
  • DJI AVL58 Video Downlink
  • DJI Mini IOSD
  • Flir Tau2 Thermal Camera 336 (13mm Lens)
  • Flir Tau2 VPC Module
  • Beholder Lite 2 Axis Brushless Gimbal
  • Right Angle MCX Cable
  • Right Angle MINI USB to USB Male
  • 12-26 Volt to 5 Volt Regulator

We went with the 336 model with a 13mm lens. For the price, the 336 is the best option. If you are on a tight budget, the 168 model is ok, but the small price increase relative to quality for the 336 is major. The 640 is an amazing camera, but at more than double the price of the 336, we decided it wasn't necessary as of now.

The installation is pretty simple, but some minor soldering is required. The beholder lite gimbal is almost a perfect fit, and the stock gopro gimbal settings are pretty close. We did need to order some custom right angle cables, as the way the Tau 2 is mounted on the gimbal leaves very little room for straight plugs. You also need to convert the phantom 2's 12 volts to 5 volts to power the Tau 2, which is relatively easy to do with a car usb charge adapter.

Below is some up-close images of the install, and how everything is laid out. We also actively use the 2.4ghz datalink for waypoints, especially when performing inspections. We also did a quick demo video showing the recording quality of the camera, along with the gimbal performance.

DJI Phantom 2 Flir Tau 2 Thermal Imaging UAV (4 min 40 sec)

You can also view details, step by step how-to and tips and tricks for the installation at!DJI-Phantom-...C-629BBF0BC19E

Here is some images of the final installation and how it is physically mounted to the phantom. If you have any questions, feel free to message me here or through our website,
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Old Jan 17, 2015, 05:02 PM
gtojon is online now
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Thank you for posting .... very informative!

Cheers, Jon
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Old Jan 18, 2015, 11:25 AM
Procrastinator1 is online now
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No problem! When I was researching it there was a few people who have done it successfully. Unfortunately some used larger rigs, big gimbals, or didn't have tilt control. It was definitely trial and error, as I wired it up originally with just pos and neg power leads coming from the usb to the adapter. The camera would not turn on and operate and I was racking my brain trying to figure out why. It turns out the male standard usb connector needs the connectors metal housing as it is some sort of ground. When not using the male usb connector, and just power leads, only 0.5 amps run through the pins. I also had to mess with the flir tau's gui settings, as I was getting some washout of contrast when there was a vast difference of temperature between two items. If there is any questions feel free to message me.
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