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Old 02-08-2016, 11:02 AM   #1
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Usefulness of thermal imaging survey?

I work for a forensic engineering firm and we often use thermal imaging, among many other techniques, to evaluate building envelopes, moisture intrusion, electrical systems, and anything else where temperature differences may be useful. I've seen a few threads on other forums about the use of thermal imaging during surveys, but I'd be interested in your opinion.

My thinking is that thermal imaging could show wet spots in a deck or cored hull, water intrusion around windows, wiring or electrical systems that might be too hot, and possibly engine, transmission, or cooling system warning signs that should be investigated further. Clearly thermal imaging should not be relied upon on its own, but might it be useful with other techniques?

Has anyone used thermal imaging to examine a boat? How useful did you find it?
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Old 02-08-2016, 11:41 AM   #2
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Sounds to me like you're onto something there, PH! I was just reading this article in my BoatYS magazine about the FLIR AX8 Thermal Monitoring System. It's a system designed to replace ER cameras with thermal imaging of specific areas of the ER to monitor the engine and surroundings for hot spots. Temp limits can be set for up to 6 different areas to sound alarms if exceeded. Price $900



Combine that with this portable, affordable thermal imaging system, you've got a powerful set of tools. $250 seems like a reasonable price for the smartphone FLIR model.

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Old 02-08-2016, 12:07 PM   #3
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I was thinking the same as PH. I picked up the iOS FlirOne at the Apple store to use when looking at boats. If you have the option of iOS vs Android versions, I think the Android connection may not be reversible like the Apple lightning connection. I don't know if this is true, but suspect the FlirOne has the ability to show temperature transfer differences through moist vs dry areas, though this may work differently for boats in the water vs on the hard. I also got a Protimeter Aquant. The combination should provide a bit more information about the boats I am considering and, hopefully, avoid costly survey starts on ones that might not pass. The caveat is that incorrect usage may prevent proceeding on otherwise okay boats. Later, the same tools can be used to periodically monitor the boat for changes.
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Old 02-08-2016, 12:17 PM   #4
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I can see some value to thermal imaging, but a lot, maybe most depends on how it is used and the conditions when it is used.


For example to detect water in deck coring, it seems there are two ways: heat the deck with the sun and look for spots that are cooler due to the thermal mass of water in the deck coring, or put a heat source inside and look for cool spots where the wet core is blocking infrared heat.


But a surveyors hammer taps do all of that and is very reliable.


I doubt if the imaging is sensitive enough to pick up hot electrical connections. I also suspect that is a minimal problem which can be traced with a voltmeter if necessary.


Detailed imaging of the boat's exhaust raw water mixer would tell you if the inside spray pattern is bad or blocked. Your hand can do the same.


So, to me it seems like it is very specialized and difficult to apply to boat survey issues.


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Old 02-08-2016, 12:31 PM   #5
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if you have a large temperature delta, you can find air leaks around windows and other openings.

Does the FLIR add-on for the smartphone let you touch a spot and read the temp or is it a reticle that shows the temp of a specific place on the screen?

As far as seeing people, thermal works only when there is a temp differential, so not so good at 78-85 ambient temperature. When the ambient temp is about the same as body temp, it's not good at all. cold vs hot, that's easy.
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Old 02-08-2016, 12:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stubones99 View Post
Does the FLIR add-on for the smartphone let you touch a spot and read the temp or is it a reticle that shows the temp of a specific place on the screen?
The FlirOne live view shows temperature in a fixed position at screen center. When reviewing images later, it allows you to tap/drag to check the temperature in different parts of the image.
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Old 02-08-2016, 12:57 PM   #7
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It seems one would need to utilize the technology for a while to learn what is normal and what is abnormal. One can't pick up a sounding hammer for the first time and tap around a boat and know if it is okay; it takes time to learn what sounds normal. The same would probably apply to the thermal imaging.
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Old 02-08-2016, 01:00 PM   #8
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I play around with Thermal Imaging at work all the time. At my last job, I took it home and to the boat.

Verifying tank levels and high resistance electrical connections would be the most obvious things.

I think the variation in composite densities might be difficult to interpret versus water ingress in a hull or deck.
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Old 02-08-2016, 02:38 PM   #9
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Again from an outside source...
"Old news ... Google "thermal imaging boat survey" images and he will be buried with stuff. "
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Old 02-08-2016, 02:44 PM   #10
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We use thermal imaging every way imaginable. My first experience was when our house was inspected by a contractor we engaged, much like a boat survey. He checked electric, plumbing, doors, windows, air leaks, HVAC, you name it. We had not even bought a boat yet to be exposed to it. We were quickly addicted. We have multiple FLIR products within the thermal imaging field and night vision. Fortunately, Furuno and FLIR integrate well. There's a FLIR AX8 monitoring system to connect to your other electronics displays that tells you when the temperatures of any parts are out of range. We don't have that but do use thermal imaging and technology in the engine room.

I do know a couple of marine surveyors who do use it, but they also still use their traditional methods so it's an additional tool, not a replacement at this point. In looking at a hull it might not tell you exactly what you're seeing, but tell you there is a change in a certain area so you pursue it further.

I really think it's one of the handiest, most versatile tools there is. It has security applications. One place I see in it's future is detecting electrical fires before they happen. We found things in our house, we never would have detected otherwise. All seemingly very minor. However, a couple of places in duct work, a couple of windows, a couple of doors and one plumbing leak under a toilet. The contractor who was inspecting for us uses them in all his work, to check behind his subs and his own people. He said he thought he was the best builder around but he constantly found very small things with them to correct.

The prices have dropped dramatically plus smaller new versions of equipment since we purchased. I'm amazed how far and how fast it's progressing. I don't think it will be long to the point all surveyors, all mechanics, all boatyards and all home builders have them.
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Old 02-08-2016, 03:02 PM   #11
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I took a couple thermal imaging courses, bought an inexpensive Flir and experimented on a number of survey applications. I learned enough to know that they are not practical for use in a typical survey situation and I learned enough to know that it would cost another $7 -9k in courses to become certified and truly proficient in there use.They do have their place but they are very complicated. They most definitley have a place in high end damage claims or multi-million dollar boats where the cost of a thermal survey is negligible. I have a few notes and examples of my experience with the Flir camera at the bottom of my Moisture Meter Mythology webpage. Of course I'm only a nit picky toy boat surveyor so it may not be worth the read.
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Old 02-08-2016, 03:44 PM   #12
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I took a couple thermal imaging courses, bought an inexpensive Flir and experimented on a number of survey applications. I learned enough to know that they are not practical for use in a typical survey situation and I learned enough to know that it would cost another $7 -9k in courses to become certified and truly proficient in there use.They do have their place but they are very complicated. They most definitley have a place in high end damage claims or multi-million dollar boats where the cost of a thermal survey is negligible. I have a few notes and examples of my experience with the Flir camera at the bottom of my Moisture Meter Mythology webpage. Of courser I'm only a nit picky toy boat surveyor so it may not be worth the read.
Good read. I would say one thing and that is like most technologies, the price is coming down. The larger units from a few years ago are are half of what they were. When did you write the blog page? Still there are even more advanced units now up to $40k. They've improved at all levels. The smaller units are not as good as the large ones but they will be at some point. That's when they become more widely used. The "professional units" will be $10-15k before long and the $10k will out perform today's $40k. Then the $1k units will be as good as the old $15k units and there will be a large selection of very good units in the $200 to $500 range.

Flir One is the start of the revolutionizing of the thermal camera for $250. Just keep in mind that the camera in one's smartphone today is better than the $10k professional digital setups when digital photography first hit. I remember even in 1997 or so a photographer so proud of his studio and the editing he could do and the ability to see the photos right then on a large screen. Every teenager is doing today what was new to him then.
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Old 02-08-2016, 04:11 PM   #13
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I have the "seek Thermal" brand for android. It does work well for what I use it for.

Battery temperature. Looking at the side of the battery will tell you if one of the cells are out of line with the rest.

AC and DC power panels. excessive temperature indicates a bad or corroded connection. If the connection is covered with heat shrink, you may not be able to see the bad connection.

Air conditioning. Verifying that the evaporator coil is transferring heat properly. Ductwork, looking for leaks. For what they are, they work reasonably well. No it's not a 5-7K model, but for what I use it for, it works.

Around the house, many things, mostly looking for air leaks, (look around the refrigerator).

Yes I can see a dog peeing in my front yard in pitch black night.

It does have the ability to record images, and measure temperatures in those images when downloaded to a desktop, if you have the right software.

Handy little device for 20 cents in boat dollars.
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Old 02-08-2016, 06:57 PM   #14
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I remember one FLIR demo showed a guy farting...

They used FLIR to spot people with bird flu early since they might have a fever and not know it. Back in the day, a decent thermal camera was $10k to $30k but one time I was about 100 yards out, and had touched my shirt. After I moved my hand, you could still see the heat from my hand on the shirt for a few minutes.

The lower cost cameras today don't have the resolution that the big guys have but they also lack the price tag as well. It is amazing what visible thermal changes would help diagnose. If you look at your exhaust manifold, you could see a dripping or plugged injector. FPL uses them to spot suspicious transformers and hot joints from within the truck. They added a PTZ camera that had a thermal & color camera and you can switch from one to the other and see hotspots on their cables, fuses, and transformers.

I've seen a few nice boats with FLIR built in so you can spot ATON's from a distance, in the dark. Not to mention, finding people in the water...

There are some fun things voyeurs can do with them too

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Old 02-08-2016, 07:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stubones99 View Post

I've seen a few nice boats with FLIR built in so you can spot ATON's from a distance, in the dark. Not to mention, finding people in the water...

There are some fun things voyeurs can do with them too

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After using FLIR, I would not run at night without it. No comments on what you can see when using them at a short distance.
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Old 02-18-2016, 08:29 AM   #16
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Interesting new product

Claims to be the worlds first smartphone with built in thermal imaging camera and expected to be marketed for $599.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/world-...064758457.html

Can't help but think this feature will end up in other high end smartphones. With a little luck, it might even end up in iPads.
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