Using the PureThermal 1 for Lepton Development

Lepton gives makers the ability to do a wide variety of things that aren’t possible without thermal cameras. Lepton transmits video data over the SPI protocol, which is ideal for embedded devices. Unfortunately, many platforms like laptops and desktops don’t expose a SPI bus, making it impossible to directly access Lepton’s video feed.

That’s where the PureThermal 1 comes in. PureThermal 1 sits between a Lepton* (current version 80×60 only) and your laptop, and transmits Lepton’s video data over UVC (USB Video Class) just like a regular webcam would. Because it’s a webcam, it enables a developer to use a wide variety of pre-existing software with it seamlessly.

You can view the video stream with a standard webcam viewer like VLC, or use the video data for computer vision with OpenCV without any additional work. PureThermal 1 can do anything a visible webcam can do, plus some things that visible webcams can’t do.

Feature Summary

  • Because it uses USB, it is cross-platform. The PureThermal 1 works on Windows, OS X, and Linux.

  • PureThermal 1 is based on an ARM Cortex-M4 processor, and the reference firmware is open-source in case you need to customize it for a specific application. The hardware schematic is also open-source.

  • The reference firmware xan be modified to do light image processing right on the PureThermal 1 itself.

  • PureThermal 1 is powered over USB and has a very small footprint, so it can fit just about anywhere a breakout board could.

  • It has the hardware built in for analog video output, a Li-ion battery, and UART and I2C expansions. The reference firmware doesn’t take advantage of these features, but they’re there for your project to leverage.

PureThermal 1 as an open, versatile, and hackable Lepton platform makes it a very good choice for those looking to get started with Lepton development. More information about the PureThermal 1, including detailed specifications and datasheets is available here.

Interface diagram