Kite Aerial Thermography (KAT)

edited April 2017 in General
As some of you will have seen on flickr, we have now (rather nervously!) started flying the West Lothian Archaeology Group's thermal camera setup.
Does anyone else have any experience of carrying out KAP in the thermal infra-red?


  • I don't, but I had to take this opportunity to say...

    You freakin' ROCK!

    A while back we had the loan of a FLIR camera. I don't remember the model number, but it was priced at something like US$60k. We did aerial thermography with it from a Piper Cub as well as a bunch of ground stuff. Unfortunately I wasn't part of that project, so I didn't get to play with the camera or go for a ride in an airplane. But the results were extremely useful.

    At the time I joked I could fly it from a kite, but that didn't go over so well. Everyone got this bug-eyed frantic look when I mentioned it. Our director of engineering finally said it was on loan, and that we shouldn't risk other people's hardware that way.

    I can't wait to see what you do with it! I'm going to forward your thermography Flickr links to my boss so he can see it really is possible. Awesome!!

  • Very cool! Scary too, to fly it?
  • What kind of winds do you get at 4AM? I'd probably wimp out and try to do pole aerial photography surveys. Of course your footsteps might show up.
  • edited September 2011
    I think a thermal camera on a hand pole would be better described as a long club ;o) That is scary! I do not like even using SLRs on a pole.
    Why 4am?

    Thanks for the enthusiasm - I hope the cost will be worth it.
    KAT is not easy and compares with KAPing with unmodified digital cameras in the near UV.
    I assume that you had similar problems with working in the near IR with an unmodified camera.
  • I did one class survey where we worked between 4AM and 6AM to look at soil type, soil thickness, seeps etc. I think the idea was to get away from variances imparted by differences in insolation, shadows, etc. In practice I think you do multiple surveys and see when the features you care about show up best.
  • edited September 2011
    Did you fly the camera?
    I had someone tell me at a meeting (only the day before yesterday) that when he used a thermal imager to test for gas leaks, day break was around the best time.
    I can see that this work may have a downside!
    Everyone already thinks that we are a bit odd flying kites....doing it at night has confirmed their suspicions.
    Some local residents look a little nervous peering out from their windows....any growing cannabis in their attic may be especially worried!!!
  • The professor had a small airplane that was flown at 500 feet and the sensor was a very expensive borrowed one (NASA?). My memory is not that great but I remember working on cold dry winter days and the biggest contrast was some comparatively warm seeps where water was moving up from depth. Other stuff that stood out that wasn't easily visible using other parts of the spectrum were some old trenching for an 80 year old aquaduct and some sandstone strata amongst shales. Nothing was outcropping but the soil was shallower over the sandstone.

    It was all a teaching exercise. Just to show what kind of information you could get.

    I guess for a pole you'd actually need an expensive mast type system. I forgot how heavy your camera was.
  • Great!
    That allows me to hold out some hope for the winter months......but a dry winter day can be a bit elusive here in Scotland ;o)
  • edited April 2017
    This evening, in the dark, my son Cade and I flew our simplest thermal setup:


    We used the usual, simple, loop-over constrictor knot to attach the stick to the line. Additional PVC tape was used to secure the Flir One (£200) to the phone.

    The imager was flown vertically over a brickworks site which was demolished and cleared in 2012:
    Even without the visible spectrum component of the image, details are readily visible:
    This looks like a Hoffmann kiln, but not the longer one that was demolished in 2012. It corresponds to a building at the end (left) of the four mentioned below, as shown in the old aerial photo.

    So, this camera works well for both man-made sites and those covered by grass, as we found at Stratford Park.

    It is becoming apparent that a light shower of rain, earlier in the day, is a good contrast agent!
  • That's a great result John!
  • I like this kind of work with kites! Thanks for sharing.
  • edited April 2018
    Thanks folks.
    Not only can you see the footprints of demolished buildings but you can also see the foundations of previous buildings on which they were built!
    Look at the 4 identical rectangular building above the centre of this old aerial photo:


    There are no chimney stacks (lums) left standing in the town.

    At the time of demolition, these 4 separate buildings no longer existed:


    And here are the foundations:


    The video footage is better than looking at a single frame as the colour mapping is dynamic.
  • theres about half a dozen of those flir ones on ebay at the moment . if i hadn't already spent next weeks pay i be tempted to get one. i'm sure i could get huge brownie points for photoing my sisters cat lol
  • edited April 2017
    Or check your sister's house for heat loss:

    (flying with a modified selfie stick)

    (flying with a modified selfie stick)

    Something to worry any roof space horticulturalists ;o)

    So many uses!
    Anyone remember x-ray machines in shoe shops?
    The safe alternative....

    I always thought that my shoes were a little too long.
  • is there any camera setting to remove the flir monika from photos cause that would annoy me greatly after awhile
  • We've put up a FLIR Tau 2 (640 x 512 resolution) over our soybean experiments using one of several kites or a large tethered balloon on calm days. We were looking for differences in canopy temperature among soybean genotypes in response to drought. We have a manuscript on this currently being reviewed.

    We have two short manuscripts describing already published. If anyone is interested, let me know and I'll be glad to send you a PDF.

    With the ease of flying a sUAS, all of our research work in switching over. I'll still be KAPing for fun, however!
  • edited April 2017
    Hi Larry,

    It is good to see that you are continuing your thermal work.
    We are all about low cost, inclusivity and avoiding all the SUAV regulations, so we (West Lothian Archaeological Trust) play with our drones and use the kites for aerial photography ;o)

    For anyone interested in thermally detecting archaeological residues see also:
    Visible and thermal infra-red images taken by Ulrich Kiesow from a microlight. ©
  • Chardie,
    Other than cropping the image, or using Photoshop or the equivalent, I know of no way of removing the FLIR logo.
    Anyone any ideas?

    It can ruin less technical images:
  • edited April 2018
    With images like:
    I am often asked about the temperature sensitivity when using the low-cost Flir One.
    Here is a video of my left hand after being plunged in cold water:
  • edited April 2018
    Here is the original kite aerial thermal video of part of the brickworks site mentioned above, as posted earlier this year on Kite Aerial Remote Sensing:
    with no stabilisation, just the imager and phone hanging, as usual, on a selfie stick.

    Here are some thermal shots of Cairnpapple in West Lothian.
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