The 16x4 pixel thermal imaging module from Melexis is attracting a lot of attention because of the $150 open source/hardware iPhone thermal camera accessory described here, among other places: kickstarter.com/projects/and … -accessory
However, that design is meant to be self contained and uses Bluetooth for communications. A simple breakout for the ~ $70 sensor would be very attractive for mobile robot applications and possibly a hot selling item. The device description page is here: melexis.com/Infrared-Thermom … 0-776.aspx
The device runs on 2.6 V, so an on-board regulator and level shifters for 3.3 V and/or 5.0 V I/O (selectable) would be very handy.
Thanks for pointing out that part. We’ll look into what kind of a price we can get on those sensors.
I am not sure I understand your “3.3 V and/or 5.0 V I/O (selectable)” comment. I imagine the input to a linear regulator and the level shifters would be the same voltage, so if users connect 5V, they’ll get 5V I/O, and if they connect 3.3V, they get 3.3V I/O. Is that a bad arrangement?
You are right, “selectable” is not an issue.
A breakout board for this imager chip is now available from RoBoard via RobotShop, but with poor documentation. At $120 it is also unreasonably expensive, considering that the value added to the $70 (retail) imaging chip by the board and other components is small. Furthermore, from the schematic it is not even clear whether all the components are actually present (i.e. the protection diodes on SCL and SDA). secure.robotshop.com/roboard-rm … sor-2.html
Thanks for the update. Regarding the price, I think it would be difficult for us to do any better. Going off of Digi-Key, the part is still almost $60 even at 500 pieces. With that kind of cost and sufficient margins for us and our distributors to justify carrying it, our typical pricing would be around $200. Our main hope would be to get the cost of the sensor down a lot, but I brought it up with our Melexis rep a few months ago, and it didn’t sound like we would have the volumes for that. For instance, I think a thousand units would be optimistic or ambitions for us, and even if we could get it to half of that Digi-Key price, we’d still be looking at a $30k commitment just for the sensors. That’s a lot for us, while a thousand units is not that many for them. But I’ll check in again in case things have changed.