Thermal Imaging RPi Zero W

Using the Lepton 2.5/3.5 and Purethermal2 board for thermal imaging on RPi Zero W

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This project is a simple setup for the RPi Zero W to use it as a connected thermal imaging platform.

Low power thermal imaging for RPi Zero and Purethermal + Lepton 2.5/3.5

On Github at

  • Power Saving Results

    disasterarchy08/19/2018 at 07:22 0 comments

    The goal here was to capture images intermittently and reduce power consumption.   The following stats are all for a headless, HDMI disabled, RPi Zero W connected via SSH on Wifi. This is using a Purethermal 2 board and a Lepton 3.5 Here are the results:

    • 0.098 A -  Idle and purethermal2 is unplugged 
    • 0.175 A   -  Idle, now the purethermal2 is plugged in 
    • 0.340 A  - There is always a brief spike when the shutter operates 
    • 0.250- 0.300 A- When running script that streams constantly from camera
    • 0.185A  for 9 seconds, 0.240A for  less than 1 second @ when running script that takes output every 10 seconds

    Using exactly the same setup and a Lepton 2.5, the results are almost exactly the same, except it seems like the peak current is a little less ( ~0.23A) and duration of the higher current for running is also less.

  • Overall Plan

    disasterarchy08/15/2018 at 14:28 0 comments

    I will do this on a headless Rpi Zero W.  

    First I am going to install a headless Raspian Stretech lite.  Directions for this are here:

    Next I will setup the software for the Purethermal2 to work with the RPi.  I will first install libusb and then the groupgets version of libuvc ( and then I will try the script from (

    Once I get the image capture to work, we will save power by periodically disconnecting from and turning off the Purethermal board which is a usb device.  There are some forums that discuss generally how this is done:

    Another approach would be to work on doing a better job at stopping camera streaming when we are done.

    General power saving tips are discussed here.

View all 2 project logs

  • 1
    Basic RPi Setup
    • Download Raspbian Stretch Lite
    • Write image onto SD card using Win32DiskImager
    • Setup SSH and Wi-Fi see here

    Once it boots, connect via SSH and execute commands to update software.  Also to save power, if you're going headless you can turn off the HDMI.  This is the only non-thermal imaging or image processing related power hack here.

    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get upgrade
    /usr/bin/tvservice -o
  • 2
    Install Software

    Run the following commands to install prerequisites:

    sudo apt-get install libusb-1.0-0-dev cmake
    sudo apt-get install python-opencv
    sudo apt-get install git
  • 3
    Clone Git Repo to get Lepton Software
    git clone
    git clone
    git clone

     The purethermal1-uvc-capture git is foundational and is added only for reference here.  I will be using a customized slimmed version in my thermalZero git.

View all 5 instructions

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stafford42 wrote 12/31/2018 at 18:19 point

Are you continuing work on this project?  This is really close to what I'm trying to accomplish, but don't have a lot of time to work on it right now and my knowledge base is pretty limited when it comes to the software/hardware interfacing issues I've run into.  Will definitely follow this, thanks.

  Are you sure? yes | no

peter jansen wrote 08/20/2018 at 03:19 point

Hi disasterarchy, thanks for submitting to the Hot Camera Contest.  Do you think you would have a chance to demonstrate putting the Lepton into a low-power/zero-power mode before the deadline?  I ask because you're clearly the farthest submission so far, and I've had another request to extend the contest.  best wishes

  Are you sure? yes | no

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