At this point, I decided I had 2 options.
1) Try to repair the camera in some way, allowing it to continue working as a "stock" Flir One camera
2) Ditch the Flir One, pop out the Flir Lepton 3.5 module within, and use something like the "PureThermal 2" or "PureThermal breakout" to build up a new stand-alone camera.
I spent a few weeks thinking about these options and which I would prefer to move forward with. On the one hand, something like the PureThermal 2 is pretty slick, and can present itself to a PC directly as a web cam and is re-programmable / hackable, but it goes for around US$ 100. The PureThermal breakout board is much cheaper, but then requires a support micro-controller to communicate with the Lepton module. Something like an ESP32 or Teensy could be used to build a stand-alone camera, along the lines of this project: (https://damow.net/building-a-thermal-camera/) or this one: (https://github.com/maxritter/DIY-Thermocam). I might still build one of those in the future, as I really like the idea of a small self-contained thermal camera, but for now, I've decided to go with "Option 1" above.
Disassembly is pretty easy. Just pop the bottom plastic corners covers off, and then a skinny shaft T5 Torx is required to remove the screws from the pockets on both sides of the housing. I can confirm this screw driver works well: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07TNQBFVP/ The top plate pops off with a little pressure, then slide the metal housing off. Carefully pry the plastic cover off the cameras, then the PCB slides out of the bottom plate of the case. Pop the flex PCB connector off then fully remove the PCB. The USB plug and adjustment nut is held in by a metal plate and two Phillips screws.
You can follow this video, starting at timestamp 4m 15s, for a good visual on disassembly.
While I had the camera apart, I came up with a few enhancements I wanted to implement while repairing it. The first was that I wanted to be able to connect the camera to my phone via a USB-C to USB-C cable, instead of connecting it directly to the phone as intended, as I believe this is just a recipe for disaster, as any drop will destroy the rather fragile USB-C plug, as I've already witnessed first hand. Another benefit of detaching the camera from the phone is that with a long enough cable, you can get the camera into much tighter spaces, or hold the camera way up above your head and still be able to comfortably watch the live view on the phone.
I figured I had two options for repairing the Flir One.
The first was to shove a USB-C breakout board into the space where the adjustable USB-C plug once lived. After finding test points for USB VCC, GND, and Data +/- (picture in the gallery) on the main-board near where the stock flex PCB connected, I briefly prototyped this to make sure it would work, and it did, there is a picture in the gallery of that test.
The second option (and the route I ultimately went with) was to try and re-use the stock USB-C port already onboard the Flir One, normally only used for charging its internal battery. I figured this would be the most elegant solution, as it required no additional parts, just some tricky soldering to bridge the USB data +/- signals into that port. As a bonus, the phone would also charge the Flir One, which would allow for longer sessions with the camera, as you are limited by the capacity of the small internal battery in its stock configuration. While researching my options for this repair, I encountered several other owners frustrated by this limited battery life and also several reports that the camera would fail to work entirely if the internal battery dropped to low. In fact, I found a few other "re-wire" hacks (like this one: https://www.eevblog.com/forum/thermal-imaging/disassemble-a-flir-one-pro-3-philip-infrared-camera-flir-one-pro-3/msg3420024/#msg3420024) that involved bridging the 5v line from the...Read more »