System Integration of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle with Thermal Camera
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This thesis describes the implementation of two systems, both relevant to the FLIR Tau 2 thermal camera, for use in a UAV payload with the aim of increasing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the existing system. The first is a camera control interface, enabling settings of the camera, such as brightness, contrast or region of interest to be changed remotely from the ground station during UAV flight. This involved embedding a camera control GUI into the existing ground station software, adding to the existing message passing system and implementation of a payload computer driver to interface directly with the camera. All modules were successfully implemented and the interface can be used with the existing UAV system, increasing efficiency of UAV missions by removing the requirement to land for changing of camera settings. The second is a custom PCB containing a microcontroller, designed to retrieve digital data directly from the camera. The design aims to render the existing system's analog-to-digital converter and its unique, inconvenient power source obselete, effectively decreasing the payload weight by approximately one third and increasing cost-effectiveness of a UAV mission by increasing the flight time to fuel ratio. Time constraints meant only the design of the PCB hardware was completed, and the prototypes of the microcontroller program and the payload computer driver were unable to be verified. The hardware design does however provide a solid foundation for future work, after which a suitable solution should be found.