“Depth camera” with Sharp GP2Y0A02 sensor

Ever wanted to build a cool toy like a camera that can “see” the depth in a frame? Well, is easier than you think!

I had a chat a week ago with a friend about how expensive are the FLIR cameras as he wanted to buy one to find out where is the heat leaking out of his house. That got me thinking: what about building a cheap version instead: buy a non-contact thermometer, like MLX90614, with a narrow FOV and use a pair of servos, few servo brackets and some spare time?

As I am planning to use the medical version, DCI, and I do not want to pay too much for it I had to order it from China and this will take a while. Anyway, I built the rest of the project and I thought why not using a Sharp IR sensor like GP2Y0A02? Will measure the distance, pixel by pixel and display it, pretty much the same thing, right?

It took me a couple of hours to put something up, few more hours to tune it and I thought to give it a go using the new Processing 3… Big mistake! Is it me or something went wrong with the new version??? It does not matter what I tried, I could not get more than 1024 bytes in the “buffer” reading from the “camera”.

I had to dust off my Java “skills” and write a small application to read and display the data coming from the serial port. Is still raw, but really works! Bear in mind that this is a 80 x 60 pixels image…


Is a corner of my office, you can see a bit of the chair on the left, the shelf filled up with mess behind, the window sill on the right, the radiator below and a comer of the table. I can even make up the shape of the network plug in the corner!

Still working on smoothing up the readings, then will change the code to use a spectral representation instead of B&W to make it cooler :)

Stay tuned!


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