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Using a Pulsar Thermal Imaging Device for Bird Watching | Pulsar Vision UK & ROI
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Thermal Imaging for Bird Watching…

Pulsar thermal imagers can easily detect the metabolic heat produced by birds, making them the perfect choice for any bird watcher, ringer, or ornithologist — regardless of their skill level. Because these devices do not emit any artificial light or infrared illumination, users can carry out their observations or surveys by night, without the risk of startling any birds or other wildlife.

How Can a Thermal Imaging Device Help with Bird Watching?

Thermal imaging is an invaluable technology which works to highlight objects that would usually remain invisible in total darkness, daylight, and even in dense fog when thermal contrast is low.

Using infrared radiation and thermal energy, Pulsar’s thermal imaging devices gather information about objects through a thermal sensor (microbolometer) attached to a special type of lens (usually made from Germanium), formulating clear and detailed images of the observed objects.

Over the years thermal imagers could present a picture in grayscale, with white representing heat, black representing colder regions (or vice versa), and various shades of grey indicating gradients of temperatures between the two. However, for improved identification and differing applications, every device in the Pulsar range of thermal imagers is now capable of adding colour to the images they produce — using colours such as orange, blue, yellow, red, and purple to allow for better identification and higher levels of information.


Understanding a Thermal Imager’s Specifications

Thermal Sensor Size – Similar to digital cameras, thermal sensors are measured in pixels; generally speaking, the bigger the sensor the better the picture, as a larger sensor can capture more detail. Pulsar uses one of three different sized sensors with its own designation: XM models use a 320×240 thermal sensor; XQ models use a 384×288 thermal sensor; and XP & XG models use a 640×480 thermal sensor.

Thermal Sensor Pixel Pitch – This is the distance between the centre of the pixels. A smaller pixel pitch results in finer image quality and a physically smaller thermal sensor. However, a larger pixel offers more sensitivity. A sensor with a smaller pixel pitch will have a greater base magnification than a thermal imager with the same size lens, along with a greater pixel pitch. Pulsar XM & XG sensors have a 12µm pixel pitch, and XQ & XP sensors have a 17µm pixel pitch.

NETD – Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference (NETD) is a measurement of the smallest temperature difference a thermal device can detect. The lower the value, the more sensitive the device becomes — performing better than a device with a larger NETD value in challenging conditions such as cold, fog, and rain. A device’s NETD rating is an important indicator as to how well it will perform.

Refresh Rate – A high refresh rate (such as 50Hz) is best when choosing a thermal imager. A high refresh rate will result in a smooth image when panning or tracking fast-moving objects. All of Pulsar’s devices feature a 50Hz refresh rate.


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