FLIR Lepton Hookup Guide

Contributors: Nick Poole
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Note: This tutorial was originally written for the FLiR Lepton [KIT-13233]. However, the FLiR Lepton 2.5 with Radiometry should function the same.

When our team found out that we’d be testing a Long Wave Infrared (LWIR) camera, there were two words that we couldn’t stop saying: Predator Vision. That’s right, we were finally going to be able to see the invisible world of heat, which would aid us greatly if we ever found ourselves hunting a team of special operatives in a remote jungle… or, you know, trying not to scald ourselves on a hot cup of tea.

As it happens, the FLIR Lepton is an excellent little module for the price and Pure Engineering has done a bang up job spinning the breakout board and documentation.

FLiR Dev Kit

FLiR Dev Kit

$259.95 $229.95
FLIR Radiometric Lepton Dev Kit

FLIR Radiometric Lepton Dev Kit


There are, however, a few minor “gotchas” in the setup process and so we figured it was best if we shared what we learned in playing with this thing. But first… A bit of theory…

Suggested Videos

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Required Materials

To follow along with this tutorial, you will need the following hardware and software. You may not need everything though depending on what you have and your setup. Add the hardware to your cart, read through the guide, and adjust the cart as necessary.


Today we’ll be setting up the Raspberry Pi example code as provided by Pure Engineering and featured in our product videos. At a minimum, we’ll be needing a Raspberry Pi… and not much else, actually. Just a handful of jumper wires as well as a monitor, keyboard, accompanying cables for your Raspberry Pi, and the FLIR Lepton camera of your choice.

Below is a wishlist of the suggested parts:


The example code has been tested on a Raspberry Pi model B, but it should work fine on any model so long as you have Raspbian installed.

Raspberry Pi: Raspbian Image

You will also need to install the QT dev tools and example. Check out the Software later in the tutorial for more information.

Suggested Reading

If you aren’t familiar with the following concepts, we recommend checking out these tutorials before continuing. This tutorial will assume you have a little bit of Raspberry Pi knowledge. If the Pi is new to you, have no fear. You can visit our Installing Raspbian and DOOM tutorial, if you need a primer. Also helpful is our Raspberry Pi GPIO tutorial. The Lepton uses SPI communication to send its video stream and it uses an I2C-like Communication protocol as the control interface. If you are unfamiliar with either of those communication methods, please visit the corresponding tutorials.

Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI)

SPI is commonly used to connect microcontrollers to peripherals such as sensors, shift registers, and SD cards.


An introduction to I2C, one of the main embedded communications protocols in use today.

Setting up Raspbian (and DOOM!)

How to load a Raspberry Pi up with Raspbian -- the most popular Pi Linux distribution. Then download, compile, install and run the classic: Doom.

Raspberry gPIo

How to use either Python or C++ to drive the I/O lines on a Raspberry Pi.