Cell Phone Night Vision - Under $10

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Introduction: Cell Phone Night Vision - Under $10

How to turn your regular camera phone into an infrared nightvision viewer for under $10.

Step 1: Materials and Details

Materials:

- Congo Blue Gel : http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=244-181
- Cell phone

For the Cell Phone, mine is a Verizon Wireless LG VX5300. However, this modification to the camera is, in general, the same on all brands and models. Some of the instructions, such as how to get to the camera module, vary from phone to phone.

If you also want to change the lens assembly completely, use one from a digital camera or sort and cut a hole in the faceplate of the phone and mount it on the faceplate, like mine in the intro picture.

Step 2: Disassembling the Camera

First of all, remove the battery pack. You don't want to turn your phone into a metallic colored brick if you accidently short something.

Next, remove any screws that are holding the camera's faceplate down.

Step 3: Getting to the Camera

All phones have a CCD semiconductor. This, when exposed to light, sends out electricity in proportion to the level of exposure.

However, on every digital imaging device, the CCD semiconductor is under a lens. The lens is your goal.

Back to the camera module: depending on your phone, you might be able to detach the entire module from the camera. If not, don't be rough with it.


Step 4: Removing the Lens & IR Filter

Now that you've found your camera, you need to remove the lens to get to the IR filter.

The Infrared Filter in your cell phone filters out any light in the 900+ nanometer(nm) range. The light in that range is called infrared. Humans can't see it, so why should it be seen on film: that is the idea behind IR filters.

However, we are going to take that filter out so we CAN see infrared light.

First, unscrew the lens from the camera module. On cell phones, it's very small, don't lose it.

Take a look at the lens. You'll notice a piece of glass that has a cherry red/orange tint (THIS IS NOT THE RAINBOW COLORED CHIP THING, thats the CCD semiconductor, don't touch it!): this is the IR Filter. In most cell phones, this is glued to the lens assembly. If not glued down, gently tap it out and proceed to the next step.

You will have to break the IR Filter off. Use a small screwdriver, and press down onto the Glass IR Filter where it meets the lens assembly. Do this around the entire circumference of the filter or until the filter breaks into pieces, then scrape them out. Do not continue to break the rest of the glass inside the lens assembly!

Step 5: Replacing the IR Filter With the Film Gel, and YOUR DONE!

Now that you have the IR filter out, you need to replace it with a piece of the Congo Blue Film Gel. What this does is it blocks out any visible light, that is, between 380 nm (deep violet) to about 750 nm (deep red). This only lets the camera see anything below 380nm or above 750nm.

Cut out a a very small circle shape of the gel and place it where the IR filter used to be.

Then screw the lens back onto the camera assembly, put the faceplate back on, and your done!

Now all you need is an IR light source to test it out, such as a TV remote. Go into a dark room, turn your camera on, and press a button on the remote. The camera sees the IR light from the remote, but the human eye can't. You now have nightvision on your cell phone for under $10!

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    55 Comments

    Thanks for sharing the instruction. Worked quite well. I was a bit confused how to get the lens out, but made it in the end. I had to turn the hole lense like a skrew a few times around then it unlocked. I did not use that congo blue, so I can use it with light and infrared. now I just need a baby monitor app and an infrared diode and I have the perfect baby monitor...

    A mobile phone can already see the IR from a remote control without going to all that trouble and breaking your phone. Why not mount a few low power IR diodes around the lens, and you will see just as far in the dark.

    Not nearly as well as without an IR filter...

    How do you keep the image from being blurry?

    without the filter, you can actually light up the room with a remote control

     Most/All cameras can see infrared light. In fact - most people can see in the dark. But just because you can see, or it can see doesn't mean that it can be seen well. The IR is a Filter, just as a coffee filter is a filter. With a coffee filter - it's purpose is to stop the grains from coming out, but what do you ALWAYS find at the bottom of the pot or your glass? Grains. Like the coffee filters, IR Filters aren't 100% IR Proof, meaning that you will still see it. Turning the remote away from the lens and trying to view it like say, on a white piece of paper, proves what I said. Without the IR filter alex is right - you can basically light a room with a remote.

    And then you need something to project some infrared light :P
    I like those 10w ir leds.

    So you have to just remove that orange tinted glass and your done? That is so simple i have to try it!

    Nice Job. 5 years ago, you must be onto some big stuff in the years since.

    I am fixin' to embark on harvesting some of the camera bits out of an old LG clam-shell myself, I found your 'ible quite helpful. Hmmm I think this phone that I'm cannibalizing was new in '08, it was one durable little do-dad and now it will hopefully have a new life as a night vision scope