Picture of Floppy Disk IR Camera Hack
For the past seven years, I've had a broken digital camera lying around. It is still able to take pictures, but it is almost impossible to use on account of a broken screen. The fundamental problem is that sometimes the menu will accidentally get turned on, and not being able to see the screen, I can't turn off the menu and take pictures (without removing the batteries to reset the camera). I've been trying to figure out what to do with this camera as long as I can remember.

For a while I was considering converting it to a near IR camera, but I was reluctant to make another one after having already made one for 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer (p. 200). However, I changed my mind about this when I learned that it was possible to use the material inside floppy disks as a visible light filter (for viewing near IR light). This sounded really cool and so I decided to give this a try. Not only does this totally work, it also adds another level of computer reuse to the version demonstrated in the book (as it provides a way to reuse floppy disks in addition to cameras).

It has been fun going around shooting pictures and discovering all of the interesting results when I upload the photos at home.

Step 1: Go get stuff

Picture of Go get stuff
You will need:

A (somewhat) broken (or antiquated) camera
A floppy disk
A mini screwdriver set

1-40 of 84Next »
hivoltage4 years ago
I picked up a samsung 10mp point and shoot camera with a slightly broken lens mechanism on ebay for a steal then repaired it and did this floppy disc modification to it. results have been great! photos are very surreal and it is fascinating to see a things all around that your eyes cannot see. Finally those old AOL floppy discs have come in handy lol
These images are awesome! Thanks for sharing. I'm glad this worked out for you.
Thanks! I was surprised how much of its focusing ability the camera retained after I modified it, I guess because the IR cut filter on this model is very thin, only a tiny bit thicker than the floppy disc section that replaced it. I did tweak the contrast, levels and saturation a bit in these photos, but other than that they are pretty much unmodified. The first two I took above at Cal Poly Pomona are probably my favorites. The camera is a Samsung SL202 and it was very easy to disassemble and modify. Tried to do it to another point and shoot I had lying around first but it seems that the IR cut filter was coated right onto one of the lenses instead of on top of the CCD like this one and yours.
Jobo17 made it!6 months ago

I modded my xbox live vision webcam i got from the thrift store originally for my raspberry pi... the normal picture was taken with my integrated webcam, the gray one was taken with my modded webcam... where did the design go?!?!? (you don't have to tell me, I know).

Lukiepop2 years ago
*rushes to ebay for the cheapest digi camera possible*
jbaker222 years ago
So, does this make it a thermal imaging camera?
G132 years ago
does anyone know of a way to get this effect with a DSLR?
dan6163 years ago
could i do this with a disposable camera?
Notbob dan6163 years ago
To my knowledge, this would not work with film, so for a disposable camera? no, it wont work.
thebodycopy3 years ago
This is, I think, exactly what I was looking for. I have an old Sony Cybershot F717 from 2003. However, the CCD chip is bad, I believe. (It used to take glitchy pictures, but now it's just black...except for the menu.) I am a video artist and am interested in hacking it for creative purposes....with the CCD chip dead, will this hack you posted still produce an image? I'm new at hacking this stuff, so please forgive any silly questions.Thank you SO much. Any advice is appreciated.
These are some pics i took with the floppy disc taped over the lens without taking the camera apart. the first two where taken with a 10mp Panasonic Lumix and the second two where taken with my HTC touch 2 smart phone
... but in this way you don't allow IR to get the CCD sensor..... you are using the floppy like a whatever filter.....
aenke4 years ago
So I've seen a few comments on people getting shocked when they open up the camera. Is there a way to avoid that?
afardella aenke3 years ago
i think that the best is not to get scared of the technology :)
ilpug aenke3 years ago
Yes. In cameras there is usually a large capacitor. This thing is usually charged, so when you see it, discharge it by putting the tip of an INSULATED screwdriver between the contacts. do this two or three times, and it will be safe. By common practice, also make sure that all batteries are out of the camera before you dissassemble it.
Poggibonsi3 years ago
I made this hack to my old 2mpx camera but photos are blurry. I don't know if now it can't focus well or if the problem it's the 2mpx. (can't remember the quality of the photos...) Someone can give me an advice?
ilpug3 years ago
I am going to do this for my senior project with an old Canon Powershot camera I have.
compaqxp1233 years ago
It just occurred to me, but when using IR Film you need to adjust the lens focus.

So on an older fixed focus point and shoot digital the photos will be blurry at first. You need to find someway to adjust the focus on them because it will need to be changed ever so slightly.

It's easy to do this on many cheap point and shoots.
compaqxp1233 years ago

I wasn't sure about this until today, when I bought a Kodak Easyshare cx6200 for 50C. I saw it on the shelf and knew what I had to do with it.

Mind you I've already found it's limitations (it's very bad at infinity/anything past a certain distance) and the 2mp is just a bit lower then I'm used to dealing with.

Either way I've taken a few photos. I didn't like the brownish tint so I tried to edit them, not knowing how they should really look.


I'll just assume it's so blurry because of the camera itself.
chubby84 years ago
will this work in the dark? possibly with the help of some IR LEDs
If you know what the vivid festival in sydney is, you could tahe a photo of the opra house or the projectors.
forwardbias4 years ago
I just made modded another camera, 10MP, Vivitar Vivicam X018. Cheap camera without optical focus. Picked it up for $45 from Walmart Site to Store. Pictures are grainy/noisy in low light compared to more expensive cameras, but you get what you pay for. Outside with plenty of light, pictures are quite good, and with the IR hack, its a cheap way to get high res IR images. These are shots I got from Mt Lebanon Cemetery in Lebanon PA, as well as Stovers Dam.

The images normally have a reddish color to them, but in the camera settings I set the camera to capture in mono chrome. To give the effect of using a SLR camera with black and white IR film.
forwardbias4 years ago
I just did this on a Philips point and shoot, however the IR filter was inbedded into the same housing as the lens was. I was able to carefully break the thin glass of the filter and remove it, then cleaned the tiny fragments inside. Rather then put the floppy disk material over the CCD though, as the original filter was not there, and trying to insert it into the housing and getting it perfectly straight would be a problem.

I sandwiched the disk material between 2 squares of plastic that I cut from a jewelcase, and then made it so the only light that could get into the camera was through the disk material. I then glued my IR pass filter directly to the outside lens of the camera. Looks alittle crude, but it seems to work on the things I tested so far. It was pretty late and cloudy on top of that.

However, on lamps with incandescent light bulbs, with the camera, it appears very bright, however, putting the same disk material over a non hacked camera that still has its IR filter, you cant see anything.

Fluorescent lights though, its very dark, can barely make out the tubes on the view finder. Shows how much energy light bulbs waste, giving off most of their energy in IR. The light from Laser mice is very visible.

I then passed 5,000 volts through 2 flash tubes, which is visible with my regular camera, but is much, much brighter on my IR hacked camera.

I also tested a stove, turned the burner on high, on IR, it appears bright white, and glows before I can see the red glow or before my non hacked camera can see it.

I then did a shot with the flash on aiming at a mirror, as well as a picture of me with flash in the dark.

Hopefully the weather is clear so I can test the camera out in the sun tomorrow.
PSPerson5 years ago
kirkland brand batteries... ahh, i love costco.
ilpug PSPerson4 years ago
Costco FTW!
JuCo4 years ago
good to know that i can use that stuff... i've still got some spent film for these ir filters, but that disc would give more material in one piece than a 35mm strip does.

and to hivoltage: well, now i know someone here lives in my area... i recognised that sundial-looking building instantly. i had a friend who was a chem professor at cal poly. as a sidenote, keep ahold of that picture. i read somewhere that they're tearing that complex down. (the "sundial" and the building next to it)
k.ghia4 years ago

Great hack. Now i just wish i had saved some floppy disks. Oh well, off i go to see if Fry's still stock these things.
cybergod4 years ago
Now this looks like a somewhat simple project for a movice like me. I have an old Sony Mavica laying around, some old floppies (the Mavica stores stuff on the floppies) so pretyt much everything needed . . .

Might need to try this on the weekend :-)

Whenever I try to look through the floppy disk, I just see dark red with a spec of light from the sun and other really strong lights. I cant really see much. And yeah, Ive taken apart a disposable camera before and was too lazy to discharge the capacitor first, and after getting shocked 3 times it was pretty much discharged by me anyway lol...
Walis4 years ago
Guys!!!! This is the most awesome instructable for cold winter evenings (like we say here in Czech Republic). You can easily check the functionality with your TV remote!!! Also good for tracking the surveillance cameras in the street. COOOL!!! LET THERE BE LIGHT!!!
Thanks a bunch Walis! I tried that test on my phone's camera and what do ya know! Two dots of light appeared. Covered the camera lense with the floppy disk and viewed it live through my phone camera. Only by viewing this through camera did the IR light from my remote show up. This is fun. Like someone else said, I think I'm becoming a "ible" junkie! 8--]
ItsTheHobbs4 years ago
I will definitely do this with an old camera that I have lying around. Also, you can make them look better by removing the red in Photoshop/GIMP, like this.
It looks like a post apocalyptic world. D:
jacco19974 years ago
My friend had an old 1 megapixel Kodak dc3200 that I did this to. It took me a while to get out the visible light filter because it had plastic surrounding it that I had to cut it out of. In the end, I amazingly got it back together with only breaking the menu button. So far the results have been awesome.
askjerry4 years ago
I'm wondering what kind of images you would get if you removed the IR filter and made no other changes to the camera... would you get full color images with IR ghosting? That might look interesting... then add either an IR filter or a visible light filter as needed.

Liked your instructable as you have helped me in finding a source of a normal light blocker for my Sony video camera. Many, many thanks.

You may have made a small error with regards to testing the opacity of the floppy film, I think you meant that you should see "no" light through it.....but that was a small unimportant error to my mind......maybe yyou could just read it through again and correct in some way.....

I do believe I am correct in saying any (video as well) camera with a IR "Night shot" type of ability (needs no lighting and usually looks a "ghostly" gree with no proper colours, like my Sony video camera for example, does not have the normal light filter you mentioned, so the camera does not need to be dismantled to remove it.....(I am not going to take it apart, just to find out though!! Sorry!!) But I would guess that if it had the filter, it would not be able to do Nightshot!!

When I have tried it out and it does not work as I hope, I will come back and post again....correcting my errors......

By the way, I am slowly turning into an "instructables Junky"!!! Keep them coming.....

Many, many thanks for each and every one of them......all are really really good.


juanvi5 years ago
hah, nice hack!
once iopened a camera and I started getting shocks from it...so be carefull!
But wasn't it thrilling?
oh sure it was!!
Spokehedz4 years ago
Also, go to any store that processes film and get them to give you some of the negatives with nothing on them--they get zillions of rolls of film that are half blank and they are perfect for this, as they are IR transparent but almost totally visible-light opaque.
1-40 of 84Next »