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.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

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

Step 2: Make a visible light filter

Picture of Make a visible light filter
You can make a visible light filter using a the plastic inside most floppy disks.

Rip apart the floppy disk and be careful not to get your fingerprints on the plastic disk.

Take the disk and cut a small plastic square that is slightly larger than your CCD.

Tip: To make sure your floppy disk lets IR light through, go to a window and look outside with the plastic held up to your eye. You should be able to see through it.

Step 3: Open the case

Picture of Open the case
Open up your camera case. Place your screws aside somewhere safe.
1-40 of 96Next »
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.
ccrh20084 years ago
This is a good idea. I saw a show on Discovery Channel about futuristic technology or something, at one point they were talking about X-ray cameras and how some cameras are already equipped to do this. The process they were talking about involved enabling a camera to see only infrared light, and since infrared light passes through most objects, it works in a way that could be described as X ray vision. So I took the IR light filter off of my camera and was thinking of what I could use for a V light filter. And now I have a V light filter. Muahahaha... Thanks This is an awesome idea.
You don't really think IR light passes through things right?

"Another interesting fact about infrared light is that it can travel through thick smoke, dust or fog, and even some materials."

Thats about it, so it's not possible to use it like an X-ray camera :) That would involve radiation ofcourse :)
I.R. is radiation, All light is radiated, the visible you can detect with your naked eye, the invisible on either end of the spectrum you can't see. I.R. and U.V. I.R. is radiated by heat sources. Your body generates heat and therefor produces I.R. radiation. I.R. can be filtered and reflected like visible light. It has a longer wave length (shorter frequency) than visible light and can penetrate objects that would absorb visible light.. Microwave radiation is even longer wave and can pass through objects that IR can not, Radio waves are even longer wave radiation and can penetrate objects that microwaves can not get through. The longer the wave length, the higher the penetration. If you can filter (convert) that frequency of light to a visible (shorter) wavelength using an optical fliter, then you can see what that frequency of radiation is reflecting off of or being emitted from. We used to play laser tag as a kid in the park at night. A friend of mine had a pair of night vision goggles (chinese military surplus) and he could see heat signatures from the other players, and when we'd fire our guns, he could see the I.R. beams like they were flashlights.
Some airports are using IR boosted imaging scanners to show a thermal differentiation between the body and the clothing worn To filter out more of the visible light, you can stack the filters so that your visual representation of the I.R. spectrum is more pure.
The modern and widespread use of the word radiation refers specifically to ionizing radiation, which does not include IR.
mikiex Vengence4 years ago
Just because a word as been adopted in this way to refer to a specific "Bad" radiation doesnt mean it cannot be used to describe the process that is radiation of which there is no better word to describe it and is the correct current scientific term! :)
Vengence mikiex4 years ago
Wrong. That would be like using the word gay to mean happy. It just isn't done that way anymore. What a word has been adopted to mean is completely relevant.
There's no better way to describe it? The better way to describe it is to be specific as to non-ionizing radiation...
mikiex Vengence4 years ago
This is not true at all, if someone says Infrared radiation it implies you are talking about non-iornizing radiation. You don't need to say it is non-iornizing because it is a known fact that it fits into this band of radiation.

You are saying the word radiation cannot be used with non-iionizing types of radiation because the layman term radiation now only means ionizing radiation.
Where as the scientific meaning has been unaltered.

I better go and turn my non-ionizing radiators down as it's hot in here....
Vengence mikiex4 years ago
You ARE specifying non-ionizing by saying infrared. You didn't just use the word "radiation" standalone. You're not disproving the point...

Okay, I know I'm necroposting. However, for anyone who reads this, PLEASE, do not be like this "Vengence" guy. In this case, he was just being obtuse, rude, and pedantic over an issue that is ultimately inconsequential, and in doing so derailed a perfectly coherent conversation. DON'T DO THAT: everyone hates it, and it blocks out constructive discussion.

Not only that, but the other people he was trying to argue with in this case were RIGHT. You CAN use the word radiation to indicate any type of EM emissions, including radio, microwaves, terahertz, infrared, visible light, X-rays, gamma rays, and probably many other forms that I have neglected to mention or have not been discovered yet.

I encourage you, in fact, to use the word to the fullest extent of its' technical definition and scope, and not just to spite this guy.

The scanners they use at airports to see through your clothes use some sort of light in the IR spectrum, but it's not going to see through you of course :-)
Airport scanners use light from the far end of the IR band, they are very good at seeing through clothing, plastic and paper but cannot penetrate body mass because water is very strongly absorbing at this wavelength.
Are you guys talking about the backscatter scanners? No, those use actual x-ray radiation at "low" output(still unhealthy), not IR light...
Nope, what I'm talking about are scanners working in the far-IR (if your an engineer) or THz (for you physicists) region.
They are used quite widely throughout the packaging industry as well due to the high transparency, at THz freqs, of most packaging materials and the very low energy of the beams.
Jobo17 made it!5 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.
PSPerson4 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.
1-40 of 96Next »