Introduction: Homemade Infrared Goggles! for Under $10

Picture of Homemade Infrared Goggles! for Under $10
See the world in a whole new light with these home-made Infrared Goggles! Amazing images! See the Test Results in the video at the end of this Instructable. Thanks to Bill Beaty for the idea.

Step 1: What You Need:

Picture of What You Need:

First pick up a pair of welding Goggles. I got these online for $7.

Step 2: The Gels:

Picture of The Gels:

You will need a specific type of blue gel to make this work. The theatrical lighting gel is called "Congo Blue" and it is manufactured by the two most popular gel companies, LEE (C181) and Rosco (#382)

You can find them HERE

Step 3: Gel #2

Picture of Gel #2

The second lighting gel is "Primary Red". The LEE number is 106 and the Rosco number is 27.

You can find them HERE

Step 4: Prepare the Goggles...

Picture of Prepare the Goggles...

Unscrew the lens assembly for each eyepiece and remove the green welding gel, leaving only the clear gel. This will reinforce the blue and red gels you will be installing. Using the welding gel as a template, cut out 8 blue gels and 2 red gels.

Step 5: Put It All Together...

Picture of Put It All Together...
Take 4 blue gels and insert them in the eyepiece assemblies and then screw them back on to your new IR-Goggles. Now, wait for a very bright sunny day and go outside! You won't believe what you see. DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN!! Serious, permanent eye damage can occur in seconds. Then for another effect, add the red gel to each eyepiece and see the difference. Now here is the video!


lesjcbs. (author)2017-11-11

Does anyone here know or have an idea as to what the Nometer (NM) value these goggles have when put together like this?

mike876763 (author)2017-09-11

Will these work as night vision goggles if I use an Infra-red flashlight?

DemisJ (author)2015-07-29

Human eyes are generally considered to not be sensitive to the Infra-Red at all, so it's curious that one would be able to see much by blocking out almost all visible light (checking the suggested filters on, they would indeed block most visible light). Either there is just enough leakage for one's eyes to respond producing weird colors, or if the human retina is in fact sensitive to any IR at all one would expect it to look like either red (tail end of the red receptors) or green (a paper in Nature recently suggested that 1050nm light can be converted to green ~500nm light in the green receptors).

Cool idea either way - using the rosco filters to produce custom filtering is smart!

qqmajikpp (author)DemisJ2017-04-08

The human eye can actually detect all spectrums. Our ears are not any different. Our brains do a lot of filtering, however, so this tricks the brain into not filtering it out.

wjbeaty (author)DemisJ2017-01-21

It's a common misconception that there's a border between "visible" and "IR" wavelengths. There is no such border. See the human visual sensitivity curve , semi-log graph. Our eyes' longwave filter-function is smooth rolloff from 600nM to 1000nM. Also, if you work with lasers you'll known that humans easily see bright laser light at 800nM, 900nM, 1000 nanometers. Go get your TV remote and look into the LEDs in a dark room: you'll see 800 or 900nM light as dim red flashing.

But all this applies to intensely bright single-frequency light, which is a fairly non-natural situation.

In more "natural" illumination, the broadband white light of sunlight and electric lights, humans only detect wavelengths out to roughly 700nM, since our eyes' sensitivity to the "visible colors" is overwhelming the long wavelength light out past 700nM. (And, any spots from IR lasers won't be seen unless the room lights are turned off.)

These goggles block visible light, so if you're in an environment with lots of IR illumination, you'll see the "infrared world."

One layer of Lee congo-blue filter, combined with the HVS (human visual sensitivity) graph, gives this graph: Add more layers of congo blue, and the peak moves farther out past 700nM, but becomes smaller.

jdgallag made it! (author)2016-05-14

Hi all,
I could post images of my sloppy cutting, but I ordered the gels as specified, cut out the requisite number of punches, have screwable lenses on my goggles holding the 4 or 4+1 gels in place, and I am blind as a bat. I see a lot of hacks to this thing, and it's really cool, but can anyone tell me how to get IR filter/passive lenses out of this. I seem to be at a loss. Sorry for the two posts of the red lens looking at the IR picture, guys. Thanks.

wjbeaty (author)jdgallag2017-01-21

Start out with three disks of congo blue, one of red, placed in each side of goggles. (use tissues to wipe off all fingerprints as you stack up the filters. Later you can add more layers of congo blue, which gives a deeper IR view, but needs even brighter sunlight.

You can only use them OUTDOORS IN BRIGHT SUMMER SUNLIGHT. These goggles require sunlight, and won't work if worn indoors, or if it's a cloudy day.

It helps to go to the original project,

jdgallag (author)wjbeaty2017-01-31

I followed the original project's protocol assiduously, BUT, your point about a BRIGHT, sunny was not available. Strangely, the green filters work great for lab work as they roll off the naked fluorescent bulbs harsh character (These goggles breathe very well and don't fog, so they are my #2 pair in lab, and people leave me alone to work because who wears welder's goggles in lab vs. the UVEX kind that I've slashed my eyes with Methanol with before?). Probably the lab, with its three mercury vapor 100W T3s per yard, would be a fun place to retrace or find the original red and blue punches and look at the IR world. Thanks! Cheers.

totalidiot (author)2016-08-31

I made a pair of these over a decade ago. I went to Harbor Freight and Barbizon in order to get the necessary materials. The goggles are pretty cool.

In the Pacific Theatre during WWII, sometimes when there was a camouflaged Japanese sniper in a tree halting the American advance, a counter sniper would be called up to the front who could pick the sniper out of the tree by looking at his infrared heat signature. In the 1970s, I opened my eyes during samadhi and I saw the energy field around an extension cord that was plugged into the wall.

gonzog (author)2014-12-07

trying to find / make infrared goggles that can be used by volunteer firefighters to locate " hot spots" /active fire in structures / open fields,

does anyone know of a reasonable reliable source for these items?

wjbeaty (author)gonzog2015-11-12

> firefighters to locate "hot spots"

You'll need a thermal imager, or "thermal infrared" camera. Those aren't like normal video cams, instead they require expensive germanium or silicon lenses, and the camera's sensor is a "bolometer array" rather than a light detector.

But... it's getting cheaper. A couple of companies are selling under-$300 thermal imagers which attach to smartphone. These have low-cost chalcogenide for the lens, rather than germanium. They can see warm humans in total darkness, so they should work great on hot spots in walls etc. Go search on these:

"FLIR One"


RishikeshC (author)2015-10-20

I can't get my hands on gels can anyone suggest any other way to take care of this problem ?

czenob (author)2008-10-30

could you make these into night vision by putting a infrared led into, lets say, a maglite w/ led conversion and use both together? just saying because the flashlight would put off infrared and goggles would pick that up right?

geekdude (author)czenob2009-02-02

the theory is that we can see part of the infrared that is hidden by the rest of the ambient light in the day, if it were pitch dark we would not need the goggles only a powerfull enough infrared light, but then everyone arround could see in ir

wjbeaty (author)geekdude2009-02-21

Exactly, and that's part of my original project: using Congo Blue filters to convert an incandescent floodlamp into an "IR vision" generator in a darkened room. This doesn't work nearly as well as welding goggles and sunlight. Even so, it's really odd to see black clothing turn red-grey, and human eyes turn huge, black, and alien.

IR Goggles? IR Floodlight!

karthikkamath93 (author)wjbeaty2009-05-27

if it was real IR it could pick up IR radiation from living things and not just give colouful vision

DemisJ (author)karthikkamath932015-07-29

not necessarily - IR is a HUGE range of wavelengths, without more detailed names because, well, we can't see them so they're all just called "infrared". But long-wave infrared (LIR) is mostly emitted by heated objects, and that's way further from typical "red" than near-infra-red, which includes wavelengths of light just beyond typical "red" (650nm).

Reflected IR and emitted thermal energy are not the same thing.

baglieg (author)cablemonkey2010-03-23

Not really.  Sunlight is thermal radiation.  Any object as hot as the Sun would glow the same colour as sunlight.  The light from an incandescent light bulb is the thermal radiation from its hot filament.  The light of a fire is its thermal radiation; if you look at a candle flame, the blue part is energy emitted directly by the chemical reaction, but the yellow part is the thermal radiation from the hot gases it emits.

Any object at the temperature of a human body does indeed radiate infrared light, but it's far too dim for a human eye to see.  With or without these goggles, you can't see the thermal radiation of anything unless it's well over 400 degrees Celsius (750 degrees Fahrenheit).

yea i agree people don't send out IR radiation only thermal

baglieg (author)karthikkamath932010-03-22

The IR emitted by the human body is too dim to see with the human eye.  These goggles only let you see very very bright IR, like the IR in sunlight.

Light_Lab (author)wjbeaty2011-04-11

Bill is absolutely correct that by heavily suppressing the so called visible spectrum from ~400 to ~750 nm the normally "swamped" NIR sensitivity of the eyes is allowed to come into play. As there is more IR coming from the Sun than visible light this effect is very strong in sunlight.
It is easy to prove that the eyes are actually recieving NIR when wearing the filters Bill pioneered. Typical organic fabric dyes are NIR transparent so if you look at most dark fabrics when wearing the filters the fabrics will appear light coloured.
I have written my name on on my black camera case with a black Sharpie felt tip pen and it is virtually invisible to the unaided eye. Yet it appears perfectly clearly when wearing IR passband filters in sunlight or under a stong incandescent light. This is because Sharpie pens (and perhaps other pens) contain a NIR opaque dye(s) wheras the black dye in the nylon camera bag is NIR transparent. This phenomena could only occur if the NIR sensitivity of the eyes was a fact.
In fact recent work has shown that a large percentage of the population even have a higher sensitivity than previously thought at the other end of the spectrum; the UV.

megabyte405 (author)czenob2009-06-06

No - the goggles "pick up" nothing - they just filter out most visible light so that your eyes accommodate to "darkness" letting you see almost-infrared (not NIR, since NIR _is_ IR) that you always see but is normally dimmer than the light being filtered out. You need a sensor that is actually sensitive to IR to build nightvision.

czenob (author)czenob2008-10-30

like using a normal flshlight but no one else could see it

amando96 (author)czenob2009-01-30

wow maybe that could work...

shammallamaman (author)amando962009-02-03

You would need a super powerful ir light, try using a camera to pick it up instead

czenob (author)shammallamaman2009-02-05

cameras work but i was thinking maybe a night-time airsoft war or paintball

shammallamaman (author)czenob2009-03-23

yeah, i did something that would hold up to something like that, i got two old camera phones, and mounted them on some work goggles, then i got about 10 ir leds from remote controls and made a head light sort of thing

DemisJ (author)2015-07-29

("high-pass" for highest wavelength, or low-pass for lowest-energy I guess. Either way a funny hoax.)

taubin1 (author)2013-02-06

Oi I made these and they are great, I'm in the military and during training we were issued a 90 deg angle flashlight and naturally it had standard blue red and clear lenses, during an exersise we had to use a night vision monocle and naturally use of lights was strictly forbidden, I found that combining the blue and red filters I could make an ir flashlight that with the naked eye couldn't be seen after 5' so even on the gloomiest night I was able to see clearly for a great distance without anyone knowing where I was, the knowledge gained in this project was able to be used in a real life situation and helped greatly. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

hamiri1969 (author)taubin12015-04-07

I'm very happy with that positive answer, because I working in military and we need it to our solders

peter.sarabura (author)2014-11-17

do they work at night time

0ctaviu5 (author)2013-05-22

Do these goggles work with infrared LED's?

wjbeaty (author)0ctaviu52014-06-02

No, infrared LEDS are worthless with the goggles. Beware of many hoax articles with "night vision goggles" based on congo blue filters and LEDs. (I think the scammers were even selling 'em on ebay. Sheesh.) Congo Blue goggles will put you into the infrared world during BRIGHT SUNNY DAYS. Become a summertime cyborg with greatly expanded senses in the deep nanometers! But they are worthless for night vision.

usafbrat (author)0ctaviu52013-07-25

These will not boost the amount of IR light coming from the source, but it will block out most of the surrounding non-IR light.

Fikjast Scott (author)2014-02-13

great job

caustin8 (author)2013-07-28

Well, it is a very good knowledge sharing, but are they going to work under the water when I wear them while swimming? I am interested in buying something extraordinary in Swim Goggles category. Your knowledge will offer a great knowledge to me in this regard.

_PJ007 (author)2013-05-31

goggles is nice. you can use this in night using some pairs if IR LED as auxillary

0ctaviu5 (author)2013-05-22

Do these goggles work with infrared LED's?

Kzummo (author)2012-07-25

I made these and they are really cool! If you use only rosco, use indego for the blue filter.

idy26 (author)2009-05-06

Will these allow you to see an infrared diode when its on. Normally infrared is invisible, but i'm wondering if this lens will make it visible to the human eye?

me835 (author)idy262009-05-27

sorry man, but the title here is misleading. humans can't see infrared, unless the theory discussed elsewhere on this page is true, but even then...

Notbob (author)me8352009-05-28

for what you say to work idy26, the diode would have to be emitting light in the near-infrared spectrum.

idy26 (author)Notbob2009-05-28

I am pretty sure that there are Infrared-Emitting Diodes that you can buy that give off infrared light.

Notbob (author)idy262009-05-29

the light has to be in the NEAR-infrared spectrum, As LEDs that emit infrared light would have no visible effect, because the human eye cannot see truly infrared light.

Kev93 (author)Notbob2010-02-10

 Wrong. The eye CAN see IR. Just not near as well as other colors.

Notbob (author)Kev932010-02-11

Before outright telling me I am wrong, would please provide me with some scientific backing to support your side of the argument.

wjbeaty (author)Notbob2010-03-19

See the links in the original article    In the D. Griffin paper they plot the human visual sensitivity (HVS) curve out to 1050nM.  As usual, they find no sharp division between "visible" and "infrared" wavelengths, just a peak at 505nM green, and a low frequency logarithmic rolloff of about 3 log units for every 100nM.   Most graphs of the HVS curve will tell you the same, although usually they go only out to 800nM.

Human eyes are like bandpass filters, and the farther you are from the peak, the worse their response.  To see light that's 100nM deeper into the IR, simply make it ~1000 times brighter.  Of course at some point the light must be dangerously bright in order to be visible.  (But the eye could still see it!)

mattman2 (author)wjbeaty2012-01-21

I'm with Notbob on this

wjbeaty (author)mattman22012-01-21

I'll make it easier:

As the paper shows, humans see NIR just fine. But it has to be bright, and it can't be swamped out by normal visible light.

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