How to make a portable infrared night vision scope

Picture of How to make a portable infrared night vision scope
Last weekend I decided to make an infrared nightvision scope and here it is. The reason why it works is that the infrared camera can see the infrared lights, but human eye can't. I attached the infrared camera to an old VHS camcorder's viewfinder, so I could see what the camera shows. Three 9 volt batteries support everything, so it's portable.
It can be used outdoors and indoors too and can built in a single weekend.
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Step 1: What will you need

Picture of What will you need
What will you need:

-a project box / hobby box (mine is 7cm x 11cm x 5.5cm)
-a viewfinder from an old VHS camcorder (I used Grundig vs170)
-a low lux black and white infrared camera
-a 5W IR LED (If you a use 940nm LED it is fully invisible for human eye, but cameras see less light, so it's perfect if you use it indoors. If you want to use the scope outdoors it's recommended to use 850nm LED. 850nm LED's light looks like a very small red light, so it's the best choice for big distances. I used a 940nm LED.)
-the front part of a cheap flashlight
-3pcs 9v batteries
-copper clad circuit board
-heat shrink tubes
-a piece of aluminium as a cooling gill
-electronic parts:
-1x 7805 regulator
-1x 78L12 regulator
-1x lm317 regulator
-2x 0.33uF capacitor
-3x 0.1uF capacitor
-1x 10uF capacitor
-1x 240ohm resistor
-1x 1,5K ohm or 2.2k ohm variable resistor
-3x battery clips
-1x video plugin

The tools:
-a hot glue gun
-a soldering iron
-a multimeter

SparkySolar5 months ago

Thank you for the nice instructable


arrow_strider11 months ago

Allow me to "shed some light on the discussion"... Pun intended, LOL!

ianmcmill1 year ago
How far is the view distance ?
geq1 (author)  ianmcmill1 year ago
About one and a half meters.
eyebot117 geq11 year ago
You might be able to open up the camera and see if there's an infrared filter in it. If there's an IR filter in front of the sensor chip (or in the lens), removing it will improve the camera's sensitivity to IR light and improve detection range. Hope this helps! :)
zlokren1 year ago
very cool - super :)
Since those old VHS video cameras are getting hard to find, there is a substitute that is easier to find, and in fact, is easier to build. Get a video camera that uses the mini tapes and that has the switch for the black-and-white option. The last one I bought 4 years ago cost $30 on ebay. The camera, which is powered by its own rechargeable battery, sees the light from the built-in IR leds, and displays the image on its flip-out screen. The range is about 12 feet, or around 4 meters. A flick of the black-and-white switch, and it's a regular video camera, with no modification needed. A 3 inch circular bank of about 25-30 IR leds can be bought on ebay for less than $10. It runs off 12 volts, which could be had by connecting 2 4-cell AA or AAA battery boxes in series, This would increase the range to around 30 feet, or 10 meters. The light bank and battery boxes could be simply taped to the top of the camera, and turned on and off with a switch. I ran a 30 foot wire from a 12 volt wall wart to an led bank attached to a tree in my yard and used a webcam and a small tv as a very effective security system. Another 30 foot wire from there to another led bank gave me a range of 75 feet, or 25 meters, with a width of about 30 feet, or 10 meters.
Project 231 year ago
harvsch1 year ago
Linear regulators don't work that way. The input and output current must be equal.
Only a switch mode regulator can perform the transform that you are describing.
The diode forward Voltage is about 1.5V but is dependent on forward current and temperature. To get stable output, either drive it with a higher Voltage and use a current limiting resistor or use a current regulated supply.
harvsch1 year ago
Nice job overall. Some suggestions/observations.
Your IR diode power supply is specified as 1.5A. I assume that you used a 1.5A regulator so that self heating wouldn't be a problem and that you aren't really trying to suck that much current from a puny 9V battery.
I also would like to suggest that you will get more consistent performance if you set the LM317 as a current source. That way the diode current doesn't change with temperature. It is easy to do. Have the 317 regulate the Voltage across a load resistor and put the diode in series above it. That also puts part of the Voltage drop/heat load in the resistor instead of the 317.
I think I may have to build one of these myself. That way I can see the deer eating my flowers at night.
So a 1,5A power source @ 1,5V gives only 1,5V*1,5A= 2,25W. So the LED is running under half it's rated max. 2,25W is just 0,25A @ 9V. Plus losses.
toad1 year ago
very nice
geq1 (author)  toad1 year ago
Roto361 year ago
That's some McGiver thinking there. Great project!
That's the nice thing about the image detector of mos digital cameras, they're IR-sensitive, and need just that little IR source to see.. to see how well it works, take a digital camera that gives you a live view through the LCD screen, or use a webcam with a live-image producing program (You-Cam, etc.) and a IR remote control for a television, DVD player, etc. point the end of the remote at the camera's lens, and press a button. depending on the remote, you'll either see a single white flash or a blinking white flash from the remote. (Old tech trick to see if a remote is working.) most IR led's in these remotes are fairly small, diffused.. But the high power LED used in this project, must produce a broad-distance coverage. Very nicely done, to the maker!
darman121 year ago
Wow! This is pretty much exactly like the one I made. I even considered making an Instructable for it! Check out this video I made about my project:
I looked all over the internet for a project box, but I couldn't find one. I ended up using cardboard, haha!
geq1 (author)  darman121 year ago
Yours looks funny with that cardboard :) and it's a very informative video! Well done!
darman12 geq11 year ago
Haha, yes it does. Thanks for the feedback :)
crazyg1 year ago
nice one getting a viewfinder to work, i will have to have another go at my parts box
Honus1 year ago
Very cool!
geq1 (author)  Honus1 year ago
Thanks! :)
jupikman1 year ago
based on kipkay?
geq1 (author)  jupikman1 year ago
Every night vision scope based on the fact that humans can't see infrared light, but cameras can. I saw kipkay's video, but my scope isn't based on it.
eyebot1171 year ago
Not bad! I wish I could've found a viewfinder, but I find the screens are easier to see smaller things with. Well done. :)
geq1 (author)  eyebot1171 year ago
Thanks! :)
brdstf401 year ago
Nice!!! I was just telling my wife, this past weekend, that I was going to find plans to make something like this! We go camping a lot, and my wife can't see well at night to use the rest rooms. This will definitely surprise her, thanx!
geq1 (author)  brdstf401 year ago
Your welcome!
mehlani1 year ago