Introduction: How Not to Block Cameras

Picture of How Not to Block Cameras
There has been an influx of projects on the internet claiming to protect an individual from surveillance cameras. Some use lasers. Others use balloons and static electricity. The ones that I found most intriguing used infrared (IR) LEDs.

I resolved to replicate the projects that used IR LEDs. Towards this end, I lined the hood of a hoodie with 10 high-intensity IR LEDs all the while documenting the project to share with others. In fact, I was super-excited to share this project with others when I was done with it. So, modeling my project after those that came before me, I inserted the LEDs, wired them up, plugged it in and took a picture of myself with a camera modified to view IR light. When I flipped the camera around to look at the picture, the first thing I noticed was that it hadn't worked. Instead of creating a halo of light in place of my head, I looked like I was wearing a sweatshirt lined with Christmas lights.

I was ready to write the whole thing off as a fake, but I figured that perhaps the project required some more thorough testing and that is precisely what I did.

Update: Please stop telling me I used the wrong kind of IR LEDs, I powered them incorrectly, I used the wrong kind of camera (I didn't), the LEDs are meant for pulsing or that you are simply smarter than me (I don't care).

Most of you are missing a key point. The simple fact of the matter is that the viewing angle (even a high viewing angle) will not protect you if you turn your head slightly away from the camera. Assuming that you will not always know where the camera is, the prior devices that my work is modeled after won't do much to help you.

In short, it is of my opinion, that we have all probably been misled.

Cryptography that only works maybe sometimes if the hardware is old enough and Jupiter is perfectly aligned with Saturn is ineffective cryptography. The same could be said for personal-protection camera blockers. If the device is incapable of hiding your face from every IR camera at every angle, at all times, then it doesn't work. Heck, I would settle for a device that can hide you from all IR-enabled security cameras at night, but I even doubt this is possible using current methods.

Like I said, if anyone can take my experiment and make it work without altering it too much... take 12 5mm IR LEDs with no more than 12v of power and make it work at all viewing angles (without the addition of optics), I would be actually very pleased to be proven wrong. However, I am suspicious as to whether anyone can do this given these parameters.

Step 1: Establish a Method

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The first thing I wanted to do was to determine where my project had failed and how I could change my project so that it could work as intended. Next I wanted to analyze the design of those that had claimed to build working models. Finally, my goal was to analyze all of this information to

So, I thought of the reasons my project failed:
1) The LEDs were spaced too far apart
2) The viewing angles made some of the LEDs seem to be turned off
3) There was only 5v of power
4) My camera's resolution was too high
5) I took the picture from too close

And then I looked at some of the other projects that seemed to work. The first one I examined was by aKaMaKaVeLy. After my initial test, this one seemed highly suspect for a number of reasons. First off, it used a 9v battery and no resistor. That alone made it seem fishy. Next, the LEDs were spaced out around the hat at about the same distance mine were around the hood. Last, throughout the video, everything was done as video except for the two quick shots of it working that were still images. From this project I took away very little.

I next examined the project made by URA / FILOART. Their project seemed slightly more believable. They used 12 LEDs powered by 12v of electricity that were centered on a headband. I figured if any project was going to work, it would have to be theirs.

So, I resolved to buy a host of IR LEDs from the Electronic Goldmine and conduct tests with 8 LEDs (the minimum number aKaMaKaVeLy claimed were needed) and have them be centered on the forehead like URA / FILOART had done. I would power it at 12v and take a shot from the front and the side. A successful test would block the camera from all directions with 8 LEDs centered on the forehead powered using 12v (with a 220 ohm resistor).

Step 2: Conducting the Test

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Once I established how I was going to conduct the test, the next thing was to actually follow through with doing it. I ordered five different types of LEDs from the Electronic Goldmine (Parts #G14670, G2318, G13661, G2158 and G14587).

I placed these LEDs in a breadboard and then took video of myself holding them to my forehead while powered by 12v.

Some were brighter than others, but none worked as intended. None of them were effective from the side-profile view.

From the initial test, I concluded there was no way it could work.

Step 3: Other Considerations

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Alright, so I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. I added four more LEDs of the brightest IR LED I got from the electronic goldmine (Part #G2318) and tested again. Again this resulted in no difference.

I considered that perhaps distance to the camera played a factor. I moved the camera back 10 feet and tried again. From this distance I couldn't make out my face too well with or without the LEDs. The LEDs made me look as though I was wearing a headlamp and as far as I was concerned I could see my face.

I decided that perhaps my hacked near IR camera was of too high a resolution (even in 640x480 video mode) to get an accurate gauge. I brought the setup to work where I tested it on the night vision security camera in the stairwell. This time at about 20 feet I got the same results at 10 feet and once turned sideways had no protection whatsoever. I tried this both with the lights on and off. When the lights were on, it almost made no difference at all.

Lastly, I remembered my earlier discussion with Dan who felt that this could work if all the LEDs were pointed directly at one's own face. Pointing high-intensity IR LEDs directly at your face can't be a good idea, but I closed my eyes and tried it anyway. There was little noticeable difference.

Step 4: Conclusion

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If you want to stay safe from video cameras, you are going to need to try another method. Remember to test it first before you trust your privacy to it.

However, I suppose that if you cover your forehead in super-bright IR LEDs you could work something out. Although, at that point, why bother? Just wear a mask.

Step 5: Lastly...

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By all means, feel free to prove my test wrong with replicable results.


SherylinRM (author)2017-05-05

It was put in a movie a while ago and since then people have believed it.

It is nonsense.

It was just a movie.

JoshuaW71 (author)2016-05-23

I'll apologize first for my limited knowledge on the subject, I've only just begun to research alternative methods of getting around facial recognition/surveillance, but I thought the IR was meant to work with your "everyday" security/surveillance cameras, not IR surveillance? IR LEDs with IR camera would seem to defeat the purpose.. I have tried and do know "regular" (sorry for the lack of vocabulary) LEDs work great for same purpose, however, walking around, blinding people, also may defeat the purpose, pending on what one's purpose is..?

buddahnature (author)2016-04-07

This is, in my view, an excellent instructable. The author has carried out some very straight forward and eminently sensible tests on this proposed technology and shown it to be rather short on credibility.

If you still believe he's wrong carry out this very simple thought experiment: suppose that all cameras could only operate in the visible spectrum - now imagine you build yourself a hat with a few visible-spectrum-LEDs hooked up to it. Is that hat going to even beat your puny eye, nevermind the visible-spectrum-only camera? Or will those LED's look like tiny points of light?

Or consider this: when you wrap a chain of LED's around a Christmas tree does it suddenly become an undefined blur?

Andrew QP (author)2016-02-23

I'd be interested to know the model of camera you used to record, wavelength of the led's you used as well as the luminous power rating. It looks like you've used leds that are under performing.

If you use 200-300mW 850nm LEDs, then you won't get the same result unless the camera has an IR filter...

aapriori (author)2016-02-17

Why is everything orangish? Do have a filter or is your camera in IR mode? My cameras don't do this in low light so there's something different about yours.

alistair.clay (author)2014-10-06


you need a concentrated array of IR LEDs to make this work.

"but what about the angle!?"

well what would make sense there? COVER MORE ANGLES... and throw out those radio shack IR LEDs. buy them in a pre-wired, water proof, silicon injected strip. they fit in the fold of a hat easily, and you can put 40+ IR LEDs in a 360 degree array (discretely) without any of the bulk you'd have with those you're currently using.

Now ask yourself if you really care about your privacy or if your just messing about for a project. if your answer is privacy then id imagine you could add this same flat array to the underside of your hat... blocks you from underside cams like ATMs. put your hat on and your hood up. it works most of the time and wont look like father christmas built your hoodie.


ps if your hood is up you only need protection from one angle, possibly two.And if you've built this hat correctly you'll have a lot more than that.

zazu_247 (author)2014-09-23

Did you try putting them inside the hood, aiming at your face?

SamiR10 (author)2014-09-02

I got 2 cents. Maybe another approach would work? First of all, I have no actual knowledge on this matter. I'm just thinking basing on my knowledge of photography with normal DSLR cameras. So everything I write may not be applicable for this kind of thing. Anyway...

Cameras that shoot also in daylight take light spectrum in from both ends of visible light. And a bit beyond. Standard digital cameras actually have an IR filter built in. How about UV?

A camera that can take IR but shoots also in daylight must be able to see UV too. And unless it has a UV filter, perhaps UV leds work. (Who uses UV filters anyway? I only use UV filters as lens protection. Cheaper to replace a filter than fix the lens. But if I get too much glare I still take it off.) But make sure they don't hit your skin constantly or especially your eyes, and especially in darkness. Might not be a good idea to get constant UV light in one's retina while the iris is fully open due to the darkness.

Flooding the sensor with UV light should work for common digital cameras and maybe, just maybe those CCTV cameras which shoot in the dark with IR, provided they also shoot daylight with the same lens and sensor. And at least normal digital cameras are more sensitive to UV than to IR. In night mode the aperture is wide open, letting a lot of light in so it can see the IR. Might be easier to flood the sensor with UV.

There are wide angle leds out there. Not sure if UV or IR, but if you get like 130 degree leds and put few of them side by side, pointing away from your face, they should cover quite a wide angle.

Don't know much about CCTV technology so I might be wrong though. But maybe give UV leds a go? Just don't use this to commit any crimes. Only protect your anonymity or something like that.

Hey... last thing. Sunblock blocks UV rays. Perhaps there is a lotion that blocks IR rays. Not really sure if it is even possible, little alone if such product exists. But if there is a camera which is specialised solely to IR light, maybe IR blocking lotion would extend the effect of those leds. The face would look darker to the camera even without the leds and leds in front of your face would emphasise that.

SamiR10 (author)SamiR102014-09-02

Oh, and UV also disperses easier, being short. IR is longer waves, goes more straight. So maybe that would also help with the issue that the IR led needs to be pointing directly at the camera. Maybe you won't even need wide angle leds with UV leds.

friscobrad (author)2014-08-25

Great thinking! I have a design I am going to be trying soon and your work will help considerably. Thank you for your contribution. I have to admit that my version will not meet the parameters you set for yours(I will be using more then 12 LED's, and I am planning on using several power supplies in different locations to distribute the weight). Never the less, Thank you for your work! And I hope you keep at it.

jpayne12 (author)2014-04-01

A design suggestion. Have you tried wiring them into a hat brim lined with white or reflective paint at a downward angle?

shaggydoo121 (author)2013-07-23

Very good scientific work !

bschran (author)2011-07-11

Hate to say it but most security cameras like the one pictured are IR cameras... you would actually be helping the camera along by having that on you.

ilpug (author)bschran2011-11-29

True, but that isn't the premise of the idea. Normal cameras use visible light, and if you shine a really bright light at them , that part of the camera is blinded in the film/photo. The same is true with IR cameras. It seems like this would work, you would just need one super-powerful IR light to do it effectively.

electric_piano_5k (author)2010-10-26

For further proof, see the cover photo for my "Infrared night vision digital camera/camcorder" instructable.  It is an IR photo of a second identical IR camera which is pointed ALMOST straight at the camera taking the photo. Even at this slight angle the IR LED's are dimmed enough that my face is clearly visible.

nutsandbolts_64 (author)2010-06-26

Have you tried diffused LED's?

noahh (author)2010-05-09

 I'm not questioning your results, but how did KipKay do it?

polymeme (author)noahh2010-06-12

Right at the end of that video there are a few frames where he moves his head slightly and the brightness from one or both of the LED's drops substantially - to the point where you could see his face. That's the point he's trying to make here - that this only works if you point the LED straight at the camera at all times.

noahh (author)polymeme2010-06-12

Oh, I see. Thanks.

Fashim (author)2010-01-11

A Balaklava with lots IF LEDS attached would be quite the handy

ectorcab (author)2008-08-26

Come on, i know its fun to play with electronics but just put a mask/hat/stockings over your face and go to work

I dunno, to me the point of this would be to wear it when I'm NOT doing anything illegal...

it's not illegal to wear stuff over your face... maybe just a little wierd walking into the bank is all.

jdyland (author)lilshawn2008-09-27

Depends on where you are. From West Virginia State code... §61-6-22. Wearing masks, hoods or face coverings... whether in a motor vehicle or otherwise, while wearing any mask, hood or device whereby any portion of the face is so covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer, may: (1) Come into or appear upon any walk, alley, street, road, highway or other thoroughfare dedicated to public use; etc. etc. It goes on and on.

matt ledding (author)jdyland2009-07-23

Wow. Halloween must be a busy time for the West Virginia State Troopers. They need to toughen up their young offender act.

omnibot (author)matt ledding2009-10-20

Fortunately, the innocent have nothing to fear. A phrase which strike terror into the hearts of innocents everywhere ;)

my pants are brown.

(pants, english= underware, american)

Yes, I ones made that mistake in Britain. It was moderately embarrassing. Damn yankee media! ;)

jdyland (author)jdyland2008-09-27

c. Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned in the county jail not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned.

(Not leet 5peak, broken "s" key!) I know it'5 not, I ju5t meant that I would like to wear it when I'm out doing 5hopping or 5omething, to confu5e the 5ecurity guy5. "I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes"

(Not leet 5peak, broken "s" key!) I know it'5 not, I ju5t meant that I would like to wear it when I'm out doing 5hopping or 5omething, to confu5e the 5ecurity guy5. "I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes # of "5" used - 8 # of "s" used - S sorry - s key works, you just dont use it. oh by the way my 5 key doesn't work so i'm using S instead.

The part in quote5 wa5 cut and pa5ted. And i half lied, the "s" 5witch work5, but ha5 no button on top, 5o i have to jab it with a 5tick. n0W 1f 1 wuz typ3in lik di5, i

lolz i just bought one for 10 bucks it's silicone and i can rolz it up and "use in the sandstorms great" and "even use under wet waters for short time" i love chinglish

wolf555hound (author)lilshawn2008-09-09

z0mg, l1k3 t3h l1v3 fr33 0r d13 h4rd 0n3? (zomg, like the live free or die hard one?)

eh? anyway, sssssssssssssssssss fixed now, yay!

You lie! your "s" key is working fine! like I told my dad when I was 8 "I cant say fork, I can only say thork!"

Caspar (author)lilshawn2008-09-01

Not just weird -- scary. The Chaser team (Australia) had someone who tried to buy things (milk, newspaper...) with a stocking over his head. One shopkeeper offered him money, another locked himself in a back room and called the police. On second thought, don't try it over there. We don't have as many scared people with guns here.

bob_shaftenkluger (author)Caspar2008-09-02

(Not leet 5peak, broken "s" key!) Ha ha, that5 funny! Thought of doing that year5 ago. Didnt.

scarabeetle101 (author)2009-12-02

 could you make it at least shine at all angles by arranging four or five around a point, almost like a 3d star?

ugs (author)2009-08-21

Their are a few ways to blot yourself out from video cameras. First you need to know what type camera you are being veiwed by. Different type cameras act differently to light sources. Some cameras need no light at all and work from thermal source. These cameras or imagers are difficult to blot out you need to use coolants or heat sources. Other CMOS or Digital Cams like Common IP Cameras are easily affected by counter emissions. A strong IR Diode well placed and worn on ones person will blot your image out, but you must use the proper wavelength Diode and it must be well placed.
I use Sequinyes sequince. The sow on or glue on type in either gold or silver work well but other different colors have their effect too. If the Diode is
placed directly in the middle of the sequince it acts as a reflector to enhance and direct the illumination for the best effectwhich would be your face and other identifying areas. Keep trying you will get it! Also remember it is not exact science either. Different type cameras act differently to different light emissions. thanks!

smessud (author)2009-07-19

Sew you IR LEDS to a headband (every 10 degrees or so), so that it does not depend on where your clothes are facing.

berky93 (author)2008-11-04

this is a cool idea. I, when I need to block a camera's view of something, use my laser. I have a powerful (75mw) and not as powerful (5 mw) green laser, both of which are great for blocking cameras (5 or 75 times better than the red laser in your link, plus more because the human eye is more sensitive to green light than red light)

Rainbow1946 (author)berky932009-07-16

I am a single 62 yr old woman and needs help. I put 12 cameras in about 8 yrs ago and all 12 was total burned up at different times. my tapes were stolen out of the 3 dvr's, but my house was always lot up. I still having problems with people breaking into my home or stealing everything outside of my home. In June 2009, I put 3 cameras in again. Every time I leave the house my cameras get shut down. example. Sunday went to church. cameras shut down from 9:30am to 12:30. Wed , bible study, I was gone from 6 to 8:30 pm. Came home and put the time in at 5 pm to 8:30 pm and cameras was shut down again from 6:18pm to 8:15pm when they came back on. I have a neighbor that moved next to me in 1994 and that is when my problems started. He was a high officer in securities in the services and he brags that he can shut cameras down and disarmed them. This man and his wife has made my life hell. Do you know any way that I can protect my cameras or is there a way I can prove that he is the one tearing up everything I own. Things are still getting destroyed every day and I don't have any of the on my cameras!!!! email me back and let me know of any suggestions. Thank you.

smessud (author)Rainbow19462009-07-19

This is rather strange. First, you have to explain what "shutting down" means. Are they powered by mains, and if so, is the cabling protected all the way? Second, what kind of cameras do you have (just give bbrand and model numbers)? Then how are they connected to VCR (cable, wireless)? Do you have anything recorded on VCR, that is are you sure the VCR is working properly ? Now, considering the harassment, only a police officer can help you. May be you could try concealing a camcorder (on batteries) just to see if there is physical acces to the cameras or if some people are using wireless techniques to disable the electronic inside.

instructors (author)2009-06-24

Dont some cameras have to have there night vision setting already on to see the infrared LED's?

Jouda Mann (author)2008-08-27

Fantastic Science on this one. Some people would see this as a failure, but Thomas Edison said of his trials with the Incandescent Lamp: "I didn't fail, I found out two thousand ways how not to make a light bulb". Regardless of whether the experiment yielded the results you wanted, you still know something that you didn't know before, and that is the real point of invention, science, and progress. Also, kudos to you for posting your "failure"

taraist (author)Jouda Mann2008-08-28


Jouda Mann (author)taraist2008-08-29

Everyone notice that Taraist comes from Texas like I do, and take note that there are some smart people to be found here. I know that the nation has Dubya to thank for No Child Left Behind, but that's not our fault, and we go above the curriculum to actually learn. Hail fellow Texan. Well met!

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Bio: My name is Randy and I founded the Instructables Design Studio. I'm also the author of the books 'Simple Bots,' and '62 Projects to ... More »
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