Introduction: IR Detector

Picture of IR Detector

In this Instructable I will show you how to make a simple infra red (IR) detector.
When your TV stops responding to the remote it is hard to tell if the TV is broken or the remote doesn't work. With this little pocket-sized gadget you will know.
Spying has become more and more accessible to the average man. Whit this gadget you can check if someone has installed a night-vision camera in you room or office.

First I am going to show you how to build it and then how to use it.

If you are just interested how IR remote control works got to step 7.

Step 1: Electronic Components

Picture of Electronic Components

For this project you will need a couple of electronic components,all in total 3$.

1. Fototransistor (IR_Transistor);( in this chase I used RadioShack 276-0145);(picture 2)


3.Micro switch.

4.330 Ohm resistor (picture 3)

5.An electronic solder board (holes)

6. 9V battery snap

7. 9V battery

8. Rubber band

(all of the electronic components can be bought at your local RadioShack)

Step 2: Tools

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You aren't going to need many tools for this project.

1.Wire cutter

2.Wire insulation stripper

3.Heavy duty cutter or a big wire cutter ( to cut the board)



6. Soldering iron (not shown)

Step 3: Mark and Cut

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Use the marker and draw the line that you will cut. Mine is 7x2.5 cm. Just enough space to fit the battery and the circuit.

Step 4: The Schematic

Picture of The Schematic

OK, first I will give you the schematic and then I will explain it.

Step 5: Put It All Togother

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First take the Fototransistor,bend it (picture 1) and solder it. (picture 2)
Now take the LED and solder ti. (picture 3)
Take the resistor and connect the negative(shorter) pin of the fototransistor and the positive(longer) pin of the LED whit the 330 Ohm resistor,(picture 4) and cut the pins.(picture 5)
Solder the switch in between, a little bit down.
Now take the 9V battery clip and cut it about the lenght so that you can connect it to the switch and the fototransistor. Save the black wire from the battery clip because you are going to need it.(picture 6)
Connect the black wire from the clip to the switch, and the black wire that you saved, from the switch to the negative(shorter) side of the LED.(picture 7)
Connect the red wire to the remaining pin,the positive(longer) side of the fototransistor.(picture 8)

Step 6: You Are Done

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Now, just connect the battery clip to the 9V battery and secure it to the board whit a rubber band.

Step 7: Remote Control by IR Signals

Picture of Remote Control by IR Signals

Infrared Remote Controls: Inside
The dominant remote-control technology in home-theater applications is infrared (IR). Infrared light is also known as plain-old "heat." The basic premise at work in an IR remote control is the use of light to carry signals between a remote control and the device it's directing. Infrared light is in the invisible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

An IR remote control (the transmitter) sends out pulses of infrared light that represent specific binary codes. These binary codes correspond to commands, such as Power On/Off and Volume Up. The IR receiver in the TV, stereo or other device decodes the pulses of light into the binary data (ones and zeroes) that the device's microprocessor can understand. The microprocessor then carries out the corresponding command.
To get a better idea of how the process works, let's take a look inside a typical remote control -- the universal remote that came with the author's digital cable box. The basic parts involved in sending an IR signal include:
-Integrated circuit
-Button contacts
-Infra red light-emitting diode (IR LED)

On the component side, the infrared receiver sits on the front of the device where it can easily see the signal coming from the remote control.
You've probably noticed that some remotes only work when you're pointing them directly at the receiver on the controlled device, while others work when you're pointing them in the general vicinity of the receiver. This has to do with the strength of the transmitting IR LED. A remote with more than one IR LED and/or a particularly powerful IR LED produces a stronger, broader signal.

Step 8: Test Your Creation

Picture of Test Your Creation

You are all done!!! Test you creation!

Take any remote. Put you fototransistor close to the IR LED of the remote. Push the switch,hold it, and push any button on the TV remote,hold it. The LED on the detector should start blinking.

IR light is not visible by a naked eye but you can see it whit a camera also! (picture 3)


GusevAnton (author)2017-12-15

Thanks for the instructable, very simple and quite informative. Could I adopt this type of sensor into a laser tag system? Maybe run a line of them over a vest and have them react when either one is hit? If anybody out there could help me out with this, please.

SirPhobos15 made it! (author)2017-10-26

I know this can be done with any phone camera without an IR filter, but I haven't made anything in a minute so I decided to put this circuit into an old book light. I replaced the booklight with the sensor and then drilled a hole and added the led on top.

illumation_ (author)2017-04-17

You can also use your phone's camera to detect IR.

yaswanth raj (author)2015-08-07

instead of using fototransistor i can use photodiode

Grafx4Life made it! (author)2015-02-24

I made one on a breadboard before I move on to making a treasure chest my son can open with his Magiquest wand. Lots of fun, thanks for this.

jconell1 (author)2014-06-11

I have been trying to make this on a bread board before soldering it and the LED lights up and stays on. Any reason why it would do that?

Grafx4Life (author)jconell12015-02-24

This might be because the detector is detecting the infrared light that is being emitted by the lights in your room. If you cover the tip of the detector with your finger or turn the lights on, does the LED still glow?

handymandavebritain (author)2015-01-28

There are 3 different types of Photo sensitive Devices and they can look almost identical. I have bought plenty off E Bay and from sellers here and in China claiming they are such, but are in fact much cheaper less useful IR Photoresistors (LDR's) Black or clear in the same 3mm or 5mm package these make Nil output exposed to light, their Resistance just drops like in conell1 project I suspect. You need a proper Photo Transistor like the one listed, or similar like the Kingsbright L-93DP3C

gal-x-e (author)2014-08-28

but it is very weak :(
tnx anyway it was fun to learn :)

hlakhotia (author)2014-01-11

can we increase its range

hlakhotia (author)2014-01-11

can we use a ir led of a remote in place of fototransistor.

hlakhotia (author)2014-01-11

our body also releases heat so can we make a circuit to detect it .

mbucy (author)2013-12-29

This is a cool little circuit. I used almost an almost identical circuit to be able to close the doors on my TV/music component cabinet (extender). I just used a external power supply instead of the 9V battery. I used the imitter off an old control instead of the red LED. I love to see all the young people coming up with these ideas. MaBu.

sbanerjee4 (author)2013-09-06

Will it work if we build the circuit on a breadboard instead of an electronic solder board???

bertwert (author)2013-08-10

You could easily make this into a receiving end of a laser tag system by changing the led into an alarm and the micro switch into a switch that can stay on.
To make the sending end, connect a IR led to a battery, resistor and micro switch.

vader0ne (author)2009-09-15

I made one of these years ago when i was reparing VCRs. I put it all into a atari 2600 game cartage case and the remote head fits just right in the frount to test.

comodore (author)vader0ne2009-09-24

Nice! Do you have some pics of it? :)

vader0ne (author)comodore2010-05-24

I will have to find it ,baried somewere on my desk who knows, but when i do I will take some pictires of it as a whole and apart.

comodore (author)vader0ne2010-05-30

Really wana see your creation! :)

vader0ne (author)comodore2012-07-24

Hey Comodore I tried to uploaqd some pictures of this but 7 hours later i came back and it was still trying to upload....I can send you the pictures by email if you send it to me

vader0ne (author)comodore2012-07-24

Sorry Commodore ,I just found my IR tester and my Cammera.Made with old parts from a VCR and a Atati 2600 game case it was the right size for this project...Hope you like....Bill.

halo99 (author)2012-07-23

Wouldn't a 390 ohm be much more fitting for a 9v? Or does the transistor really put out that much resistance?

mscharf (author)2012-07-03

I want to be able to switch a single led on and off with the use of ir remote, I have been scouring the internet to figure this out and come up empty. Can someone please tell me how this is done? Do not need any thing fancy, just basic as possible.

The Incredible IT Maker (author)2010-12-30

so............ does this mean in theory you could build an ir aray on any digital camera and have a night vision camera?

Check out kipkays version


mraghib (author)2012-05-30

Dear Sir,

I think my detector is not working. When i connect it with the 9 volt battery the LED turns on from first only and when I bring it near to my tv remote and press the tv buttons nothing special happens! I have checked and rechecked the steps

Thank You

Did you check your polarity. I don't know if this will work abut make sure your polarity is correct. Good luck

Norikaeru (author)2012-03-15

I got a detector out of a a vcr that was being thrown away and when the switch is pressed the led lights up and stays that way with or without any tv remote, could the ir transistor be broken to just let current flow?

kjordaan (author)2012-03-12

what an awesome project i wrote a blog post on it here it is:

ondrikczech (author)2012-02-07

can i use led from tv remote as ir transistor?

stephenniall (author)2010-01-17

WIll the red Led Flash to the binary code preset into the remote ?

Say if 1 is on and 0 is off If the code was 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 Would the Led go on on off off and so on

372jpeg (author)stephenniall2011-05-03

if you replace the led with a buzzer it would be pretty cool it be like beep, beep, off, off, beep, off, beep

Goodhart (author)372jpeg2011-05-04

With a buzzer, depending on what kind you refer to, it may need it's signal amplified or converted from a pulsed DC to a waveform (if the buzzer or beeper runs on low voltage DC, then you can ignore everything I just wrote :-)

372jpeg (author)Goodhart2011-05-06

i was thinking a low voltage one but thanks for the tip :)

Goodhart (author)372jpeg2011-05-06

Well, by low, I meant "very" low :-) There will be less then 3 v running through the LED, so it'd have to operate in that kind of environment

comodore (author)stephenniall2010-01-17

yup!  It's does just ask you explained!  

stephenniall (author)comodore2010-01-17

Ahh thank you . Will be going to maplins tomorrow to buy the components for this

comodore (author)stephenniall2010-01-17

Good luck and keep me posted on how your project goes!   :)

stephenniall (author)comodore2010-01-17

will post a picture tomorrow if i finish it !

Chowmix12 (author)stephenniall2011-04-28

is it tomorrow yet?

comodore (author)stephenniall2010-01-18

Great! Can't wait to see them!

I once took an old remote from a broken DVD player and took out the IR LED and soldered in a green LED. Then I could see the remote flash as I pushed the buttons. And if you wave the remote around, you can see the 1100101 patterns and you can see that they are different when you push different buttons. Of course only do this with a remote that you no longer need, not a good idea to do this just to find out if the remote is working!

vectrasj (author)2010-09-17

All respects!
But You do not need to built this!
- You have a mobile phone with camera (any format)
- Turn Your camera on mobile phone ON
- Point camera at front of remote (20-30cm)
- press button on remote
- if button send IR command You will SEE white beam from the IR LED!
- Repeat press all buttons on remote and check IR LED response !


Goodhart (author)vectrasj2011-05-04

One reason TO make this is to have a seperate circuit to work with for other projects: sound sources, turning on or off other switches, etc with IR, ...there are a host of reasons TO build this; even if only to learn how it works.

account3r2 (author)vectrasj2010-11-07

some people dont have a camera and i think this is a neat project

Hycro (author)2009-01-16

I once had a stereo that if I were to hold the switch on my halogen bed lamp close enough to the on position that it would make the light flash, I could make my stereo open/close the CD drawer, or even change the volume, depending on how close or far the contacts of the switch were apart.

comodore (author)Hycro2009-01-16

That is very interesting, I never heard something like that, but I can bet you there is a scientific explanation for it! Hmm, interesting, tell that to teck-king, he might have an explanation....

Goodhart (author)comodore2011-05-04

I wonder if one of the LED's isn't "detecting" the signal? That can happen, but normally only if there is a voltage already applied to the circuit.

Arduino Guy (author)comodore2010-07-30

possibly the halogen lamp emits a flickering ir signal (all heat consists of ir rays)from the mains 60Hz/50Hz and then the device gets "confused"?

About This Instructable




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