Instructables

Infrared (IR) Webcam

This guide will tell you how to modify your webcam so that it catches the infrared spectrum rather than the visible light one.

You will need:
- 1 webcam
- A screwdriver
- Some black processed film (find some old 35mm negatives and use the unexposed start block)

Total time: around 15 minutes.
 
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Step 1: Disassemble

Ensure the webcam is disconnected from the computer.

Remove any base the webcam may have. You then need to remove any exterior screws (use the screwdriver). The case should then separate to reveal the insides, however if it doesn't try and prise the case apart using the end of a flat screwdriver or penknife. You shouldn't need too much force, and remember to check under pads and stickers for screws.

You may also want to remove the USB connection lead from the main board to give you more movement if the cable's position is fixed.

Step 2: Remove PCB and lens enclosure

Remove the PCB (the main chip) and the lens enclosure. Since this is basically the whole of the insides in most cases, you need to remove all the casing. When handling the PCB (usually green), try not to touch it too much, and attempt to handle it by the edges. The same goes for the lens.

You should end up with something like the one shown in the pictures.

Step 3: Seperate the lens enclosure from the PCB

Next you need to try and separate the unit containing the lens (the bit which faced the outside world) from the PCB chip. In my case this was connected by two screws and a sticky pad, although yours may be different.

DO NOT TOUCH THE NEWLY EXPOSED AREA OF THE PCB.

Put the PCB to one side, but try and cover the newly exposed area so that dust can't get to it.
mmatthews2 made it!2 months ago

Very rough... Scotch tape, electrical tape, and a snuff can...

still works though!

-mwm

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polird1 year ago
Thanks for the tutorial. My webcam was very different, and I used a floppy disc instead of exposed film, and part of a DVD to add the piece necessary to get the focus to work. I spent (many) hours making it as perfect as possible, and I am really impressed by the sharpness and overall quality of the resulting images.

Here are some sample pictures using the floppy disc method. Taken with a Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/aspinfinity/sets/72157632777600763/
kgraebner2 years ago
here are some pictures to demonstrate (all taken during the day with my webcam pointed out the window and such) the greyish one you see is with the infared filter (technically for use with photographic cameras using infared film, or just digital cameras) second one you see (the white one) is the picture that my webcam sees without the infared filter on it. third one (the black one) is a picture of me sitting in my room with the infared filter over my camera (whilst sitting next to the window with the blinds open) :D photo film does block out some visible and let the infared shine through more, but these types of filters block out all visible light and only let infared through (interpreted as the grayscale by digital cameras) enjoy ;D
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kgraebner2 years ago
lol i just threw my infared light filter for my 35mm film camera over my webcam xD got some neat pics during the day, but if theres no sunlight in my room or anythin all i can see is the flash of the infared led off of my remotes xD
Im doing this project due to the usb wires being ripped out of my old web cam.
long story short can any one who has worked on one of these tell me what color order the the wires go on the board. I need to solder them on an want to be sure there right.
bobolou26 years ago
hey, does anyone know if visible light or IR travels farther?
ian13 (author)  bobolou26 years ago
They both travel at the same speed (the speed of light through a given material applies to all electromagnetic radiation).
Joanassie ian135 years ago
distance, not speed.
All EM waves (light, microwave, IR, Gamma ETC) have 1 constant speed in a vacuum, but in a given medium the speed at which they travel is frequency dependent.

Low frequencies travel much slower than higher frequencies (remembering the old "Low is SLow" thing from my physics class) but go further than higher frequencies. They are also attenuated less. However, the resolution is not going to be awesome. Not much bandwidth to work with.

Higher frequencies have a tendency to be attenuated more because of a wavelength's relationship with the size of the particles its striking.

Too long; Didn't read version:

Lower frequencies can travel further without getting as attenuated. Higher frequencies just get all jiggidy-jacked when traveling great distances.

So, yes. IR will travel further than say optical or gamma or Ultra Violet.
The only thing that keeps electromagnetic radiation, like visible light and IR, from traveling forever is hitting something and being absorbed or being reflected (bouncing off) or refracted (bent to a new direction). The difference between different wavelengths is their likelihood of being absorbed by what they are moving through. In air near the earth's surface the air and water vapor absorb red and infrared better than the blue/violet/UV end of the spectrum. This part of the reason why the sky looks blue even though our sun is more red/yellow. So basically, visible light travels "farther" than IR.
The sky is blue due to Rayleigh scattering. The high frequency light (blues) have a shorter wavelength and a higher energy than IR light. The gas molecules in the atmosphere can absorb these higher frequency spectrum and then releases that energy in the form of a photon at a random direction (hence scattering). A particular photon's ability to propagate farther than another photon of varying energy level depends on the medium they are propagating in. Typically, lower frequency (longer wavelength) electromagnetic energy can travel longer distances through mediums than higher energy photons. In some cases, a goldy locks situation occurs in which a certain frequency band is "just right" where as higher or lower frequency bands may not travel well through a medium. Such a medium exists (Sio2) and is widely used for fiber optic communications (which utilizes the IR band). I hope this was helpful.
mdurham4 years ago
OK, would something like this give me something akin to heat vision?  I'm wanting to use something to detect the less insulated spots in my house where I am losing the most heat in the winter (or cold in the summer).
no it is not sensitive enoigh..I played with one of those cameras at a place i used to work at.it looks like a medium size vhs camcorder...difference is the special ir ccd is cooled by a liquid cooled heatsink.. the other end of the tubing is in a small cooler of dry ice on a small cart along with a small car batt for power...these are used to scan electrical breaker panels in large factories for overloaded circuits..looks like a washed out black/white negative..the whiter spots are the hottest...on a human the hottest spots are (clothed)..not the arm pits or supperisingly not even the groin area...but the eyes ...on each side of the nose very close...let me play while they had a smoke...the color camera would be more fun...you need the great cooling & temp diff for sensitivity
NeMewSys3 years ago
Can you tell me what's your webcam? Looks pretty easy to handle inside.
shadowman27 years ago
Does this thing really work at complete darknes?
Darkness for eye yes. The camera is picking up light on an invisible side of the spectrum. If it were true darkness, without even infrared, it wouldn't work.
X-mind6 years ago
Does it see in total darkness without any IR light Or does it need any?
ian13 (author)  X-mind6 years ago
In darkness it will need some external IR light source. IR LED's work well I am told.
X-mind ian136 years ago
Oh! really.this means I'll have to manage for someIR light.But I couldn't understand a thing.For what are the two squares of black processed film used?
ian13 (author)  X-mind6 years ago
The black film blocks out visible light, so that the chip only receives IR light.
if the black film blocks out visible light, then wouldn't really dark sunglasses lenses work too?
No, sunglasses are made so that if the sensor (your eye) is close to the lens it can see through. The film is more opaque to the human eye than sunglasses.
X-mind ian136 years ago
Thanks...I think now I have understood it preety well.
X-mind6 years ago
Is there any way I can make IR light inspite of the remote control.If there's a way out,can anybody tellme how.
dagenius X-mind3 years ago
You can use fire... Like a candle-- fire has a LOT of IR light.
yeah buy some ir leds and connect them to batterys or something
double_g4 years ago
Apparently cell phones have very cheap IR blockers, so you don't even have to remove them for this to work.  I just covered my cellphone with three layers of scotch tape covered in black sharpie and it's working like a charm with the remote (I'm going to try the film method when I get ahold of some) .  I've only been able to test it with a tv remote though so I'll have to see what it looks like when the sun comes back up ;).  Great instructable this is awesome!
gez4 years ago
For the main part, finding visible light filter;
My choice is black car window tint, it perfectly goes transparent for IR light, and black as you see for visible light. You get tons of filter you need for projects like this, just for ~$10.
mdurham4 years ago
OK, would something like this give me something akin to heat vision?  I'm wanting to use something to detect the less insulated spots in my house where I am losing the most heat in the winter (or cold in the summer).
does it have to be processed film? will unprocessed work?
Yes it needs to be processed. Unprocessed film will not work due to it still having silver in it making the film opaque. You need to use the black "overexposed" portion of the leader, before the pictures begin.
Question: (to those who are knowledgable in this area), if i layer extra layers of infared lenses will this increase the cams sensitivity, ability to detect infared light?
The filter used earlier would only let visible light pass through it and not IF light. The negative film does not let visible light go through it but allows IF light. It is not increasing the IF sensitivity, but decreasing the visible light sensitivity. I believe this is it, though I may be wrong.
rcamp0045 years ago
I recently did this hack and when I put the camera back together the image was blurry. Has anyone else had this problem?
I was reading another instructable, and if your camera has auto-focus, you may want to put a piece of glass in it (the same thickness as the filter) to make it focus correctly.
Thanks for the idea. I tried varying the thickness of the filter and I got different results! I put the pics up on my blog - polymathengineering.blogspot.com Don't worry I referenced you to give you full credit for the idea. The pictures are a bit blurry because I messed up the lens. ( I'm still a newb and working my way towards disassembling things properly). Thanks for the idea it made a difference. Feel free to leave a comment.
I was about to do this, but I got too frustrated with trying to take apart a high quality camera (not a good place to start) and gave up. and btw, i'm probably more of a newb.
djseblast6 years ago
i would like a video of this... is very attractive... plz... tnx and if its in spanish muuuuuuuuuuch better... from chile... jajajaj
lol tnx dude nice job
I did one a while back. If you got good IR light you can see your blood veins.
Sarepod7 years ago
If you want to see a video showing the whole process, just look at here:

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/385098/trasform_your_webcam_into_an_infrared_cam/

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