Introduction: (Near) IR Infrared Webcam in 10 Minutes for Less Than $10

Picture of (Near) IR Infrared Webcam in 10 Minutes for Less Than $10

There are several general tutorials on the web for making (near) infrared cameras, but you might get lost picking a webcam and the directions you found might be different for your webcam. So, here are specific directions for a specific webcam with three priorities in mind: It's fast, it's cheap, it works. (BTW, this is meant to be an educational tool for physics classes, but I'm sure you can use it for plenty of other stuff.)

Materials:
- Cheapie webcam from Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0015TJNEY) ($5-6)
- 1 or 2 (recommended) pieces of exposed film negatives (as visible light filters)
- Sharp craft knife ("X-ACTO knife")
- super glue (cyanoacrylate), or any glue will do

If you're lucky and find someone really nice at a photo place, they might give you exposed film negatives for free. To my knowledge, all this is is if you took a roll of film, pulled it out of the roll to expose it to light, then got the negatives of those. You might have some sitting around if you have old negatives... they're likely the dark pieces at the beginning of the negatives. Back in the days when we used film.

Step 1: Disassemble the Lens

Picture of Disassemble the Lens

Use your fingers to unscrew the lens fixture (counter-clockwise) as far as it will go.
Use the screwdriver (or screwdriver-like implement) to press in the "tabs" to remove the outer assembly.
Continue using your fingers to unscrew the inner assembly until it comes out.

Step 2: Remove Infrared Filter

Picture of Remove Infrared Filter

Inside the lens fixture is a square, light blue piece of glass (or something). Remove this IR filter to let in more infrared light.

1. Use your sharp knife to shave off the plastic holding down the corners of the IR filters.
2. Once the plastic is removed, you should be able to easily lift the filter out (using your knife)

Update: The webcams you get may vary (even if you bought it from the link I listed earlier). Different webcams may have been constructed slightly differently, and removing this IR filter may be easier or harder. Cross your fingers. :oP

Step 3: Insert and Glue Visible Light Filter

Picture of Insert and Glue Visible Light Filter

1. Cut out two pieces of your visible light filters (exposed film negatives). They should fit right into the square.
2. Plop the filters into the square, where the IR filter used to be.
3. Glue it down using your preferred method. (I dipped the tip of a paperclip in the glue, then scraped it onto the edge of the film. Do not squeeze super glue directly onto the film, as it'll probably be too much and flood over the whole thing. Super glue is tricky to work with. Use tiny amounts, and if that's not enough, use more. Or just use regular school glue. These filters won't be undergoing much load or stress.)

Step 4: Reassemble

Picture of Reassemble

Put it all back.

Step 5: Test It Out

Picture of Test It Out

Plug it in and test it out. If you don't have any webcam software, try Yawcam, free webcam software for Windows.


For lesson ideas, see Dan Burns' handout here: http://www.lghs.net/apps/classes/show_class.jsp?classREC_ID=398988 (the IR one near the bottom)

The topic of infrared itself isn't a California Science Content Standard, but I use it as a bridge to go from visible light to "invisible light", then expand it to the idea of a giant range of "invisible lights" known as the electromagnetic spectrum, which is specifically a standard. I have no evidence this approach is effective. :oP :o)

Comments

LiamOSM (author)2013-12-06

Can this be used as a night vision camera if you get a bunch of infrared LEDs to illuminate the thing you want to look at?

menk (author)LiamOSM2013-12-06

Yes, I imagine so. I think this would be similar to how most security cameras with infrared LEDs work.

eking6 (author)2011-10-18

u know any drivers for this cam that works on windows 7, by works i mean that the options are enabled?

menk (author)eking62011-10-18

which options? :o\ i havent tested it out on windows 7 yet. do the options have anything to do with which software you're using?

eking6 (author)menk2011-10-21

well mine only came with 32bit and 64bit drivers and guessing they both supposed to only be for xp..
using win7 64bit now all all options such as exposure and what not disabled

lloveridge1 (author)2011-06-08

I got super glue on the inner plastic lens and now all I get are blurs. Also, it keeps turning the lights on I assume because it is getting only infrared. I'd like to swap the LEDs out for infrared ones, but that might take some doing. Great idea though. Maybe my next attempt will work better.

menk (author)lloveridge12011-06-08

There's a scrolly knob thingy on the cord that turns the LEDs on and off. And yeah, super glue is tricky to work with. Regular Elmer's glue might work fine, you'll just need to wait an hour or so for it to dry enough. Whatever way you can think of to hold the filters there.

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