Introduction: Night Vision Camera

Picture of Night Vision Camera

Much like the Light of Eärendil guides Frodo in dark places, so too will your homemade night vision camera be your guiding beacon. Whether out in the woods camping with friends, capturing that elusive glimpse of a Scandinavian troll, or while on a top secret spy mission, this special camera captures even the most difficult shots in low-to-no light photographic brilliance.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

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You will need:

- Olympus® FE-47 14MP Digital Camera (or similar)
- (x36) High-Output Infrared LED (Model: 276-143 | Catalog #: 276-143)
- 220 ohm 1/4W 5% Carbon Film Resistor pk/5 (Model: 271-1313 | Catalog #: 271-1313)
- Grid-Style PC Board with 371 Holes (Model: 276-149A | Catalog #: 276-149)
- Fully Insulated 9V Battery Snap Connectors (Model: 270-325 | Catalog #: 270-325)
- Project Enclosure (4x2x1") (Model: 270-1802 | Catalog #: 270-1802)
- Enercell® Alkaline 9 Volt Battery (Model: 23-853 | Catalog #: 23-853)
- 1/4-20 x 1/2" bolt, nut and washer
- Congo Blue photo gel

Step 2: Remove the Case

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Carefully remove the plastic case from around the camera.

Set the screw aside somewhere safe. I highly recommend labeling them so you know where to put them back.

Step 3: Disassemble

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Continue disassembly by freeing the screen and main circuit board to expose the CCD and back of the lens assembly.

Step 4: Remove the IR Filter

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Remove the IR filter from between the lens and the CCD. This is different in every camera. In some camera, this is a major ordeal, but in the one used here, it is simply a matter of gently shaking it out.

Step 5: Squares

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Cut six to eight squares that are the same size as your IR filter out of the Congo Blue photo gel.

Step 6: Insert and Close

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Stack these gels and insert them inside the camera where the IR filter was.

Reassemble the case.

Test to make sure it works by turning the camera on. Everything should appear to be displaying in the infrared spectrum.

Step 7: Mark

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Make three equally spaced rows of eight equally spaced marks covering the bottom lid of your project case. All of the marks should be roughly 1/4" apart.

Step 8: Drill

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Drill all of the marks that you have just drilled using a 13/64" drill bit (or 7/32").

Step 9: Drill Once More

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Flip the case on its longest side. Drill a 1/4" hole centered anywhere across this length.

Step 10: Camera Mount

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Pass a 1/4-20 x 1/2" bolt from the inside of the case out. Fasten it in place with a washer and a nut.

Step 11: Trim

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Using a sharp pair of scissors, trim 1/4" or so from each side of your circuit board, such that you are left with a long thin strip.

Note: You may want to use a dust mask while doing this, as circuit board dust is bad for you when inhaled. Cutting the board with scissors, greatly reduces, but does eliminate dust.

Step 12: Solder

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Place all of your LEDs into your circuit board such that the anodes and cathodes line up in a row and the LEDs will fit into the holes drilled into the lid.

Once they are all placed, insert the LEDs through the holes in the lid from the inside out.

Flip the entire assembly over.

Bend down the first row of LED leads in the same direction and solder them all together in a single row. Repeat this for all consecutive rows.

Using wire, attach together the three rows of anodes with black wire.

Step 13: Solder Some More

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Attach 220 ohm resistors to each of the three rows of cathodes.

Connect the other ends of the resistors at a single point and solder them all together with the red wire from the 9V battery clip.

Solder the black wire from the 9V battery clip to one of the rows of anodes.

Step 14: Power

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When you are ready to go, plug in the battery.

Step 15: Case Closed

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Put the battery inside the case and fasten it shut.

Step 16: Night Vision

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Screw the IR LED box into the mounting hole in the bottom of the camera.

Turn the camera on and then go take pictures of the night.


Himers (author)2014-03-26

I would add a switch so you don't half to unscrew it every time. Great instructable!!!

Bonty (author)Himers2017-02-27

@Himers you don't half? - 'half' of what?

Himers (author)Bonty2017-02-27


ddemedeiros06 (author)2015-01-05

What do the LEDs do?

florian.vandonklaar (author)2014-10-03

what will happen if you dont put the photo gell in it?

PetrichorXFi (author)2014-08-16

Cool instructable... bit you need to add more photos of night vision

iceng (author)2011-07-03

Very cool, do I go to the Congo for the Blue gel ?


randofo (author)iceng2011-07-03

Yes. You have to purchase it from gorillas. Or, perhaps, guerrillas.

andrewhtf (author)randofo2013-03-05

That cracked me up! :"D

iceng (author)randofo2011-07-03

I guess Ill find those at the camera store if they still exist :-)

jduffy54 (author)2012-12-17

If you don't want t risk damaging the camera, the other way is to use a car backup monitor and camera, which total about $40, and require no modification.

Suraj Grewal (author)2012-06-06

what happens if we don't use gel paper,
I ones tried to make night vision camera out of web camera,
I removed the lens and made my own lens assembly using telescope's lens,
I could see things in total darkness,but the moment there was any ambient light,the webcamera registers everything as very bright like i was pointing it towards sun.

randofo (author)Suraj Grewal2012-06-06

Removing the filter lets in both visible and near IR light. When you put the gels on, it is blocking out most visible light and only letting IR through. This will eliminate the "looking at the sun" effect in daylight.

r.raj936 (author)2012-05-15

Is it Advisable to use X-Ray sheets in the absence of Congo Blue photo gel

PGHGEOLOGIST (author)2012-03-27

Nice project. I hope to take it on soon. I do, however, have a question. Why do you use Congo Blue photo gel for a filter. If the goal is to block out all light, but near IR, wouldn't you also want to use red filters as well to block blue light? Also, couldn't you remove the IR filter from the camera, then make an external visible light filter that could fit on the outside so that you have the capability of taking full color IR photos?

10er512 (author)2012-03-26

This might be a dumb question but, based from my understanding of this, i have a question. If the goal is to see in darkness, why do you need led lights that would still emit light? as I see it, it only looks like you made this stuff just to change the view or the shot to green tinted version.

-please shed some light for me.

randofo (author)10er5122012-03-26

The LEDs are in the near IR spectrum and emit light which is not visible to the naked eye. They are like the lights in a TV remote. However, the camera registers the light.

eiloxcn (author)2011-08-25

Your title really fooled me...

jimopertrat (author)2011-08-25


bdoggy45 (author)2011-08-16

it works well but what if you need to use the tripod

mybluemake (author)2011-07-11

How far is your "throw" with this DIY IR emitter?

/very nice instructable, btw!

randofo (author)mybluemake2011-07-11

Not very. In the future I will probably get higher power / wider angle LEDs

mybluemake (author)randofo2011-07-11

What about the IR filters for flashlights? They'd probably reveal a little red glow, but should throw fairly far?

Broom (author)mybluemake2011-07-16

You'd be throwing away 90+% of the light, so they wouldn't throw farther than IR LEDs.

nitto_racer09 (author)2011-07-13

instead of just hooking up the battery and the LED's be on all the time, you should put a switch on it and maybe a really dim rear facing led to let you know that its on, that way you dont have to screw and uncrew the case when you want to turn it on and off. but all in all it is a good design.

locofocos (author)2011-07-11

If anyone is having trouble finding the blue filter, I've heard that you can also use the end of a developed roll of 35mm film, if anyone still uses that these days... Just cut off some where the last picture stops (it should look black to you). I believe you would usually use about 2 pieces on top of each other.

randofo (author)locofocos2011-07-11

Indeed. I have done it this way in the past and after having done it both ways, must say that I prefer the film filters better.

Delo97 (author)locofocos2011-07-11

Yay for your imagepic!

criggie (author)2011-07-10

I have had a security camera pinched because the LEDs glowed faintly red at night time.

However I also have a $10 camera with IR which does not glow at all when on.

What distinguishes a visible IR LED from an invisible one ? Is there any way to tell them apart? And are they interchangeable... can I unsolder one sort and pop in the other?

yanni50 (author)criggie2011-07-10

850nm wavelength IR emitters emit a faint red light.
950nm wavelength IR emitters don't emit this light, however the IR they emit are not as powerful or bright as the 850nm ones.
So if you really want IR which doesn't emit any light you need to find 950nm ones but you might need quite a few of them to provide a enough light.
You can buy IR LED emitters from those China websites online.
Hope this helps.

guitarpicker7 (author)2011-07-10

What is and who does the great music in the video?

randofo (author)guitarpicker72011-07-10

I don't know. It was a public domain song.

jdougherty2 (author)2011-07-10

At this point, could I solder in a small switch to keep the battery from dying faster, or is this going to be such a power hog, that I'd need a new battery every time anyway?

static (author)2011-07-09

My unmodified digital camera (several of them) will display the output of IR remote controls. I always intended to make an IR light source to see if they would display anything that would reflect IR energy.

randofo (author)static2011-07-09

Many digital cameras can, but you will get the best results by removing the filter. If you try blocking visible light without removing the filter first, it will sort of work, but you usually don't see much.

splazem (author)2011-07-05


sunshiine (author)2011-07-04

Thanks for sharing! A lot of people here will appreciate this!

The Ideanator (author)2011-07-04

You could try making a metal plate that affixes around the lens and screws in the bottom that you would mount those wide-angle/un-lensed 5-10W blinding LEDs to and a 9v battery pack on the bottom of the plate to power it all.

mattthegamer463 (author)2011-07-03

Nice video Randy.

Digital cameras often show IR even without the visible light filter, do you think this would work without modifying your camera itself? I can't see why it wouldnt, and would also allow it to make use of tiny amounts of ambient visible light in a very dim environment, such as moonlight.

randofo (author)mattthegamer4632011-07-03

I think with this particular camera it wouldn't. It might with others, but the results would probably be very dark.

About This Instructable




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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