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.
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Step 1: Go get stuff

Picture of Go get stuff
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

Picture of Remove the IR filter
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.
ddemedeiros062 months ago

What do the LEDs do?

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

PetrichorXFi7 months ago
Cool instructable... bit you need to add more photos of night vision
Himers1 year ago

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

iceng3 years ago
Very cool, do I go to the Congo for the Blue gel ?

randofo (author)  iceng3 years ago
Yes. You have to purchase it from gorillas. Or, perhaps, guerrillas.
That cracked me up! :"D
iceng randofo3 years ago
I guess Ill find those at the camera store if they still exist :-)
jduffy542 years ago
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.
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 Grewal2 years ago
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.raj9362 years ago
Is it Advisable to use X-Ray sheets in the absence of Congo Blue photo gel
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?
10er5123 years ago
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)  10er5123 years ago
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.
eiloxcn3 years ago
Your title really fooled me...
jimopertrat3 years ago
bdoggy453 years ago
it works well but what if you need to use the tripod
mybluemake3 years ago
How far is your "throw" with this DIY IR emitter?

/very nice instructable, btw!
randofo (author)  mybluemake3 years ago
Not very. In the future I will probably get higher power / wider angle LEDs
What about the IR filters for flashlights? They'd probably reveal a little red glow, but should throw fairly far?
You'd be throwing away 90+% of the light, so they wouldn't throw farther than IR LEDs.
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.
locofocos3 years ago
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)  locofocos3 years ago
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.
Yay for your imagepic!
criggie3 years ago
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 criggie3 years ago
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.
What is and who does the great music in the video?
randofo (author)  guitarpicker73 years ago
I don't know. It was a public domain song.
jdougherty23 years ago
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?
static3 years ago
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)  static3 years ago
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.
splazem3 years ago
sunshiine3 years ago
Thanks for sharing! A lot of people here will appreciate this!
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.
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)  mattthegamer4633 years ago
I think with this particular camera it wouldn't. It might with others, but the results would probably be very dark.