Night Vision Camera

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Posted in TechnologyPhotography

Introduction: Night Vision Camera

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author ...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 9: Drill Once More

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

Step 10: Camera Mount

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

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

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

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

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

Step 15: Case Closed

Put the battery inside the case and fasten it shut.

Step 16: Night Vision

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.

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    40 Comments

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

    2 replies

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

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

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

    A

    3 replies

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

    That cracked me up! :"D

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

    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.

    1 reply

    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.

    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?

    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.

    1 reply

    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.

    Your title really fooled me...

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