Introduction: Super Nightvision Headset Hack!

We have all seen the webcam nightvision hacks and other ways to make nightvision cameras but this will blow you away! This a Super Bright Nightvision Headset that lets you walk around in total darkness AND record what you see! My inspiration for this project came from Brad Graham & Kathy McGowan Watch the video and see the Test Results and then build your own! I hope you enjoy this Instructable as much as I enjoyed making it!

Get the Infrared LED's for this Project HERE



Step 1: What You Need...

Dig through your closet or ask a friend if they still have a classic full-size VHS camcorder hanging around collecting dust. Or go to garage sale or pawn shop and find one for cheap. All we need is the analog viewfinder

Step 2: You Will Also Need...

1. Twelve 10mm, 200mw triple Infrared LED's. These babies are mean! They each have 3 LED's in them and are very powerful! You can get the LED's HERE
2. A project box/enclosure from Radio Shack or any other larger size project box. This one is 5" X 2 1/2" X 2".
3. A red or any other color LED to be used for a power indicator
4. A shielded, panel mount Phono Jack
5. A SPST switch
6. (2) 10ohm resistors
7. A Super Low Lux Mini B&W spy camera that can be powered by 9 volts
8. 9 Volt batteries

Step 3: Disassemble the Viewfinder

Remove the viewfinder from the camcorder. Depending on the camcorder, this may be as easy as unplugging the connector to the camera and removing the viewfinder screws to release the entire unit. Some may be hard-wired inside the camcorder which will require more work. Once removed, take off the plastic housing to reveal the viewfinder components. Identify the ground wire. To identify the power wire, you will have to do some tracing back to a power regulator or diode. You can use an adjustable power supply (recommended) or 9 volt battery to test the viewfinder power line. After identifying the ground and power, the video libe can be located byfeeding a video signal into the other wires.

Step 4: Build the LED Array...

I used 12 LED's. 6 LED's wired in series to another series of 6 in parallel. Attach the 10ohm resistors to the positive end of the array.

Step 5: Prep the Housing...

Now it is time to drill all of the holes in the project box. I drilled 12 holes for the LED array. A large hole (using a hole saw) for the viewfinder, 3 holes for the switch, power indicator LED and phono jack.

Step 6: Install All of the Components...

Time to install all of the components and wire according to the schematic. Be sure to test each compnent along the way. Basically all grounds go to and out of the switch. The LED array, micro camera and power LED are powered by one 9 volt battery and the viewfinder is powered by another.

Step 7: Close It All Up and Test It Out!

You will be amazed at the brightness of these LED's in perfectly dark environment. With the right low-lux camera you can see in complete darkness since the infrared LED's generate light at a frequency that the camera can see. And, you can record what you see by taking the video out to a camcorder! Stealth at it's finest!

Comments

author
_Blamoo (author)2015-09-25

I have the same viewfinder as yours, can you give me some tips on wiring it?

author
DiegoR4 (author)2014-11-06

hey kip! i was wondering, could i get the viewfinder somewhere else (a disposable camera maybe), since i highly doubt that my dad will let me take apart any of his... Or maybe you could make this one of your kits as well?

author
hapak (author)DiegoR42015-02-02

With so much of digital cameras around all you have to do is find a repair shop for video cameras. They would have numerous junk cameras lying around and would be happy to remove a viewfinder and sell it to you cheap. I am in New Delhi (India) and got my viewfinder for about $4 equivalent. It works but I am yet to progress the project. Presently I am assembling the IR light. Got a 100 LEDs.

author
rashish.vaibhaw.5 (author)2014-12-30

WHERE TO BUY CONGO BLUE AND PRIMARY RED GEL SHEETS IN INDIA? PLEASE EMAIL ME IF YOU KNOW..... rashishvaibhaw@gmail.com please tell me if you know, GOD will bless you!

author
chaz_p (author)2009-08-02

hi night visions are fun but thermals are the holy grail, any way of making these on the cheap, ive searched and searched but keep drawing blanks! ive come across this http://www.rapidonline.com/Electronic-Components/Sensors/Thermal-Sensors/TPA81-Thermopile-array-sensor/77927/kw/78-0792?source=googleps&utm_source=googleps
and wanted to know if it was usable to create a diy thermal imager, so ive come to you to show me how :D

author
mluong1 (author)chaz_p2013-12-04

well it's a thermal sensor so it only gives out "yes no" signals, not thermal images

author
natsud1 (author)2012-08-27

Help Please. Hello i have taken apart and found the positive, ground, and video wires and the tube works so does the camera so i am positive about the wires. My problem is when i tey to use a different video source i dont get any picture i bought a black and white little cmos camera that has a yellow rca connector and i hooked that up but no picture i also tried a color surveilence camera it didnt work either so i tried a vcr/dvd player which also didnt work UNTIL i tried the component RGB connector then i finally got a picture when i hooked to the Green port the other two were scrambled but there was some picture. So my question i guess is why does the normal yellow composite signal not work and the green component signal work? is there some way i can hook my B/W camera to some resistors or capacitors or something to make it work? what am i doing wrong? does the viewfinder need a different type of signal than everyone elses that has gotten this to work with B/W cameras? thanks to anyone that can help

author
natsud1 (author)natsud12012-08-29

so i did some testing with resistors nothing happened but i then went to capacitors and viola it seems any capacitor will make it work i put it between the output of the camera and the input of the view finder or you can put it between the ground of the cameras output and the ground from your powersource either way worked for me. I used a couple different electrolytic ones and ceramic ones they all worked size didnt make a difference in picture quality that i could notice. i stuck with a small ceramic capicitor . OK then just thought id post an update incase anyone else might have a similar problem

author
Suraj Grewal (author)natsud12013-11-01

your viewfinder is not pal signal supported

author
malkav2024 (author)natsud12012-08-31

Hi,

I just read your message regarding the viewfinder rewiring. I currently have the same problem : I found the proper ground and + wires to power up the viewfinder, but I have a very poor image quality when I hook up the video signal (I get an partial picture shaped like a horizontal line that drops in and out of the screen). Did you get the same problem ?
I will try to add a capacitor to see if its sorts things out. What kind of capacitor did you use exactly ? I am very surprised that any kind of capacitor can fix the problem. I also don't know how a capacitor can, electronicaly speaking, fix a video signal. Maybe you have an opinion about that ?
Thanks in advance !

author
natsud1 (author)malkav20242012-08-31

that sounds pretty much like what was happening to me. The first capacitor i used was an electrolytic 220uf 50volt cap but that was just because it was the first one i found. I then switched to one of those green chiclet looking ceramic caps i think the value was 0.01uf it had the code 103k on the cap itself. I just assumed that any cap would work because of the vast difference in the two that worked for me. I really have no idea about why it would make it work but it did so i just thought id post it. My guess would be that it filters out something but you would think that it would need to be a specific value if that were the case. Let me know if it helps yours. I put mine between the +output of the B/W camera and the video Input of the viewfinder

author
malkav2024 (author)natsud12012-09-04

Thanks natsud !
Actually, my setup didn’t worked because I forgot to hook up the video ground cable ^_^;
I managed to decode 2 viewfinders so far. For the record, I also had the case where the viewfinder had 2 video cables. None works if you hook one of them with a video signal. You have to join the 2 cables together then hook it up with a video signal.
Cheers

author
Yard Sale Dale (author)2013-05-21

Wow, that's impressive. Is there a danger to the operator of burned eyeballs if someone hits it with a car headlight or tactical flashlight (surge)?

author

naa,it will be like a camera pointed at a bright bulb,try it,it might damage your camera but the max brightness you get is like white image.

author
Kzummo (author)2013-06-02

Will this work with a color camera and not black and white?

author
Jimmy_retro (author)2012-10-10

Hi All, I'm trying this with a Panasonic M7 and there are 9 (yes 9!!) wires from the viewfinder: red, black, grey, purple, white, pink, brown, yellow, and orange. Any ideas as to which are which? I'm quite new to this and don't to risk popping something by trying the 'trial and error' method! many thanks. J

author
Jimmy_retro (author)Jimmy_retro2012-10-19

If anyone's interested it was +ve= Red. -ve= Orange and Video = Pink

author
abgersaurus (author)2011-11-16

Hi!
a have a viewfinder with 4 yellow wires and 1 black wire. how do i find out which one is video and power?

author
T_T_ (author)abgersaurus2012-05-18

well, the best way would be with an oscillscope and volt meter, but not everybody has those, so simple trial and error will have to suffice

author
abgersaurus (author)T_T_2012-05-19

ok thank you :)

author
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? 'coz for me its just like replacing the filter with black and white then tints it to green. If that is so I'd rather get a green plastic and put it in front of the lens of a camera. I don't really get the function of the led lights.

-please shed some light for me.

author
wejimjodie (author)10er5122012-04-15

They are infra red led lights.

author
Alex1M6 (author)2011-09-07

I made this project a while back, just without the camera and view finder part.

It works very well!


author
Chris Lamerichs (author)2011-01-06

Hello

I would like to make a 2 or 3 led of this, so I can see in the dark with my mobile.

I can see the led butt they are very weak.

How is this possible?

What must I do?

THANK you for your help!

author

https://www.instructables.com/id/Cell-Phone-Night-Vision-Under-10/ on the sidebar that says "related"... right on this page.

author

Your camera probably has an IR filter that filters out the infrared.
If you want to see the infrared better you will have to remove that filter but this is quite a hard job.

author
MadBricoleur (author)2011-02-02

How would an old phone camera that picks up IR (and the phone screen used as the monitor), without an IR pass filter, and a 250mW LED array be worse/better from your setup? That's all I have handy, and I want to know before I go buy the LEDs at the nearby warehouse.

author
bobsmith760 (author)2010-07-04

My viewfinder has four wires. Yellow and three brown. Im pretty sure yellow is video in but I read below it could be ground. The positive I know I have found, it's written on the board, and the ground I think is another brown going to the largest PCB pad. The third brown I don't know about, it goes directly to a green SMD(resistor I think). Inside the case it shows directions for replacing the picture tube, would this be worth trying? The camera I got it from would not display video through the viewfinder so I'm guessing its the tube, is their any easy way to test the tube? I appreciate any help

author
psphaker5 (author)bobsmith7602011-01-04

Same here. My picture would not display but the camera worked fine, i found that a pin was disconnected but could not tell if reconnecting it worked. What type of camera did you take it from? Which wire was positive 'cause to only ting that I could find was a + on one side of the pin. It was next to the yellow wire. As for the extra wire, one wire will be the H-synch which I think can be left alone. I may be wrong thats just what my camera's schematics looked like.

106_4306.JPG106_4308.JPG
author
bobsmith760 (author)psphaker52011-01-19

Looks like I have the same viewfinder as you, the only difference is the big wires going to the tube are different colors. The wire that I think is positive is the brown one right next to the yellow one, it connects to the pad under the + and then goes to the bottom of the board. After lots of web searching the best I could find was a datasheet for the big metal rectangle part, which turns out to be a flyback transformer. I think the camera was Hitachi but I can't find it so im not sure. I don't know what else to do so if you find anything that could be helpful let me know.

author
FireRescueGuy (author)2009-12-28

I only have 4 wires on mine, Is one of them a common ground for video and power?  Mine also runs on 4.9vdc... so any hints on not frying this...

author

use a resistor

author

Use a 7805 regulator it will reduce the voltage to 5 volts. Be sure to put a heatsink on the 7805.

author
UkuleleGuy (author)rocketman2212010-10-19

You could use a regulator, but why not just use a resistor?

author
awmt102 (author)UkuleleGuy2010-10-22

You would not use a resistor to reduce the voltage of a power supply. It would only work if the current drawn by the device were constant, which is unlikely.

There are various things you can do (Zeners, DC-DC converters etc) but by far the simplest, although not the most efficient, is a 7805. For a project such as this I would not consider anything else, but as rocketman said, you will probably need a heatsink.

author

ALSO: if you think you can help me with this in a more "live" setting my email is fire_darkness_shadow @ Yahoo . com

I can give you my phone number and maybe someone can walk me through figuring this out.

Colors of the wires are as follows:
Pin 1 Small yellow
Pin 2 Med Black
Pin 3 Sm Grey or white
Pin 4 Sm orange

Pins 2+3 share a heat shrink "sleeve" while 1 and 4 are "loose"

author
luther303 (author)2010-11-22

Does anyone know why i can get my panasonic vhs palmcorder viewfinder to work when i plug it into a dvd player but not a spy camera i have used an RCA wire to connect to 2 wires from the viewfinder that i plug into the dvd player but when i plug it into a spy camera's phono jack i get nothing

author
Cubensis (author)2010-10-24

This looks like it would work:
http://www.amazon.com/SC-NVA5-Wired-Security-Camera-Adapter/dp/B000V0AHRA

author
luther303 (author)2010-09-07

hey i have a view finder a panasonic one but it has 8 wires orange,purple,pink,black,yellow,red,grey and white anyone know how to figure out wich one is wich?

author
UkuleleGuy (author)luther3032010-10-14

Try these two pages:
http://www.lucidscience.com/pro-night%20vision%20viewer-2.aspx
http://www.lucidscience.com/pro-night%20vision%20viewer-3.aspx

They tell how to do it all.

author
luther303 (author)UkuleleGuy2010-10-14

cool ill try that thank you so much for the reply

author
brodieboy143 (author)2009-10-30

Hey, can anyone help me with this, i have a viewfinder off a panasonic pv-320d, it pretty much is exactly the same as the one pictured here (same wire colours, and 2 or 3 different components, probably a different board revision). Has anyone had any experience with this viewfinder, unfortunately i don't have the camera to test outputs, so does anyone know what wire corresponds to what?

author
bman22 (author)brodieboy1432009-12-13

i don't know if you figured this out yet, but if not, if you have a yellow, blue, and gray wire, yellow is gnd for video and power, blue is +9vdc, and gray is composite video in.

author
oaky8 (author)bman222010-02-01

 thank you! this was very helpful. i can now see my ps2 games on my tiny screen, but only in black and white i have. i have more wires than the ones above. 
the thickest is a brown wire (traced to be ground.)
red (used as ground for video)
black (traced to be positive voltage)
white
orange
yellow
gray (used for video, but it comes in black and white, and the viewfinder is colour i believe)
and blue

I dont know if my connections are right, some help would be great :D

author
UkuleleGuy (author)oaky82010-10-14

If it is a crt viewfinder, then it should be black and white.

author
brodieboy143 (author)bman222009-12-14

thanks a lot. I've kinda been putting this project off due to lack of progress with my viewfinder(s), but this helps a lot. I cant find a pinout for the video ic anywhere either so i didnt really know where to start with this.

author
bman22 (author)brodieboy1432009-12-14

I just realized, i meant to say white instead of blue. White is my 9vdc input. I have also noticed that my viewfinder has begun to get weird. It may be because the battery is getting low, but the horizontal hold is starting to go off, and the top 5mm or so is starting to get distorted. Anybody else have this issue?

author
tomtortoise (author)brodieboy1432010-05-18

the way i did it was by finding the ground and attaching a 9 volt battery then with the wires touching the other end of the battery. then i did the same for the video

author
UkuleleGuy (author)2010-10-14

This website goes alot more in detail:

http://www.lucidscience.com/pro-night%20vision%20viewer-1.aspx

It should solve any further questions

author
bman22 (author)2009-12-12

after trying and retrying, i figured out what does what on my viewfinder, but it was terribly terribly out of focus. to the point of being unintelligable. I did manage to adjust the focus potentiometer and viewfinder focus slider until it was better, but its still quite bad at some times. Any clue as to how i might make it better? i was thinking about adding some resistors in parallel to the potentiometer, high enough, or low enough to adjust it accordingly. does that seem like a good method?

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