Picture of camera jacket
Camera jacket is a concept exploring the idea of discreetly capturing image media in public locations. 
This design has a small digital camera installed in the lining of a jacket with the lens recording through a small opening in the jacket breast. The camera is operated with buttons wired into the jacket cuff, the camera assembly is held in place with hook and loop fasteners and can easily be detached to allow recharging and media recovery. 

The idea originated with the relationship between publicly recording police interactions and the perceived threat presented when a high-profile job is captured and disseminated to be scrutinized by the public. There are more than a few accounts of people recording police actions in public places being detained for their actions. Camera jacket came about as a reaction to these arrests, however this concept can also be used to record many other daily interaction discreetly.
*in almost all Western Countries if you are legally present in an area you are allowed to film anything that is in public view. Restrictions may apply when you are in/on private property*
Regarding Police:
Q: Is recording police actions in your country legal? 
A: In Canada, the UK and the US it is completely* legal to video record police officers (provided you do not interfere) while they are executing their duties. That said, there are plenty of cases that justify why this is a controversial topic: sometimes the person recording gets emotionally involved and provokes police, thereby getting detained and having the recording device confiscated; And sometimes police feel threatened and have misunderstood the law and erroneously arrest/confiscate your media. Neither extreme are excusable, but during conflict it's understandable to see why this happens.
*Canada - source  /  UK - source  /  USA - source

Camera jacket investigates the idea that by hiding the recording device you can minimize your impact on police (mis)interpretation of your actions, thereby avoiding possible altercations altogether. There is an argument that by looking like you are recording police events that it will keep them more honest - The counter argument I propose is you want a more authentic interaction from a public servant, and covertly recording doesn't tip your hand. 
When filming anything, always keep in mind: "is there a reasonable expectation of privacy?" 

This is footage I took of daily observations and a car accident I happened upon:

Here's what I used to make mine:
  • soldering iron
  • needle + thread         

Ready to challenge the system and covertly film stuff? Let's go!
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I would put the camera in the arm or back, so whoever you're recording doesn't say, "Hey, what are you looking at?"
A spy camera in the back of the jacket... It took a moment to sink in, but that's a brilliant idea! I'll bet you could get some super funny stuff that people do when they think no one is looking. Like the afore-mentioned nose picking, or someone checking out your derrière! Artificial J-Lo booty costume, anyone? :-D
jlms espdp21 year ago
bac512 jlms6 months ago

entrapment is coercing or inducing someone to do something illegal. Just setting up a situation where they could choose to do something illegal is not entrapment. (yeah, I know, it's a year old, but, still...) awesome idea none the less.

nstokes111 months ago

This is nice. I could use something like this two people stole over five thousand dollars from me. And I'm disabled and I can't get out. But I know people that she has been bragging how dum I am and how easy it was for her to do it. If I could get a way for one of my friends to record her are her husband talking about it. They both get drunk and start talking. The police are tilling me they know they both are lying but without prof it is my word ageist hers. But I on social security and the money they took from me was all I had in the world. It was what I had left from the government for my army service and disability. I guess it is my fault for not having it in a bank. But I never thought some one would find it. But she cleaned for me and I guess she did more than cleaned for me. She went threw my stuff. She even took my medals that i got for my time in Iraq. I guess she thought they where real gold. Maybe some day I will get video on her to catch her. I know the price will Come down. Are if some reads this and knows where there is a cheap camera with audio. If so email me at

mikeasaurus (author)  nstokes111 months ago

In Step 1 I mention that these cameras were bought from DealExtreme for about $20 USD. Here's the ones I used:

I suggest saving the link and then deleting your comment as it has your email address publicly available, this opens yourself to spam emails. You can PM me if you want more details. I hope this helps!

hud20001 year ago
You should do one where the button can be in your shorts pocket and the camera in a t-shirt so you always have to wear a sweater. What if its hot out?
tylerwyatt1 year ago
how did you come up with it
tylerwyatt1 year ago
that looks awesome but hard to make
How did you post a video?
This looks so cool!
Kilpers1 year ago
got it
Kilpers1 year ago
where did you get the cheap camera from? i cant find it anywhere
mikeasaurus (author)  Kilpers1 year ago
There's a link in the intro step, under the video, listed in "materials". I bought it through DealExtreme.
blkhawk2 years ago
The activities of police officers should be transparent to the public. Therefore a police officer should not object to someone filming them. Although I commend the work of police officers I have to say that in many cases by filming them some acts of police brutality by some rotten apples have been brought to justice. If a police officer is following the guidelines then he or she should not fear the objective eye of a camera.
onrust blkhawk1 year ago
Here in Mesa Arizona the police department is testing cameras worn by officers.
I agree!
Since we all know that there really is no "Privacy" anymore, what does it matter? There is no place and no thing you can do that someone doesn't know about. I like knowing that things like this might help us make our streets safer, think of the mugger whose face is clearly in the video of his actions! It may help keep our police officers honest and following the law - presumed innocent until proven guilty. But, I think I'd REALLY like to see it in Washington, DC - those politicians need to be closely watched, and those lobbyists too. Think of the Stink a Utube video of a few of their 'deals' went viral! Oh.... Can I, Can I? humm? Hummm?
ROD9171 year ago
Great project. I am a retired police officer in SC. I don't see any problem with recording the police in public. Keep them honest and if they break the law well they should be charged. Just because they are the police doesn't mean they are above the law.
ROD917, i agree with you about being vigilant in the balance of power but some places (cities/states) it might be illegal to record the police. i recommend a site like to check your particular area.
mikeasaurus (author)  Eh Lie Us!1 year ago
Please check the sources in the intro, it's completely legal to record police (and any public servant) in the course of their duties. Make sure you don't interfere and you are not on private property.
I hope that you're right.
espdp21 year ago
A really useful 'ible. Thanks for posting this!
woodNfish1 year ago
Internet video is an important tool in the fight against abusive authorities especially in the USA which has turned into a survelance police state. Thanks for posting this Instructable.
schaipinyo1 year ago
spy is my life....
wolfgang641 year ago
Very cool! I have seen things that I would have liked to take issue with that would have changed if I had pulled out a camera and started filming. I still have never seen one like this for sale. Can you tell me where to source this?
babybayrs1 year ago
wow! Surprisingly clear scences, better than my naked under the sun photo taking skill.
WWC2 years ago
Good idea.
How do you know if the camera is recording or not?
mikeasaurus (author)  WWC2 years ago
There is a small blue LED on the circuit board, but inside the jacket you can't see it. With only 2 buttons this camera is faily foolproof. However, I thought about adding an opening in the inside of the jacket so you could open the jacket and discreetly see if it's on, but I've never had a problem with it so decided against it.
If you wanted, you could always wire a circuit to the LED that would monitor the voltage of the LED and trigger a small rumble motor when a third button is pressed.

Something like this for the motor, and a simple comparator circuit (with the third button controlling the power to the comparator) on the LED line.
Something along that line would be good for me. I would probably press the button and not sure if it was on so press it again then not know if it was on so i press it again ect. At that point there is no way to really know if it was on or off unless i looked in my jacket to see if the LED is on or not. ha.
gomiboy1 year ago
Nicely done! I'm surprised the video is so clear/unobstructed, especially with such a tiny opening. If I were to do this, I might try to add a grommet (and a matching one on the other side) for the camera lens, but I'm not sure I need to improve on this design.
dalebor1 year ago
Since the lens opening in the jacket is so small and the lens opening on the camera is even smaller how do do you align them? From your description you cannot see the position of the lens when inserting the camera in the pocket. You're going by feel. Does it work?
Nice instructable!

Some people in the USA have been charged with “wiretapping” for recording police in public. This can happen if you record what someone is saying without their permission. You can avoid this by not recording sound when you take video in public. So, be aware that recording someone’s voice in public, without their permission, can be considered illegal wiretapping in some states.
Nice instructable!

Some people in the USA have been charged with “wiretapping” for recording police in public. This can happen if you record what someone is saying without them permission. You can avoid this by not recording sound when you take video in public. So, be aware that recording someone’s voice in public, without their permission, can be considered illegal wiretapping.
depotdevoid2 years ago
Well done Mike, I'm surprised the hole in the jacket is so small. Makes you wonder about how often you're already being recorded out there, both by private and public parties.

On the subject of being filmed in public, have you read "The Transparent Society", a nonfiction book by David Brin? He talks a lot about surveillance, both by the government and by citizens. As the ability to record and process day to day life becomes cheaper and cheaper, so do the perceived need of law enforcement to do so, and the actual need of citizens to record right back. I like Brin because he takes a generally positive view of the future, proposing potential problems technology could create, while at the same time presenting potential solutions to it. In his novel "Earth", government surveillance is pretty much universal, but at the same time everyone has their own recording devices, keeping an eye on law enforcement (much like your jacket.)

Personally, I always assume both that I'm being recorded at that I have the right to photograph/film as long as I'm in a public place. It's not steered me wrong yet, but I don't do a lot that's going to put me on Johnny Law's radar, except for a bit of geocaching here and there.
Excellent project Mike. The "Transparent Society" was published in 1999. Surveillance has expanded so much since then. Reference a Wired Magazine cover article in 2012 about a government data collection site in Utah capable of intercepting every transmitted communication in the world. It is also tied into surveillance cameras public and private that transmit over the internet. A good science fiction book on our brave new world is "The Traveler" by John Twelvehawks. He writes of living in a virtual Panopticon. A Panopticon is a round prison with the guard tower in the center. No prisoner knows when they are being observed so they behave. Remember if you have ever changed your legal behavior in public because you may be under surveillance then you are no longer free. The need for this Instructable is but one example.
gkern1 year ago
f5mando1 year ago
Brilliant! Thanks!
stremblay2 years ago
sooooo coool!!!!!
thanks a lot man!!
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