Introduction: Floppy Disk IR Camera Hack

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 of t…

For the past seven years, I've had a broken digital camera lying around. It is still able to take pictures, but it is almost impossible to use on account of a broken screen. The fundamental problem is that sometimes the menu will accidentally get turned on, and not being able to see the screen, I can't turn off the menu and take pictures (without removing the batteries to reset the camera). I've been trying to figure out what to do with this camera as long as I can remember.

For a while I was considering converting it to a near IR camera, but I was reluctant to make another one after having already made one for 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer (p. 200). However, I changed my mind about this when I learned that it was possible to use the material inside floppy disks as a visible light filter (for viewing near IR light). This sounded really cool and so I decided to give this a try. Not only does this totally work, it also adds another level of computer reuse to the version demonstrated in the book (as it provides a way to reuse floppy disks in addition to cameras).

It has been fun going around shooting pictures and discovering all of the interesting results when I upload the photos at home.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need:

An obsolete digital camera
A floppy disk
A mini screwdriver set

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Step 2: Make a Visible Light Filter

You can make a visible light filter using a the plastic inside most floppy disks.

Rip apart the floppy disk and be careful not to get your fingerprints on the plastic disk.

Take the disk and cut a small plastic square that is slightly larger than your CCD.

Step 3: Open the Case

Open up your camera case. Place your screws aside somewhere safe.

Step 4: Locate the Lens Assembly

Once the case is open, locate the lens assembly on the front of the camera.

Step 5: Find the CCD

Carefully detach the lens assembly from the circuit board to find the CCD chip. Set aside these screws somewhere safe as well.

Step 6: Remove the IR Light Filter

The visible light filter is a thin piece of glass located either directly atop the CCD or behind the last lens of the assembly. It is easy to spot because it looks reddish to purplish and changes color when it is rotated.

Simply pick it free with your fingers (being careful not to touch the CCD/lenses).

Your camera will now let IR light through to the sensor.

Step 7: Attach Your Visible Light Filter

Place the visible light filter that you just made over top of the CCD.

Using your pin, place a few tiny drops of glue in each corner to hold it in place.

Step 8: Put It Back Together

When the glue has dried, reassemble the camera using all of the screws that you set aside earlier.

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