DIY IR (Infrared) Illuminator - Night Viewing With Your Camera




Intro: DIY IR (Infrared) Illuminator - Night Viewing With Your Camera

One question we get asked a lot is about building an IR Illuminator. An IR Illuminator allows a camera to see in total darkness. This can be useful for security applications or maybe you want to watch the night activities of the local wildlife.

The IR Illuminator is based around our LED SpotLight PCB which holds a total of 24 LEDs on a circular PCB. The board is equipped with 24 special IR LEDs which do all of the work, along with 8 current limiting resistors. This project is very simple to build up, and can be fully assembled by a novice builder in about 30 minutes.

On our website at, we produce a number of unique and exclusive LED products and accessories including solutions for mounting LEDs.

When you build your IR Illuminator, you need to decide what frequency of LEDs to install on the board. There are two common frequencies available, one at 940nm and the other at 850nm. The most commonly used frequency with black and white CCD cameras is the 940nm model.

850nm LEDs produce a very slight red glow when operating, which is visible to the human eye. 940nm models produce no visible light to the eye.

We carry both frequencies of the IR LEDs, see our LED Page and look for model IC601-02 for 850nm and IC601-03 for the 940nm models.

When complete, the system will produce a circular spotlight on the wall about 10-foot (3 meters) in diameter at a distance of 10-feet (3 meters) which is more than ample to light up a front door waiting area or a location outside.

Step 1: Getting the Parts Together

Your first step is to identify and collect the parts necessary to build the system. We will be using our LED SpotLight PCB, along with 24 of our Ultra-Bright IR LEDs and 8 resistors. Shown to the right are all the parts that are required. Once fully assembled, power to the circuit is needed and we have setup this one to run on 12v DC at about 160mA (0.160A). To run at other voltages, you must select the correct value of dropping resistor (of which there are eight) - we have even simplified this process with our online Dropping Resistor Calculator. For this build, we are using 390ohm one-quarter watt resistors.

Once you have all the parts, the first step is to become familiar with the PCB. It is setup with 24 LEDs in total, 16 around the outside and another 8 on the inside (all the LEDs are labeled D1 to D24). The resistors will go on the board at position R1 to R8 which are located between the inner and outer rows of LEDs. Finally, power is applied to the board just below D24 where you will see the Positive and Negative solder pads. In the very center of the PCB is a single hole. This hole can be enlarged to be used for mounting or even further to fit around a camera lens.

Step 2: Installing the First 8 LEDs

The simplest way to begin the install is to insert and solder into the board the inner row of LEDs. These are located at D3, D6, D8, D12, D14, D17, D19 and D22. Keep in mind that LEDs are polarity sensitive, so ensure that you line up the flat on the LED with the flat on the solder mask on the board. After you have soldered in the first 8 LEDs, trim the leads.

Step 3: Installing the Outer Ring of 16 LEDs

Now you should install and solder in the LEDs at D1, D2, D4, D5, D7, D9, D10, D11, D13, D15, D16, D18, D20, D21, D23 and D23. When installing the LEDs, try to keep them flat against the board.

Step 4: Installing the 8 Resistors

The last step is for the installation of the 8 current limiting resistors which go at positions R1 to R8. The resistors will stand on their ends for this project. Unlike the LEDs, the resistors are not polarity sensitive and can be installed any way you want.

Step 5: Finishing Up the Board Assembly

Once the board is fully assembled, you can now apply power leads to the power input terminals. We have seen these units mounted in many different types of housing, including PCV plumbing end caps.

When you power up your system, you may notice a slight glow to the LEDs. This is common on 850nm models where you will see a slight red glow to them. The 940nm models do not have any glow that is visible to the human eye.

Good luck with your build and you are sure to receive many years of service from your IR Illuminator display.

Step 6: PCB Design Templates - Extra Information


The LED SpotLight is a fairly simple design PCB, and can be hand-crafted by those who wish to etch their own boards at home. To assist in your creation, we are including four images in PNG format of the board layout which you can transfer to your own PCB material.

The four images include an overview of the PCB for component layout, a board-top image of the traces, a board-bottom image of the traces and a final image of a drilling guide.

These are all provided for your own enjoyment and no support is provided for these.

The images are also updated on the support page at: where you will always find the most recent information.



    • Audio Contest 2018

      Audio Contest 2018
    • Fix It! Contest

      Fix It! Contest
    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest

    14 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    can I ask how much for it costs ??
    Plus can I know how safety it will be if I applied close to the eye ... around 15 cm !!! please reply ASAP


    5 years ago on Introduction

    "It is setup with 24 LEDs in total, 18 around the outside and another 8 on the inside (all the LEDs are labeled D1 to D24)."

    Ehm...LOL... 18 + 8 = 26 ;-)

    This is just a hidden advert. If you show us the schematics, you will be given much more credit.

    This way, it just looks like massive SPAM!

    Rene Artois

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Can you just simply attach schematics, so people here make own DIY project?
    How these LEDs are grouped, powered etc.?

    Otherwise it looks like advert.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Why are people complaining about $2.00 to etch and drill their own PCBs to save what ? Isn't your time worth anything? The only time I make my own PCBs is for my own designs as a prototype. After that, I'd much rather send it to a fabricator to make a dozen or more Professional boards with soldermask and silkscreen can't be beat. Just my opinion, but ....


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Cool! I made it in my webcam But, 1 infrared led these tv controler.
    (I'm sorry my english, i'm from brazil)
    Soon, i will do a tutorial... See you!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Where can I find the PCB artwork?  I prefer to etch and drill my own boards.  I've done a couple with perfboard, but always wanted a round design.  Guess you wouldn't sell many kits, if people made their own...

    5 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Without providing the way for people to make their own boards this whole instructable seems to be nothing more than an ad for your boards.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I agree and they expect us to pay $4.00 USD for a bare board with no components. Thats rediculous i might pay $2.00 for it but definatly not $4. Thats just a complete rip off.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Really? You're complaining about a $4.00 circuit board? About a delta of $2.00 over the $2 you'd be "willing to pay?" This sort of negativity could have the consequence of discouraging people from publishing their projects, I think. I don't think that there's some sort of "fat cat," getting rich on the sale of $4.00 circular boards with solder mask and silkscreen.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    You appear to have used the same image 5 times, but we still don't see the finished item. Can you get the use of a camera?


    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    You should see a slightly different image in each step as the build happens - there are separate files uploaded and I do see a slightly different image on each step. Give it another try.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Oh yes, it's the 90 degree angle makes it hard - finished item pic, in a case / on a mount?