Homemade Night Vision Goggles

Short lyrical digression for the beginning.

For 5 years in a row, we have held a STALKER - airsoft / LARP event in Lithuania.
A series of games created based on the books of the brothers Strugatsky and the game for the PC – STALKER.

The game usually lasts from two to 5 days. And it carried out on an abandoned formal soviet missile base. Perfect place for a such game.

And in this game I got the role of Burer - a small, evil monster with telekinesis ability and strong mental abilities.
All the info about the series of games are posted here: https://www.stalker.events

So I will not go deep to the story.

In 2017, before the game, the idea appeared in my head: why not to add my Burer's suit with Night Vision device, so that players wouldn’t relax to much at night?

The idea with the factory made device was dropped immediately, since the price is too high.

So there were only one way, to do it by myself. After a brief search on the Internet, a project of a night vision device based on an analog camera, a mini display and VR goggles was born.

Step 1: Hardware

1. Analog camera with high sensitivity, for example this one with SONY matrix.

2. Mini display with analog video input (for example, rear view display).

3. IR flashlight and / or IR diodes for illumination, because the camera will not see anything.
At first I wanted to use an only IR flashlight for illumination, but I was afraid that the flashlight was too heavy. That is why I took 9x3W IR diodes.

But at the end, I put both torch and IR diodes :).

4. For the power source, I used 4x3.7 lithium-ion batteries. 18650.

5. Step-down voltage converter.
Both the camera and the display are powered by 12V. That is why wee need to reduce power voltage with step-down converter. 4 li-ion 18650 batteries gives about 15V fully charged. Such voltage “highly likely” will kill the camera.

6. Two switches.
One is for switching the power. Second for switching IR LEDs separately

7. Cheap VR goggles from China is used like a chassis for all components. Almost any will fit our needs.

Step 2: Make Power Supply

1. Connect battery pack to step-down converter. Adjust 12V on the output of the converter.

Install everything in the case.

Step 3: Connect the Camera and the Dispaly

2. Connect the camera to the display. You may need an adopter, like me.

I used the adapter because of both: the camera and the display came with RCA connectors.

Connect the display and the camera to the power supply (output of the step-down converter).

I used one line of the main switch for this. Second line is reserved for IR diodes.

Step 4: Mount IR Diodes (if You Would Like to Use It ).

Connect IR diodes to the power supply.

Diodes are connected in serial one by one with 5ohm/5W resistor inline to reduce current.

I connected them via second line of the main switch directly to the battery pack. I decided that may be it is better to separate those powerful diodes from the camera and the display. Also connecting diodes directly I do not loose any power on step-down converter. Four batteries gives aprox. 15V. And this is acceptable voltage for IR diodes.

There is additional switch for diodes (see picture).

Actually IR diodes switches on with two switches.

Main switch, gives power to the whole system. And this additional switch let us switch on / off only IR diodes without switching the device.

Step 5: Final Look

Step 6: Conclusion

I was more or less satisfied with my NV during the game. I was able to see targets from about 15 m in open space. It is more complicated to see something in the forest, due to a reflection of infrared light from leaves and grass. But unfortunately it is impossible to run, because of it is like you have only one eye with black and white picture :), plus the viewing angle is different from your eyes used to see.

My device runs more than 2 hours on cheapest batteries from China. With IR diodes switched on about 45 minutes.

I was missing video capture capabilities. Therefore, as a result, a project of a digital NV able to capture video based on Raspberry Pi was born. But this is the story for the next instructables :) .

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