Hello, and thanks for having a look at my first instructable! This is mostly a photo chronical of how I converted my aging standard definition camcorder into an IR camera/camcorder. This was at the request of my son, as he is interested in everything related to photography. We have several SLR cameras that can do HD and even 4k video, so this old camcorder has been sitting on it's charger for several years untouched. I figured I had nothing to loose by tearing it apart and seeing if I can convert it into an NIR "Near InfraRed" system. If you happen to have this model, then wonderful, you can follow through step-by-step. If you are thinking of doing this to your old camera/camcorder of another model, maybe you can't follow the steps exactly, but it may give you an idea how, and possibly the confidence to do so.
So, I didn't actually take all these pictures with an Instructable in mind, I just wanted to make sure I could put the camcorder back together again. I didn't know exactly what I was getting into, so I just started removing every screw I could find, and taking pictures as I went so I could remember where they go when I started putting it back together again. I setup a strip of masking tape upside down, and lined up the screws one-by-one on the tape to keep them in order. As I removed the screws pieces started coming loose, and I removed them as they stopped resisting. Not all of the screws I removed necessarily needed to be removed to achieve the goal, but I didn't know that at the time, so I just kept going.
I know most Instructables don't start with many paragraphs of text, but the rest of this one will be mostly pictures, so thanks for making it this far, and here's the good stuff...
Step 1: Start Removing Screws
I used a small phillips screwdriver and a small spudger to dissassemble the camcorder. This went pretty smoothly, as long as you are careful to keep track of the order you remove the screws. Starting with the 5 screws on the back, 4 behind the battery, and one by the record button.
Step 2: More Screws
And then the bottom.
Step 3: And More Screws...
On to the right side...
Step 4: ... Screws ...
These need to be removed to get the front off. The two under the screen were removed, but didn't need to be.
Step 5: Removing the HDD and Tray
The HDD itself isn't screwed down. It's held in place with rubber cushions. Be careful with the ribbon cable, it should be removed from the circuit board side, not the HDD side. You can flip the latch holding the cable in place with your fingernail, or a small spudger.
Step 6: One More Ribbon Cable
This one goes to the zoom and shutter controls...
Step 7: Almost There...
Step 8: Removing the Top
Step 9: The Front
One more screw to remove the front... and two cables.
Step 10: Removing the Internal Shield
Step 11: Removing the Lens Assembly
These three screws are held into the frame with rubber gaskets. They don't need to be completely removed, just unscrewed from the lens assembly which then comes away.
Step 12: Now the Good Part
There are two screws holding the sensor board onto the lens assembly. Remove these and you finally get to what we've been after. The IR blocking filter. Mine came away with the rubber gasket on the lens assembly. I took some measurements of this and it appeared to be 5.0mm x 5.3mm x 1.1mm, and a light blue in appearance. You will remove this and set it aside. It would be nice if you could just re-assemble the camera from here, but you can't. Having the filter this close to the sensor means it can't just be removed to allow the IR in, as that would change the optical path length between the sensor and the last lens too much and would prevent the camera from focusing. Trust me, I tried it...
Step 13: IR Pass Filter
After a few minutes searching the web I was able to locate an 850nm band pass filter with almost the same dimensions as the IR blocking filter I just removed. I found it here:
With this it was a simple swap to turn it into an IR camera that can't see visible light. Place the new filter in it's cradle in the lens assembly, and re-install the sensor board over it.
Step 14: One More Thing
This particular camera comes with a standard 5mm white LED to help illuminate a scene, or to use as a flash for still images. It is pretty weak under normal circumstances, but will be of absolutely no use with the IR bandpass filter in place so I decided to replace it with an equivalent 850nm IR LED.
Step 15: Re-Assembly and Sample Images
From there you put it back together again by reversing the procedure. If you kept the screws in order it should go quickly.
We now have an 850nm IR camera/camcorder. It is worth noting what this actually means. 850nm is "Near Infrared" also sometimes referred to as reflected infra-red. Meaning, the camera will still need an illumination source. It will not be able to see IR emitted from people, or animals which would be long wavelength or thermal infrared. 850nm is just a bit longer wavelength than visible light, so to produce enough IR in that wavelength to be visible an object would need to be nearly red hot. So incandescent light bulbs emit plenty of NIR, but florescent and white LED light bulbs do not.
So the camera will work fine outside in the daytime, since the sun emits plenty of NIR, or indoors in an incandescently illuminated room. Outdoor daytime scenes are quite interesting artistically in NIR, but incandescent indoor scenes not so much. So you may also want to build or buy an 850nm LED light source. The 1 LED inside the camera helps close up, but can't light up a room. I followed this instructable to make a 5W 850nm LED source using 7 1W LEDs a few transistors and resistors.
You can also find 850nm flashlights online that are used for hunting, or other light sources used for security systems. These will allow you to light up a room for the camera without lighting up the room for your eyes. Which was really the point, wasn't it?