I purchased a cheap (<$25) carcam (Amazon link to product) that has lots of great features, but doesn't work so well in low light. So, I modified it by removing the internal UV / IR cut filter and got some nice results. The UV/IR Cut Filter is a high quality filter for camera sensors that limits light to the human visible range so the colors look right and the focus is better. Sensors can pick up colors in the infrared and ultraviolet ranges.
Removing this filter is a common modification for anyone who does IR photography.
My results can be seen here:
Many people have asked me for help removing the filter, so I'm using my favorite site (Instructables) to document it.
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Step 1: Dismantling
- small phillips style screw driver
- thin flat screw driver or phone cracking plastic device
- flat razor
- small, pokey thing like a dental pick
- A relative dust free enviroment
- Canned air to clear off dust before reassembling
Remove the sticky panel to expose the screws using a razor.
Mark which way is up somehow.
Remove all the screws.
CAREFULLY pry the back panel off using a screwdriver or something softer.
CAREFULLY remove the LCD display and detach the ribbon cable.
To disconnect the ribbon cable by releasing the two hold clips on either side.
Separate the front from the main body. Be very careful and go slow. There are cables / ribbons still connected on the other side.
Locate the sensor still attached to the front of the case. There are 6 holes with only 4 screws. You want to remove the screws from the corner holes and leave the two in center (for now). This will release the lens and camera assembly from the front of the case.
NOTE: these 2 screws are different sizes from the other two screws right next to them. Keep them sorted so you can reassemble correctly.
Now it's time to remove the lens from the sensor to expose the UV/IR filter. You reduce how much dust exposed to the sensor. Remove the two center screws and save them. Place the motherboard (the green electronic board) on a clean surface (like paper on a table) and gently place the sensor face down so dust cannot fall on it.
BE VERY CAREFUL to not touch the sensor. It is very sensitive to dust and scratching and oil from your hands.
Removing the filter changes the focal distance of the camera. You need to free the lens of glue so it can be turned and refocused. It is held in place by a small dab of glue. Use the dental pick to remove the glue and allow the lens to turn.
NOTE: if the person who originally assembled the carcam put a ton of glue on the threads, then you might not be able to turn the lens and could have focus issues later. I'm not sure what's the solution to this problem. Maybe a heatgun to soften the glue?
Remove the glass UV / IR cut filter.
HAZARD WARNING. The filter is glass. Removing it may cause it to shatter and send slivers of sharp nasty glass everywhere including your eyes. Wear protective glasses and gloves.
You want to remove the glass as gently as possible, but do it over a trash. Use the dental pick and the razor and just snap it off.
Do this away from your face. Be smart and protect your eyes. Modifying this $25 webcam is not worth risking injury.
Using canned air, blow away any and all glass dust on the lens assembly.
Blow dust away from sensor and then reattach it lens to the camera sensor to the sensor backing.
Reverse previous steps to reassemble your device.
Step 10: Modify a Cheap Generic K6000 Vehicle DVR Car Recorder for Low Light
Once everything is reassembled you will need to adjust the focus. Take some test footage outside in good light. You want to be a car length's distance from an object with sharp edges to check the focus.
I did this by marking the lens with a sharpy and slowing turning it and reading off where each focus was. So when I played it back on my computer I could tell the optimal position for the rotating lens.
Optional: I attached a UV filter to the front of my camera to improve daylight focus. Small UV filters can be found on ebay for CHEAP, but I had a 49mm one laying around. I just taped it all ghetto style to the front using electrical tape.