USB Spy Shirt




About: Working wireless-ly.


I always thought it would be cool to have a button camera on my shirt so I could secretly record whatever I wanted to. I mean the possibilities are endless: gathering evidence, blackmail, private investigation, blackmail, research, blackmail.

Unfortunately, some of those little cameras cost up to $300. So whats a broke engineering student to do, you ask? Why not whip something up from some of the stuff I already have.

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Step 1: Materials

1. Laptop
2. Laptop bag
3. Laptop USB camera, the smaller the better, and it should have at least a 4 foot cord. I used the GE camera shown in the picture below.
4.Shirt with black buttons. (A dark color shirt is best)
5. Scissors or a knife

Step 2: Prepare the Camera

To prepare the camera you must remove all nonessential parts in order to slim down size.

For my camera this included removing the plastic case and the clip. Without those pieces the final camera size was down to about an inch square and a centimeter tall. Try to get the size of your camera as small as possible so it can be easily hidden.

Step 3: Prepare the Shirt

Find the button location that will provide the best vantage point for the camera. For my shirt it was the first button under the collar button.

Cut off that button. On the inside of the shirt cut a hole through the hemming, this will provide an area for the camera to rest. Then cut another hole for the lens of the camera to stick through. The hole in the hemming is so that the USB cord can be woven around the buttons.

Step 4: Combine the Camera and the Shirt

If it is possible for you to fit the USB plug around the buttons inside the hem, then all you need to do is push the plug down through the hem and cut a hole at the bottom for the plug to come out of.

Otherwise you can either sew the cord to the inside of the shirt, or cut holes in the hem around the buttons, and weave the cord in and out.

Once the entire length of cord is through the shirt.

Step 5: Add the Laptop and the Bag

I choose this light messenger bag instead of the padded one that came with my laptop because it provides better air circulation. Remember: The laptop is going to be turned on inside the bag so if your laptop runs particularly hot, you might be at risk of overheating.

Place the laptop in the bag with the USB ports facing the side closest to where the cord comes out of your shirt.

Step 6: Record

Use a camera recording software such as vision gs to capture video from your USB spy shirt.

Step 7: Possibilities

The possibilities for this project are vast.

The most interesting thing I can can think of right now would be to use my schools wifi network to wirelessly broadcast the signal online. It could then be used like a live video blog where people see everything going on in my life.

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    120 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 4

    i think that it would be a good idea to only cut a hole at the top of the shirt,(where the cord goes) and at the bottom where the cord comes out. that way you could un button the shirt and it wouldnt be as obvious that you have a cord in your shirt.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    After positing my original reply to lifelong-newbie above, it made me think of Google Maps; while not video their street maps certainly do capture everyone in public and it's used quite freely. If "recording" someone is illegal, then I wonder how they get by this since they cover not only many different States, but also Britain and a number of other areas in the world.

    Don't think it's illegal to "record" someone in public, even if it's video.

    6 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    it isn't illegal for someone to snap a photo of you in public, if it were there would be a lot of things about modern society that would be impossible. Such as artistic photography, tabloid magazines, survalence cameras, etc.

    But it is illegal to use someone's likeness for profit or personal gain without the person's permission.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    True, but it's easy to miss someone (and I have seen a couple of faces on the streets of Japan) with the huge number of pictures they're taking and I think they do that as a courtesy to privacy, not as a requirement; but I could be wrong.

    Even so, that means to bypass any "illegal video taping" all I'd need to do is fuzz out their faces to make it legal. So one could still record in public. :)

    blur out faces if you are publishing video or uploading it to youtube. The rule in most places is that it is illegal to go around taking photos and videos of people, but that isnt enforced, however, if if somebody expresses to you that they dont want to be filmed, you can not film them, and that law is enforced. Also if somebody finds uploaded footage of themselves later, they can request it is taken down using legal action

    yeah of course, or if you are a filmaker or releasing something to dvd, the amount of law work for someone to get it censored would be astronomical. A rule of thumb to keep in mind is: Once its online, dont ever expect to be able to get it back.


    12 years ago

    Hate to burst bubbles, although i secretly enjoy it, Filming people without there written permission is ILLEGAL, don't do it in the UK, i aint sure about american laws but thats coz i live in britain

    10 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    you usually only run into problems if the video winds up on tv or becomes really popular


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Haha so strange that I should log in after a year or so of inactivity and discover people still replying to my comments


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    People read your comments when they read this Instructable. There is no time limit for someone to be a first time viewer. There is no time limit to when a thought will occur to someone reading an article either. This is the Internet, things will be viewed again and again for a very long time from now. (Isn't it nice to know your written thoughts might outlive you?)

    its not allowed in the U.S. as far as i know but its allowed in Canada, this is usually only if you plan on showing it on television or charging people to see it.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I believe if you are in public areas you are recordable. The exception are police and public officials; but only in certain States.

    In some States you can record audio (assume this would apply to video as well) so long as one side of the conversation knows it's being recorded (eg: yourself on the phone with ... [insert harrasing caller here]).