Make an infrared webcam

IR webcam hack

First off — don’t go getting all Silence of the lambs on us, aight? But if you’ve got some legitimate, non-creepy reason you want to record video in infrared, Geoff Johnson’s gonna show you how to do it. He’s gutting a fairly generic USB camera made by Sweex, and is careful to note which steps are Sweex-specific and which are not. You should be able to get this working with any ol’ USB cam you’ve got lying around with possible slight modifications.

Comments

  1. einstienbc says:

    HOLY CATF**KING CRAP! this is the coolest thing ever. make sure you follow the link to the US currency

  2. a soggy waffle says:

    lol those film pieces are a pain to keep in place. but do not try to use super gule to hold them, which i did. say bye bye to web cam lens.
    i guess im still trying to get good at this DIY stuff. it shouldnt have been this bad though.

  3. Ryan says:

    crap it said “legitimate AND non creepy”.

  4. sonic_molson says:

    i tried this with my logitech quickcam….i no longer have a working quickcam.

    the infared filter is hidden behind the lens, which is glued down and must be removed. i managed to pry one side of this lens up, so i thought that it wasnt glued down. pulling more resulted in the thing snapping in half. so..its glued down. i now have a new out-of-focus infared camera.

  5. Joshua Holbrook says:

    Wasn’t this on Slashdot? I actually think it’s kinda funny to see cool stuff show up more than once on different places I go to, so I’m not complaining. I see this type of thing happen in tech magazines, too–in fact, much more and later than I do here. Of course, maybe I’m just not reading the right things. ~shrug~ This one looks fun, though.

  6. gav says:

    Awesome hack. I just did it myself with an old webcam I had laying next to the computer. Soggy Waffle I used superglue before reading your comments and it worked fine!

    It’s a shame the sun is setting where I am. Without a large source of IR I can’t see much.

    Allow me to add some information in the goodness of science. Not only is Coke (kinda) transparent in IR, Pepsi Max is too!

  7. kris says:

    Actually this is pretty oldschool, as you can do it with a normal film camera as well. But, nice to see it repositioned for webcams:) We were taught in university to use an exposed piece of slide film (leave the lens cap on and click a shot), instead of a negative. If you use large format film, it can be used to create a makeshift filter over a camera lens.

    They made a big fuss here in Japan a few months back, because sony released a vid cam that did not have the filter in place. Why the big deal? Some types of material are basically invisible in the infrared spectrum…like the stuff a lot of swimsuits are made of….

  8. a soggy waffle says:

    well when i used super glue it caked all over the lens and the photo paper, and i cant get it off

  9. matt says:

    If would be cool to hook up a clustered panel of IR LEDs and use those for lighting. Once you figure out the forward voltage of the webcam, you can see how much voltage you have to play with.

  10. Pedro says:

    just as a little helper because I tried this today… you may attempt to use a fired .45 (.50 would be beter but .45’s are more common) shell casing as a guide for cutting out the little circle for logitech webcams. a small paperclip properly modified (bent into a circle) and wedged in place will hold the film pieces in place very well.

  11. nigel says:

    Just did this with a logitech quickcam express. It has a little holder for the square IR filter that made it easy to place the film pieces, no “fixing” with wire or glue needed. Now if I could just get the stupid thing to consistently work with the USB on my computer….

  12. Pedro says:

    if anyone is wanting to get rid of an old webcam i will gladly accept them… pedro_gonz@hotmail.com

  13. Lentilboy says:

    15 min hack worked like a champ… I’m working on some dark IR illuminators, any thoughts? A mag light with a filter seems to work but is a bit too ghetto. An LED solution seems more elegant.

  14. Noggin says:

    Cool. I tried this with a cheapo webcam I had laying around. Works great. I used wood glue to fix the filter..

    Now to find a good use…

  15. alex says:

    did this mod with a lego cam. The hardest part was getting the ir lens out. After that, no problem. Used elmers glue around the edges to hold the filters in place, then reaspebled.

    Worked great, even got it in focus, untill i accedentally unscrewed the lens cover and exposed the sensor to light directly…..

  16. scope says:

    This is kind of funny! I did the same a couple months back with a Logitech Quickcam 3000 and it really works well. Instead of using the film to block visible light I used the Kodak WRATTEN Gelatin filter(No. 87C) It’s meant to do that job and it’s very easy to cut to the squared shape filter holder.

  17. Adam says:

    Is there a way to convert webcam video directly to analog bypassing the computer? If so you could hook the webcam up to one of the USB batteries and a video tape chassis and have a portable self-contained IR camera.

  18. arty says:

    #16: duh, just remove the IR filter in a camcorder

  19. Jim says:

    so this is a night vision cam???

  20. kevin says:

    did it with an old webcam i had lying around, the ir filter was easy to get to, but the only way to get it out of the way was to break it, so i did. it was getting dark outside so i used the remote control for lighting…

  21. John Bokma says:

    I am amazed (not), I remember hooking up an IR cam to my Indy ages ago, see: http://johnbokma.com/fishtank/cammod.html

    I remember it was like 50 USD and no need to hack / tweak. The cool thing is it can make very good close up shots (see http://johnbokma.com/fishtank/index.html )

  22. bodenothing says:

    I tried it with my Logitec Quickcam, but I couldn’t get the filter out. I ended up just scratching the lens a whole lot, and now I have an unworking quickcam, like #4. Alas

  23. buddog says:

    #20 we are all impressed and amazed with you. (not) But thanks for pointing out that you’re not amazed by said article. Next time you see an article that your not ‘amazed’ by, why not conserve your energy and spare us your post? A genius of your caliber should be utilizing his time better… maybe by cleaning out your larvae infested ‘fish tank’. Nice site by the way… (not)

  24. CDE says:

    wasn’t this on hackaday before? And wasn’t there a brand of webcam which coated the lenses with a ir filter “paint” that made it so you needed to get a ir filter-less lens?

  25. Kendall says:

    Wow this is pretty sweet, I couldnt really think of a good way I can use it. But now at least i know its a possibility

  26. Toby says:

    What would happen if you removed the IR filter and didn’t add a visible light filter?

  27. LowKey says:

    Excellent hack! I’ve been wondering about something like this and input on a PDA type device? Anyone out there know how to input video to a PDA. Figure that the cost of even a low cost IR security webcam, IR LED light, and a preowned/old PDA ought to give a decent image, better than a 1st/2nd gen night vision.
    Anyone seen anything like that?

  28. robojoos says:

    i used my lego cam, but i couldn’t find anything that looked like an ir filter. just stuck the negative thing in and it can see the ir light just fine. The only problem is is it’s not fixed. sometimes half of the veiw is in ir only light and the other in normal color. what is weird is i can see the ir in the color half also, and i seriously did not remeber it being able to see it before. I repeat: I DID NOT TAKE ANY IR FILTER OUT. which is kindof weird.

  29. Will says:

    Tried this hack with an old model Logitech Quickcam Express. The glass thing holding the filter crap in can’t be removed, it’s glued in there good.

    However, I can always just put the hting in a teddy bear or something.. Now to make it wireless :)

  30. Ant says:

    I did this with both my logitech quickcam and an old digital camera (Ir cam to go! :D)

    and what -WOULD- happen with no filter at all?

  31. Scott says:

    I did it with a quickcam express. I just cut the plasic away from the outer lens to get at the holder, pulled out the filter and stuck in a small peice of negative so i can shake it loose to get colour again. Glued it back together with contact. Works like a charm! Just shake for IR and Shake again for colour! he he he.

  32. aaron says:

    every webcam i’ve seen has a LED on the front to let you it’s on. has anyone tried replacing it with an IR LED to provide illumination?

  33. einstienbc says:

    for illumination, i used a bar of IR leds from an old pair of wireless headphones. these get really hot though

  34. Justin says:

    to #26..

    If you don’t place a Visible light filter in then when you use it with normal lights on or in sunlight then the sensor will do one of two things. 1. Explode..just kidding.. #1 is actually not focus correctly. The #2 is be washed out or have other color incorrectnesses.

    If anyone has any used or even damaged webcams they want to get rid of, send them my way ( I’ll pay for shipping or something like that).

    Justin
    justins.junk@gmail.com

    Just remove the to get my email address.

  35. Joel Johnson says:

    I tried it with a $20 web cam from CompUSA (Labtec). Works great! There is plenty of free space in the thing. I think I can try to add a few IR leds and power them off of the USB.

  36. pingu says:

    I am a complete noob at anything to do with electronics, but even I got this one working. My problem is finding out how to get my stuff to stay on the lens.

    I had fun looking at stuff I own with this :)

  37. Christoffer says:

    I read this hack a couple of days ago and thought – hey, a bunch of IR leds and I’ll have a nightcam. Cooked 12 of them together and voila! Now I have a nightcam in my office :)
    It’s all on my page http://www.jarnaker.com/ir
    Anyone wants to build a bigger IR light? I was thinking of putting together an array of 5*5 or so.

  38. Angeline says:

    :o neat!!! ;)

  39. jochen goerdts says:

    Hi,

    don’t dare to try this one with one of these Aiptek PenCam 3-in-1 clones, the anti-ir glass is combined with an essential lens, in fact the hindmost lens is coated with some anti-ir covering, you can’t remove it from the lens. I now got a totally blurred picture, but at least it gets bright when i point my tv remote at it :).

  40. Desert beagle says:

    Hey! This is a great (and cheap) little hack. Thought about it for all of 5 seconds and realised a great improvement that someone with a bit more free cash might want to try. Would it not be possible to hook 3 of these together, each with a different filter, transmitting different parts of the IR mid-band to get a false-colour thermal imaging camera? Only problem I can see with this is that the cheapest filters in that part of the spectrum are

  41. eric says:

    works great on my logitech web cam, i had to use few drops of isopropanol alcohol to remove the glue on the ir filter

  42. Ka nai`a says:

    This is such an awesome idea. I tested it on my 3Com Home Connect USB webcam with sucess. So I took this same principle and modified my FujiFilm Finepix 2300 2.1MP Digital Camera. I also slipped a piece of the burnt 35mm film in front of the flash and now have an awesome IR digital camera. I may get some better filters in the future but so far so good.

    Also check this pic out,

    Very cool!

  43. Chas says:

    Didnt have the bottle to dissect the lens on my Logitech Quickcam express, so I removed the whole holder and lens and stuck a pocket hand-lens out in front -it works well (without an ir filter) the black comms cover on an RCX is crystal clear. There is however a telephoto lens effect due to the longer focal length

  44. ct says:

    Just did it, and added a few IR led’s to it, works great. Logitec quickcam. Used hammer and small screwdriver, drove the screwdriver between the lense and the barrel, pulled out and the lense poped out.

  45. madc0w says:

    i think i might do this with my lego cam from the vision command set, then sync it with my mindstorm to make a night vision security robot. does anyone have any idea how to create a program that would follow the “Robber”?

  46. matt says:

    This is actually amazing I made one today. Anyone seen anything cool apart from the tv remote, using this?

  47. Weirdguy0101 says:

    Do it with an eyetoy and use it on your Ps2 :)

  48. Pedro says:

    great hack! Just to let you guys know that it worked for my Logitech Quickcam Messenger (this cam is not supported at all under Linux, so it’s quite useless for me :p ). I’ve “blinded” the camera with two layers of non-exposed and processed color film. Althoug the focal point changed drastically it was easy to refocus (by moving the “screw”). Very nice, congrats!

  49. Jim says:

    so what would be hard about making an IR spyglass or set of binoculars with this… granted you’d need a huge source of IR light, but no electrical connections for the actual eyeglass.

  50. whirlyman says:

    Gave it a shot on an EasyCam Pro (model: ho98064) and it works! The IR filter is square and pops out if you break the circular piece of plastic around it. I used superglue around the edges of two squares of exposed film to replace the IR filter and whallah! Of course, I lost the install CD for the cam so I didn’t know it worked until I found the drivers. They are a bitch to find, by the way. If anyone else needs them, follow this link: http://www.jascoproducts.com/computer_software_cams.html

    It’s interesting to see which lights give off infrared and which don’t. The sun obviously does. My cell phone doesn’t. Regular light bulbs do.

    A bit of trivia. Army NVGs can see low light as well as ir and they have a little ir lamp on them to help see in total darkness. Sometimes people would forget to turn the lamp off and you could spot them from quite a distance.

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