The Infrared Graduation Cap

It’s graduation time for many high schoolers, and while many students would love to decorate their caps, administration generally looks down upon this practice. [Victor], however, thought of a way around this.

The human eye cannot see infrared light, but camcorders generally can. Putting these two concepts together with a couple of infrared LEDs, [Victor] was able to make a cap that displayed his decoration in everyone’s “digital memory”, but wouldn’t be detected until the video of the offense was displayed. Hopefully by the time the prank is detected, [Victor] will have successfully graduated and presumably gone on to other pursuits.

An ATmega 168 controls this hat to display his message, “Congratulations Class of 2011,” in Morse code. What a creative use of both old and new technology to pull off an awesome graduation prank. Be sure to check out the video after the break to see how everything was put together.


  1. truthspew says:

    Love it! This is a phenomenal hack for a graduation cap.

  2. This would show up on any camera with a screen while you’re shooting video of the cap. You wouldn’t have to wait until later for some reason. Still, you’d have to have a camera to see it, so it’s less likely to be noticed.

  3. Dan B says:

    I like it.

  4. Squirrel says:

    Great idea! Anyone know if IR ELwire exists, because just imagine you wove that in with the top of your hat. Inconspicuous and in funny patterns :)

  5. HackerK says:

    Geeky. Nice Prank.

    It would be even cooler if one make a POV version of it so when one walk on the stage it show a message… ;)

  6. Eugene says:

    Next generation, scrolling IR led matrix for text messages.

  7. patman2700 says:

    …figures. Jefferson High killed in the 2011 National Science Bowl.

  8. Alex Parting says:

    I’d just have a flashing LED.

  9. Sebi says:

    At first I thought he built in a high power IR LED to dazzle the cameras and making the films useless. Like the guy who wanted to build a cap with IR LEDs to disturb surveillance cameras

  10. Alex says:

    Cool, but not new i´ve been doing this since digital cameras came up. but congratulations anyway, this can be used on caps, hats, glasse or even sunglasse to keep your privacy on everyday cameras that are everywhere, even night vision cams that has them. when you change the light source from behind the camera lens to the front of it…have fun

  11. Alex says:

    As Sebi said, you don´t need to fill a cap with leds, only one at the center is more than enough to keep you safe from surveillance cameras. Got ir leds on other things to keep me safe from everything…. and it works really well

  12. MS3FGX says:

    As somebody who has already been at a few graduation ceremonies this week for younger family members, I immediately thought of this as an excellent way to “paint” your graduate in the crowd.

    We had quite a time pointing out which one of the ~400 graduating students was the one we were waiting to cheer for; being able to scan the group with our cameras looking for an IR marker would have been great.

  13. Oren Beck says:

    Creative integration of IR Hackery with the situational application. It’s a VERY worthy Hack. And, it’s arguably a Touchstone for taking the IR@Graduations bit to new levels.

    One might consider thinking a bit bigger and having multiple “Tiled” pixel caps with a truly awe inspiring floodlight effect to spell out stuff/display pictures too. Or just cute graphics like the Deadmau5 icon.

    Envision a lot of caps strobing with bright flashes to produce a scrolling marquee effect.

    BUT: The comments RE: so-called “Safety” from cams by using IR floods? That’s liable to be anything but. It’s risking at minimum, *REALLY* being noticed. And potentially “questioned” as to WtF you are hiding from/doing. Anyone recall the LED flower @ bos

  14. Rikohm says:

    Why not let it blink out the remote code to trigger the cameras..

  15. Hirudinea says:

    @Squirrel, Eugene – He should have just put an IR LED matrix on the top of the morterboard and covered it with IR transparent cloth, you could have all kinds of messages in a hat like that, a very heavy hat.

  16. Thopter says:

    Here I thought he built a version of the TV-Be-Gone into his mortarboard. Perhaps to prank the projectors/screens on stage, or the video cameras themselves. I believe some cameras have IR remotes.

  17. Oren Beck says:


    Good point on the IR cloth!

    Heavy? I’d think that conductive thread or magnet wire&LilyPad+ SMD IR’s would be trivial in mass. Even with some use of RTV or hotmelt for mounting. and some LiPo packs would power such a setup long enough with equally small weight.

  18. Chris says:

    This is great idea!

    Just don’t throw the cap. Without decorations identifying which cap is which, everyone just grabs whatever cap is closest after they’ve been thrown in the air. It wasn’t until I got home that I found out the cap I’d grabbed as a memento was soaked with jerrycurl juice. Bleh. :(

  19. Oren Beck says:

    @Thopter: Hmn.. That has potential for good or evil. And, IIRC the libs for TV-Be-Gone would be trivial to port into LilyPad..

  20. Whatnot says:

    One LED? doing morse? Color me unimpressed.
    In this day and age you’d expect more, something a bit more fancy and inventive.

  21. Chuckt says:

    It could interfere with your picture being taken at graduation because there are so many people that they allow only one photographer and it is a shame to have to pay all of that money to get a bad picture covered by the IR LED.

    It is also noticable and could get someone kicked out of graduation.

  22. Rangerx52 says:

    Chuckt, you’re kind of an idiot, are’nt you.

    The LED’s are nowhere NEAR bright enough to interfere with other people’s pictures. If anything, people would not only have to stand quite close to the hat to see they’re even on… and on top of that, be within the ~15 degrees of focused light that the led provides… which will be muted by ambient light anyway.

    And i’m disgusted by the fact that this is being called a prank… it’s like playing a joke on your wife- by leaving her a note on the counter that says good morning.

    A vanilla project that requires no creative thinking. What’s the next project going to be, how to play music on an ipod?

  23. jeditalian says:

    i was expecting an IR led matrix ::sadface::

  24. vonskippy says:

    Wow that is just wild man. Crazy. Like a FLASHING LED at graduation – stop it – my ribs are cracking from all the laughing. Man that is cool. Double rainbow cool. Talk about your chick magnet – wooooooooooeeeeeeeeeee that’s wild. I won’t be able to sleep tonight just imagining how freaking awesome that was.

  25. Otacon2k says:

    @Chuckt: Shouldn’t be a problem though. If there’s only one photographer (professional) he’s surely using a high end slr-camera. Even my entry-level slr doesn’t catch IR leds, they are well filtered.

    Regarding safety of surveillance cams by putting IR leds to your cap: I once saw a documentary about this. People’s faces were hidden by the light’s glow, indeed… that is, until they played around with contrast/brightness.

  26. fartface says:

    Too bad he used narrow and dim IR led’s from what I can see it will not show up on most cameras because it’s narrow beam led’s used.

  27. fartface says:

    “It could interfere with your picture being taken at graduation because there are so many people that they allow only one photographer and it is a shame to have to pay all of that money to get a bad picture covered by the IR LED.”

    Doesn’t stop me. I bring my SLR and don’t dress like a parent for my daughters gradualtion. I dressed like a photographer and grabbed my old event and press passes. Walked up past the “pro” they hired and snapped a 30 photos of my daughter as she graduated.

    It’s easy to get press passes as a “amateur” you just need to volunteer at some events around town. Screw the School board and their brain dead “only one photographer” garbage. I’d not have a problem with it if they hired a real PRO instead of a no talent hack. I went to his website after having to social engineer his name out of the Schools staff 2 weeks beforehand and saw the tripe this poser takes. So I made sure to go in and do it myself.

    My shots with my craptastic $1000 SLR and its super craptastic $400 lens were 800X better than his Canon 1DS MK II and his L series glass..

    PRO = ability not what gear you have. If a ‘pro’ has top of the line expensive gear typically he/she is a poser.

  28. chuckt says:


    The only people who disturbed my high school graduation were people who shouldn’t have graduated in my opinion. Ruining a graduation for people is not something anyone wants to remember.


  29. that1guy says:

    Oh look, fartface is back. Cute.

  30. DJAA says:

    Whats the name of the song in this video, I really enjoyed the drop.

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