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.

80 thoughts on “Make An Infrared Webcam

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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….

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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….

  9. 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.

  10. 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…..

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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…

  14. 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

  15. #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)

  16. 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?

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

  19. 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 :)

  20. 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.

  21. 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).


    Just remove the to get my email address.

  22. 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.

  23. 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 :)

  24. 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 :).

  25. 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

  26. 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!

  27. 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

  28. 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.

  29. 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”?

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. 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:

    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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