DIY Night Vision Monocle

This interesting mashup shows it’s easy to make your own night vision goggles. It makes use of just a few parts; the viewfinder from an old camcorder, a low-light security camera module, and a collection of infrared LEDs.

The low-light camera is capable of detecting infrared light, which is invisible to our eyes. If you shine the right IR LEDs on an object, they will cast enough light for the camera to clearly view the objects around you. The camcorder viewfinder is nothing more than a compact way to display what the camera sees. This would be easy to accomplish with a wearable display. It is also beneficial to have a large IR light source so you may consider modifying that giant LED flashlight you’ve been meaning to build so that it operates in the infrared wavelengths.

This project comes from the same source as the Laser Microphone we looked in on last month. Just like that one, there’s plenty of extra information about this build. There’s suggestions for choosing and focusing a light source. This includes using lasers as the source, and binoculars for long-range viewing.

29 thoughts on “DIY Night Vision Monocle

  1. Cool idea. Happen to have an old camera viewfinder laying around, along with a bunch o’ spare IREDS and a couple of security camera modules. Now I can do something with ’em.

    Never would have thought about doing anything like this.

  2. looking at a build for it right now in “101 spy gadgets for the evil genius”

    old. and @grenadier is right, thats pretty much the exact one kipkay made. the one from the book doesn’t include the video out.

  3. I know its a bit sad making references to anime, but this really reminds me of the really cool visor google/headset thing Motoko wears in ghost in the shell (series and movie, definitely lots of options to explore with a system like this.

  4. i did this with a myvu glasses set modified with RGB LEDs for the authentic green NV setup and IR camera via right headphone lead with two triple junction 10mm LEDs a while back.

    apart from the sucky battery life (i used the unused left headphone lead to steal 3v3 from the mainboard) it works very well and the next step is to add some 3-D and/or false colour circuitry.
    Ran into a problem fitting the mc1377 into the casing but this is a minor inconvenience.

    if you use the more recent myvu with internal battery and a video sensitive switch to enable/disable the camera and LEDs this is completely self contained.

  5. The real trick to pulling this off well is by using a black/white CCD camera with the lowest LUX rating possible, ideally one that can see in light levels lower than 0.1 LUX.

    I like the idea of using LCD glasses and replacing the white LED backlight with a green LED for more ‘authenticity’

  6. These are pretty cool since they’re homemade, but without some kind of a light interference assembly, if somebody hits the lights you’re in for a blinding flash of light.

  7. Thanks for posting my Night Vision Viewer project!

    As some have pointed out, this project was also from my 101 Spy Gadgets for The Evil Genius book, but I wanted to redo the project in color and more detail as I had limited space in that book.

    I hope to add videos of the device in action soon.


    1. @RadBrad,
      I tried building the night vision viewer that you had posted here, but I ran into a problem with connecting the video out wire of my camera with the video in wire of my viewer. I used an old crt viewer from a JVC camcorder, and I got the unit to power up successfully and was able to feed the original wire from the camcorder to the viewer and see the images with no problem. I was also able to see the video output from my board camera when I connected it to my tv. The picture showed up fine. It was when I tried to join the two when I would get no video. Have you experienced anything like this before? Do you know if JVC has a different format for video output in their camcorders vs that of an RCA? Is it an impedance issue? I am so close to finishing this project, but I can’t get the two key pieces to work together. An guidance you may have would be well appreciated.

  8. The hip kids do this with 0.03 lux CCD cameras ( if you have significant money, you can blow a lot on cameras claiming 0.00005 Lux but which really do .001 – rarely), a peltier cooler setup to chill the camera which significantly drops the visual noise and an old very fast lens rich field zoom macro lens, or if you’re in it for fun, any big old zoom or spotter scope of f5 or better.

    That’s right! You too can make hilarious youtube videos of celebrities doing questionable things at yard sales and aging politicians attempting to relive their youth with young, perky and not entirely attractive assistants.

  9. @Tech B, yeah.
    i also discovered that a relatively simple way to get false colour is to read the analogue level and switch the signal to the mc1377’s red, green or blue inputs using a 74HC4066.
    this also has the advantage of generating relatively pure colours.

    interestingly there might be a way to overlay text onto the video stream using a PIC with horizontal pulse counting, and do colour directly using a fast video buffer such at the 23K256.

  10. Cute. Notice all the newton’s rings in his images? That’s the short answer for “why lasers don’t make particularly good spotlights”.

    It’d be nice to see a comparison of his laser setup to commercial infrared spotlights.

  11. mike,can u possibilly give a circuit diagram to this remarkable project and what should one do to make this fascinating project cover a distance say about 200meters

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