The following article will show you one of the easiest ways for making Infrared camera out of a standard web camera. First I will try to explain the difference between what a standard and infrared camera can “see”. The graphic below shows two light bands. The left is what a human being can see or Visible Light. The right is the infrared spectrum. Most of the objects around us emit or reflect significant amount of visible light as well as infrared light. When you you low power light bulb (incandescent) to bring light in you room and you try to use standard web camera, you will see that it hardly can show you what is in front of it. Using an infrared camera the picture of the same room will be about five times brighter. That’s because only 20% of the light emitted from a standard incandescent bulb is in the visible spectrum and the other is infrared.
Now it is time to show you how to modify a standard web camera and turn it into infrared camera.
1. First the stuff you need for the modification. A web camera of course. Mine is branded Trust. You will also need a pair of scissors, a screw driver and a piece of used photo reel. The most important thing is that piece of photo reel must be from the beginning where it has been exposed to light before using it. After its development it looks black. Actually it stops almost all visible light from passing through it (that’s why it looks black) but it let all the infrared light pass.
2. Find the screws and carefully remove them.
Try to remove the cover and you have to see something like this.
These are two of the most important perts in a web camera – a PCB containing the sensor and a optical system or objective. The following two photos show them.
3. In most of the web cameras focusing is manual, so you can easy remove the objective by unscrewing it.
At the photo above you can clearly see the reddish look of the filter at the back side of the objective. This filter is used to stop the infrared light from reaching the camera’s sensor. This helps for better color representation (as much as a cheap camera can represent at all). In order to make your camera “see” infrared light, you have to remove this filter. Do it carefully using the screw driver because at some point in time you can decide to return the filter into the camera an you it as before.
4. After removing the filter you have to make new one using the photo reel. It will stop the visible light from reaching the sensor and will let all the infrared light through. Use very small amount of some kind of fast glue but be careful not to let any of it in the middle of the new filter or later your camera won’t “see” anything.
When you finish this assemble the camera and and look at the results.
5. If you want to be able to remove the infrared filter at any time, you should put it in front of the objective and not at his back side. To do this you will need a syringe and a tool knife.
6. Cut part of the syringe from its handle side. Put it on the top of the objective as shown below.
If it does not fit you should make it fit somehow. In my case I used a grinding.
7. When you make the two parts fit it is good to cover the syringe with some kind ob black paint. You can use a permanent marker. This will prevent reflecting of light.
8. Now you have to cut a filter from the photo reel. Make it in the shape of the modified objective. To mount it use some clips.
9. The only thing left to do is assembling the camera and testing it to see the result.
Point the camera at something and focus it. You will find how much different some objects look like when you can only see the infrared spectrum. If you remove the infrared filter the image will not look like before modifying the camera because you removed its visible light filter. You can see some sample photos in the gallery below.