Super Nightvision Headset Hack!




About: Tinkerer, hackster and prankster. Hit me up on Facebook: Thanks for checking out my Instructables!
We have all seen the webcam nightvision hacks and other ways to make nightvision cameras but this will blow you away! This a Super Bright Nightvision Headset that lets you walk around in total darkness AND record what you see! My inspiration for this project came from Brad Graham & Kathy McGowan Watch the video and see the Test Results and then build your own! I hope you enjoy this Instructable as much as I enjoyed making it!

Get the Infrared LED's for this Project HERE


Step 1: What You Need...

Dig through your closet or ask a friend if they still have a classic full-size VHS camcorder hanging around collecting dust. Or go to garage sale or pawn shop and find one for cheap. All we need is the analog viewfinder

Step 2: You Will Also Need...

1. Twelve 10mm, 200mw triple Infrared LED's. These babies are mean! They each have 3 LED's in them and are very powerful! You can get the LED's HERE
2. A project box/enclosure from Radio Shack or any other larger size project box. This one is 5" X 2 1/2" X 2".
3. A red or any other color LED to be used for a power indicator
4. A shielded, panel mount Phono Jack
5. A SPST switch
6. (2) 10ohm resistors
7. A Super Low Lux Mini B&W spy camera that can be powered by 9 volts
8. 9 Volt batteries

Step 3: Disassemble the Viewfinder

Remove the viewfinder from the camcorder. Depending on the camcorder, this may be as easy as unplugging the connector to the camera and removing the viewfinder screws to release the entire unit. Some may be hard-wired inside the camcorder which will require more work. Once removed, take off the plastic housing to reveal the viewfinder components. Identify the ground wire. To identify the power wire, you will have to do some tracing back to a power regulator or diode. You can use an adjustable power supply (recommended) or 9 volt battery to test the viewfinder power line. After identifying the ground and power, the video libe can be located byfeeding a video signal into the other wires.

Step 4: Build the LED Array...

I used 12 LED's. 6 LED's wired in series to another series of 6 in parallel. Attach the 10ohm resistors to the positive end of the array.

Step 5: Prep the Housing...

Now it is time to drill all of the holes in the project box. I drilled 12 holes for the LED array. A large hole (using a hole saw) for the viewfinder, 3 holes for the switch, power indicator LED and phono jack.

Step 6: Install All of the Components...

Time to install all of the components and wire according to the schematic. Be sure to test each compnent along the way. Basically all grounds go to and out of the switch. The LED array, micro camera and power LED are powered by one 9 volt battery and the viewfinder is powered by another.

Step 7: Close It All Up and Test It Out!

You will be amazed at the brightness of these LED's in perfectly dark environment. With the right low-lux camera you can see in complete darkness since the infrared LED's generate light at a frequency that the camera can see. And, you can record what you see by taking the video out to a camcorder! Stealth at it's finest!



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    398 Discussions


    3 years ago on Step 3

    I have the same viewfinder as yours, can you give me some tips on wiring it?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    hey kip! i was wondering, could i get the viewfinder somewhere else (a disposable camera maybe), since i highly doubt that my dad will let me take apart any of his... Or maybe you could make this one of your kits as well?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    With so much of digital cameras around all you have to do is find a repair shop for video cameras. They would have numerous junk cameras lying around and would be happy to remove a viewfinder and sell it to you cheap. I am in New Delhi (India) and got my viewfinder for about $4 equivalent. It works but I am yet to progress the project. Presently I am assembling the IR light. Got a 100 LEDs.


    Reply 5 years ago on Step 6

    well it's a thermal sensor so it only gives out "yes no" signals, not thermal images


    6 years ago on Step 3

    Help Please. Hello i have taken apart and found the positive, ground, and video wires and the tube works so does the camera so i am positive about the wires. My problem is when i tey to use a different video source i dont get any picture i bought a black and white little cmos camera that has a yellow rca connector and i hooked that up but no picture i also tried a color surveilence camera it didnt work either so i tried a vcr/dvd player which also didnt work UNTIL i tried the component RGB connector then i finally got a picture when i hooked to the Green port the other two were scrambled but there was some picture. So my question i guess is why does the normal yellow composite signal not work and the green component signal work? is there some way i can hook my B/W camera to some resistors or capacitors or something to make it work? what am i doing wrong? does the viewfinder need a different type of signal than everyone elses that has gotten this to work with B/W cameras? thanks to anyone that can help

    5 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 3

    so i did some testing with resistors nothing happened but i then went to capacitors and viola it seems any capacitor will make it work i put it between the output of the camera and the input of the view finder or you can put it between the ground of the cameras output and the ground from your powersource either way worked for me. I used a couple different electrolytic ones and ceramic ones they all worked size didnt make a difference in picture quality that i could notice. i stuck with a small ceramic capicitor . OK then just thought id post an update incase anyone else might have a similar problem


    Reply 6 years ago on Step 3


    I just read your message regarding the viewfinder rewiring. I currently have the same problem : I found the proper ground and + wires to power up the viewfinder, but I have a very poor image quality when I hook up the video signal (I get an partial picture shaped like a horizontal line that drops in and out of the screen). Did you get the same problem ?
    I will try to add a capacitor to see if its sorts things out. What kind of capacitor did you use exactly ? I am very surprised that any kind of capacitor can fix the problem. I also don't know how a capacitor can, electronicaly speaking, fix a video signal. Maybe you have an opinion about that ?
    Thanks in advance !


    Reply 6 years ago on Step 3

    that sounds pretty much like what was happening to me. The first capacitor i used was an electrolytic 220uf 50volt cap but that was just because it was the first one i found. I then switched to one of those green chiclet looking ceramic caps i think the value was 0.01uf it had the code 103k on the cap itself. I just assumed that any cap would work because of the vast difference in the two that worked for me. I really have no idea about why it would make it work but it did so i just thought id post it. My guess would be that it filters out something but you would think that it would need to be a specific value if that were the case. Let me know if it helps yours. I put mine between the +output of the B/W camera and the video Input of the viewfinder


    Reply 6 years ago on Step 3

    Thanks natsud !
    Actually, my setup didn’t worked because I forgot to hook up the video ground cable ^_^;
    I managed to decode 2 viewfinders so far. For the record, I also had the case where the viewfinder had 2 video cables. None works if you hook one of them with a video signal. You have to join the 2 cables together then hook it up with a video signal.

    Wow, that's impressive. Is there a danger to the operator of burned eyeballs if someone hits it with a car headlight or tactical flashlight (surge)?

    1 reply

    naa,it will be like a camera pointed at a bright bulb,try it,it might damage your camera but the max brightness you get is like white image.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Will this work with a color camera and not black and white?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi All, I'm trying this with a Panasonic M7 and there are 9 (yes 9!!) wires from the viewfinder: red, black, grey, purple, white, pink, brown, yellow, and orange. Any ideas as to which are which? I'm quite new to this and don't to risk popping something by trying the 'trial and error' method! many thanks. J

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Step 7

    a have a viewfinder with 4 yellow wires and 1 black wire. how do i find out which one is video and power?

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 7

    well, the best way would be with an oscillscope and volt meter, but not everybody has those, so simple trial and error will have to suffice