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HIGH-VOLTAGE Homemade night vision scope OPTICAL-RADIATION
or: How to See in The Dark

(by Matthias Franz, HB9EFY)

translation from the German original




Let's build an optical Borg interface...

Pictures 1, 2 and 3 are showing the viewfinder I used for this night vision scope. It was taken from a CANON®™ UC4000 V8 Camcorder. I bought this (broken) camera as triple pack for a few dollars from Ebay®™ (Originally I was looking for 2 identical viewfinder for another project).

The viewfinder module is connected to the camera body with 5 cables. I switched on the camera and measured every single cable with the scope to find out what kind of signal it carries. I could measure the following configuration:

  •  +5 volt
  •  Ground
  •  video-in
  •  Unknown
  •  50 us pulse-out
[01]: night vision scope (camera)
[01] the camcorder

[02]: night vision scope (viewfinder 1)
[02] the viewfinder (incl. optic)
[03]: night vision scope (view finder 2)
[03] the viewfinder

Picture 4 and 5 are showing the opened viewfinder module. It contains a 0.7 inch picture tube, a high voltage supply and some calibration pots. The size of this module is thereby only 2,5 x 5 cm.
HIGH-VOLTAGE

ATTENTION: The high voltage power supply for the picture tube could cause serious injury or death if proper precautions are not taken.

See
Safety instructions and disclaimer !

[04]: night vision scope (view finder open 1)
[04] open viewfinder (front)
[05]: night vision scope (view finder open 2)
[05] open viewfinder (side)

Addendum Jul-2010:
pin configuration
[a] pin configuration
pin configuration
[a] pin configuration
After having received quite a number of requests how the viewfinder I used is to be connected to the camera I herewith add 2 pictures which are showing some more details. I can however NOT give any guarantee that an identical viewfinder has exactly the same configuration !

Be carefull with the high voltage generated in such a viewfinder !

To build a night vision scope the whole unit has somehow to be placed in front of your eye. The frame carrying the night vision scope was buit as follow.

Cut a 3cm wide and 15cm long stripe of (1mm thick) epoxy circuit material and carefully curve it to get the same radius as your forehead. This is the head band carrying the whole night vision scope later on.

To be able to flap the viewfinder module in front of my eye I soldered a hinge to the head band. The hinge was however not soldered flat to the head band but with a specific angle which I tested in front of a mirror. 3 screws helped to adjust the angle before soldering it. Check picture number 14 & 15 to see the angle of the hinge in more detail.

[06]: night vision scope (hinge 1)
[06] soldering the hinge
[07]: night vision scope (hinge 2)
[07] the 3 screw to adjust the angle

[08]: night vision scope (head band & hinge)
[08] final head and hinge
To solder the hinge 3 screws were inserted through the hinge and the head band. On the back of the head band fix the screws with nuts provisorily. Adjust the nuts to get the right angle and solder the hinge. After soldering the hinge remove the nuts and grinding it carefully.

On picture 6 you can see that on top of the hinge a clamp was soldered. This clamp consists of the half part of a terminal strip.

The inner diameter of the terminal strip is a bit more than 4mm. The 4mm brass rod fits without backlash through the terminal strip and can be fixed with a screw (picture 12).

This allows a 2-dimensional adjustment of the viewfinder module in front of your eye.

The next step was to build the frame for the viewfinder module.

The frame for the viewfinder module was made of sheet metal from a coffee can. On its top I soldered a 4mm brass rod. As described above the brass rod will be inserted through the terminal strip. This is to connect the viewfinder frame with the head band.

[09]: night vision scope (viewfinder frame 1)
[09] frame for the viewfinder module
[10]: night vision scope (viewfinder frame 2)
[10] frame with viewfinder module

I'm male and I therefore like curves more than edges.

For this reasons I bought a package of this 2 component epoxy material which looks like modelling clay (picture 11). The material has 2 different colours and you have to knead it until the colours is homogeneous (and do not forget to use disposable gloves and to open the window as this stuff is somehow toxic).

After the material has cured it's hard like metal and you can further process it like e.g. drill and grind it.


[11]: night vision scope (viewfinder - 2 component epoxy material 1)
[11] 2 component epoxy material
[12]: night vision scope (viewfinder - 2 component epoxy material 2)
[12] using of the 2 component epoxy material

Actually I used this 2 component epoxy material not to improve the design of the night vision scope but because I never tried this stuff before. With the result I was actually quite happy: it sticks like hell, it becomes hard like stone but nevertheless you can process/grind it very good.

Now we have finished the head band and the frame for the view finder. How can the head band now be fixed to the head? I decided to use an elastic strap from an old headlamp. As didn't want to glue the elastic strap permanently to the back side of the head band I had to look for another solution.

Finally I used a second stripe of curved epoxy circuit material which I soldered in parallel with a gap of 4mm to the first one. During the soldering process a put a spacer of 4mm cardboard between the 2 stripes.

Every 1.5cm both stripes were notched and with 1.5mm silver plated copper wire soldered together. Sounds probably quite complex but picture 14 and 15 will help you understand how the two layers were soldered together.
[13]: night vision scope (viewfinder - 2 component epoxy material 3)
[13] viewfinder frame with 2 component epoxy material

To avoid bloody pressure marks on the forehead I glued a stripe of foam rubber from an old mouse pad to the back side of the head band. With this foam rubber the head band is comfy to wear.

The old mouse pad was kindly sponsored by the IT-department of my company.

[14]: night vision scope (viewfinder - final head band 1)
[14] final double layer head band
[15]: night vision scope (viewfinder - final head band 2)
[15] final double layer head band

The next issue to be solved: we have to find an electronically eye.

After some searching I found a 380 line black/white camera in my spare part box (I bought it once together with a video transmitter & receiver from Pollin Elektronik. It was obviously part of a teddy bear camera with which parents can spy their kids).

The camera was soldered on a piece of strip board.

[16]: night vision scope (viewfinder - camera 1)
[16] camera (front)
[17]: night vision scope (viewfinder - camera 2)
[17] camera (back)

This camera cannot see in the dark but it can see IR light (which is invisible for the human’s eye). Remember this is not a image intensifier which requires only a bit of light (e.g. moon light) - this simple CMOS camera requires a IR illumination.

The infrared LEDs I used are called SFH4550 and are the most powerful ones which I could find at Reichelt®™ (a German electronic store). According to the datasheet they work at 1.5 volt with 100mA. In my case I used however only 50mA per LED.

High Power Infrared Emitter, type SFH4550 (datasheet):
Application Infrared Illumination for CMOS cameras
Forward current 100 mA
Wavelength 850 nm
Radiant Intensity Grouping 400 (typ. 700) mW/sr
Package 5 mm

OPTICAL-RADIATION

ATTENTION: High power IR-LEDs emit a highly concentrated and invisible IR beam/radiation. This beam may irreparable harm humans' and animals' eyes.
Be aware that the eyelid closure reflex is NOT working with invisible IR radiation. You may risk your eyesight if proper precautions are not taken.

See
Safety instructions and disclaimer !

[18]: night vision scope (viewfinder - camera + LED 1)
[18] camera and IR LEDs
[19]: night vision scope (viewfinder - camera + LED 2)
[19] camera and IR LEDs

[20]: night vision scope (viewfinder - camera + LED 3)
[20] camera and IR LEDs

[20b]: night vision scope (	circuit diagram)
[20b] Circuit diagram

As all the electronic is working with 5 volt I connected 2 times 3 LEDs in series (3x 1.5 = 4.5 volt). Both 3-LED series were connected as parallel circuit. To power the LEDs I connected all 6 LEDs with one series resistor to the 5 volt power supply. For more details please refer to the circuit diagram (picture 20b).

The LEDs were not soldered to the stripe board directly. As seen on picture 20 I added a piece of wire to each LED. This allows a optimal adjustment of the LEDs' beam.

I recognized later on that the emission angle of only 3° is rather narrow (you can see in the video the 6 beam spots very well).

[21]:  night vision scope (viewfinder - power supply 1
[21] Power supply on the elastic strap
[22]:  night vision scope (viewfinder - power supply 2
[22] Power supply

Sidewise on the elastic strap a mounted a small power supply. It's a simple circuit using a 7805 linear voltage regulator. It transfers the 9 volt comming from the battery pack (6x 1.5 volt) to 5 volt. The 5 volt are required for the CMOS camera as well as for the viewfinder.

The green heat sink was taken from an old passived cooled graphic card. After putting everything together the final assembled night vision scope looks like on the following pictures.

[23]: night vision scope (viewfinder - assembled night vision scope 1)
[23] final assembled night vision device
[24]: night vision scope (viewfinder - assembled night vision scope 2)
[24] final DIY night view vision (close-up)

These low budget night vision googles are working actually surprisingly well. The only disadvantage is the very narrow emission angle of the specific LEDs I used.

One day, I’m sure, you can buy infrared-LUXEONs®™ - this might then work much better.

Anyway, as quite a number of my projects this is an amusing proof of concept only. Don't take it to serious and guys - I know that an IR-illumination is rather bad for tactical use, but that was never the intention...

[25]: night vision scope (viewfinder - assembled night vision scope 3)
[25] final assembled night vision device
[26]: night vision scope (viewfinder - video grabber)
[26] night vision scope and video grabber


Last but not least, above you can see a short video showing you the picture you can see when using this little gadget in the dark.

I therefore grabbed the video signal with a 20 USD video grabber and converted the file to a FLV video.

Have fun with your own DIY night vision device.

Greetings from Switzerland
Matthias, HB9EFY

[ HB9EFY(at)yahoo.de ]

To see this video you have to activate javascript and you need to install the Adope flash player ®™



Source:

Ebay:
- video camera

Reichelt Elektronik:
- High Power Infrared Emitter

Pollin:
- black/white cCMOS camera modul
- Epoxy circuit material

DIY store:
- 2 component epoxy material
- Hinge
- Black resin color
- 4mm brass rod

Copyright:

The text and pictures of the "
Homemade night vision scope" - project are copyright protected by endorphino.de (Matthias Franz) in October 2008.

The following names:
Canon ®™,
Youtube ®™,
Pollin Elektronik ®™,
LUXEON ®™,
Ebay ®™,
LogiLink ®™ and
Reichelt Elektronik ®™
are protected trade names and/or registered trademarks.

The video player JW FLV MEDIA PLAYER is licensed as Creative Commons.


Useful links:


My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/proofofcon


Safety instructions and disclaimer:

  • High power IR-LEDs emit a highly concentrated and invisible IR beam/radiation. This beam may irreparable harm humans' and animals' eyes.

  • The high voltage power supply for the picture tube could cause serious injury or death if proper precautions are not taken.

Build and/or use at your own risk. Matthias Franz cannot be held liable or responsible or will accept any type of liability in any event, in case of injury or even death by building and/or using or misuse of this project/information or any other projects/information posted on endorphino's web site.

By accessing, reading, and/or printing the articles presented here you agree to be solely responsible as stated in this disclaimer and exempt Matthias Franz from any criminal and/or liability suit.

Safety is a primary concern when working with high voltage and/or IR radiation.

Play it safe.






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