Montana Ghost Hunter

How to convert a Digital Concepts digital camera to be a IR camera.

by on May.11, 2009, under Equipment



First things first.

#1 This CANNOT be undone. By converting this camera, it will only shoot in infrared, it will NO longer be a normal digital camera

#2 I am NOT responsible if you ruin your camera. This is a ‘fun’ project, that can turn costly. I cannot determine how careful you are or how well you follow instructions.

You have been warned. If you don’t want to risk ruining this camera, STOP NOW!

Okay, for the people that want to have fun, let’s get started.

I’m using the Digital Concepts 7.1 megapixel (#87690). I purchased mine for about $60. Here is a link to the camera at Buy.com.

This is a decent camera, and at $60, it’s not too bad if you end up bricking it. If you follow the directions and go at a nice methodical pace, you should be fine.

p5110067Let’s begin. First we need to remove the screws from the unit. With the LCD facing you, there are two screws on the bottom, one screw towards the right, and two screws on the left (the second screw is under the USB flap). Here is a tip, I use a small precision electronics screw driver with a magnet to grab the screws easier.

p5110071After the screws have been removed, carefully remove the front piece of the cover. Front being where the lens hole is at. It should come off fairly easy. This will expose the lens piece, circuit board and battery compartment.

Well need to remove a few more screws to free the circuit board from the back portion of the camera. There are screws in all four corners. One screw is underneath the flash capacitor. Please be careful to not discharge the capacitor. You will get shocked so be careful.

You will now need to remove the dark piece of ‘filler’ plactic. This is the dark piece that contains the power button and shutter button. It should come out very easily. There is a small hook that hooks to the lense, you’ll need to free that.

p5110072You should now be able to free the circuit board from the rear case plate. Be careful when freeing the piece, you’ll want to be sure to get the thumb pad and camera/view selector back in place. Make sure you organize all of your screws and pieces. Your workspace should look similar to what I have above.

We now need to free the lense from the CCD chip. The CCD is the piece that actually captures the image for the digital camera. To do this, you need to flip the circuit board so the lense faces down. The lense is mounted with two screws.

p5110074Once you remove the screw, the lense will be free from the circuit board. Now we’re going to get tricky. To convert your digital to IR you will need to remove the infrared filter. This filter strips infrared light. We will need to remove this and add a UV filter to filter out ultra violet light.

The IR filter is in the front of the lense. When reading about this on the internet, I often see this behind the lense, but with this camera, it’s in the front. You’ll notice a knurled piece. What I had to do was vice the lense assembly and carefully tork the top piece off. I basically sheared it off. I think if I was to do it again, I would use a dremel saw to cut it off. Once you take this off, you’ll notice the IR filter. All of this can be discarded.

The next photo will show the sheard piece, the IR filter and the CCD on the circuit board.

p5110079Now the next filter we need to make in it’s place is a filter that will block UV light. Normally, this is done with gel films (congo blue and red), but at this time.. I had either, so I went with another trick. The trick is to use developed film negatives. I basically cut two small squares and laid them in the lense filter (the square are behinde the lense). I then remounted the lense back to the PCB (circuit board) and started reassembling everything in reverse order.  So lense on the board, board on the rear camera case, dark strip and hook back on the lense and finally the front of the case back. Make sure the lense is centered in relation to the hole in the front of the case. If all is good, you should be good to go. Put some batteries in there and fire it up.

If you have a clear image, but it looks weird, you should be seeing in infrared. Clicking a few photos, it should look similar to this:

pict0031Good luck.. and have fun!

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18 Comments for this entry

  • Andy

    I noticed that you mentioned the mod for the SVP camera. Can you advise a link or give a brief turotial? I

  • Andy

    sorry, typing too fast…

    I would love to experiment with different filter materials for the svp camera. It seems to have a great reputation as a “donor” camera for several people out there selling them as deep infrared conversion cameras (by deep infrared, it is looking like the same passband as a hoya r-72 filter). I would like to try my hand at modding the SVP camera, so any tips would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,
    Andy

  • admin

    Hello Andy

    I’m not familiar with the Hoya R-72 filter. My conversion didn’t go so great. I followed the same technique as above (also played with gels instead of film negative) and the quality of photos are pretty poor. They have a strong red hue to them, and aren’t the best quality.

    I’m curious what others did for that conversion. By far, the Digital Concepts had better quality. Could be the UV blocker I’m using. Both gels and negatives gave the same hue. I guess I could have damaged the lens or CCD during the conversion, but I really don’t think so.

    The SVP also was a pain to remove the infrared filter.

    Good luck.. and let me know how yours turns out. You should pick a Digital Concepts to play with.. I thought that conversion was easy and it works.

  • Andy

    I will likely try both the SVP and digital concepts designs. I am not sure what the folks are doing for the SVP, I cannot find any modification information on that model on the web anywhere. This is the same as the Moditronic version, both the IR and the deep IR conversions. From what I can tell, the IR is just the removal of the internal IR cut filter, and the deep IR is the same with an IR pass filter added.

    I didn’t know that modifying cameras could be such a profitable venture, lol…

    thanks
    Andy

  • sally

    See now thats really interesting. If I come across a camera that I can do this too….I will in a heartbeat! Thanks for all your genius inventions and for sharing tidbits like this!

    Omalley

  • admin

    Sally, it’s pretty easy. I think that camera was a cheap-o from walmart. The hard part is removing the IR filter. This example, I had to actually break the housing around the lens, pretty sketchy.

    Here are some cool photos I took with it at Fort Missoula cemetery.

    http://www.mtghosthunter.com/flickr/album/72157617951286789/fort-missoula.html

    h

  • omalley

    Super COOL! you are so creative!

  • LC

    Admin, what a cool hack. It looks troubling when you get to the removing the front of the lens. I have a question to see if I understand the position of the IR-cut filter correctly.

    Assuming the filter is right behind the initial, front lens cover, wouldn’t it be possible to just cut the front of the lens off, right after removing the front cover? This way you would eliminate a bunch of steps.

    Also, other than having an IR camera that produces cool-looking images, is there any other advantage to blocking out the visible spectrum?

    Thanks in advance for your reply. :C) – LC

  • admin

    LC, sometimes the IR blocker is not in the front. Regardless, if you want the full IR camera, you’ll need to add the UV filters.. which could be in the front, but I wanted a more stable and permanent solution.

    Not sure about any advantages/disadvantages, etc. by allowing the UV in or not. All the IR hacks I’ve seen block the UV. I know there are some sweet full spectrum cameras (which I believe is more involved and goes beyond no putting UV block in there).

    Thanks for commenting!
    h

  • LC

    Thanks for replying, Admin. I guess I am wanting to know that if I purchase this Digital Concepts camera, do you think I could just cut the front lens assembly after removing the front cover? Am I correct in understanding that this camera is the exception, having the blocking filter place in front of the lens?

    My other camera had the IR-cut filter behind the lens. Now I want a more challenging hack to “up” the megapixels. Thanks for all the info and replies! :C)

  • admin

    Hello LC

    It is in the front, but I would still recommend taking the whole lens assembly out so you can get to it easily. Instead of me cutting it off.. I broke the filter piece out. You can see it in the 5th photo I have in the how-to. The filter is broken or sheered off. I would go about it differently now.. maybe dremel cutter or something.

  • LC

    Man, were you brave to try that! I am amazed that you knew the IR-cut filter was hiding up front. I would never have looked there. LOL Thanks again for all your help. I think I’ll try the Dremel idea, too. – LC

  • LC

    WARNING!

    I just tore apart two of these cameras. The first one had the lens assembly exactly as described, with the IR filter out front. The second one (same model #, color, etc) had the IR filter inside the lens. If you remove it, the photographs become blurry. :(

  • Clark Hecker

    The UV-blocking filter is not necessary if an IR-pass/visible blocking filter is being installed; such filters are themselves completely opaque to UV.

  • MissyDawn

    Hi! I really want to try this, and these cameras are all over ebay. Going on two investigations this month and want to try the whole IR route without spending tons of $$ before I know it works. Is this the only camera you’ve tried, or are there others? Have you tried converting a camcorder to IR? If so, do you have the hack documented?

    Thanks so much…

  • MissyDawn

    Sorry, one more thing…any ideas on how to make an IR illuminator that would attach to this camera with something like electrical tape? Trying to think of how to boost the IR source for total darkness…

  • george

    Can I use 3d glass lens for the hack instead of exposed film? which one is better to use?
    And how do I place them 2 pieces in faceing each other, doesn’t matter or facing down or up,
    really appreciate it!
    G

  • admin

    Hello George. Not sure about the 3D glass lens. Never tried.. might be worth a try. I definitely used exposed film and it works great. I didn’t care about how they were facing each other.. just worried about the two layers being on top of each other. Just make sure you be careful not to put fingerprints on them. Use tweezers and a clean environment.

    Good luck!

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