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[Dev] Home Made Night Vision Device

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[Dev] HomeMade Night Vision Device


Hey guys, here's my second dev project I have running at themoment, along with my other one. This one is about making a DIY night visiondevice (NVD), or in my case, a NV rifle scope. Apologise in advance if any ofthis seems obvious or patronising, I started gathering my knowledge on the subject from nothing, so this thread is literally my journey so far.


Now, first thing is first, this is pseudo Night Vision, done by measuring IR light of the 800-1000nm range, i.e. just below Red on the light spectrum. Therefore it needs to be said now, this is NOT the device you want,if all you are after is a fantastic night vision which spans miles. Stick to your Gen 1+, 2s and 3s for that.


The benefits of this device are that it cannot be damaged by bright light, like tubes can, in fact with a bit of tinkering it can even be used during daytime as a regular scope.


It is completely electrical, meaning that you can tap into, record and even modify the visual feed. In short, you can display data within the scope, and do any other digital video processing that you can think of and apply.


Finally, the basic NV model can be made from scrap you may already have knocking around your house, with the most expensive component being a low lux CCTV Camera, typically about £10-20 ($15-30), depending on the quality you may want. The version with the HUD will require some sort of data gathering (sensors etc), a PIC chip to parse the data and overlay it onto the video feed.


But I am getting ahead of myself :)


Basic Parts List


CCTV Camera: Any CCTV camera with a rating less than 1Lux is good, B&W is preferable as it is cheaper, but I used this one as it matched the 6v power source of my camera :


Mini 520TVL CCTV SPY AUDIO security camera 0.008Lux


VHS Camcorder: Provides the viewfinder and a video/audio connector, as well as a new mic and a load of other cool stuff. Broken is fine, but using one that powers up and has a battery makes life a bit easier, as you can put a multimeter to it and findout which wire does what.


Battery: Provides power. Match this to your camera and viewfinder. Mine runs on anywhere from 5-7v, which the camera's power supply provides quite nicely. It may even end up running it from my rifle's battery in the end, will save a lot of hassle that way, but requires way more parts and way more complexity.


Switch: Must turn this thing on and off. May need 2 if you are using an illuminator within the device


IR Illuminator: Originally I deemed these as optional, but after testing the camera out, it's really not usable at 0.008 lux (indoors, lights off), I can tell you that for free.0.01-0.27 (outdoors, with light polution) maybe, but even that is still pushing it. An illuminator can be made from IR LEDs or a torch and an IR Filter. 10mm LEDs are pretty good. I am currently experimenting with the 940nm wavelength range, which are almost completely invisible, but apparently are a bit weak.The 850nm IR wavelength is the norm to use in most NV applications, as they are pretty impressive in brightness, but are just within the visible spectrum, so have a dim red glow. Results on whether 940nm is usable or not are pending until I get some new soldering iron tips :P. These are also doable, probably even more effective with defocused IR lasers, should also be eye safe at the 5mW range.


Body: Something to store all this stuff inside of. Mine happens to fit nicely into a ~40mm (ID)tube, but needs a middle section of 30mm (OD) to attach a 30mm AimPoint mount to. Length varies, depending on the parts you choose to use.







Very simply, the way it works is the battery pack (may not always be 6v, might be 12v or 5v or anywhere in between, who knows, 6v is more common though) powers the camera AND the viewfinder. You want the two to be in parallel to keep the voltage steady and near 6v for both. Be aware that a fully charged battery, just like airsoft, is at a higher rating than what it should be, i.e. a 1.5v battery may read 1.6 or 1.7 for instance, so go easy and don't blow anything (apologies if any of this is obvious).


Here is a source of most of my information, it's probably the best guide out there:




And here is a video of a cute girl teaching you how to figure out what wire does what on any viewfinder without blowing it up. As youdo.



The donor VHS camera will most likely have an RCA or video/audio connector soldered onto the mainboard, you'll want this to provide a line out to a recording device, so desolder it and keep it for later. It also has a load of screws and lenses and motors and all of that, so chuck them into your bits box for other projects


And thats it! Without the batteries, my one fits very snugly inside a 42mm (inner diameter) tube and has a minimum length of about 135mm, with the case still on. May well fit in a 35mm if I take the plastic off and heatshrink it all in place, maybe thinner still with a bit of fiddling.


That's how you build an NV monocle! If anyone manages to getone of these to work for each eye, I see no reason why you will not be able to retain 3D vision as well, but I would love to see how it goes if you go down that route. I don't know what tweaking or calibration you would need to do to getit to not give you headaches from dodgy parallax etc.


If you need a brightness dial, and I can tell you now that you probably will, I achieved good results with a 1k Potentiometer between the video and ground lines. If you want to be REALLY fancy, you could automate the brightness with an opto-couple, to save you twiddling knobs every time you enter a new room. That is a LDR coupled with an LED connected between the video and ground lines. You will probably need to tweak it a bit with resistors in series/parallel, but I will post results on that one as I get them.


Further Work:


Now, my idea, is to add a PIC Chip into the mix by cutting the video cable and parsing the information through the said chip. This PIC would be able to scan which pixel the device is currently drawing on the viewfinder and where necessary, replace it with a pre-defined shade of gray/white/black.


Why you may ask? Well, it makes more sense for me, as I am making a scope, so adding a dot or a reticule would be very useful, as it turns it immediately into a fully functioning 1x Night vision scope. No need to mount anything in front or behind it to screw with your vision or the camera's auto contrast/focus


Also, earlier today I bought an AWS Scorpion, which, as well as being a mosfet and the best airsoft control unit there is, has a cool little feature of having a serial pin, which it sends various signals to. Signals that I can use as 'Mag Empty' commands, ammo counter, overheat indicator... basically have a full HUD within my scope. I am sure I can also make something work for when the magazine is not inserted, just by using a little micro-switch.


It has also been suggested that this device could work via mechanical sensors with a GBBR. I am sure I will adapt this design to do so when I get one, however since the AWS mosfet has this amazing little feature ,it does half the work for me already!


Anyway, that's my plan, here's a link to how to do the basics, but I just need to get a decent and cheap Assembly-Based programmer for PICs.




The Future


The nice thing about this form of NVD is that the video signal is entirely digital, meaning that I can modify the signal as I see fit really. If I really wanted to, I could work elements of Augmented Reality (AR) into this thing, so for instance, edge detection in corridors, highlighting obstacles and edges of walls etc.


As far as this specific device is concerned, I think AR is abit overkill. It's definitely something I would like to try, as I have justfinished my degree in AI and Cybernetics, so this sort of thing appeals to me, but the lack of colour in the monitor is a bit of limiting factor for me, so I think I had better wait until I get my hands on a HMD, such as a Vuzix, and work AR elements into the 3D video feed, just because it has been a dream project of mine for a long time now. Hell, they are developing these things for the military,then there is a real world need for this device, but I think it is falling slightly out of the realms of airsoft now...




Anyway, if you managed to read this far, Congrats! Thoughts DEFINITELY appreciated, even if they only say 'This is stupid, you've been wasting your life...' but this sort of hackery stuff appeals to the nerd insideme (gay jokes aside :P) and I am sure many of you are the same :)


Oh, and this project is being made for me only for now, not for retail or anything like that. It's aimed as a community project, so feel free to steal my links, ideas and research, but add to them and let me know how it goes. No need to ask me to build one for you, it will take a lot of time todevelop to make it skirmishable anyway, and besides, most of the electrical work is very easy! Try it yourself! :)


Thanks for reading! Nikolay,


aka Bachelarius


To Do List:

  • [v] Basic NVD – Complete!
    [ ] Add Battery (or integrate into Gun's battery)
    [ ] Improve Optics
    [ ] Experiments with illuminators
    [ ] Post sample footage
    [ ] Add PIC Chip
    • [ ] Add Reticule
      [ ] Add SD/USB Upload-able Reticule
      [ ] Add Text Display
      [ ] Interface with AWS Scorpion

[ ] ???

Useful Links etc.


Types of Night Vision Devices


Lux – The ratings explained



What is Composite Video


Spy Camera Basics (Lucid Science)


Intro to Invisible Light (Lucid Science)


How to build a basic NV scope (Lucid Science)


How to build an LED based IR illuminator (Lucid Science)


How to enhance an LED based IR illuminator (Lucid Science)


How to build a Laser-based illuminator (Lucid Science)


How to create a Composite Video Signal with a PIC chip


Cheap and interesting Composite Video Digital Recorder – Takes 2.5" HDD as storage!

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Hi man good to see you back I one of these on the go to we seem to be doing the same projects at the same time. I would surgery getting a broken Sony Handycam and butchering that for parts it has a nightview mode that is amazing for this project. I also made very effective IR illuminators using some 9 led metal torches and swapped the White LEDs for IR ones. Mine was very basic worked well though I used a cheap tube style red dot to give me aiming and easy adjustment. Might have to dig it out and do the project properly. I must also say your posts are always amazing and full of great and relevant info.

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Cheers dude! Don't tell me you are also considering making a DIY CNC machine, that would be eerie :P


Glad to be back to be honest. Uni finished and only now do I start doing all the cool things that could have made an awesome project... *sigh* Better late than never.


How did that red dot fair with the NVD? Did it effect the contrast of the image or anything? Also, have you seen the IR EOtechs that have been coming out of china recently? Made me laugh when I saw it, but it is pretty cool, here's a review,

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No my other project is a full length 1911 with a built in laser and of course tfd heated grips my big project is my tm l96 AWS which is getting all sorts some custom some bought some bogded The red dot was ok like I said damaged Sony handy cam is the way forward the nightshot is awesome only thing with the red dot is the red dot is visible kinda ruins the whole night vision advantage everyone aim for the red dot. One thing I did do was make sure the ir light had it's own on off so I could wait for some on else with Ir and shoot when I saw there light

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