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Converting conventional digital cameras to work in the IR/UV spectrum

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posted on Apr, 4 2007 @ 08:27 PM
I've seen people on this forum ask a number of times, where they could get cameras like those used by NASA to capture the "critters" on the now famous (on the ATS UFO forum at least) STS footage..

The answer is, if you have the money, you can buy them, but they can be quite expensive.

Alternatively, if you already have a webcam/dslr/digicam/camcorder that uses a CCD sensor (most do), then you already have a camera capable of recording images in the infra red and ultra violet spectrums, the trouble is that the manufacturers place filters that block these wavelengths in front of the CCD. So in order to gain access to these frequencies you have to take the filter out, and replace it with one which lets through the wavelengths you want.

I've heard of cases where people have converted their webcams and DSLRs, but have not seen any digicam/camcorder conversions yet, although this may well be because I have not looked, and these are two areas that I don't keep up with as much. In theory it should be possible to modify these too, and it would not surprise me if someone out there has tried.

Here is a short vid of someone demonstrating how to mod a webcam :

Here is an article about DSLRs and IR/UV which also has links to sites selling replacement filters, which would also work with webcams/digicams/camcorders I guess:

From what I gather they will also do the modification for you. I don't think they will consider modding anthing other than a DSLR, but it might be worth asking just incase

I'm still looking into the topic, and will post back here with more info if I find any. Please feel free to post any info/links you may have which relate to this topic, and, if anyone has or is considering trying this, I'm sure we'd all be interested to know how you got on

posted on Apr, 4 2007 @ 08:57 PM
Interesting stuff. I too have wanted a camera that sees the UV spectrum. I have a cheap night-vision scope, which I think it can only see in the infrared, but I have no idea. This chart seems to suggest that the UV sensitivity tapers off nearing the higher frequencies, and I wonder if its enough to capture the UFO's which are said to be visible in the UV spectrum?

posted on Apr, 4 2007 @ 08:59 PM
I converted a webcam, but the resolution is low and you are limited to where you can set up your computer.

I purchased on ebay a solution I think works well.
I have a camcorder with a video input jack. So I bought a high resolution CCTV camera. It is called a bullet camera and they are about $200 for a good one. I pulled the IR Cut filter off and purchased a IR pass filter. It can now see only IR and no other light passes the IR pass filter.
The camera is .001 LUX so it can see by star light if needed. The bullet cameras come with a battery pack and a RCA type cable.

posted on Apr, 5 2007 @ 02:56 AM
I have made one (successfully), and have another in waiting ( I have to work on the lens).

The one I have that works now is an old digital camera that basically has the resolution of a webcam. I can take it anywhere but I have no display.

It's pretty easy to destroy your camera. It seems all cameras are different and some are very easy to mod, while others are high risk.

I wouldn't use mine seriously, it was more of a project just to see if I could do it.

posted on Apr, 5 2007 @ 05:21 AM
If you camera support external lenses you could buy a 18A lense that filters away all other light than UV light. Same thing goes for IR light, make sure your camera can see into those spectrums first though, other wise it will all be black. UV lenses are very expensive though, I think atleast $3,000 USD, IR filters are availible from about $100 USD I think.

[edit on 5-4-2007 by Acharya]

posted on Apr, 5 2007 @ 08:51 PM

Originally posted by Freezer
I wonder if its enough to capture the UFO's which are said to be visible in the UV spectrum?

I'm guessing that UFO's would be bright in the UV spectrum, so a little sensitivity should/might be enough.

acmeartifacts - thanks for sharing, and yes I agree that web cams are probably best left just for playing around with. I had a look and found some bullet cams. How does 550 lines sound?

.001 LUX sounds pretty good, but I have yet to see any LUX ratings where I've been looking.. I'll have to look a bit harder. High sensitivity is usually a good thing to have

There was mention of using a "ARCHOS personal DVR recorder" for recording on this page, which sounds like a good solution, but I'll look into getting a second hand camcorder too.

I'm not sure if I'll go through with this, but there's no harm in exploring the possibility.. perhaps I'll treat myself if my new business venture takes off.. more lightly, I'll wait till one of my DSLRs is no longer needed and have a look if I can mod that instead.

Dulcimer - thanks for the input. Perhaps we could put together a list of CCD devises that are easy to mod, and those that are not, providing theres enough interest (I think there is, but let's see if any others are willing to sacrifice an old camera in the name of science, or if there are others who already have).

A "1-5" rating system could tell people how easy a camera was to mod, and also its suitability for use as camera for trying to capture UFOs. Some may turn out to be more suitable than others, and with resolutions going up all the time.. I'm sure some good solutions can be found, given time.

I'm glad you brought up the subject of lenses.. what, may I ask, is the problem with it?

I had a sneaky suspicion lenses could be a problem in some cases. My understanding is that, providing the lens actually lets through the frequency of light you want (some won't, especially at the UV end I'm guessing), and your filter only lets a narrow band spectrum of light through, you should be ok. Problems arise if you have a filter that lets more than one frequency through, in the form of chromatic aberrations, which I suppose would just look like loss of detail/blurring of the image.

Acharya - I think you'll find that conventional photography filters, like the 18A remove the UV spectrum and let the visible light through rather than the other way around.

You are right though, getting a good UV lens could be a real problem - as far as I can tell, all the UV-Nikkors lack the ability to focus @ infinity. The 160 mm f/5.6 FAX-Nikkor might be able to, but I'm not sure..

posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 01:11 AM
Problems can happen depending on where the coating is in your camera.

Sometimes you can remove the lens from the camera and actually clean off the coating that blocks the infrared. If you cannot remove the coating then you need to replace that piece of lens.

In reading, I have seen some that are just a strip placed over the ccd that is easily taken off.

In most cheap cameras the lens is in a plastic housing that you basically need to alter just to take apart. This deals with the focus so its pretty tough to just get right.

I would not recommend anyone to do the modification. Chances are you will screw up and regret it. If you are doing this to a half decent camera, get it done right and take it to someone that knows what they are doing.

I still can't get my one camera working right. It never was good and now takes spooky looking, out of focus photos. I have named it the ghost cam. Incredibly useless, yet artistic.

As for looking for UFO's with these things, sure, I guess it is possible. But thats a lot of searching.

posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 04:41 AM
I think I've got an old webcam gathering dust somewhere in my mom's house. I'll have a look tomorrow, if I find it and it's still working I'll try and convert it. Doesn't really matter if I ruin the thing so worth a go


posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 09:59 AM
I converted my old digital camera using the following guide:

I found tht my camera was slightly different and instead of having red film over the CCD, it had a light green film under the lens instead. This was easily removed. I found putting in the peice of old camera film as an optical filter quite tricky though. It really works though.

I have yet to go UFO spotting. According to the book above Top Secret. Some UFOs are invisible in IR and visible optically but the majority are invisible optically but visible in IR.
Good hunting

posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 01:43 PM
Keeping everything clean can be tricky too. Any dust on the ccd will show up big time on your future photos.

posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 08:30 PM
Dulcimer - Don't be so negative - there might be a few kinks to iron out, but I'm sure we can get something to work if we pool our knowledge.

You say yours is producing blurry images.. probably a stupid question, but if you can manual focus, have you tried that? Then we can rule out if its the focusing mechanism thats having trouble or not. What are the specs on the replacement filter you are using ?

I doubt dust will be much of a problem with the relatively small sensors most devises have, but if it is, simply disassemble, and use a blower to clean the sensor/filter, then re-assemble dusting as you go. More aggressive solutions could be employed with stubborn gunk.. It takes a bit of time and care, but once done, you shouldn't have to do it again, or no more often than you normally would.

If you are going to put substantial money into the project, and want best results, you should probably invest in a blower (they are in-expensive) anyway, and make sure it's clean when re-assembling for the first time.

David2012 - let us know how it works out.

Dr X - thanks for the link and tip. Good to hear someone had some success. Any chance you could post a clip or stills of some every day stuff, full res if possible (let me know if you need a file hosting site for large files), and, if you don't mind saying, which make and model is your cam?

posted on Apr, 13 2007 @ 03:31 PM
Pooey, I've looked all over in mom's house.. had a go at the basement too (it's a messy collection of junk she can't get rid off, no car.) But culdn't find my old logetch 'eyeball'

I really wanted to attempt this on it. As it wouldn't have mattered if I had failed anyway.

sigh. ow well.

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