How to Build Your Own Thermal Camera

Written by palmer owyoung
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How to Build Your Own Thermal Camera
Turn your digital camera into a thermal camera. (webcam image by haruspex from

A thermal camera will let you pick up on the heat signature left by an object, person or animal. It does this by blocking out the rest of the light spectrum and allowing infrared light to pass into the camera's lens. While these devices used to be something that only spies had, nowadays with some glue, an inexpensive digital camera and a screwdriver you can easily make your own.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Film negative
  • Inexpensive digital camera
  • Flat head screw driver
  • Phillips screw driver
  • Non-toxic glue

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  1. 1

    Get a strip of old film negative and cut two of the squares off. This should be the black ends not the part that has images on it.

  2. 2

    Open up the digital camera with a Phillips screwdriver. Set the screws aside. If you are using an inexpensive digital camera such as a webcam it may not have screws, so you can pry it open with a flat head screwdriver.

  3. 3

    Remove the charged couple device (CCD ) from behind the lens of the camera. This will be rectangular in shape and will have a red-coloured piece of glass on top of it. This is the infrared filter.

  4. 4

    Pry the filter loose with the flat head screwdriver. Make sure that you don't damage the CCD in the process.

  5. 5

    Put a small dollop of glue on the negative film and attach it to the CCD. Wait about an hour for it to dry.

  6. 6

    Reassemble the camera. If you pried it apart, you will need to use some super glue to put it back together.

  7. 7

    Take a photo in the dark. You will notice that the colours are very different from what you are accustomed to seeing.

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