Instructions for making your own IR illuminators

Updated April 17, 2017

With the increasing popularity of devices such as night vision goggles, digital still cameras and video cameras with night vision features, IR illuminators are quickly becoming more popular as well. Night vision devices are sensitive to the IR (infrared) light spectrum and an illuminator functions as a flashlight that shines light that is only visible through night vision devices. Commercial IR illuminators can cost up to £650. Fortunately, a homemade IR illuminator can be built for as little as £22.

Unscrew the front end of the flashlight. This will give you access to the light bulb and reflector.

Remove the reflector from the lens assembly. Depending on the flashlight, you may have to remove the light bulb first.

Place the reflector face down on top of each sheet of gel filter and carefully trace around the reflector with the razor blade.

Place the cut-out circles of gel filter on the inside of the front end of the flashlight, between the reflector and the lens. The order of the filters is not important. It is only necessary that they completely cover the lens so that no light shows through.

Reassemble the flashlight and turn it on. You should see a reddish purple glow coming from the flashlight. When you turn off the lights, you should see a small red light being projected from your flashlight.


Gel light filters are used by photographers, filmmakers and stage productions to give lights a specific tint. They can be found at photography shops or online.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight or hand-held lantern
  • Four sheets of congo blue gel lighting filter
  • Two sheets of red gel lighting filter
  • Razor blade
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Ryan Maxwell began his professional freelance writing career in 2009. He is a former U.S. Army military police officer, as well as a published poet and photographer. While attending Finlandia University, Maxwell majored in criminal justice with a minor in English studies. Ryan is also very skilled in computer maintenance, upgrade and repair with almost 20 years of experience.