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How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

09/26/2007 3:04 AM

I am learning electronics and am wanting to convert my game camera with flash to ir leds for night pics of deer. I could buy new cameras for $700 each but I would like to convert my 4 existing flash game cams to ir to save money and explore electronics more. I am not able to reverse engineer yet.

Is this a complicated project or can it be done as a beginner project? Any help or refrences would be appreciated.

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#1

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

09/26/2007 10:35 AM

Depending on the flash unit, their may be sufficient IR light in the flash already, and all you need to do is put an optical filter on to get rid of the visible component. A cheap optical filter often used is a piece of exposed film like you get with negatives when you get film developed.

Not knowing what kind of camera you have, nor do I know what a game camera is I don't know if I can be much more help.

I do know in CCD cameras, they often have an optical filter over the CCD to remove the IR. If this is the case you will need to remove this filter to enable the camera to see in IR no matter what kind of flash output the camera has.

None of this has much to do with electronics, although you could make an IR flashlight quite easily, no need to time it with the flash to get a good picture, just keep it on.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

09/27/2007 1:08 AM

thanks for the help. A game cam is a battery operated motion detector activated remote camera set up on game trails to get a photo census and time stamp of game in the area. Problem is with 1 or 2 flashes in the eye at midnite deer move to a new trail and you have to reposition the camera.

I thought i might be able to pull the flash capacitor and bulb and replace with an IR led array in the flash window that would still be triggered by the motion detector and illuminate for night pics.

I will have to try the film cover and see if I can determine if the ccd has a filter to be removed. Would removing the ir filter, assuming it has one, have any effect on the day time pic resolution? The camera is a WildView 2 model 1.0 digital.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

09/27/2007 6:25 AM

most CCD can see in the dark, sort of down to a per-set level, but why use an IR flash, just use an IR light that turns on during the time of shooting, which will give ya more illumination of object

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

09/27/2007 10:14 AM

Removing the IR filter won't change the resolution, but it will change the color balance. You may notice your pictures will look sort of an strange green. You can fix this by digital post processing, or you can save that IR filter and place it over the lense, it just has to be somewhere in the optics to work. As I mentioned and also the guest comment said, you don't need your IR LEDs to flash, you can just keep them on around the time the picture is going to be taken.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

09/27/2007 11:39 AM

Thanks for this discussion it is helping me narrow down to my real question. Where in the flash circuit would I substitute the ir led array?

It sounds like I don't need any of the flash charging circuit just the trigger to turn on the ir LED's. Would I need a RC combination to keep the LED's on for certain amount of time?

Since I am learning electronic circuits on my own and backwards from and application focus, I was concerned about substituting in and existing circuit.

I am seeing now that I need to know more about the calculations and basic circuit design. I was hoping that making smoke of my existing camera circuit wouldn't happen but that may be part of coming down the learning curve. Maybe a beginning EE text book might save me some time and smoke.

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#6

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

09/27/2007 11:42 AM

I think a few responders missed a key point about these being battery operated, if you leave the IR source on, your unit will be dead by the time the deer come by!

I think this could be done with a bit of electronics knowledge and learning. First, you need to find the trigger source for the flash (the motion sensor output). Once you've found this, figure out what voltage levels it gives (probably 0-5V). You could then use the trigger signal to turn on a FET (Field Effect Transistor), the FET would apply the voltage to your IR LED array. Since this would be a quick pulse to the LED's, you can actually exceed the steady-state current maximum of the LED's without harm. This could give you a pretty good IR "flash" without having to use too many LED's. Sounds like a good beginner electronics project to me, good luck!

Tom

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

09/27/2007 12:02 PM

Thanks Tom

It does all run on 4 C-batteries so minimal current drain is important. Although there is an external 12v dc imput jack.

Now i can focus on FET's and making an ir array configuration that will fit either voltage.

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

09/27/2007 7:00 PM

If ya really want to light up the subject try a bright green spot light, ya camera will have a better view

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

09/28/2007 7:36 AM

Hap, this camera is out in the sticks, literally. It's meant to hang up in a tree along a deer trail (or other areas where game/wildlife frequent), and take a picture when it senses motion. Thus, using line power is not an option. As far as the green spot light goes, the reason he's looking into IR is the fact that once the camera has flashed a time or two, the wildlife tend to quit using that trail, making it difficult to get a good accounting of what wildlife there is in the area.

Tom

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

09/27/2007 6:58 PM

Ya don't need camera pwr to run IR Lamps, they can run off house current, which gives ya a better image. For any of thoses that have shot B/W film using IR, they will know as well

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#11

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

09/28/2007 10:19 AM

cmc,

As frankd20 said, a good place to start your experinemtation would be to place a filter over your camera's existing flash.

Going beyond the use of scraps of developed 35 mm film, there are several filters on the market that are more suitable IR pass filters; however glass sandwiched filters in metal rings range in price dramatically, starting at <$30 to > $250.

If you have an old camera shop in your area, ask if they have any of the old "Wratten gelatin filters" left in stock. Kodak used to manufacture a line of unmounted square gelatin filters in various sizes (as small as 2" x 2"), at reasonable cost. However Tiffen took over the Wratten line 7 or 8 years ago, and I do not think that they still manufacture the more esoteric filters, such as the IR only pass filters.

If you can find them, you should look for the Wratten #87, #87C, #88A & #89B.

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Anonymous Poster
#12
In reply to #11

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

10/01/2007 1:56 AM

Thanks Jman, The filter numbers will be a big help. My brother used to work for Wolf camera and might be a good resource for finding those at a good price. THese are all great suggestions but the engineer in me is still itching to take something apart. I thought I might be able to find someone here or on Makezine.com who had made this flash to IR led conversion already or something like it with adequate EE background. This project was more for the tinkerer in me than the get it done efficiently part. THanks again for the help. CMC

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Anonymous Poster
#13

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

07/27/2008 7:38 PM

Hey guys on a related note: How can I bypass the motion sensor trigger and replace it with a different trigger?

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: How to Convert Camera Flash to IR LED Flash?

07/28/2008 3:20 AM

I haven't looked at bypassing the triggger. What are you thinking of using to trigger the camera?

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Anonymous Poster (3); cmc (4); frankd20 (2); Hap (2); tdesmit (2); The JMAN (1)

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