Digital Camcorder Modification
A "How To..."
by Chuck Thurston
It's becoming increasingly difficult to purchase a digital camcorder that has a "Night Vision" or 0 lux feature. Sony was pretty much the only source for them, and they have stop producing them in favor of a "Low Light" version, which doesn't see well when using only Infrared (IR) light as a source. True Night Vision camcorders can also be pretty expensive. I paid over $2000 for one of mine.
An easy, and fairly cheap, way around this is to modify another camcorder, so it not only works well with IR but will see Ultraviolet (UV) as well, creating what is being called a "Full Spectrum" Digital Camcorder.
Be aware that once modified, the camcorder will see much more light and over such a broad spectrum that they will be useless as a standard camcorder. The "Hot Filter" you will be removing only passes light over the very narrow spectrum equivalent to what the human eye sees. Once removed, the charge-coupled device (CCD) in the camera will receive full light. As a result, colors in the image will be radically shifted.
I've done this modification on a few different brands of camcorders, and I've found the Vivitar 1020HD to be one of the easiest to modify. At a price of $70 from places like Target, it's both reasonably priced and able to record at Full High Definition (HD) resolutions.
Once modified, the wide light range capability and high resolution video make this camcorder a very good alternative to those of a Security DVR and Camera system, which are much lower resolution, and you'll have no annoying cables to route, trip over and rewind.
A note here if I may. This is one time where "more expensive" doesn't mean "better". Yes, you can modify a $300, $400 or more, camcorder in the same way, but it will be very difficult due to the more elaborate construction, and a greater risk of damaging the thing.
So, let's get started...
Vivitar 1020HD, right out of the packaging.
|Here's the starting point.|
|Carefully pry the chrome ring off to expose 6
|Now remove the face plate to access the lens.|
|The target is in sight!
|The lens is nicely glued in place to keep the
focus, so be careful not to turn or twist the lens.
Now carefully cut away the black plastic lens cover, until you expose the "Hot Filter" glass plate.
|Remove the "Hot Filter" glass plate.
Make sure the actual lens is nice and dust free before reassembling the faceplate.
|Replace the faceplate and tighten the 6 little screws.|
|Insert the chrome ring again.
It should just snap back into place.
... And you're FINISHED!
So, what's the camera do now? THIS...
Screen grab from one of our investigations, using one of my modified "Full Spectrum" Vivitar camcorders.
The room, in the above picture, is in total darkness as far as our eyes can see, but is being lit with an infrared light source. These IR lights can be purchased, or as an alternative, another one of my web pages explain how to make your own Infrared Flood Lights. It's not all that difficult or expensive.
I had it recording at only HALF its full resolution, and look how nice it is.
Notice the screen of the H4n digital voice recorder is still orange, and the green LED on my Sony Camcorder is still green. Everything else is under IR light only. Full Spectrum is kind of nice that way.
Here's the combination I'm using, a modified Vivitar 1020HD and one of my IR Flood Lights.
Oh Yes, I made several.
Well... A few more actually :)
Happy Ghost Hunting!!
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