Night Vision goggles Mk I

Short lyrican digression in the beginning.

Another hobby of mine is airsoft. It is especially interesting when airsoft game is mixed with LARP elements.

What is LARP? It is: Live-Action-Role-Play.

For 5 years in a row, we have held a STALKER - airsoft / larp event in Lithuania.

A series of games created based on the books of the brothers Strugatsky and the game for the PC – STALKER.

The game usually lasts from two to 5 days. And it carried out on an abandoned formal soviet missile base. Perfect place for a such game.

And in this game I got the role of Burer - a small, evil monster with telekinesis ability and strong mental abilities.

All the info about the series of games are posted here:

So I will not go deep to the story.

In 2017, before the game, the idea appeared in my head: why not to add my Burer's suit with Night Vision device, so that players wouldn’t relax to much at night?  

The idea with the factory made device was dropped immediately, since the price is too high.

So there were only one way, to do it by myself. After a brief search on the Internet, a project of a night vision device based on an analog camera, a mini display and VR googles was born.

For this project you need:

     1. Analog camera with high sensitivity, for example this one with SONY matrix.


   2. Mini display with analog video input (for example, rear view camera).


Didn’t find one I bought. But this one above quite similar. And mine one is without camera.

     3.  IR flashlight and / or IR diodes for illumination, because the camera will not see anything.

At first I wanted to use an only IR flashlight for illumination, but I was afraid that the flashlight was too heavy. That is why I took 9x3W IR diodes.

But at the end, I put both torch and IR diodes :).

     4. For the power source, I used 4x3.7 lithium-ion batteries. 18650.

     5.  Step-down voltage converter.

Both the camera and the display are powered by 12V. That is why wee need to reduce power voltage with step-down converter. 4 li-ion 18650 batteries gives about 15V fully charged. Such voltage “highly likely” will kill the camera.


     6. Two switches.

One is for switching the power. Second for switching IR LEDs separately 

     7. Cheap VR goggles from China is used like a chassis for all components. Almost any will be ok. I paid around 15$ for something like this:


How to.

In fact, it's easy to connect everything. 

1. Connect battery pack to step-down converter. Adjust 12V on the output of the converter.

2. Connect the camera to the display. You may need an adopter, like me.  

I used the adapter because of both: the camera and the display came with RCA connectors.

3. Connect the display and the camera to the power supply (output of the step-down converter).

I used one line of the main switch for this. Second line is reserved for IR diodes.


                                Battery pack


                                Cover of the battery pack

                                       ON / OFF switch

4. Mount IR diodes (if you would like to use it ). Connect them to the power supply.

I  connected them via second line of the main switch directly to the battery pack. I decided that may be it is better to separate those powerful diodes from the camera and the display. Also connecting diodes directly I do not loose any power on step-down converter. Four batteries gives aprox. 15V. And this is ok for diodes.

The white thing on the top - is a 5ohm 5W resistor for reducing current via diodes.



I was more or less satisfied with my NV during the game. I was able to see targets from about 15 m in open space. It is more complicated to see something in the forest, due to a reflection of infrared light from leaves and grass. But unfortunately it is impossible to run, because of it is like you have only one eye with black and white picture :), plus the viewing angle is different from your eyes used to see.

My device   runs more than 2 hours on cheapest batteries from China. With IR diodes switched on about 45 minutes.

I was missing video capture capabilities. Therefore, as a result, a project of a digital NV able to capture video based on Raspberry Pi was born. But this is the story for the next project :) .

If this project was interesting for you, you could buy me a cofee :)