How to Build Night Vision Goggles

By John Rapp

Night vision goggles were invented for use by the military. Over the years, they have become popular among law enforcement agencies and hunters. The technology that makes the night vision possible is called an infrared image intensifier tube. The tubes transfer photons into electrons by passing a charge through a photo cathode and then illuminated by a phosphor screen. These goggles can be made at home using two simple methods.

Things You'll Need

  • Primary red theatrical gels
  • Congo blue theatrical gels
  • Super glue
  • Soldering iron
  • Welding goggles
  • 8 high-intensity infrared LEDs
  • Two 3-volt, button-cell batteries
  • X-Acto knife

Step 1

Buy welding glasses with removable lenses. These can be found at your local hardware store for about $7. A more expensive method would be to also buy a pair of IR scopes that are powered by battery and used for hunting rifles. You would then attach the scopes to the goggles using either super glue, epoxy glue or a soldering iron.

Step 2

Remove the lenses and trace their shape onto sheets of Congo blue and primary red theatrical gels, which are made for stage lighting. Ensure that you have two pieces for each color and cut all four pieces out using the X-Acto knife. Glue the blue gels first and then the red ones, by touching the outer rim of the gels all the way around with the super glue. Make sure you put one of each color gel in each lens hole of the goggles so that you end up with each eye filtering red and blue light. Gently lay them inside the goggles one at a time and wait for the glue to dry.

Step 3

Glue the eight high-intensity infrared LEDs, four on each side, to the outside of goggles and on the outer edge of the lenses so that they are to left of the left lens and to the right of the right lens. The LEDs create the illumination needed to filter the light through the colored gels. Secure the wires of the lights to the outer edge of the goggles using electrical tape.

Step 4

Wire the lights to the 3-volt, button-cell battery and glue the battery to the side of the goggles. Ensure that there is a battery on each side of the goggles so that each set of lights has a battery. Leave the plus wire short so that it does not touch or tape it down so it isn't able to make contact. You may also want to wire a switch from the wire to the battery so that the goggles can be turned on and off. However, you can simply tape the wire to the battery when in use.

Step 5

Take your goggles outside to test them. If the image is weak or not well illuminated, you may need to add more LEDs or another layer of gels.