So after discussing it with some fellow stargazers on Cloudy Nights, I decided that I needed the IR cut filter that is housed in the back of the lens assembly for the Microsoft Lifecam Cinema HD. If you recall, yesterday I removed it following Gary Honis’ instructions.
Turns out, for the camera to work properly for astronomical (or otherwise) purposes, you need a UV\IR cut filter to block IR light and give the image a “natural” look. As it happens, I guess it’s so well known that if you modify a webcam you need to do this that everyone just buys a 1.25″ filter (designed for the eyepiece) and attaches it to the modified camera.
Well, I took a look at all the parts (thank goodness I saved them!) and decided why not just remove the little IR filter that came with the webacm and figure out a way to re-attach it to the sensor? What have I got to lose, right? If it doesn’t work, I was going to throw out the extra parts anyway and have to buy a filter (anywhere between $40-$100). Since this whole project was partly to save me money, I decided to just plow ahead and say what the hell.
So, first step was to remove the IR filter from the lens assembly. Here it is all attached ready for surgery.
How to do this though? It’s inside that little black box made of metal (and oddly enough a nice little magnet…) and plastic. Well, the solution was easier than I thought. See that little eyeglass repair kit screwdriver there at the bottom of the above picture? Well, just wedge it in the seams all the way around the little lens assembly.
A little judicious application of force and one of the sides popped free.
And then you just wedge your way around the thing, peeling up the sides to expose the next layery. It’s like a tiny little magnetic onion that represents $40-$100. Careful now…don’t scratch the filter.
And you just keep working your way down, peeeling offf little thin metallic layer by layer until you end up with:
The IR filter is there on the top. On the other side is what looks like the nose off a minature little DSLR. Crazy thing is, the cylinder rotates freely inside the square housing. It’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s pretty darn neat to see. Amazing what they can do now in China.
This side houses a little a little lens that looks like a bubble fisheye lens. Weird. Anyway, I tried several times to push and pull the little square housing off. I tried prying it off with a knife. Nothing worked. So I took it out to the shop and tried a hammer (gently lol) on the corner while holding it with needle nose pliers. Nothing. Out of desperation I tried squeezing the tu e behind the IR filter with those needlenose pliers too. Still nothing, but…the barrel tube thing was scratched. It was plastic!
Very gently I pried the filter out and noticed a little O-ring popped out with it, followed by a few more pieces and glass lenses (I guess that what they were). And that’s when I realized how I would mount this little sucker to the sensor. I would use the O-ring as a spacer and glue everything in place with dabs of superglue.
Do get to the sensor chip, I had to disassemble the camera (again). Once the sensor was free of the housing, I used some superglue and a toothpick to apply four tiny drops to the four corners of the sensor. And I do mean TINY drops. Don’t want to cover any pixels now…then I used tweezers from a pocket knife to gently lay the O-ring in position. All good so far.
I should mention that I noticed there is a super thin little clear plastic sheet that covers the sensor chip. I figure this is my get out of jail-free-card—if I screw this up, I’ll just peel off the plastic, O-ring, and filter and go buy a real filter!
Anyway, it was easy to put a little superglue on the top of the O-ring and very carefullyput the filter on top. A seconds to adjust positioning with the tweezer and Bob’s your uncle.
I now have the IR filter neatly in place over the sensor. Just a matter of putting everything back together and voila…NOW she should be ready for work.
Of course, who knows if it’ll work. But it was fun tinkering and now I really do have a FrankenCam! If this works I’m gonna be stoked!