Scaredy Cat Films

Creating an Infrared Digicam from a Samsung Digimax 200
January 13TH, 2008

First off, I wouldn't recommend doing this with a camera you care about, as digital cameras can be fragile, and not too easy to repair. This mod may damage you camera beyond repair if it doesn't work. I am surprised, but even "lousy" digital cameras of 1.0 megapixel or less will cost you over $20 on ebay, and easily into $30 or $40 when you include shipping. Which is really astounding considering new 6.0 megapixel digital cameras can cost only $99 new. Why would someone pay $45 for a camera from 2000?

The subject for this experiment is a Samsung Digimax 200 I bought for $12 off ebay who shipped it for free. My reasoning behind picking up this camera is that a manufacturer like Samsung, who is not a leader in cameras or imaging, may have a more simple camera design with less advanced optics and sensors. A design like that may be easier to modify for Infrared Imagery.

That was partially true. I worked on this camera a lot to get it working. I had to open it up at least 4 times before I was able to get images that were not blurry. I managed to re-assemble the camera incorrectly and attempted to burn it up in my hand. (The smoke that came out the side tipped me off that all was not well). Still I was eventually able to get the right "optics" installed and it now takes decent pictures. (Approximate Retail Price in 07/2002 - $199.00)

Camera Front
Camera Back
Camera Front Camera Back
Camera Top
Camera Bottom
Camera Top Camera Bottom

Step 1:

External Screws

Remove the batteries from the camera first. My Samsung Digimax 200 takes 2 AA Batteries, but I have seen it listed as taking 4. I don't know if that's an isolated misprint, or a version of camera slightly different from this one.

Open up the digital camera by removing all the small screws on the outside of the camera. This camera has 3 screws to remove. There is one screw on the top left (closest to the mode dial and capture button) that is larger than the other two. Take note of this so you can replace it in the correct location.

It will take some prying, but the front or top of the camera will come off. There are little plastic clasps holding the body in place. Be sure to unlock any memory card doors and latches to ease opening the camera.


In subsequent openings of this camera, I found it easiest to take the top blue plastic portion of the camera off first, then the front piece.

Regardless, once you get the front off, the camera should look like the picture at right.

Camera Electronics

Step 2:

Samsung Camera Top

Take the top piece of the camera off if you have not already done so as part of Step 1. There are some important things to note at this point.

First off, there is a black plastic ring around the left side of the camera, underneath the mode select dial. This works by making a connection on the circuit board beneath the ring to select the mode you are in (capture, movie, connection mode, review, etc...). Be careful, because this little black piece is kind of spring loaded. If you can, carefully pop it off and set the piece aside.

The first time I did this mod I did not remove the piece, and several steps later I heard a ping and a thwap across the basement floor. This little piece managed to get lost somewhere between the wall of my basement and the floating slab. I spent at least a half hour with a flashlight and a mirror trying to locate that little piece.


Second, be extremely careful on the other side of the camera, the side with the flash. The two capacitor nodes are right next to the outside of the camera body. In fact, the two little silver spots on the top of the camera with the screw between them are the top of the capacitor. Do Not Touch Them. If you do, you will get shocked, yelp in surprise, and drop the camera. I know, because I did that. The photograph above shows the two silver nodes not to touch. It makes holding and working on the camera a little difficult.

Now we can start removing more screws. You will need to get the rest of the camera out of its case to complete the mod of this camera. There are 4 black screws at each corner of the camera holding the back of the camera to the circuit boards.

Go ahead and remove these 4 screws carefully. The screw in the top right corner (near the flash) is extremely close to the flash capacitor. You could easily touch your screwdriver to the capacitor and discharge it into your hand. I have not done this, but I don't recommend it.

After you remove these 4 screws, the camera will not come out. There is still one more screw hidden underneath the top green circuit board. We'll get to that screw later.

Camera Electronics

Step3:

Removing The Top Circuitboard

There are two black screws that hold the top green circuit board to the top of the camera. There are also two wires, a black and a red that go from the battery leads to this board. There are also some connectors that go from this top board down to the bottom board.

You can remove the two screws, pull up on the board and loosen it from the lower board. The board actually sits in a grove on the bottom of the flash, so again, be careful in this area so you don't get shocked.

The board can be flipped upward from the camera so that you can get to the lower boards and screws. The first time I did this, the red cable eventually broke loose, and I had to solder it back to the circuit board. Its not a big deal if this happens, unless you don't have a soldering iron.


The picture to the right shows the top circuit board removed. You can see the flash capacitor. There are also the black mounts for the screws, and the two little black receptacles for the prongs that hang down from the board.

When replacing this board be sure those line up, that's where I tried to start the fire.

Top Circuit Board Removed

Step 4:

Now you will need to get the camera electronics out of the back of the camera body. The screws to remove the lens assembly and get to the CCD must be taken out from the bottom of the camera. There are 4 screws on the 4 outer corners of the camera case. These are pretty easy to remove. Be careful with the screw in the upper right hand corner near the flash capacitor. These screws can be removed now, but you probably already took them out in Step 2. Note, when replacing these screws I never bothered to replace the one near the capacitor, it was just too difficult to get it back in without getting shocked.

There is one last hidden screw to remove. It is behind the tripod mount and a ribbon cable. It took me forever to find this one, and I almost broke the camera apart trying to get it open. There should be two external silver screws holding a black plastic tripod mount in place. Remove them, and slide the tripod mount out. Then push back the ribbon cable and you will expose the final screw. Remove it, and the electronics should come right out of the plastic camera body.


Locate Tripod Mount
Remove Outer Screws
Find Hidden Body Screw
Locate Tripod Mount Remove 2 Outer Screws Find Hidden Screw

Step 5:

Camera Removed From Case

This picture shows the removed camera body. All the screws I removed are visible at the top of the shot, as well as the tripod mount that was removed. The black lens assembly in the middle of the camera will need to be removed. The screws are on the other side of the camera.


This picture shows the final two screws that need to be removed to get the lens assembly out. There are little black plastic tabs that also help hold the lens in place, so do a little wiggling to get it free.

I don't think the LCD needs to be removed to get to the CCD. But don't hold me to that.

Back Circuit Board Removed

Step6:

Exposed CCD

Here is the exposed CCD and Hot Mirror / IR Blocking Filter. I went through a lot of iterations to get this camera working. First I added a hunk of glass and my filter. When I got the camera back together again, it was very blurry. I guess my homemade optics were off.

Next I removed the glass I added and tried just the filter only. This also produced blurry shots. After some more attempts I eventually used a piece of that clear hard plastic that you usually find items like compact flash cards in. The kind that's a really pain in the ass to cut through. I found a clear piece and put it in. Finally the optics were complete.


Optics Fun:

Outdoor Test Shot
IR Filter 1
IR Filter 2
Outdoor Shot Try Number 1 Try 2, Still Blurry

Indoor Sample Shot
IR Filter 3
IR Filter Success!
Second Sample Shot Try 3, Getting Better Success!

 


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