DIY

Making a Spy Camera in 4 Easy Steps

Vishal Ingole
Always wanted to be like Sherlock Holmes or do sting operations of corrupt government officials (as suggested by Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi)? Now's your chance! This simple DIY homemade spy cam is just as effective and not half as expensive as a store-bought spy camera. Come to think of it, you probably won't even need to spend any cash on this DIY project, because chances are, you have most of the tools you need right at home.

Where Spy Cams Come in Handy

You can use your spy camera to keep an eye on things at home when you aren't around. This handy surveillance device is great for parents who work and want to keep watch on the well-being of their kids back home. You can also use it at the office and it is very easy to conceal and can capture quite a bit of footage. It is also a great tool to use if you are leaving on a vacation and entrusting your home to a house-sitter. These spy cams are great ways of ensuring that your home is in safe hands and isn't being compromised in any way whatsoever.

Building Your Own Spy Cam

While there are many options for spy cams available in the market, making your own is a fun DIY project that you can do on your day off. So here goes:

What you'll need:

· USB webcam
· Old power supply from a small gadget like a mobile phone
· USB extension cable (optional)
· Screwdriver, chisel, drill, pliers, hammer
· Scotch tape, super glue

Step 1 - Take the webcam apart

Anyone with a pair of eyes can tell what a webcam looks like these days. And if someone can identify it, it defeats the purpose of being a 'spy camera' then. This is why we need to start by changing the way it looks first. What you should aim to do, is separate the cable from plastic enclosure and the circuit board on which the lens is present. The end result should be the cable and lens that you have extracted from the plastic casing, but are still attached to the circuit board. Use a screwdriver to get the job done because most webcams are held together with a few screws. This makes the process of separation, a piece of cake. Some cheaper webcams use glue. If this is the case with the one you're working with, you're going to have to break the case with something sharp like a file or a Swiss knife. Always protect yourself with gloves and glasses when you're working with sharp tools.

Most webcams have a screw-on lens with a 12 mm thread mount that is standard for most CCTV lenses. What you need to be looking for when you build your own spy cam is a wide angle lens, the more the better. Use your own judgment to figure out whether the one you're working with is good enough or there are many stores that sell 12mm lens mounts.

Step 2 - Take the power supply apart

Now that you've separated the lens from its plastic casing, you need to procure a 'hidden' case for your spy cam. It needs to be totally inconspicuous and look natural, yet something that is big enough to hold a camera. Here are a couple of things that might work:

- A wired mouse
- A desk lamp
- A PC Speaker
- An alarm clock
- A Cell phone charger or power supply

Power supplies or cell phone chargers work best because there are always tons of them lying around the house that you can use. You will probably need a hammer and chisel to get it opened. Be careful with how you use your tools because the case is what's important here. Minimize the damage to it by working with the utmost caution. If you're using a charger, there are chances that the metal pins you use to plug it into the wall socket will be attached directly to the transformer. You should keep this the way it is, so that it looks like a real charger. You can get these off with the help of pliers and then glue them back to the plastic case when you're done.

Step 3 - Assemble your spy camera

This is the best part, really, because fitting all the components together is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. Start by identifying where to position your circuit board and where you need to drill holes in it to fit the lens in. You want your spy cam to look totally natural, with no massive lens sticking out of it. This is why it is a great idea to first drill a tiny hole (around 5-8mm) and then check if it offers you a good view. If it doesn't, keep going a little at a time, until you are satisfied with your result. To hold everything together, you can use super glue and scotch tape.

For a more advanced spy cam, try removing the IR filter from your webcam. When you do this, you can completely cover the lens hole with IR film and make your lens 100% invisible. This of course means that your spy cam will be equipped to recording only in IR. So be prepared for back and white images with reduced picture quality.

Step 4 - Testing and spying

That's it, you're done! Now connect the USB end of your webcam to a 15 foot USB extension cable. You can hook up your spy cam around 20 feet away from your computer. Plug it in to your computer to check that it works fine. Position the camera wherever it will look most natural, either on the floor, or next to the leg of a table etc. And now that you have made your own spy cam, you need to test to see if it works well. This makes sure that the videos you are capturing are of the area that you want on film. As soon as you have tested it, you're good to go!



Photo by: Thinstock Images
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