Infrared camera – you asked us, so we’re making them!

You may have heard rumours about something we’re calling Pi NoIR (Pi, no infrared) – it’s been a very badly kept secret. Some months ago we featured some work that was being done at Reading Hackspace, where members were removing the infrared filter to use the camera to sense infrared signals, and for low-light work, especially with wildlife. The Reading camera boards ended up going to the Horniman Museum in London, where they’re currently being used to track the activity of corals at night.

A lot of you are interested in wildlife monitoring and photography. London Zoo mentioned to us that the infrared filter on the standard Pi camera board is a barrier to using it in projects like the Kenyan rhino-tracking project they’re running based around the Pi – although the Pi is used as the base of the project and does all the computational tasks required, they started out having to use a more expensive and more power-hungry camera than the Pi camera board, because that IR filter meant that it wasn’t useable at night.

Once the news from Reading Hackspace and the Horniman got out, we were inundated by emails from you, along with comments here on the blog and on the forums, asking for a camera variant with no IR filter. You wanted it for camera effects, for instances where you wanted to be able to see IR beams from remote controls and the like, for low-light photography illuminated by IR, and especially for wildlife photography. Archeologists wanted to take aerial photographs of fields with an IR camera to better see traces of lost buildings and settlements. Some botanists got in touch too: apparently some health problems in trees can be detected early with an IR camera.

Initially we thought it wasn’t going to be something we could do: Sunny, who make the sensor, filter and lens package that’s at the heart of our camera board, did not offer a package without the filter at all. Removing it would mean an extra production line would have to be set up just for us – and they had other worries when we started to talk to them about adding an infrared camera option. They told us they were particularly concerned that users would try to use a camera board without a filter for regular daytime photography, and be would be upset at the image quality. (There’s a reason that camera products usually integrate an infrared filter – the world looks a little odd to our eyes with an extra colour added to the visible spectrum.)

We convinced them that you Pi users are a pragmatic and sensible lot, and would not try to replace a regular camera board with a Pi NoIR – the Pi NoIR is a piece of equipment for special circumstances. So Sunny set up an extra line just for us, to produce the Pi NoIR as a special variant. We will be launching Real Soon Now – modules are on their way and we’re aiming for early November – so keep an eye out here for news about release.

RS Components have got their hands on an early prototype, and Andrew Back produced a blog post about using it in timelapse wildlife photography at night, with infrared illumination. You can read it at DesignSpark, RS’s community hub.

Andrew’s garden is a paradise of slugs.

Jon and JamesH would like you to be aware that the red flashes are most likely due to not letting the camera “warm up” sufficiently before taking each picture. Jon says: “Raspistill defaults to 5 second previews before capture which should be enough. If using the “-t” parameter then don’t set it below 2000. The “-tl” parameter is for timelapse, which doesn’t shut the camera down between picture grabs.” (We’re checking the white balance before release all the same, though.)

Let us know if you’re in the market for a Pi NoIR in the comments. We’d love to hear your plans for one! We’re planning to sell it for $25, the same price as a regular camera module. Check back here: we’ll tell you as soon as it’s released.


The Raspberry Pi Guy avatar

Awesome… Glad that you have decided to make this option available! One question: What kind of range does the Pi NoIR have?

The Raspberry Pi Guy

liz avatar

Same as the regular camera board.

Dave Akerman avatar

I think I might have a use for one … :-)

liz avatar

Can’t *imagine* what. ;)

Chris avatar

Would an IR-sensitive camera be advantageous for HAB photography? I’m getting started on a project along the lines after seeing the awesome pictures you were able to capture with your Pi in the Sky, though I don’t have enough experience with IR to know how that would affect photos taken in that scenario.

Camillo avatar

Nice to build a PIR night and day security camera?

Texy avatar

Yup – I’ll take one ;-)


Zak avatar

I’m interested in one or two…

Paul Edwin avatar

I was thinking of getting another Raspberry Pi (already got two), to keep an eye of what our dog gets up to while we’re out of the house… with the NoIR we’ll be able to watch her at night too!

Andy Armstrong avatar

Yup, I’m definitely up for a few of those. Excellent news, thanks ;)

adrian oakley avatar

could you use one for sensing finger contact with a perspex surface?
Im interested in using a pi for surface computing as an information display

Zachary Igielman avatar

I am definitely interested. A lot of people have built CCTV/security camera systems with the Pi and camera module. At night, either their system is useless, or they have to trigger a very bright light as well as start videoing when they detect motion. With the Pi NoIR, I assume we don’t need the additional light (it can see in the dark)? However, would we have to use the normal camera module for daytime cameras, or would the Pi NoIR be sufficient?

jdb avatar

The camera module cannot inherently “see” in the dark. For the videos taken by RS, they used flood-fill IR illumination from a bank of IR LEDs.

This is how most low-light security cameras work – they illuminate with IR sources.

Zachary Igielman avatar

I know. But what would daytime footage be like? Sufficient for a security camera?

liz avatar

Yeah, should be fine.

mkkyah avatar

I know we are asking maybe too much, but is there a chance to have a dedicated/compatible ir-cut filter, which opens and closes automatically?

Sarge avatar

I’m looking forward to getting one!

The pieces are coming together for a remote, battery powered wildlife cam.

I’m working with a prototype version of the Sleepy Pi to address the power consumption issue.

When this camera comes out, all that is left is to find the appropriate trigger (i.e., some form of PIR sensor, ultrasonic, or something else). I’d like to get a big field of view, like 20 or 30 meters, that gets illuminated and photographed when tripped.


I had nighttime wildlife photography in mind.

I’ve been working with Jon Watkins and

Ian avatar

I am very interested in setting up a vehicle-mounted IR camera with IR lighting from LandRover to capture activity in the campsite at night (either PIR triggered or continuous at a low frame rate). Would a dedicated car battery (via an inverter) suffice to drive the Pi, USB hub, USB disk drive, Pi NoIR, PIR sensor and IR lights (to illuminate up to 20 meters) ?

Mike avatar

Don’t use an inverter! You’ll lose most of your power in heat. Go to ebay and search for “LM2596 buck converter” – for about £2, it will step down 12V to 5V/2A at about 80% efficiency. 2A is enough for everything on your list bar the lights, which would run off 12V anyway

laurent avatar

With a couple of IR LEDs, it would be nice for a security camera :)
I’ll buy at least one !

Little question : would it be also available in a bundle with Raspberry Pi A ?

Many thanks to the fundation again :)

poing avatar

Me too, me too! If what I’ve in mind works I’ll buy a whole bunch with a Pi for every camera.

Vince avatar

Sounds great. I would like to use it to find out where there are heat loss sections of my house. Then, I can see exactly where the insulation is not working properly.

poing avatar

I don’t think that will work. To record heat you’ll need a different sensor.

jdb avatar

Unfortunately the infra-red range of the camera doesn’t extend to the wavelengths required to see heat emissions from objects at room temperature.

The NoIR camera will work to about 1μm – at wavelengths longer than this, silicon becomes transparent to infra-red.

edwinj85 avatar

This sounds awesome!

Stupid question: Without the IR filter, could this new camera still be used in the day for normal picture taking?

jdb avatar

Yes, but everything looks weird.

The red channel is the most sensitive to IR light so lots of things that reflect IR look pink or mauve. Trees look red.

liz avatar

…and that’s why Sunny were, at first, not keen on our selling a version without the filter. They didn’t want people to think they had something they could use for standard pictures and get angry when the colour spectrum turned out looking a bit odd!

edwinj85 avatar

TBH That’s fine for me, I just want to make a security camera. I can just switch to black and white and keep an IR floodlight on the garden then?


liz avatar

Yup – that should work brilliantly.

Andrew Oakley avatar

So what you’re saying is, as I’m someone who is heavily red-green colour blind, that this camera has no downsides to me whatsoever, and will present me with high quality familiar scenes in all light conditions… ;-)

More seriously, as I *am* really heavily colour blind, and I already own two original Pi cameras – will the IR ones be clearly distinguishable from the ordinary ones, through some kind of marking on the device hardware itself?

Because my eyesight will not be able to differentiate them by looking at the output, and I already have quite enough people thinking colour blindness is a fun parlour game when actually it’s a huge PITA (although not that huge; like being a bit lame in one leg in the middle of the week; you know, something beggable, but not leprosy).

Gavin avatar

Presumably healthy plants reflect more IR than unhealthy plants. So my disabled Mum could see in daylight those areas of the garden that were being damaged by drought & aphids and direct the gardeners (my daughter & I!) to rectify the problems. I guess I’ll need a few.

andy avatar

Seems like an odd presumption…

Zak avatar

Actually, is doing exactly that, looking for healthy trees in your neighborhood by using balloon aerial photography and an infrared camera to look for healthy trees….See for details.

Pat avatar

Trees do not look red. Colours are skewed. Greyscales wrong but green trees don’t turn red.

poing avatar

You can add an IR filter in front of the lens to get the same functionality as the regular camera.

HaggisHunter avatar

So the Bayer filter is still in place? Excellent!

T_Beermonster avatar

You can use an IR pass filter (easy to buy, also easy to make using some exposed photographic negative) and record in monochrome. You’ll get Day and Night IR only images.

andy avatar

You can also use bits of old floppy disc, apparently.

sylvain avatar

Sounds great, would be interesting to see if we can add a little servo operated piece of IR filter to use it in both day and night scenarios…

AndrewS avatar

I was just thinking exactly the same thing!
I guess it might be interesting to have three options on the servo-rig – no filter (i.e. full spectrum including IR), IR filter (i.e. normal daytime colours) and non-IR filter (i.e. *only* capture IR wavelengths). Should be easy to setup given just how tiny the camera’s lens is.

Thanks to Sunny for making this NoIR camera available :) It’ll allow us to take pictures even when there’s no sunny-shiney.

Peter avatar

The other option is to block put visible light so it sees mostly IR during the day. Two sheets of exposed black and white film used to work well with the old kodak IR films, and is probably a good starting point for a visible light filter

AndrewS avatar

Yeah “block visible light so it sees mostly IR” is exactly what I meant by “non-IR filter (i.e. *only* capture IR wavelengths)”.

I don’t have any camera film, black&white/colour/exposed/under-exposed/over-exposed or otherwise ;-)

Gordon avatar

Remove the filter from the front of an old sky box / tv / hifi (anything that has an IR remote)

That should do the trick…

You can also point an IR remote controll at the camera and watch it flash… Not sure there’s any point but it’s fun!


Geoff avatar

From experience fully exposed (the black bits at the end of the roll) colour film is the best IR pass filter. 2 layers seems the optimal thickness.
Black and white film tends to block the too IR.


would it be possible to implement a filter in software, rather than hardware?
Given that the NoIR captures the full spectrum,I’d guess it should be possible to neglect part of it after capturing the image.

Craig L avatar

We will buy as many of these as we can get! Looking forward to checking it out.

Andrew Back avatar

I actually quite like the wonky colour palette an infrared sensitive camera gives you in “normal use” — has a certain other-worldly charm :o)

eben avatar

Love the idea that Pi NoIR is a tool for special circumstances. I always wanted to work for Special Circumstances.

liz avatar

That was deliberate, you twonk. :D

Executioner avatar

Wouldn’t that be just fantastic! Surely you guys should be working on making the first round of British-manufactured “Minds” though ??


David avatar

No SC, no comment.

It’s a sadder world without him.

Gareth Jones avatar

I’d buy one…. Well done Reading Hackspace!

SteveDee avatar

Yep, I’ll take one for my hedgehog cam. Five or six iR leds should light the little guy up nicely.

Would still like a 3rd camera version “PiNoGlue” with a dry fit lens to make it really easy to get the little blighter out!

Arthur Amarra avatar

Nice! With this, the Dark Pi may rise again ;)

Peter avatar

Been wishing for a decent, cheap infrared digital camera since Kodak discontinued their IR films a few years back. Not sure what I’ll do with this yet but I’ll definitely be buying one, even if it’s just for landscape photography

Alex Eames (RasPi.TV) avatar

I’m going to have to get hold of one of these to experiment with automated filter changing (servo controlled, LDR triggered, maybe?) so it can be used for both day and nighttime use.

Mike Lawrence avatar

Good timing! I was just about to order a regular camera module and try my hand at removing the IR cut-filter myself, but I’ll wait until these come out. I’ll be using it to develop a cheap and portable eye tracker; the pupil contrasts with the sclera and iris much more strongly under IR illumination.

JohnCat avatar

Excellent, I am doing a project for a local school to try and get a camera in a beehive, one of the many challenges is the light and any impact in the bees so this will be excellent.

When can we get one!

Todd avatar

I’ll be getting one.

Stephen avatar

This is great news.

I know these things have pretty good depth of field, based on what I’ve seen of photos/videos people have posted, but I am wondering if any specs are available yet as to how the IR mod changes the DOF. Can I presume they are optimizing that in the factory?

JBeale avatar

I think you will find IR images are softer overall (lower contrast and lower resolution). Apart from that, you will not find a change in DOF which is a function of the lens, not the IR filter.

Stephen avatar

Sorry, my comment was not clear at all, in retrospect.

The “infinity focus” point for any given lens will be rather different for IR vs visible light, so I’m really wondering if the lens’ focus is adjusted to compensate or not.

Sorry if it’s still not clear; my background is photography and not optics :-(

Dixy avatar

Great seeing the use of cameras with IR and None IR, I need to take images from my car front and rear both in day light and at night so we can prove to the police we are being followed by a certain person(s) and car. Any help in developing a microprocessor and camera to do this would be of great help, so would help catching our local stalker too. We also need to read in time from a GPS chip to prove location too. Thanks!

Pat avatar

Have a look at it pass filters. One that only lets or through. This is how anpr cameras work. Maybe of use if you want you record number plates. Won’t help if you want to see faces.

Nis Sarup avatar

I would love to have one in my beehives.

I’ve been planning on putting a Pi in one of my beehives for a while. To monitor temperatures and take images. This camera would make it much easier.

Hove avatar

If this is the Pi NoIR, does that make the normal camera the PiNot NoIR? I’ll have a box of 12 please!

Dave avatar

Well played Sir!

I’ll be buying “some” Pi NoIR anyway but now I can forsee a special mission where I can get into this “creepy critter” stuff and monitor my precious bottles of “Grasshopper Rock” (a favourite of mine, from Central Otago, NZ).


Michael Horne avatar

Would one of these be better for astronomical photography, do you think?

eightbit avatar

Next idea: Can you offer an adapter board for 2 cameras (1 with IR filter, 1 without) where the Pi can select either one of the cameras using a GPIO line or so? People could use this to create a video surveillance system that works fine at night and produces good colours at daytime.
Perhaps there’s even a free GPIO line on the camera connector, so we wouldn’t have to throw a single wire across the board to the expansion connector.

andycrofts avatar

Betcha Adafruit’s already onto this one!

GeoffP avatar

1 for me and a couple of friends will probably want 1 as well.

Jon-ee avatar

Cool at last i can set up the pi in a can to catch the foxes in my garden, and see them poop on my decking….the little buggers

Craig Van Degrift avatar

You might want to make the name a bit different because “Pi NoIR” might be interpreted as *not* being sensitive to IR. I know that it means “Pi NoIR filter”, but many might be mistaken.

ausserirdischegesund avatar

Pi, no, no IR

I somehow suspect a certain food blogger was involved in product naming; )

Craig Van Degrift avatar

Oh! Shows my culinary ignorance, but maybe over cute.

Gordon avatar

Actually no that was JDB’s idea…. The giveaway is the colour of the PCB…

I’ll give you a clue, think French


David avatar

It’s tricouleur? I’ll take a couple (wildlife + a squash-protecting, slug-deterring Raspiro) to go with my Pinot NoIRs…

Thomastheo avatar

I will certainly order a few of these units. The dutch low skies look most impressive in NIR, i can tell you!

Craig Van Degrift avatar

I’ll be buying one to show my physics students more about the IR side of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Larry avatar

sure sure I buy one – but, if you release a new camera board please, please, please add a standard lens mount – this would open to board to soooo much more applications. I would be more than happy to spend a few bucks more.

JBeale avatar

I’d love a standard lens mount myself, but I don’t think that is on the table. There are workarounds:

Michael Hartup avatar

I presume you mean an M12 mount? I’d love one of those too.. until such time the NoIR is irrelevant, because I have to rip the lenses off the boards anyway. I monitor toads using an IR GoPro+Atmel microcontroller – but I’m currently testing a Pi model A with an M12 modded camera for next year and the results are very encouraging.

HBE avatar

Excellent product idea! I own three Raspis with 2 camera boards and will certainly get a PinoIR , likely with another model A Raspi. I think this will spark many interesting projects.

Thomas Kongstad avatar

I would love to buy one, have some projects to investig, fx. an alarm system for cars to detect bicycles in the “blind angle”

RM avatar

This is why I love you guys. You listen to your users, and respond with the features we want.
This is why I have 4 Raspberry PIs so far and will likely be buying more in the future.

Keep up the outstanding work.

Mellers avatar

Oh yes, at least 2 for me. 1 on the home cctv front and 1 for the fun stuff we do at work.

Watha avatar

Right. Well.. one or two for the badgers, another for the birds in the birdbox, one each for the frogs in the pond and the frog-shelter, oh and maybe one for the mouse in the garage. Err… How many are you making?

JBeale avatar

The “day-night” type of CCTV security cameras have a servo-operated IR-cut filter so daytime photos have normal colors & contrast, but retains the IR sensitivity at night. At dusk/dawn you hear a “click” as the filter is changed. I bet this will be a common project for those using the NoIR cam for security. Personally, I find that daytime photos without an IR-cut filter have lower contrast and lower resolution, even if you don’t care about the color rendition. IR has a longer wavelength and penetrates farther into silicon; both those factors lower the image resolution. Also: IR is good for natural or incandescent, but if your light source has little or no IR component (fluorescent or LED light) then there is little or no gain in the image.

Jim Manley avatar

Visible spectrum LEDs will be of very limited use, but as others have noted, IR LEDs are used as a nighttime illumination source. IIRC, the very first LEDs were IR and it was a year or three before the shorter-wavelength (hence higher frequency and energy) visible red LEDs became feasible. While yellow came next (with orange after that probably for lack of early market demand reasons), it was decades before green became available with sufficient brightness, and blue followed a year or three thereafter. White and blue LEDs are actually UV sources with coatings made from phosphorus (and probably other elements in the white versions) that absorb UV photons and emit lower-energy photons at longer wavelengths and lower frequencies at the blue end of the spectrum. That’s why white LEDs have a bluish tint, and actually emit more blue light at increased voltages, at least until they go poof and the magic smoke is released :( It’s also why blue and especially white LEDs require higher operating voltages and currents – some energy is lost as heat during the photon absorption/emission transition.

Pat avatar

Or IR has a longer wavelength and so bends more or less as it passes through a lens and is focused at a different point compared to visible light so image looks out of focus? Chromatic aberration. Most lenses do not correct for ir but you can get ones that do.

Greg avatar

This looks fantastic. Going to have to buy a 5th pi and one of these to mess around with.

Bryan avatar

So if you shoot a movie using this new wonderful camera, would it automatically be film noir? Would you still need a salty detective in the film to qualify? (Someone had to say it)

Homer Hazel avatar


Bob avatar

Want one! So I can catch that racoon in the back yard. By ‘catch’ I mean take a picture.

Milan avatar

Is anyone else thinking “laser-powered slug zapper”?

Count me in.

David avatar


Robert M avatar

Splendid! …especially if it were a sodium chloride laser.

Just to “rub it in” so to speak.

andy avatar

+1 internets for you, sir.

Ethan avatar

Awesome! I’m making a chicken coop monitor and this would be much better than a regular camera for keeping an eye on them at night.

andy avatar

Hey, I’m doing the exact same thing! (although the new cam will have to come later as an upgrade…)

Homer Hazel avatar

I will buy one just because. I will also buy an additional Raspberry Pi model A, just in case I need it for the camera. Anything else I might need?

GTMac avatar

Been waiting for these! Great news. At last we can get some shots of the nocturnal Elk invading our garden this winter.

Zim avatar

My mental list of things to try building is exceeding the amount of mental notepaper I have.

fos avatar

Count me in. As a science teacher, it would be great for tracking critters at night in the outdoor learning center.


BernaedB avatar

Sounds like there are umpteen possibilities for Pi

T_Beermonster avatar

This should come in very handy for home astronomy.

jm avatar

Sweet! Will have to have a play with these when they come out to see if we can detect heat from bush fires from Far Away ™.

Also, love the wordplay in the name! =)

JBeale avatar

FYI: Pi-NoIR camera IR sensitivity extends to about 1 micron (1000 nm) which is “near IR”. You will see “heat” only from objects nearly red-hot, like a soldering iron, a stove element, hot lava, etc. Thermal IR (cameras that see body heat in total darkness) work at 5-12 microns with a totally different sensor technology.

tzj avatar

If a thermal imaging sensor were to be made, would it still connect to the CSI connector?

Saying that, would sensors for most of the EM spectrum work with the CSI port if they were to be made?

Laurence Tyler avatar

That would be really neat, however… you simply wouldn’t believe how expensive thermal imaging sensors are! Even hiring one for a day costs an arm and a leg! I wouldn’t expect to see one for the RPi unless there is some fundamental breakthrough.

On the other hand, you can always use a single IR thermal detector to spot-check a particular area for heat – a bit like a single pixel camera. You can easily get such sensors for not a lot (usually as digital thermometers). If you figure out a way to connect one to an RPi you could collect a lot of readings automatically as you wave it around, or perhaps invent some scanning thingy using servos and lego.

Nic avatar

I saw a write up on something along those lines some time back. They took a basic (read low cost) thermal sensor with only a few zones (16?) and overlaid that data with the image from a smartphone camera. The smart phone effectively became a low-res thermal camera.

But overlaying the thermal data on the camera image makes the data much more relevant and useful. I think the Pi would be a good candidate for suck a project.

paddyg avatar

Yes. Put me down for one!

soldering iron c. 600K black body peak 4650nm
(cold) red hot c. 750K bb peak 3850nm
cherry red hot c. 1100K bb peak 2580nm

So if the pi camera can take pictures at these levels it is detecting photons from the shorter wavelength tail of Boltzmann curve (< 1000nm anyway), and the curves at these temperatures are pretty flat compared with the camera sensitivity curve. I think the issue is that the energy radiated depends on T to power of four so dropping the temperature from 1200K to 400K requires 80 x exposure time even without the shift of the peak.

Chris avatar

Nighttime security camera.
That’s what I would like to create.

JBeale avatar

It can work, but you will still need to provide your own light, either IR light or normal visible light. On a dark night without illumination it will not see any image.

andy avatar

you can buy big bags of like 100 infrared LEDs from ebay for less than 10 dollars, and when all you’re doing is wiring them all together you don’t even need a PCB, just a bit of wood/plastic with a load of holes drilled in it…

stick avatar

maybe a cat flap that opens by facial recognition?

Skavoovie avatar

Definitely in for 2 or 3. Photography ideas, outdoor time lapse, baby monitor, home security monitor when away on vacation, the list goes on and on!

Ady avatar

Great news – I was just about to have a go at getting the filter out of my pi-cam – I’ll wait now !
You can count me as a customer for one ( at least ) – Any chance of the special cheap deal with the model A Pi ( – – – please !! )
Thanks for this. I want it for wildlife monitoring in the garden .

HaggisHunter avatar

I’m expecting a calf next Spring (well, not me personally, I contract out calving for physiological reasons) and would love to have a decent IR coo-cam by then, so count me in – and if you do manage to make it a PiA + NoIR package, so much the better! :o)

HaggisHunter avatar

Oops wrong smiley (me and my big nose… :) )

Kent avatar

This sounds like it would be a lot of fun. I would probably hook it up to my LapPi (motorola lapdoc) and take it on hikes and view the IR scene through the lapdoc screen. And general IR photography

James Dinsmore avatar

I will have dozens of (peaceful) uses for them, having worked on IR systems for defense…this is a really BIG DEAL!

ramstrong avatar

I’ve been looking for a cheap one. Too bad I’ve already sprung for normal camera board. So, now I’ll have two. One normal, one IR. Let me know when it’s out. I certainly grab one.

Jim Manley avatar


Well, now I can delete the “Remove IR filter from camera module lab” lesson plan (and associated “order more camera modules” acquisition task) and finish writing the “Actually use a camera module to observe phenomena in the near IR spectra” lesson plan :lol:

Heavy-duty cooling (heavy-duty as in liquid nitrogen) is used to improve the sensitivity, noise reduction, and resolution of IR sensors (e.g., the Spitzer satellite-based 1-meter diameter reflector IR telescope, military IR targeting systems, multi-spectral night-vision devices, and certain other classified systems). The Spitzer telescope had a liquid nitrogen cooling system operating during the first year or two of its mission for far IR (longer-wavelength) observations into galactic cores, young galaxies, and other targets where visible light is so bright and reflects off gas and dust clouds so intensely that it overpowers visible-spectra sensors. The liquid nitrogen warmed and expanded, requiring venting from the spacecraft, and now it can only observe shorter-wavelength near IR objects.

The joint NASA/DLR (Germany’s rough equivalent of NASA and contractors) Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a former Pan Am and United 747SP (long-range with foreshortened fuselage) that carries a DLR-built 17-ton, 3-meter diameter reflector telescope that peers out a 12 x 18 foot hole cut in the port/left side of the fuselage aft of the wing on that side.

Fortunately, there are inner and outer, upper and lower, roll-up style doors that reduce the area exposed to the stratosphere to just that around the telescope based on its inclination above/below the horizon (-15 to +75 degrees). The sensors (far IR are nitrogen cooled) are inside the aircraft behind a second aft pressure bulkhead installed during a complete teardown of worn and corroded parts and refit of the entire aircraft. That included upgrading the 1977-vintage engines to new 787 Dreamliner models that consume 4% of the fuel at cruise that the original engines did – that’s not 4% less, it’s 96% less, thanks to current sensor and computing technology.

I’m waiting for scheduling as an educator flight crew member aboard two missions during a week in 2014, but we’ve been on hold awaiting confirmation since last June due to the ongoing Congressional budget debacles. We have to go through the same emergency decompression, descent, and evacuation training that the flight, scientific, and telescope operations crews do, so we have to spend a week training on the aircraft in addition to mission familiarization and briefings. We will be assisting the crews as directed and will be documenting and reporting to students worldwide what the missions are about and how everyone works with some of the most advanced astronomical equipment in the world.

SOFIA will be exploring early galactic development back as far as within half a billion years after the Big Bang, i.e., about 13.2 billion years ago, in addition to much closer galactic cores that blind visible-wavelength telescopes. Leading astronomers from around the world fly missions to direct data collection in real time, rotating among specialists for objects of interest. SOFIA also carries a massively-parallel supercomputer on board that performs sampling and processing of some data (petabytes are collected during each mission on removable hard drives) for quality assurance and quick-reaction evaluation of whether an object deserves more scrutiny then, or to move on to lower-priority objects.

The processed samples are transmitted off the aircraft via the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) and routed over gigabit/second research portions of the Internet so that researchers not able to make flights or not core members of a research team can monitor and comment on mission progress. Full data sets are accessible over 10 ~ 100 gigabit/second and, where available, terabit/second experimental networks after the removable drives are pulled from the aircraft and archived on ground station systems. International missions are conducted with one to New Zealand completed over a week during this past August.

As many familiar with single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras know, the red markings on lenses are related to the different focal lengths and associated F-stops for near IR imaging, compared with the white visible light lens markings. However, the difference in focal lengths between the far IR energy and visible light collected by SOFIA’s telescope is over 15 inches! It has two tertiary planar reflectors, one with a sparse gold matrix deposited such that the long-wavelength far IR waves are reflected forward through an optically-transparent Nasmith tube to the sensor array inside the pressurized portion of the aircraft. Meanwhile, visible light passes between the gold atoms on the first mirror and is reflected off a traditional aluminum (oh, all right, aluminium ;) ) coated mirror via a beam parallel to the far IR beam. Up to four sensor packages can be mounted on the telescope for a mission and swapped out between flights. There will eventually be around 30 different sensor packages built over the next 20 ~ 30 years of the SOFIA aircraft’s useful lifespan, with increasing sensitivity as technology improves, including imagers, spectrometers, etc., operating in various spectra. That will enable the systems to see further back toward the time of the Big Bang, perhaps as far as within 100 million years after that event, a mere flash in the pan in astronomical terms as that’s less than one percent of the current age of the universe.

I will be bringing my Pii on the missions on which I will be flying, including at least one mounted on an Atrix lapdock (physically and logically ;) ) and several with camera modules attached, including a wimpy near IR model compared with the multi-million-dollar far IR sensors mounted on the telescope. I’m not sure what the IR model will be good for on the aircraft, but if nothing else, we can make hay with the funny colors our faces will seem, whether or not anyone manages to get airsick in turbulence :P

AndrewS avatar

Wow! :-O

Don’t forget to give Babbage a wave if you see one of Dave’s balloons while you’re up there… ;-)

Robert M avatar

Okay – I just went to the SOFIA website and after looking at the VR of the cockpit, I’m callin’ “dibs” on the folded jumpseat behind the pilot!

Seriously cool project – thanks for the heads up, Jim!

David Palmer avatar

I’ll buy one for astronomy.

Preferably with an easy-to-remove lens so I can put it on a telescope. It,s a reflector so it won’t have the problem of chromatic aberration. (Lenses have different focal lengths for infrared than for visible so the focus would be soft. Mirrors don’t have that problem.)

Jim Manley avatar

Whenever you’re bending (refracting) electromagnetic (EM) energy, whether it’s with a lens, prism, or a non-planar mirror, there will be differing focal lengths for visible and IR. Technically, there are different focal lengths for every frequency, but the differences aren’t measurable/detectable until you get far enough apart across the EM spectrum. Are you using an objective lens with your reflector telescope? As the name implies, that’s a lens (more likely, more than one element on a good telescope) and you’re bending EM energy. See my post about the SOFIA far IR aircraft-mounted reflector telescope – the difference in focal lengths for visible and far IR is around 15 inches, so it has two tertiary mirrors!

David Palmer avatar

A reflective optical system has the same focal length at all wavelengths, set by the geometry of its mirrors. (At each point on each mirror, angle of incidence equals angle of reflection independent of wavelength.)

My telescope is a Schmidt-Cassegrain, so it does have a refractive element (the corrector plate at the front of the telescope) but that has only a minor effect to reduce spherical aberration. The correction won’t be quite as good at other wavelengths, but the focal length doesn’t change.

in Sofia (see the IR tertiary mirror is 12 inches (29 cm) in front of the visible light tertiary. The visible light then goes through further optics on its way to the visible light imagers, which is probably what causes the change in focal length you mentioned.

Lars avatar

The Pi NoIR would be THE killer app for me, and I would get a Raspberry Pi for it!

Awesome initiative!

Darren Tuer avatar

Here – take my money!


Would be very interested in seeing an IR camera board. Please.


Niklas avatar

Would it be possible to make it on a black PCB?
It would simplify distinguishing the two types of camera board, and also, suits the name!

Rob V avatar



jdb avatar

One step ahead of you. The Pi NoIR is distinguishable by its black solder mask.

Guylain avatar

Hi, by the way, you do know that NoIR means black in french ;)

liz avatar

No: Jon only speaks Klingon. We have to translate all his posts here into English so you can read them.

Guylain avatar

:) Lol! Very funny!

Geoff avatar

Sounds like a great toy. Count me in.

nicorem avatar

wiating for it

to measure reflectance ndvi vegetation with infragram filter
when can i buy it

Nuno avatar

Just like you, just waiting to test.

Andrew Oakley avatar

I’ll take one! Have already got two Pi cameras – one attached to a Lego robot to play with the children, another doing a webcam (I’d call it “home security” but there is virtually no crime around here… unless you count being able to determine which of my male+female twin toddlers actually stole the biscuit barrel). I’d love to have a nightvision camera to monitor garden nightlife (we clearly have some nighttime visiting pests – the question is, what? Really don’t want to be putting down traps or bait until I’m more sure of what I’m dealing with; if it’s something I can realistically defend against, rather than trap/poison, I’d rather do that; even if I pick humane traps, I need to know… what size?).

Excuse my ignorance, but I’m assuming I will also need an infrared light source – is that right? Or will the assembly include a little IR LED or similar? (I’m assuming there is no “ambient” IR light at night – sounds obvious when you say it) Assuming I have very little spare money, what is the cheapest suitable option to illuminate, say, 5 metres in front of the camera? What about 10 metres?

edwinj85 avatar

Yeah, you need a IR source. The camera can’t see IR fine enough to detect normal body heat etc, it was mentioned earlier up in the thread.

Laurence Tyler avatar

Count me in! :-D I do a lot of work with mutispectral filter images extending into the near-IR. One of the interesting things you can do is use a combination of visible (usually red) and NIR images to look at vegetation health, and to distinguish vegetation from non-vegetation. A little filter wheel/servo on the RPi would allow a Pi NoIR to take such images very cheaply.

I haven’t read the detailed spec of the camera interface library yet (soon!) but in order to process images for scientific analysis, and to combine different filters, it’s usually necessary to disable or at least temporarily freeze automatic camera adjustments – particularly auto-exposure, and auto white-balance for Bayer-type cameras. Otherwise, it becomes quite hard to reconcile the different filter images in an meaningful way. Is something like that possible with the RPi camera? Or is the auto-exposure/auto-whitebalance always active?

Jan avatar

I’d like an IR camara board very much!

Also, I would be very interested in some kind of lens set for the camera board (IR and normal). I try to use the camera in a nest box, but I fail with the focus since I need a sharp image for an object distance of 5-15 cm…

Jan avatar

ah, thanks!

Mikael Lofjärd avatar

Thank you! I’ve been seriously dreading having to attack the regular camera module with a scalpel. :)

Benjamin Klier avatar

I’d be pleased to get my hands on two or three modules… just for fun and some experimentation :-)

Michael MG avatar

Great News. I was never really happy with the Idea of manually removing the filter.

I have been toying around with the idea of using the Raspi for a cheap multitouch table for some time now.
(Just for those curious what a multitouch table is: This is a not so cheap example (I am not involved in that one))
For Finger tracking you need a halfway quick infrared camera in most DIY schemes. As the image analysis can be quite demanding it will probably need two PIs one for tracking and one for displaying.
Ah … hope I find time for this.

Bernie H avatar

OMG, yes,yes,yes plse

3xBackup's avatar

I’d be interested. Curious if there a cheap IR filter that could block out the visible light (380nm to 750nm) so that the camera only sees near IR data (750nm to 1μm).. That way the Bayer filter would not be needed over the image sensor which would give a higher resolution image ?

JamesH avatar

You cannot remove the bayer filter.

Niall avatar

That is my first trial when I get the PiNoIR. I already have a cheap (ex eBay) IR pass filter (designed for SLR use). I am not worried about the Bayer filter – I reckon that the red-masked pixels will be sensitive enough, and there is more than enough resolution without worrying about the greens and blues. Simple image manipulation (although I will actually be using the incredibly powerful PixInsight software to do this) will re-create a new image from the red pixels only. Hopefully more than good enough for a FLIR-type imager.


Paul avatar

I can’t wait for one if these, I have plans at trying to make it a night vision cam for the car, along with other things like searching for ir beams whilst out and about at night to the night time time lapse that’s already been tried. If I can get my anpr camera project up and running then this particular camera would work perfect on it at night.

Jim Manley avatar

You won’t be able to see things that aren’t illuminated by an IR source, so you’d better put a big heat lamp on the front grill of your vehicle facing forward to illuminate Bambi and whatever else you may be looking to avoid … or hit! :D

GeorgeS avatar

I’d surely buy at least a couple for my night tests…

issac avatar

I’ll definitely be in for several NoIR boards when the become available. Thanks for doing this!

Nuno avatar

Can we connect 4 , 5 or 6 cameras to an raspberry PI?

JamesH avatar


Niall avatar

No, but the Pi itself is so cheap it really almost doesn’t make sense to even try. Gather the data on a ‘Pi per PiCam’ basis – and then feed all of the collected data to a ‘Master Pi’. You’ll probably still have change to spare from even the nearest cheapest solution!!!


Darren Windust avatar

They should have used a double negative to show that it no longer has no IR capability and called it the PiNOT NoIR

edwinj85 avatar

Any chance of Piromoni doing a version of the piglow that emits infra red? The current one can easily light up a room and how….

edwinj85 avatar

PS: Bagsy being the first to make a pair of pi night vision goggles…

Guy Serbin avatar

I’d love to get my hands on one- work in remote sensing, and this could be a valuable tool.

Heiner avatar

I would like to have one to build a baby monitor… there are 5 months left :)

Niklas avatar

Yes please

Ashley Eckard avatar

AH MAN! I’m super exited and would love 3 of the pi NoIR camera modules.
I just did a test run on my motion detection program last night at a friends house and we were able to monitor it remotely to see any activity, but it failed miserably when nighttime hit and the still shots came out so dark we couldn’t recognize our friend that pretended to break in.
This would be a perfect solution!
I started working on this project for my dad, who travels a lot, and wanted a nice cost effective way to keep tabs on his home with email alerts and photos of the motion detected, but I decided to take it a step further and currently in the build process for a website that you will eventually be able to log into and view your pi(s) video/picutres remotely to check your home or office.

Please let me know when the pi NoIR will be available! I’m super exited to get a few and try this approach I’m jumping up and down.

James Savage avatar


Niall avatar

Having turned down the very kind offer of one of the pre-release models (there are other users who I know will benefit far more than I), I am still happy to order a couple when your official stock hits the market. Please keep me informed, amd/or let me know if you are taking official pre-orders.

Of course, as you may know, I am actually really looking forward to the PiNoLens LE (the lens-free, Long-Exposure variant) – which is the model that astro-imagers will be really looking forward to getting their hands on. (All I want for Christmas is a 180-degree Field of View, 10-second exposure HD camera that can time-lapse all night, every night – capturing meteor trails, comets, ISS passes, satellites, aircraft, aurorae and the occasional supernova!).


Phil avatar

Yes please. Night security camera required.

Mark Swope avatar

This sounds like fun! I’d like to get another rig together to play with an infrared camera.

Andy avatar

Four please !
To watch why the foxes keep breaking into my garden and performing the great escape tunneling trick between ours and the next door garden.

George avatar

Great news, I absolutely want a bunch of them.

Matt Hawkins avatar

Will definitely be getting one of these for my security system. Solves my lighting issues as I can just flood the area with IR.

Daniel Barker avatar

I want one. Not for any particular reason, but it’ll be fun.

Will it be possible to achieve false colour like the old Kodak Ektachrome infrared film – infrared appears as red, green appears as blue, red appears as green etc? I only used that film once. I found it strange, unpredictable and expensive. Digital of course would cost nothing, once you’ve got the equipment to do it at all.

Wikkipedia suggests it would be a tricky effect to achieve, in general.

I don’t mind too much. But something about vivid red vegetation is intriguing …


Daniel Barker

Pygar2 avatar

I don’t know if this helps or not, but Irfanview has an option to switch colors around like that on just any picture. And the price is right…

Tom avatar

Do you plan to have a Model A + Pi NoIR bundle for the bargain price of $40 (like the Model A + camera board)?

Tony avatar

+1 for Model A + Pi NoIR bundle for the bargain price of $40 (like the Model A + camera board). Thanks

Pygar2 avatar


MichaelD avatar

I will want to see whether this enables people to do their own home energy heating check.
If it is sensitive to building’s IR radiation, it could enable doing improvements with savings that easily justify the cost.

Jim Manley avatar

The Pi NoIR camera operates at the wrong end of the IR spectrum for that application, unfortunately. If your house is on fire then it might work, but then you’d have much bigger problems to solve than leaking HVAC energy! :D

Rob avatar

I don’t think I’ve been this excited since my email saying that my pre-ordered Pi was being dispatched! I will definetly be buying one of these when they come out!! If only other companies (loosely used term there) listened like you guys do. You are awesome!!

MichaelD avatar

If the Pi NoIR is a success (I hope it is) maybe you can consider a microscope version? describes “How to: make a microscope from a webcam”.
It should be just the job for biology classes in schools.

Lars Rosengreen avatar

Fantastic! I’ve had some success using the the Pi camera to film pollinators visiting flowers during the day. This will allow me to also film night time floral visitors such as hawkmoths.

DougG avatar

I’ll take at least one for learning and experimentation.

Ate avatar

Sh*t….Last week I ordered four camera’s for IR-removal….

BNF avatar

ace!! I’ve been struggling with USB capture devices hooked to a security cam on and off for 2 months now .. and decided its not worth the hassle …

I be buying one of these IR filter free cameras when they come out :)

Mitch avatar

Is it possible to connect two cameras to the board? On noIR and a regular one?

liz avatar

There’s only one CSI interface, I’m afraid.

Thorsten Kallnischkies avatar

Count me in, I have a project in limbo that will be kissed awake again…

jamie avatar

Would be very interested in this! What a great idea!

Matt avatar

YES!!! I would use it for remote sensing/GIS applications.

Rick avatar

Brilliant – glad this is being done :)

I’ve been wanting to use a pi to build a security/door monitor system for an elderly family member who doesn’t want to answer the door in the evenings unless its family. I was going to attempt to pull the IR filter off myself but this will make things a lot easier.

Nice work guys – and thanks to Sunny for having faith in the community :)

Wild Michigan avatar

I will buy some. Game camera/security camera on remote property.

Rick Holmes avatar

I want one!!

Next I want a pinhole version.

Roflkid avatar

I’ll buy one or two for wildlife photography! Where can i pre-order?! :)

Theo avatar

Night-time baby monitor!

Pavel avatar

I, too, would be interested to try Pi NoIR for round-the-clock security camera. Need to figure out IR light sources; but should be doable.

George avatar

I’d certainly be interested in a couple and I know plenty of other here in New Zealand that would be too!

Sorbe avatar

Perfect for Astrophotography, especially with no IR filter and no lens.

shawn avatar

Absolutely would like one!

Neil Dickson avatar

I’m really keen to try one of these. I’d been thinking of getting the standard camera and modfying it, so having the option to have one that is ready for IR, is just fab news.

Johan Adler avatar

I would love one or two of these, for starters. There should be plenty of interesting applications, not just night time surveillance. Maybe a bird cam in a bird house? If I ever get around to building a bat house it would be great to have a camera in it too.

Brian Watson avatar

I will buy one as soon as they are available.

Art Lange avatar

I’d like a few NoIR cameras to do research on Agriculture products.

Felipe H avatar

I’ll take a Pi NoIR :D

Gordon Haverland avatar

For the people thinking about scanning a single pixel far-IR sensor, you might want to look at how wavelength dispersive x-ray analysis machines work. They might give you some ideas.

The camera needs to warm up enough, eh? Winter should be starting soon in NW Alberta and NE BC Canada. I suppose the Pi and camera board are sufficiently efficient, that they give off little heat. A person would probably need to get at least some aerogel to insulate the electronics to help with this warm up problem. Has anyone looked at this? I’m looking at 4 wireless routers with directional antennas just to get the pictures to a computer, all with batteries and solar panels (and hoping we don’t go weaks without sun). :-)

Ahmar Tareen avatar

I’ll take one.

Vince avatar

It would be even more great if you could sell the IR filter apart from it or that it comes in the package
So you can make your own Security camera with IR sensitivity and with a small Servo motor you power up that it can switch to day mode with IR filter .

Just a brain fart ;)

liz avatar

We won’t be selling a filter separately, but you can easily buy one at a local camera shop. (And it’ll be a large one, too, which is what you’ll want if you’re attaching a motor to it.)

Vince avatar

you are probably right, well anyway , can’t wait to see the new version coming out. Also wondering if the price is the same as the “old” version but i guess we will see when its added in the store

Vince avatar

nvm about the price, haha how stupid can someone be ;)

Shane avatar

is there any word on when this will be released? i need one now

kdrent avatar

I’ll definitely order one or more – they’re directly in line with some projects I’d like to work on. Fun to see the photo posted of it. Any ideas of the timeframe for having these generally available?

Andrew Norman avatar

This will be great for physics teaching, at the moment I have a modified webcam

But this would allow time lapse photos and potentially data logging of the processed images. Looking forwards to getting my hands on one!

Gene Angel avatar

Is is the camera’s UV range? With the glass IR filter out of the way is the rest of the casing plastic (good for UV pics) or are they glass?

lee c avatar

I’ll take one also

Will St avatar

Do we know the IR frequency captured centers around 1 um? The selection of the protective ‘glass’ front can make a huge difference. For example, the polycarbonate linked below has a transmission percentage of 90% at that wavelength, but only 15% at 1.7um.

And glass certainly does not appear to be a suitable material at that wavelength;

And of course, if one uses anything plastic based, it should be designed to resist UV degradation.

Nithin avatar

We plan to use raspberry pi for a security camera system. Have been waiting for a long time. Please hurry!

soddit112 avatar

Sounds awesome, could this be used with IR LEDs to make a motion-tracking system? Ideas for a homemade WiiMote-type thing are coming to mind :D

Random avatar

Now that you actually got your own production line, what about the glue issue mentioned in the macro photography post comments?


Ian avatar

Omitted saying in my earlier question/comment …. I would definitely buy one or two Pi NoIRs

Rick Holmes avatar

I love doing landscapes with IR cameras.

zolf avatar

Count me in

Kyle avatar

Wish there was an email signup so I could be alerted!

Duncan avatar

really good to see so many people interested in the subject of near-IR image capture using Raspberry PiNOIR. I hope my comments will help folks. First of all, make no mistake, the PiNOIR will not make “passive IR” images. That means you will not be able to see heat loss from your building or detect missing persons or anything like that. The term “near-IR” refers to the part of the EM spectrum just beyond the human visual range – say waves longer than about 900nm. If it is a really dark night (overcast and no moon) you must illuminate the “scene of interest” with IR LEDs. IR LEDs are available with specific center-wavelengths determined by the physics involved. 880nm LEDs emit a spectrum that is just about visible to humans. 950nm LEDs are completely invisible to us humans – and as far as I know all mammals – but within the spectral range of the PiNOIR camera – so these are the ones to use. LEDs are made with a range of different characteristics (read the data-sheets!). The “power half angle” will also be important to you, according to your intended application. For close-up work, choose a wide angle; for long distance an acute angle.
I noticed a lot of people discussing optical filters. A filter material that almost 100% cuts-off human range but is water-clear in the near-IR is an acrylic sold under the name “perspex 962”
I hope that helps someone.

Agustin Lobo avatar

Best results would come from using a monochromatic CCD and a band-pass filter such as Andover 800FS10. Would it be possible having a model with monochromatic ccd?

Sebastian avatar

I am in a paranormal investigations group D2DPI and I could use a couple of these to build IR cameras that would be durable and we can throw them in all kind of crazy locations !!! Please hurry this is awesome!

Andreas avatar

As long as no modified noir cam is available, and hopefully it will some day, there might be a solution with a mounted IR-lens switch. I googled around and found this

6mm CS Mount F1.2 IR-Cut Dual Filter Switch

Maybe someone went already for this idea?

Eduardo avatar

can i use RPI + camera or a usb webcam to stream for the earthcam?

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