Mar 11, 2017 | By Benedict

Instructables user MattGyver92, an architecture visualization specialist, has designed a 3D printed monocular night vision device. The device, dubbed OpenScope, features an adjustable camera, LED, and 3D printed enclosure.

Whether you’re a spy, a thief, or a fox, being able to see in the dark can be incredibly useful. But for those of us who don’t like eating carrots all that much, it can also be pretty difficult. That’s why night vision goggles—devices worn over the eyes to provide an enhanced picture of nocturnal activity—were invented. The average person’s experience of night vision technology probably goes no further than watching Jurassic Park, but these dark ages could soon be over thanks to Instructables guru Matt, whose 3D printed OpenScope night vision device uses affordable, off-the-shelf components and 3D printed parts.

“I love light, physics, optics, and electronics,” Matt explains. “I started designing night vision optics a few years ago when I got into playing airsoft with some buddies. After a couple miserable night games, I was inspired to build something better than a flashlight. Since night vision is typically expensive to buy, I chose to build a digital system and it ended up working out great! Thus, my love for building optics (particularly night vision) was born.”

Evidence of the talented maker’s passion for night vision precedes the OpenScope project, with an earlier device racking up nearly half a million views and 2,500 favorites on Instructables. The newer version, however, promises even better night vision performance. Somewhat modestly, Matt refuses to describe his tech as “real night vision,” a term he reserves for image intensification, a technique that involves magnifying the amount of received photons from natural sources like starlight or moonlight. But while image intensification devices can be costly, OpenScope definitely isn’t.

Unlike many image intensification devices, the 3D printed monocular OpenScope is completely digital: it uses an adjustable camera on the front and a 10mm 200mw IR LED for illumination; the human eye cannot see light in the infrared spectrum, but the attached camera can; outputting the camera’s video to a small screen creates a night vision system that works like an invisible flashlight. The device makes use of a video connection that could also receive other inputs and outputs, making it suitable for use on a drone, for recording videos, or for other uses. It is this “open” use of the technology that caused Matt to name his 3D printed night vision device “OpenScope.”

One key cost-saving feature of OpenScope is its 3D printed enclosure, designed by Matt using SketchUp. “I started off by modeling the bare electronic components I wanted to use for the optic such as the display, camera, 9V battery, switches, LED, etc,” the maker explains. “After I found the optical axis of the screen, eyepiece lens, and the camera, I started building around them. I used groups to keep the model organized and tidy.”

According to Matt, total 3D printing printing time is around 20-25 hours. The maker used PLA for the enclosure’s rigid parts and NinjaFlex its flexible eye cup, opting to use a FlashForge Creator 3D printer for both materials. “NinjaFlex is very challenging to print with,” Matt warns. “I needed to print an upgraded extruder block to better extrude the filament without binding or jamming.”

If you’re doing you’re own 3D printing at home, the non-printed parts of OpenScope are, of course, a bit more expensive than the 3D printed parts—though not prohibitively so. These parts include a NTSC/PAL camera, a 2.0" TFT LCD display and NTSC/PAL driver board from Adafuit, a 10 mm 200 mW IR LED, a 180 Ohm resistor, a 7805 Linear voltage regulator, and various switches, connectors, and wires.

Although the 3D printed night vision device is already a very cool project, Matt suggests it can be taken further, in any number of directions. For one, users can filter the color of the night vision for a more “convincing” viewing experience; green acrylic can be used for this purpose. High-zoom camera lenses can also be attached to give users even more viewing power. Even without these additions, however, Matt is pleased with OpenScope: “I was genuinely impressed by the quality of the night vision and the outcome of the enclosure design and assembly,” he concludes.

OpenScope 3D printer settings:


  • Extruder temp: 220°C
  • Bed temp: 55°C
  • Layer height: .3 mm
  • Feed rate: 30 mm/s


  • Extruder temp: 240°C
  • Bed temp: 110°C
  • Layer height: .3 mm
  • Feed rate: 15 mm/s



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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