Wild Planet Night Vision Toy

nym | 09:32 AM

Here's a review of WildPlanet's "Infra-Red Nightvision Goggles". I had seen these before, but after trying out the "Eye-Link Communicators" from the same company and being a bit disapointed, I wasn't about to go spend $80 on another potentially too small, not useful enough wearable computing spy toy. I then read about this other guy who is currently hacking his, and it sounds somewhat promising!

I recently purchased one of [the IR Nightvision Goggles]. From what research I've done so far, it is a pretty good candidate for hacking into a fairly low-end eyetap/wearable display.

Comfort-wise, it's not great, but it is a lot better than the Cybermaxx displays from days of old. There are plenty of spots here more padding could be attached to make it more comfortable. The batteries are in a belt pack, and the headpiece connects to them via what looks like a standard power connector.

The camera is fixed-focus, and is surrounded by a ring of IR LEDs. These cannot be turned off without modifying the device or turning the whole thing off. They tend to wash out the view in normal indoor lighting conditions, but only in a spot in the middle.

The display itself appears to be a kopin cyberdisplay with a yellow-green LED backlight. The backlight is a surface mount LED on its own small PCB behind the display, so replacing it with something a bit less bilious is fairly simple.

Tekgear sells a white LED backlight (http://tinyurl.com/cb7zm) for 28
that might fit. I haven't tried it.

The driver chip is a MCVVQ111, apparently the FB version. According to other posts on [the wear-hard list]:

"MCVVQ111FB is a MOS8 device MOS8 has already closed down. MCVVQ111AFB is MOS20 device and is a replacement for MCVVQ111FB.[...] Please note that the loop filter of MCVVQ111AFB on pin 7 is different from that of MCVVQ111FB."

According to freescale semiconductor:

" The MCVVQ111 VirtuoVue Monochrome Video Display is designed to accept a standard monochrome video signal (525 or 625 lines), and convert it for display on the CyberDisplay320 LCD Display Panel. [...] A separate OSD input is provided."

The camera in the night vision monocle is on a separate board from the display driver chip. They are connected by a four pin cable that includes power, ground, and (I assume) video signal and video ground. At any rate, there is not another chip to render a proprietary signal into standard video, so I assume that the camera outputs standard video. I'll be checking into this over the next week or so.

There are at least two ways you could make this into an eyetap.

The first is by disconnecting the video output from the camera, routing it to a computer, doing some processing, and then sending it back to the display board. This is probably better, as it would allow some scaling of the image to match what the other eye sees. As manufactured, the image on the display is smaller than life, so the effect is somewhat like looking through a telescope backwards with one eye while having the other eye open.

The second is by hooking into the OSD connections of the cyberdisplay driver chip and using the built-in OSD input. This is probably less optimal, as you would need to hook up an OSD generator, connect to a very tiny pin on the chip, etc.

Of course, if you don't want an eyetap, then you still have a very small display, driver board, and camera with IR LEDs, all for ~$80.

I hope it works out well!

[ Link via the wear-hard mailing list ]

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