Night vision is a feature that most luxury car models now offer as an add-on, but with the proper technical knowledge one can attain similar results using the same equipment, at an even lower cost. Most of the equipment is available over the internet and rest assured the task you will be undergoing is what the same engineers who have come up with the technology in the first place might have done themselves.
BMWs, Mercedes and Jaguars all have adaptive lighting and night vision capabilities, thanks to a technology known as Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR). This is essentially light that is invisible and can be detected by special cameras that are sensitive to infrared light. The adaptive part of high-end cars has servos and motors that allow the visible light stream from the headlight to follow the direction the car is moving or turning, to keeping the beam focused onto the road and out of oncoming traffic.
There are a couple of pointers to follow when doing any projects on an automobile, because these are supposed to be a well tuned machine designed with little room for expansion or modification without extensive knowledge of the systems and sub-systems that make up the whole vehicle.
There are three parts to a night vision system:
- a light source (infra-red LEDS)
- a camera that can see this IR energy
- a monitor to display all the gathered information to the driver
All of these parts are easily obtainable through the internet and can be configured properly at less cost than pre-made ones.
Aftermarket goods are good but something you make out of scratch is always better. Along with the three parts you have purchased, you will need a soldering iron, some soldering lead, wires, video cables (preferably pre-made to minimize short circuits and thus ruining your car), multi-testers and other electronics equipment.
Locate and design the enclosure for your power supply, cameras and light sources. The next vital part would be the power supply to your whole contraption, which should use a free or spare fuse in the fuse box of the car. This assures continued protection from electrical problems. For the cameras and light source themselves, some design enclosures are available online and through electronics stores, but these can be fabricated easy with a few tools that may look gaudy but serve the same purpose. Make the whole system work as a proof of concept so you know it works before you tinker with the car to make sure it is already working.
The Assembled parts (light source and cameras), are then mounted to the preferred locations. Then the necessary cables routed to blend in with the existing cable runners. Fully assemble and connect everything, making sure all connections work properly by testing and re-testing just to be sure. Run everything momentarily to check for any short circuits, then run fully for proper testing.
There you have it, a night vision system for your automobile. All that’s left is to locate the display device or monitor to give you help when parking on those unlighted garage spots or when there is not enough light to properly see the hidden dangers of the parking lot.
Again to stress the point, this is a task for more advanced auto enthusiasts. Adding night-vision is not for the novice so be sure you have experience with auto modifications, to save yourself time, effort and headaches from potential problems. One last thing, if you happen to have a new car, check with the dealer if this modification does not invalidate the car’s warranty. Some manufacturers or dealers might consider this mod as a major one, that would render your warranty void.