Instructions for Converting

Microsoft Lifecam Cinema HD Webcam for Telescope Use

& Infrared Imaging

by Gary Honis


The new Microsoft Lifecam Cinema HD Webcam has some specifications and features that may provide improvements for planetary, lunar and solar imaging. Most notable is its ability to capture video in 1280x720 high definition resolution at 30 frames per second via USB 2.0. The Lifecam HD has been getting very good user reviews since its introduction in September 2009. Users report that it has very good low light performance in video mode. Microsoft includes what it calls "ClearFrame Technology" and advertises that this technology offers " faster and smoother image processing". In October 2009, I bought the lifecam HD for $55. I was impressed with the quality of its video in low light conditions so I decided to modify it and test it for astro imaging. Using these instructions, the webcam can be modified for daytime infrared imaging as well.

Click Here for Full Specifications of the OmniVision OV9712 imaging chip used in the Lifecam Cinema HD.


Opening the camera will void your Microsoft warranty and you may ruin your webcam. Proceed at your own risk; I am not responsible for any damage to your camera. I am an electrical engineer and have done other imager modifications including building a peltier cooled webcam and also the Steve Chambers long exposure modification (SC-1) to the Philips Vesta Webcam. I have modified the Philips Toucam, the Logitech Fusion and the Logitech Pro9000 and posted detailed modification instructions on my web site. I have also posted instructions for modifying the Canon 300D, 450D, 500D, 550D, 600D, 1000D and 1100D DSLR cameras . I modify cameras for others as a business (DSLR Modification Service).


The easiest way to convert a webcam for telescope use is by purchasing a 1.25 inch adapter that can be screwed into the webcam, after the webcam's lens is unscrewed. Unfortunately, the Lifecam HD as most recent webcams, has an auto focus feature and its lens is not screw mounted. Instead, the lens is mounted in a plastic housing (image on left) with two electrical leads that are soldered onto the circuit board. To convert the Lifecam HD for telescope use, these leads must be unsoldered. The infrared block filter is located on the back side of this housing and can be removed for daytime infrared imaging.

I found the body of the Lifecam HD to be a challenge to take apart, mostly because of its small size. Fortunately, the cylindrical body style of the webcam makes it well suited for an astro imaging conversion. I found that its internal barrel shaped plastic housing fit perfectly and snuggly inside 1.25 inch eyepiece barrel extensions, making the conversion reassembly very easy. The resulting modified webcam is the sturdiest I have ever owned and should hold up well to field abuse and the elements. Using the 1.25 inch eyepiece barrel extensions, the modified webcam is ready for telescope use in any focuser and is also threaded for adding filters.

USB 2.0 Cable:

The Lifecam HD has a USB 2.0 interface. The USB cable that comes with the Lifecam HD is six feet long. If you prefer a longer cable for your telescope setup, you can replace this cable with a longer one up to 16 feet long. A heavy duty high quality USB 2.0 High Speed cable is recommended for the replacement. Another option is to use a USB 2.0 extension cable, but do not exceed 16 feet in overall length. I did not replace the cable.


Very simple tools are needed: Jeweler's screwdriver, razor knife, hot glue gun and soldering iron. Supplies: A drop of black paint.

Parts used:

Two 1.25" eyepiece barrel extenders (I had a few of these laying around so didn't have to buy them)

The T-ring to 1.25" adapter I used has internal filter threads that mated with the eyepiece extenders, not sure if this one does: T-ring to 1.25" adapter: $12

Optional: Belkin 16 foot High Speed USB 2.0 Cable Part No. F3U133-16 - Walmart - $13.97

Let's Start:

Opening the camera will void your Microsoft warranty and you may ruin your webcam. Proceed at your own risk; I am not responsible for any damage to your webcam. That are only taking the camera apart and re-installing its circuitry and imaging chip in a new housing.

Step 1. Remove screw from bottom of webcam mount and remove mount stand:

Step 2. Insert jewelers driver in small hole at back end of camera. Push in and lift up on edge of webcam cap. This releases one of three plastic latches. With driver still under the endcap, slide it around the whole perimeter in order to release the two other plastic latches:


Step 3. Remove one screw with philips driver; tap webcam and it will fall out:

Step 4. Rotate metal clip on cable strain relief and remove clip with flat head driver:

Step 5. Insert small flat head jewelers driver in back end of camera and release plastic latch of microphone button and push latch so that button is raised outside of webcam.Using driver, insert it under the button and pry off the button. It has two plastic latches.:

Step 6. Use the philips driver and insert it into the larger of the two latch release holes where the microphone button was removed and loosen screw located at other side of the webcam. (Note: Some have commented that they were unable to remove either the screw in this step or the next step (7) and they were still able to slide the unit out of its metal tube as shown in Step 17.)


Step 7. A second screw needs to be removed from the mount. This screw is more difficult to see when looking into the back of the webcam. I used a small flashlight o to help find its location. Loosen and remove this screw and then the mount can be removed.:

Step 8: Use a small flat head driver to remove the white connector from its socket and remove the cable from the webcam:

Step 9. On front end of the webcam, pop off the black faceplate using a small driver::

Step 10. Remove two small philips screws and remove the grey ring/front lens assembly from black webcam body:

Step 11. Remove small screw alongside webcam lens:


Step 12. Remove long screw from inside webcam body:

Step 13. Webcam mount can now be removed:

Step 14. Use a small flat head jewelers driver to pop off the metal microphone shield. Lift up the rubber piece below it, but not out. Be careful, it is connected with a thin ribbon cable to the circuit board:

Step 15. Push on the back inside end of the webcam so that it slides forward and out of the tube about 1/2 inch. Stop there because we will remove the ribbon cable in the next step:

Step 16. Remove the ribbon cable with tweezers. The ribbon cable slides out of the connector:

CLICK HERE to continue to Part 2 of Modification.


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