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How I ruined a Microsoft Lifecam HD...


pmesquita
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Well, I decided to mod a brand new Microsoft Lifecam HD so I followed the walkthrough from Gary Honis (Instructions for Converting Microsoft Lifecam Cinema HD Webcam for Telescope Use -by Gary Honis)

It is very easy to follow and everything was going fine, until...

there is a section where you have to unscrew two screws that hold the Camera mount/base to the main chassis. Well Gary says:

. 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:

Then for the second screw he says:

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.

But there is no picture. And I'm a moron. So naturally and as a moron, I concluded that the second screw also was to be unscrewed from the same " larger hatch release hole". WRONG!!!

It's from the smaller hatch release hole!!! (the one that is so small you can hardly believe that thr screwdriver will fit). And with all the great pictures of the procedure...there is no picture of this. And of course, I'm a moron, which makes things worse.

What happened? I tried, in a diagonal angle, to unscrew the second screw. Well it so happens that between the two hatch holes and inside the chassis...stands vertically THE MAIN ELECTRONIC CIRCUIT BOARD!!! Great, now I know that...a tad bit too late. Of course as you can imagine that circuit board is now R.I.P....:p.

Since I had just lost a new webcam, I decided to go on disassembling the whole thing as a training drill for the next webcam.

I found out a way of avoiding the extremely difficult unscrewing of those two critical screws: to release the mount/base without risking damaging the main circuit board you can get a wire cutting pliars and chew the mount/base until you see the other end of the the 2 screws. Then with a small clamp gently pull the 2 screws towards you. They are stuck to the chassis by a pastic washer each. they come out with washer. and now the chassis is free to let the camera main core slide out.

Well, I've just bought a 2nd Microsoft Lifecam HD and I'm going to do it all over again tomorrow.

wish me luck. The kind of luck clumsy morons need...:eek:

Anyway, I noticed the electronics store by my home has lots of those cams. So....:evil6::):D:):o:):(

bye for now,

The ATM moron.

Edited by pmesquita
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  • 1 year later...

I did the lifecam mod myself by following Gary's instructions.

I discovered that you can actually skip the removal of those two screws completely becuase the step where you "Remove long screw from inside webcam body" removes the mount.

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  • 1 month later...
you can actually skip the removal of those two screws completely becuase the step where you "Remove long screw from inside webcam body" removes the mount.

Excellent tip, thank you!

Edited by MattB
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and my trick for the LED was to crush it with a pair of pliers :)
Oohh I like it :eek: I dripped matt black paint on it when I did mine - not very successfully. The paint kept running off the LED leaving more on the circuit board and underneath than on the LED. It does need an IR blocking filter. I tried to separate the one in the webcam from the lens but only succeeded in cracking it! But it wouldn't have done anyway as the working part of it is smaller than the sensor. I had a bit of trouble with that 2nd screw too but sussed it out eventually.

I have had accidents when trying to mod things! You feel a bit of an idiot having to buy another.

The modified webcam works fine - I just need a much better mount.

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  • 2 weeks later...
It's from the smaller hatch release hole!!! (the one that is so small you can hardly believe that thr screwdriver will fit). And with all the great pictures of the procedure...there is no picture of this. And of course, I'm a moron, which makes things worse.

I used a "glasses repair screwdriver" for this and it took me about ten minutes just to get the angle right as you have to work 'blind'.

It's the hardest part of the job but you'll be totally fine now :-)

Good luck!

Mike

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  • 1 month later...

Hi,

I just received my Lifecam HD today and followed the instructions On Gary Honis's site and of course the tips here regarding the two screws holding in the base.

I confirm that you don't need to remove these two screws, I didn't and the whole base mount just comes out.

Regarding the LED, I just unsoldered it from the board. They are glued on so you need to use a fair bit of heat/force with the iron but it came off.

To mount the camera I re-assembled the two halves and put the outer barrel back on. I then slid a piece of heat shrink over the body and shrunk it in place. Finally a little piece of self amalgamating tape was used to take up the gap and the nose piece of an old lens was a tight fit. The whole lot is held in place with another piece of self amalgamating tape.

If anyone is interested I will post a few pics, but it does mean taking it apart again

Robin

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Hi,

Software testing.

I used an Asus 1005 to test the Lifecam HD. It worked at 30 frames per second in 640x480 or 10fps at 1280x800 using Sharpcap.

The PC was connected and it prompted me to download the Microsoft driver, which I let it do and apart from the fact that the MS software pops up every time I try to do anything with the cam, I confirm that the full frame rate could not be obtained. Un-installing the MS driver restored the full resolution.

Zoom and Sharpcap.

I have experimented with the zoom in Sharpcap. Basically set the resolution to 640x480 and then zoom from 1 to 10. At zoom level of 10 a quarter of the screen is zoomed to 640x480, so basically we are using 640x480 pixels in the middle of the chip. You can scroll around the chip and the file size is small than the full screen at 1280x800.

When zoomed you can still get 3o fps, so if your object doesn't fill the screen (like most of the planets) find it at 640x480 and then zoom to get 640x480 resolution at 2x zoom.

I made a comparison of the 2x zoom against a 2x Barlow and confirm that the quality of the 2x zoom is better than the Barlow.

Robin

Zoom and Sharpcap

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It's the brightness control - it's not really brightness or gain, but some sort of weird mix of the two. I get the feeling that MS decided that gain was too complex to show to the average user so they hid it away behind the brightness control.

Robin

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  • 7 months later...
Hi,

I just received my Lifecam HD today and followed the instructions On Gary Honis's site and of course the tips here regarding the two screws holding in the base.

I confirm that you don't need to remove these two screws, I didn't and the whole base mount just comes out.

Regarding the LED, I just unsoldered it from the board. They are glued on so you need to use a fair bit of heat/force with the iron but it came off.

To mount the camera I re-assembled the two halves and put the outer barrel back on. I then slid a piece of heat shrink over the body and shrunk it in place. Finally a little piece of self amalgamating tape was used to take up the gap and the nose piece of an old lens was a tight fit. The whole lot is held in place with another piece of self amalgamating tape.

If anyone is interested I will post a few pics, but it does mean taking it apart again

Robin

To add to those two troublesome screws...the one you remove through the mic button hole is one of the screws on the base of the mount that you end up pulling off of the case so it doesn't need to be removed or touched at all since it will come off the other part after the big silver screws are removed...the other very difficult black screw is one of the screws that hold the IR cut and lense on the sensor board and can be removed once the whole mount is disassymbled.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think I have done something wrong with mine. I cannot get focus on anything, it reacts to light and colour.

I took it apart more or less as the normal instructions, but took out the long screw and managed to get the mount off no problem

I couldnt find the soldering iron so cut the links to the AF on the lens, it was a clean cut so should still be OK.

Its the first time I have used a webcam on the scope so probably dont know what to expect, but....

Its a Skywatcher 200P that I am trying on. Its too cold outside to play, so I pointed teh scope out of the window with the curtains open, focussed on a tree, but got just black, with a bit of noise. Flashing the red torch anywhere around the font of teh scope turns the image red.

Things I havent tried are using a barlow as an extender, or using a small point of light to see what that does.

Anyone any thoughts? have I broken it?

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If it is showing light and colour you are probably OK, just having trouble finding focus.

Quick way to test :

Get an eyepiece or magnifying glass lens and hold it up to project an image from a light bulb or window onto a piece of paper - that should give you an idea of how far from the lens the image comes to focus. Now get rid of the piece of paper and try to get the sensor of the webcam in the same position. Your eyepiece or lens is now (hopefully) projecting the same image in focus onto the webcam sensor, which you should be able to see on screen.

Robin

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