Hacking An Old Parallel Port Webcam To Work With A Gameduino 2

connecting parallel port web camera to gameduino 2

[Andrew] couldn’t pass up a 20ish year old parallel port based webcam he saw on the shelf at a thrift store. It’s a Connectix QuickCam and was the first webcam that did not require a separate video input card to interface with your computer. Due to this feature, the webcam was extremely popular, so popular that Logitech ended up buying Connectix and marketing the camera for themselves.

It’s tough to find a newer computer that still has a parallel port, but using an old computer wasn’t [Andrew]‘s plan anyways. After thinking about it, he decided to try to get the camera’s image to display on a Gameduino 2.

The hardware list is fairly minimal. The cam’s parallel connector is plugged straight into STM32 Nucleo development board by way of several jumpers. The Gameduino 2 is connected to the dev board and a USB to PS/2 adapter was made to power the camera.

connecting parallel port web camera to gameduino 2

This is obviously not a plug and play project. [Andrew] had to write his own camera driver. He poked around the ‘net for a bit and found some pretty good documentation for the QuickCam. The camera’s max resolution is 320×240 pixels, but at that fine of detail only 1 frame per second is possible. The frame rate was boosted up a bit by lowering the resolution to 80×60.  The FT800 processor on the Gameduino 2 takes the 80×60 bitmap and upscales it to a reasonable size. The enlarged image doesn’t look jagged or pixelated because the FT800 supports bilinear interpolation.

This is a great project; it interfaces old hardware with new hardware, it contains custom software, some cable hacks and a little thinking outside the box. Well done!

Comments

  1. Jorj Bauer says:

    Oh man, I loved those. Wired one up manually myself many years ago. http://jorj.org/techno/bikepicdex.shtml

  2. jorjbauer says:

    Oh man, I loved those. Wired one up myself many years ago. http://jorj.org/techno/bikepicdex.shtml

  3. matseng says:

    I agree – this is is a really nice hack. Two thumbs up!

  4. justice099 says:

    I still have one of these laying around. Thinking that going around the parallel port hardware might be a bit faster, though. I forget what all is in there.

  5. Lars says:

    I have an usb 1.1 version of that webcam i would put in the mail if you would like to try it out.

  6. Genki says:

    I still have a first generation (black and white only) QuickCam made for Macintosh. Serial port with ADB bass through connector to tap for power. Wish I remembered where it is right now, probably in a box with my Mac Plus and 20MB hard drive and a Classic.

    • joesugar says:

      Don’t know if this is still true but at one time the black and white ones were in high demand among amateur astronomers for astrophotography. I remember selling mine on eBay for $60/$70 long after I thought it was of any use.

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