Occasionally, I do something really stupid. Well, maybe more than just occasionally… For example, when the GHI Hydra Gadgeteer mainboard was first released I rushed out and bought one and also picked up a Camera module because I was excited to try out some imaging projects I’d had in mind for a while but didn’t have the horsepower to attempt with previous microcontrollers.
Much to my disappointment, once the Camera module arrived I realized that in my haste I had totally forgotten to check what socket type it required. Long story short…you can’t use a Camera module with a Hydra mainboard (or any other boards that I own).
So, I’ve had a $35 paperweight just thrown in a cubby hole for the past year or more hoping that one day a new mainboard would come out that would be compatible or another module would be introduced that would add support for it. No such luck.
Tonight I learned that this module may not be such a useless piece of junk! Did you know that if you simply connect an SP or DP USB power module directly to the camera module and then connect a USB cable connected to your computer that you can use it as a webcam?
Yes, you can! It really is that simple. Connect the modules together using a Gadgeteer cable, then plug in your USB cable and watch Windows start loading up the drivers. It may take a few minutes for Windows to located and download the drivers but for me I didn’t have to do anything but wait. This test was performed on Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit.
Once the drivers have finished loading, you can pull up your favorite software that supports generic attached webcams and start playing. I’m using the Microsoft Live Movie Maker software for this test. Remember that you can adjust the focus simply by twisting the lens of the Camera module.
I find it very cool that this module can perform double duty as a PC webcam and as a Gadgeteer module. I’ve been planning to get a webcam for NashMicro to stream our meetings over the internet. Now I’ve got an even cooler option! Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without turning that into an even more pimped out microcontroller project. But, I’ll save that for a later post. Check back soon!