Dakota Digital Mac Hack

Monday, July 04, 2005

So, let's start from the beginning. Ritz Camera and CVS worked with Pure Digital to create a line of "Disposable Digital Cameras" Now, if that doesn't seem a little goofy, I don't know what will! Anyways, the deal was, buy the camera (11 bucks for display-less or 20 to include a little lcd to preview and delete) Then, once your 25 pictures are used up, take it back to Ritz/CVS and have them process the pics and print them. For another 15 bucks. Ouch... 26-35 bucks for 25 prints and a CD!

In any event, Soon enough, these cameras were analyzed, deconstructed, reconstructed and fooled around with until TaDa! they were usable with a USB capable home computer!

This is my story of hacking a Ritz red (with display) PV2 (camera "model") to be usable with my Macintosh computer, just as if it were a standard camera. If you follow the same procedure I did, iPhoto will import your photos as full resolution JPEG's, and erase the camera memory!

Let's get started:

Step One. Hardware Acquisition.

First of all, you must get the camera and a sutable cord to let it interface via USB with.
The camera you buy will look like this:
Or This:
They are the same hardware. The tricky bit however, is that there are various different versions of the camera firmware in circulation, but it is impossable to tell which revision is on your camera without opening the package. This is ok though, as all of them eventually can be hacked.

So, once you have the camera in hand, feel free to play around with it, just remember, once you take more than two shots in a row, you won't be able to delete any more than the last one you took and apparently some say it is easier to crack the firmware with no pictures stored.

You will also need some form of connector that fits in that slot on the lens side of the camera (covered by the sticker... peel it off) People have found success with Palm III cradle connectors and Centronics printer connectors. My favorite though, is the method I used -- modifying a Palm III Serial cable. I got it off ebay for about six bucks (including shipping), and I grafted it to a USB cord I already had around. More on that in a sec.

So, to move on, you have in hand,
---Dakota Digital/CVS PV2 disposable digital camera
---Palm III Serial Cable (mine came from the vendor in Hong Kong -- it arrived in perfect shape however the non-priority air mail took about 1.5 weeks...)
---Spare USB cable terminating in a Male Type A connector...
(of course, you can use the palm III cradle or centronics mods, but I like the serial cable mod best...)

Moving on to Step 2: Hardware Hacking

This section will cover how to make a Dakota Digital/Palm III/Serial/USB cable

In stock condition, the Palm III connector is too thick to fit into the Dakota digital slot. Some have reamed out the DD slot, but it is much more graceful to carefully modify the connector. As you can see from the photo below:

the actual connector with the "fingers" sticking up to contact the circuit board is a completely seperate part held in the plastic casing. The silver fingers are also connected to this part. So, since the casing is to thick to fit in the DD, why not use just the connector? Because the connector alone is too thin. So, I dremel-ed away about 1/16-1/8 of the casing away on the back of the connector. This could also be done (maybe even more easily--but more time consuming) with sandpaper. While grinding away at the connector you will you will want to take off the entire back "cover" -- it is not solid plastic. This will leave the inner "frame members"of the plastic cover (for enough width) and the part extending from the top of the connector (holds the connector securely. See Diagram: (red=connector, blue=plastic "sheath")

Note the green arrow: be careful not to take away too much material here (or on the other side, same place)... it will cause the plastic surrounding the connector to be loose because it is not attached on one side. I did this, but it's fine now with a little Krazy Glue...

Here's the back of my connector:

I covered the rough spot with a bit of electrical tape, works great.

Then, after it fits into the camera, you must fix it electrically.

This Requires Soldering, but is not difficult at all. First of all, you must pop the plastic enclosure apart. Insert a small flat blade screwdriver between the Front of the actual connector and the housing, then twist lightly. The housing will pop right apart.

Then look at the graphic below while you fix the cable... or print it out.

Full Size Version

Although it doesn't say it explicitly in the diagram, once you have fixed the connector, solder Palm black to USB red, Palm green (pin NINE) to USB White, Palm brown to USB green and finally, Palm Orange to USB Black.

Your finished product, each joint shrinkwrapped will look like this:

And, when the entire thing is shrinkwrapped:

Nice Enough, Huh?

(excuse my sorta crappy job shrinkwrapping the individual joints... they work well!)

Finish up by snapping the port housing back on and testing it out. When you plug it in, it should go "doo-deet" (low then high) and when you unplug it, it should go "deet-doot" (high then low.) Looking around on your USB bus in Apple System Profiler should give you something looking like this:

Moving Further: Camera Firmware Hacking

In order for the PV2 to be "unlocked" ~ for it to present itself to the computer as a standard digital camera ~ you have to mess with the Camera's software, it's operating system... It's Firmware. This is done best on a PC. It is possible on mac, but is not nearly as easy and simple. So, find yourself a PC or a Windoze using friend and it should be smooth sailing. You will need two downloads on the windows PC.

#1: Forkboy's Excellent PV2Tool
#2: The Invaluable libusb drivers. (there are different versions, this link is to the only one that worked for me)

DO NOT CONNECT THE CAMERA YET. First in the order is to install the libusb drivers. At the end of the install, a test program pops up. You can just close it. Once you have installed the libusb drivers, you will not have to again.

CONNECT THE CAMERA NOW. The annoying windows "install drivers" wizard will pop up. Choose to install the drivers, then when you have the opportunity, choose to browse to find the driver files. Point the resulting Explorer window twards your libusb folder in Program Files. The OK button should light up and then you can finish installation like normal. Simple enough. Once Windows is happy with the driver installation, open up PV2Tool. In the PV2Tool folder, there is more than one program: One of them is called PV2Tool2_libusb- Since we used libusb, use that version of PV2Tool.

Picture 1

When PV2Tool opens up, make sure the camera is hooked up securely, then click Open Camera. If it connects, click Unlock Camera. If it doesn't check your connections once again, unplug and re-plug in the camera, and/or restart. Sometimes these can help. Once the camera is Unlocked, Click Unlock FIRMWARE. This will make it such that the camera is permanently unlocked. NOTE: messing with the firmware is the time at which you are most likeley to screw up your camera permanently. You are doing this at your own risk!!! Anyhow, then you can also try hitting the "Set Pic Limit to 30" button. On my camera, it didn't work, but everything else did, so I'm happy. NOTE The camera FIRMWARE VERSION can be determined by holding down Display and Shutter buttons while turning the camera on. My camera is a 6430, the most common seems to be 6520, and it only really matters if you have a camera with version 6550. Then apparently the firmware unlocking is more complex and PV2Tool is incapable of just doing it like it can on most others. Since I don't really like the idea of messing around with the code in the Firmware.Bin file, I would probably use PV2Tool to replace the camera's Firmware.Bin file with the unlocked version available (illegitamately) through the files section of the Dakota Digital Yahoo group HOWEVER!!! No disclaimer! I haven't tried this, and you are probably much better off perusing the Camerahacking forums about your cam which will not easily unlock via PV2Tool than using my untested method!!!

Then, since the default Ritz or CVS camera screens are so ugly (ex, Startup screen, shutdown screen, Camera Ready screen etc...) you can also use PV2Tool to replace them with your own "skins" Here's my set:

Empty Hard Drive Picture 2

Picture 2

I tried to make them as simple as possible, clean looking, and to try to get rid of the "disposable camera feel" -- by not including all the text on the "for best results" screen etc. Anyhow, while the camera is still connnected to PV2Tool, press the large "Get/Refresh File Listing" button. You will then see all the files on the camera's flash memory in the white field to the left. All the PD-0X.TFT files plus SPLASH.TFT and SHUTDOWN.TFT will show up. Then, you can select one of the .TFT's on the camera, hit Upload File, and choose any 280x220 pixel .bmp or .TFT file. You can create these in MS Paint, or your favorite image editor. If you would like to use my "Skin" download it from this link and just replace each file on the camera with the similarly named file in my TFT's folder.

When all this is done, click Close Camera, disconnect the PV2 from the PC. All Done!

Finally! The Easy Part

Well, if you've already done everything described in this tutorial, you are very very close to done. All that must be done now is to install the driver for the unlocked PV2 camera. First, download it here: Link To Driver Download Then, simply place that file in Macintosh HD/System/Library/Image Capture/Devices. Since that is a system-owned folder, you must press Authenticate on the error you get when you try to drop the file in that folder and enter your Administrator password. If you own your computer, most likeley your normal login password is the administrator password. If you don't have a password at all, just press Authenticate then OK.

Restart the Mac (necesesary!), Plug in the PV2, iPhoto will start up and import your photos! Remember to check "Delete items from camera after importing" to make sure you will end up with a newly empty camera. Then, when it's done importing, you can disconnect the camera with no further action since it doesn't act as a mountable drive.

So, Anything Else we can do?

Sure! Why not! :P Here's what I've thought up. Skinning the OUTSIDE of the DD, after all, it's pretty crummy looking. So, I peeled the stickers off and scanned them to make a TIFF file. You see, TIFF files have information related to actual SIZE in inches of the output. So, I just opened the TIFF's up in Photoshop and layed my new designs down on top of them so when I printed them out at 100% size they would be perfectly sized for the DD. So......... Here's what I came up with:

I went for a simpleish design, trying not to accentuate the cheapness of the camera, and not being overly advertiing of the Non-OnetimeUse nature of the device.

In any case, here are the TIFF scans, in case you'd like to make your own:

1 2

And here are my skin copies. Note: the photos above are of printer paper taped to the back of the camera. The skinns wil look much better when printed on glossy sticker medium. (which I have none of at this time)

1 2

All TIFF's have been combined into ONE compressed disk image (for mac) HERE or a ZIP HERE.

Anything Else?

Well, not much, except maybe contacting henry (ddmachack ~at~ sbcglobal ~dot~ net) if you find success or problems with my tutorial here!