Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c03/h01/mnt/52932/domains/retiredblog.gkaindl.com/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 472

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c03/h01/mnt/52932/domains/retiredblog.gkaindl.com/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 487

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c03/h01/mnt/52932/domains/retiredblog.gkaindl.com/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 494

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c03/h01/mnt/52932/domains/retiredblog.gkaindl.com/html/wordpress/wp-settings.php on line 530

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c03/h01/mnt/52932/domains/retiredblog.gkaindl.com/html/wordpress/wp-includes/cache.php on line 103

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c03/h01/mnt/52932/domains/retiredblog.gkaindl.com/html/wordpress/wp-includes/query.php on line 21

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c03/h01/mnt/52932/domains/retiredblog.gkaindl.com/html/wordpress/wp-includes/theme.php on line 623
blog.gkaindl.com » Using an external iSight on a Windows notebook

blog.gkaindl.com

nerd nouveau

Using an external iSight on a Windows notebook

One of the classes I need to take this year requires us to use a Windows-only (evil!) augmented reality framework, Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2005 (more evil!) and a webcam. For the first time during my studies, I’m actually forced to use Windows. But even worse, how could I get my iSight to work with it?

Fortunately, the iSight is a standard IEEE1394 (a.k.a. FireWire) camera that works without a third-party driver on Windows. However, what complicates things is that the cheap, old Toshiba laptop I could borrow does not have a full-blown, 6-pin FireWire connector like Macs do, but the small 4-pin connector that Sony has termed “i.Link”. The problem is that the small connector misses the power line, meaning that when the iSight camera is connected to it, it doesn’t receive any power and thusly doesn’t work. The solution would be to connect the iSight to a powered FireWire hub that is in turn connected to the PC, but who the heck has a FireWire hub?!

Well, after a bit of uninhibited swearing (remember, I’ve already spent most of the day fussing around with the joys of Windows), it dawned to me: Apple’s Cinema displays have a FireWire hub built-in anyways! So here’s a guide for the Mac owner to get an external iSight to run on a Windows notebook with a 4-pin FireWire connector (if your PC has a 6-pin FireWire connector, you can connect the iSight to it directly).

First, make sure you have the necessary parts ready.

  • The external iSight camera
  • An Apple Cinema display
  • A 6-pin to 6-pin FireWire cable (comes with the iSight)
  • A 4-pin to 6-pin FireWire cable

The most difficult thing to find will be the 4-pin to 6-pin FireWire wire. However, those come with many external hard drives, so with a bit of luck, you might have an unused one lying around somewhere.

Finally, hook everything up like this:

  1. Connect the FireWire cable coming from the Cinema Display (the one that is bundled with the power and USB cable of the display) into a Mac that is connected to a wall outlet, but turned off.
  2. Connect the Windows PC to one FireWire jack on the Cinema Display, using the 4-pin to 6-pin cable.
  3. Connect the iSight to the other FireWire jack on the Cinema Display, using the 6-pin to 6-pin cable.

After following these steps, the PC will recognize the iSight as a generic FireWire camera (it will also show up as an “Apple iSight”, but this entry is shown as “Not working” in the device manager. That doesn’t matter, though.)

You can use the iSight camera (not the built-in microphone, though) with most Windows applications now, but the image will be greatly overexposed. Fortunately, this thread pointed me towards a program that can be used to adjust the exposure to a sensible level. It is available here: http://www.theimagingsource.com/en/products/software/windows_apps/iccapture/overview/.

Don’t worry about the program being a time-limited trial version. Once you have adjusted the exposure, Windows appears to save the settings, so you won’t have to run the program again.

Finally, I’ve got a working “iSight on Windows XP with a 4-pin FireWire connector” setup without the need to buy an otherwise useless FireWire hub. Sweet!

Let me rephrase, though, that the Mac powering the Cinema Display’s hub must be turned off, not running. Sleeping should work, too. Otherwise, the Mac’s iSight driver hogs the camera, so the Windows driver can’t access it. It may be possible to force the Mac’s iSight driver to unload, but I haven’t toyed around with that.

My current setup is my sleeping PowerBook powering the Cinema Display’s FireWire hub, while I’m working on the Windows notebook via VNC from my Powermac (so that I’m not forced into Visual C++’s horrible IDE, but can use TextMate). Ah, I already love that lecture…

About

Hi, how are you? My name is Georg Kaindl, and I'm a twenty-something from Vienna, Austria. During the day, I'm a CS student at the Vienna University of Technology, but at night, I turn into an independent software developer for the Macintosh platform, social nerd, lazy entrepreneur and intuitive researcher.

I like to write about everything that matters to considerate technology enthusiasts, but humbly retain the right to go off-topic from time to time.

My posts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Contact

You can reach me by email if you have something to say that's not related to a blog post or that you don't want to have publicly available as a comment to a post.

However, you'll have to prove that you are human! Even though I personally like robots very much, I'm less of fan of SPAM. It's just a simple riddle to solve, but a SPAM bot won't cut it!

To get my email address, take the word before the .com in my domain name first (Hint: The word you are looking for starts with a "g" and ends with an "l"). Next, simply attach @mac.com to this word.

Boom, there's my email address. Simple, isn't it?

Powered by WordPress

Comments RSS

Entries RSS