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Why are WebCams so poor?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Joerg, Mar 29, 2007.

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  1. MassiveProng

    MassiveProng Guest

    Isn't Mantis the brand name for very high quality mono and 3-D
    (stereo) inspection scopes?

    If so, they are VERY good. Don't know how they would relate to web
    cams though.
  2. MassiveProng

    MassiveProng Guest

    My four year old Olympus 3.5? Mp camera has a minimum focus of 1.2
    feet. It was $350 before the mem stick upgrade.

    My NEW Olympus 6Mp camera has a macro feature, much better optics,
    and has a close focus, and will produce 15MB images that can be
    downcoverted with minimal loss. The original "fineness" is the key,
    after that, one can re-spin the pic to fit whatever presentation.

    It was only $250 bucks, and I won't upgrade until I can afford the
    REAL digital cameras out there a few years down the road from now,
    when they are even better than they are now.

    It is (old camera, still on ebay and the like but no longer made)
    model: SP 500-UZ

    GREAT camera for the price!

    My dentist is pissed that his "application specific" Olympus was over
    $1000 and isn't half the camera mine is!
  3. Guest

    The image sensor is quite small on those camcorders. Combine the tiny
    sensor and the crappy lens and you get what you pay for. ;-)

    You can use a decent camera from Supercircuits with a reasonably long
    focal length C-mount lens (50mm) AND the hard thing to get, the C-
    mount macro spacers. They are cheap when on ebay, but they don't show
    up often.

    gets you there, but I wouldn't use a bellows.
    I think I got my set of tubes for under $20 on ebay.

    I used an Intel PC cam that had a video jack on the back, but any
    frame grabber will do.
  4. Why is that? Can't you just forward a port or two?
  5. It's not a camera.

  6. John  Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    I have one of these clamped to my workbench. My vision has never been
    very good, and as I get older my close-focus thing is going away. More
    to the point, the parts are getting so small that *nobody* can see
    them. This makes me feel like an eagle, flying over the board on a
    sunny day.

    The "compact" is great for occasional engineer-type things, inspection
    and rework. Production has a few of the bigger ones, with turret
    lenses and stuff, for more serious use.

    The compact costs abound $2K, I think. The newer Mantises have great
    LED lighting and no fan, which tilts the advantage toward buying a new
    one instead of an old one on ebay.

  7. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    That's what Jim also uses. Still requires a free hand to lift up the
    glasses though. And it sure is ugly.
  8. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Nice! I could warm up to one of these. The ones I had used at a client
    where top view. You had to look through it like a microscope and the
    horizontal wobble was terrible.
  9. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    P.S.: Why do they make you sign in just to see a brochure? That sure
    leaves a stale after-taste. Do they want to start the sales pitches
    later? I'd hate that.
  10. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    That would mean there may be hope.

    Supposedly this one (Logitech QuickCam Communicate) is 640*480. But I am
    not sure whether that isn't some interpolated number. The image sure
    doesn't look like NTSC resolution. Maybe that's why the software for it
    does not allow full window viewing.

    I am thinking about doing that next, see what Costco has these days.

    Yeah, for SMT work a slow frame rate would be ok but it needs some
    detail level. Probably not enough market there. Thing is, the CCD camera
    I designed once had a similar resolution except that it has more lines
    because it was for Europe. People later used that for tricky mechanical
    stuff and it worked a whole lot better than this QuickCam. And this was

    Which one do you have?

    Yep, tried to use a cheap product for something it wasn't meant to do.
    Sometimes that works, sometimes doesn't. This time it didn't :-(

    640*480 would be ok as you only need to see the vicinity of where a 0402
    is to be placed.
  11. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Sometimes a lot. I have used $10 radios as EMI tracers, $5 signal
    injectors to find stuff that the guys couldn't find with a spectrum
    analyzer etc. Sometimes cheap doesn't mean it's low quality. Other times
    it does :-(
  12. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    They have come a long ways. My old Nikon is only 1.2Mixels but can shoot
    nice SMT pictures in macro mode. But I wouldn't use it in macro mode for
    actual board repair because the focus motor grinds around all the time.
    It'll wear it out and I can't turn that off.

    Probably because placing the label of a medical manufacturer onto it was
    considered a substantial "value addition".
  13. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    I can't imagine the brochure is very useful; it can't express what
    you'll *see*.

    Without this thing I'd be very frustrated with these tiny parts, kind
    of like the old fudds who never transitioned from tubes to
    transistors. We even scope probe under Mantises. If you get one, go
    for the 6x lens.

    Now what we want is a tiny sharp fet probe on some sort of
    pantographic positioner, so we can safely nail a pin on a fine-pitch
    part or an 0402 and have it stay there. Maybe I'll do that one day; I
    have a possibly cool idea for a cheap fF fet probe.

  14. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Yeah, I just don't like that kind of sales "strategy". It would benefit
    the image of any company to cut that out, makes them appear more

    Tubes can be great. They have a dynamic range from here to the Klondike.
    I've had instances where any kind of semiconductor just wouldn't cut it.
    For example, for a shortwave mast preamp. Else it would have been
    continuing to crawl a steep slippery roof after every major
    thunderstrom. That was always a white-knuckle job (especially in spring
    when there was moss on the tiles) but not needed any longer after
    migrating to a tube amp.

    Ok, that's where I cheated and bought the Philips PM8943 FET probe.
    Excellent performance. Despite the high cost it came in a cheesy case
    that promptly broke. But it also came with all kinds of miniature
    connector thingies, most of which are gone by now (worn out). Very handy
    are the 10x and 100x reducers you can plug onto the tip. Those are
    indispensable when diagnosing switch mode troubles where there are lots
    of nasty spikes.

    Speaking of FET probes I once made one from a tube (Radar surplus, sold
    by weight...). The challenge at hand was to be able to measure
    ultrasound pulses down to the noise floor (meaning no attenuators
    allowed) while being fully tolerant to the transmit pulse on the same
    line. That pulse was 170V and we had to measure T/R switch behavior
    immediately after the pulse. Meaning no diodes either. They did use a
    "real" FET probe before but it blew the FET probe and the spectrum
    analyzer input. AFAIR the latter caused a manager there to go ballistic.
  15. Didi

    Didi Guest

    Without this thing I'd be very frustrated with these tiny parts, kind
    Similar here. I have been using a x6 magnifier for ... 13+ years
    when did pass :).
    But mine has cost me < $10 at Buerklin in Munich :).

    See it here: .

    You will see what my soldering iron has done to its front edges,
    and you will not see what it did to my nose (not because my nose
    is out of focus, it just healed since last time I burned it :).

    Picture taken with a cheap webcam (sub $20), 800x600 capable,
    pretty sharp (not on this image, too low light and my hand
    was perhaps not stable enough). Well, if I really need a good
    macro image I use a good 5 Mpix camera, it sees any detail I
    might want to see and more.

  16. Didi

    Didi Guest

    Picture taken with a cheap webcam (sub $20), 800x600 capable,
    I just tried my sub-$20 webcam on the board I am currently in.
    I was holding it in my hand again, the second biggest issue
    was to adjust the light by slightly rotating the lamps arm
    (the useful region was really narrow, either overexposed or
    too dark), the first biggest was of course the time wasted
    on the wintel TV to make it take the picture (took a reset
    in between, that's why I settled for 640x480 this time).

    Here they are:

  17. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    The 2nd one is blurry just like mine are. But the top section in the
    first picture is pretty darn good, at least good enough for soldering
    work. Which camera is that? From Logitech?
  18. Didi

    Didi Guest

    The 2nd one is blurry just like mine are.

    My hand was moving, te focal depth was not too good.
    If fixed it should be much much better (I was seeing it live
    on the screen).
    No, it is called "Gembird" , I bought it here in Sofia at 28 BGN (14
    I cannot tell whether the lens is plastic, but it does not look it.
    The case turned out to be stainless steel... Comes with a clip,
    but well, let me use the missus' mirror, here is a photo: .

    The holes were filled with LEDs which I removed and took the mike
    out through one of them. There is no other than the automatic control
    for the LEDs, but it may actually work well for you when soldering;
    if it does not, well, you can always slaughter them like I did :).

    I think it will be good enough for soldering work, although I have not
    really used it for that yet.

  19. Didi

    Didi Guest

    Oops, sorry the URL was meant to be ...

    these rubber made laptop keyboards are way too slow
    for me, I guess...

  20. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Well, you could try with the solder iron like you did one the Buerklin
    magnifier and on your nose ;-)

    Just kidding...

    Got this error when trying:
    The requested URL /mic/wc3.jpg was not found on this server.
    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use
    an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

    Maybe I have to try again tomorrow. Sometimes this happens on servers.

    Stainless steel? Wow. You can't get anything like that here in the US
    unless it is a firesale clearance.

    That would be nice. Much smaller than a Mantis scope. Also, my lower
    back isn't that great anymore and so I like to keep things light in weight.
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