The $30 Camcorder

I am too much of a geek for my own good. I can’t look at any kind of technology without wanting to play.

It’s a sickness. It’s my sickness. Maybe there’s tech rehab?

Within the past few weeks I’ve bought a wireless remote to help with some PowerPoint presentations I’ll be giving, a USB Bluetooth dongle and a $30 camcorder.

The AirClick USB remote control works perfectly. I couldn’t be more pleased. Hopefully tomorrow, when I administer “Death by PowerPoint,” it will serve me well.

The drivers for the Bluetooth dongle&#185 will not install in my Windows Vista laptop. The dongle is made by some anonymous Chinese company that isn’t answering my emails… of course they might not speak English.

I bought the dongle with the intention of using my Bluetooth headset with Vista’s new voice recognition technology. Meanwhile, the dongle currently has paperweight status.

I’ve just begun to play with the $30 camcorder. This is a more interesting story and really does play to my geek spirit.

CVS, Rite Aide and a few other places sell one-time-use camcorders for $30. They record 20 minutes of reasonably decent quality video with no tape necessary. For another $15, or so, the drugstore will download your video and burn it on a DVD.

The camcorder itself is a little bit larger than a pack of cigarettes and easily fits in your pocket. There are few controls and no zoom lens and a nice 1.5″ LCD screen on the back. It’s basic.

I said it was a one-time-use camera, and that certainly was the manufacturer’s intention… but there’s the Internet. Hackers have figured out how to accomplish what the drugstores do – offload the video and reset the recorder for reuse.

Though I probably could have soldered it myself, I bought a cable on EBay from a guy in Syracuse. $17 (with shipping) and my camcorder is complete! I’ll post some video samples a little later.

It’s not like I need this camcorder. We have a perfectly good Samsung DV recorder at home with a nice zoom lens and excellent video quality.

This camcorder is a challenge. That’s what the geek life is all about… at least to me. I will not allow the technological world to pass me by.

&#185 – I didn’t make up this name, but it does sound positively filthy, doesn’t it?

4 thoughts on “The $30 Camcorder”

  1. Geoff–Bluetooth is a great tool when people are driving, but did you ever wander by a user in a quiet book store? I was ready to call a cop….A woman was saying very loudly, “Do you THINK I drink too much? Do you REALLY?” I was scared to death thinking she wanted my opinion on her sobriety and when I turned around she had one of those cute little ear things…. Saved from talking to strangers (strange strangers!) with Geek toys…!! Without geeks we’d be putting aluminium trays in the microwave! Evi

  2. I remember I had a dongle for a game on my old Commodore 64. It was really primitive copy protection. You couldn’t play the game without it plugged into the game port. Being geeky like Geoff, I figured out it was only a resistor that went across two of the terminals. Not hard to make a copy .

  3. Geoff – if you can grab the video file off the camera, can you then delete the file and re-use it? I’m also wondering if there’s a way to re-use the lcd screen aspect of it.

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