by Ctein

So Walgreens is selling a digital camera for $10—I kid you not. It's not a recyclable camera you have to turn in to get the photos out. Just plug it into the USB port in your computer, download the photos, and go out and make more. It's barely the size of the box of pocket matches. Irresistible! I bought four of them.

Contemplate the miracle. It can't have a manufacturing cost much over $2 for a device that can electronically photograph a scene, digitize and process it into an image file, store it, and send it to your computer. Plus, it will work as a Web cam.

Yes, it's bloody amazing. When I designed my first digital camera 35 years ago, I knew they'd eventually get cheap enough to compete with conventional cameras. If you'd told me that would be possible to manufacture one for 50 cents (in 1971 dollars) I'd have said that was completely nuts.

What's inside? The case and mechanical parts are at the top. The black circle on a square base on the left is the lens assembly (ƒ/2.8, even. Oooh). The silver rectangle next to it is the LCD counter. Below it is the circuit board, enlarged below.

The aluminum disc is a beeper that sounds when you change camera modes or make a photograph. It actually worked in one of my four cameras. The spring at the top is a battery contact. The small dark rectangle in the left center of the board is the sensor. The lens assembly plugs directly into the board on top of the sensor. On the right is the USB connector.

This last picture shows the backside (I flipped the board left to right). The big black blob is a dab of epoxy protecting the CPU that takes the signal from the sensor and converts it to still photographs or a video stream. The silver can is an oscillator. The big rectangle on the left is the memory—a whopping 16 megabits of SDRAM. This is actually a quality multi-layer circuit board, and now I'm not being sarcastic. Well laid-out, good masking, and clean wave soldering and bump mounting. An electronics powerhouse packed into a few square inches and a few bucks.

So what kind of photos does it make?! I'm gonna save that for another day (he said sadistically).

Posted by: CTEIN

Featured Comment by Sovind: Yeah, I was going to one for my 3-year-old daughter.

Figured it would be cheaper than her either:

a. her breaking my Sony-Ericsson P series phone (her preferred camera), or

b. the inevitable long distance calls she keeps dialing when using the above phone as a digi-cam.

Her composition is getting too good as one of her pics clearly shows me sitting in the toilet!


Post a Comment