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Hacking the CVS Disposable Camcorder

Hacking the CVS Disposable Camcorder

A CVS camcorder is an one time usable camera that can record 20-25mins of 320×240 divx compressed video. You will have to eturn it to shop for downloading the video. Here is a method that describes how to easily create a Camcorder Dock that will allow you to download your movies and re-use your $30 CVS disposable camcorder without returning.
You will need the following parts:

1) CVS One-Time-Use Camcorder
You will need to go to your local CVS store to pick one up. You can use this store locator to find you nearest one. If you dont have one locally, you can always try our forums to see if anyone will pick you up one. (and then there is always ebay) The camcorder will cost you around $30 but if you sign up for their “buyers card” you can save $5 plus there may be a coupon floating around here or there for another $5 off.. Regardless, this thing is worth way more than $30, so give CVS a break. =)

2) PalmIII sync cradle
To be honest, this was the hardest thing for me to find. I went to Microcenter, Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Office Max, and Office depot and could not find one! Then went to the DAV, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Dollar Store, and Big Lots hoping I could find one.. I tell you I couldnt believe how hard it was to find! Well of course there were plenty on ebay, but I didnt want to wait for shipping, so I tried emailing all my geeky friends as well as put a post out on Freecycle. Luckily there was a kind soul on Freecycle who had a spare and GAVE IT TOO ME! If you are reading this, Thank you! Literary millions of people will be looking at your cradle! =)

3) Usb cable that you dont care about.
You will need a spare USB cable that you will cut. This could be off an old mouse/keyboard that doesnt work anymore, or just a spare USB cable that you have laying around. It will need to be a “Standard A Type” USB connector. (the type that you plug INTO your computer)

MISC You will also need assorted small screwdrivers, a soldering iron, solder, solder wick, and gorilla glue. (or other superglue) You will also need some software, but I will get to that later in the article.

Getting Started

Before we get started hacking the dock up, Hold down the “playback”, “record”, and “delete” buttons and then press the power button. This will tell you some info about your camera. Write this down. For example my camera shows me the following:

 FW-VERSION: 03.40 CAMERA ID: GB305XXXXXXX PCB VER: B2 

Then turn your camera off and back on. Take a few small videos for us to retreive later. Btw they better not be naked ones of you — you sicko. =) While you are at it, you might as well warm up your soldering iron.

Ok, now that we have some videos on the camcorder, lets get to making the dock. Take apart your PalmIII cradle. There was one small screw on the bottom, and once removed gave us access to the PCB and connections inside.

Making the Cradle CVS Camcorder Compatible

Keep taking your PalmIII cradle apart until you have the cable with the PCB all the way out. Make sure not to damage any of the plastic pieces on the cradle, as we will be using them later! As you can see, the spring loaded connections are facing UPWARDS with the standard PalmIII cradle. (just make a note of that ok) Using your soldering iron remove ALL of the wires from the PCB. I like to work with nice and clean PCBs, so I used some solder wick to clean up all the connections once everything was removed.

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