Are the Modifications Difficult to Make ?
The sites linked to on the previous page, and
the instruction for modifying webcams on this site, are all
presented in a positive manner to encourage you to make the
modifications to a camera.
In the Autumn of last year when these mods were
first described there was much doubt if the work was
realistically doable by hobbyist electricians. Many messages were
posted to the internet discussion groups on the folly of
attempting the work. The good news is that many webcams have now
been modified and the discussion groups have many good images
taken with the camera.
More worryingly I am receiving increasing
numbers of e-mails from people whose cameras did not survive the
procedure. On this page I will try to dissuade you from doing the
work. If you get to the bottom and are still confident of your
abilities then go for it!
Its all a matter of proportion.
Many extreme close-up pictures have been made
of the 16510 which can make it look quite a simple chip to work
on. I have heard from a number of people, who have bought cameras
especially to do the mod, whose plans were scuppered when that
saw the size of the chip.
Its not just a case of it being a bit small to
see. You will also need tools to do the job.
This is a picture of a standard
soldering iron near the chip. Trying to use it would be
Finally a picture of the chip with a couple of
recognisable objects in the frame. The concept I am trying to get
across here is that the chip is very small! 6mm long to be
precise with 10 legs per side. The legs are about a quarter of a
mm thick. How large is the tip of your soldering iron?
Another point to consider is your PC. To make
the mod you will need to attach wires direct to the USB bus and
to the printer port. Both are commonly connected direct to the
motherboard of a PC. By making a wrong connection it is very easy
to envisage a situation were damage is not limited to the camera!
These modifications are attempted by
3 groups of people.
Professional electronics engineers.
People who do this kind of work for a living
and who have access to temperature control, surface mount,
soldering stations. This group generally recognise that success
can not be completely guaranteed. However they are better placed
than me to judge the difficulty.
Hobbyist electronics engineers.
People for whom electronics is an enjoyable
hobby. Will have made many circuits before and have lots of
circuit boards etc hanging from their PC's. For this group doing
the mod will be fun. It could be used to justify the purchase of
a decent soldering station in the knowledge that it will always
come in handy later. True the mod may not work but what is
success without the risk of failure?
People who have seen the fabulous images these
cameras are capable of producing and are looking for a cheap way
into deep sky imaging. This group have not done any soldering for
a few months or maybe years. The webcam may have been bought at
full price just to be converted. Generally the cost of tools
spare webcam's etc haven't been considered.
If you think you fall into the last group
consider how you are going to feel if you spend a frustrating
week fighting with the soldering iron only to end up with a
Doing these modifications in order to save
money only makes sense if you already have the tools and
Have a realistic think about it!